REVIEW: Linkin Park / A Day To Remember / PPL MVR at Summerfest

So guys, I have a confession to make; Growing up, I was a huge Linkin Park fan. Around age 12, I remember telling myself that I needed a “favorite band”, so that when people asked what I listened to, I could answer them with more than “I listen to a little bit of everything”. For whatever reason, Linkin Park became that band for me. Albums were purchased, fan websites were visited, and I remember being afraid that I would be caught for the first mp3s that I downloaded, which was the group’s 5-song demo EP from when the band was going by the name “Hybrid Theory”. I own a Linkin Park DVD called “Frat Party at the Pankake Festival”, which now for the life of me still makes no sense as to why it was called that. That being said, in time, I fell out of love with Linkin Park. Things run their course like that; the world keeps spinning, and for the most part rap-rock, or rapcore, or Nu-metal was left off of my future music rotation. I always kept an eye on the LP guys for the most part, but never really cared more than to know what they were doing. With all that said, by the time I had gotten tickets for Tuesday night’s show at the Marcus Amphitheater, I wasn’t really stoked on the fact that I was going to a Linkin Park show.

And then I was completely wrong for feeling that way.

The night began with the intriguing choice of PPL MVR, a hard rock band featuring three members in yeti suits, and other members that did not have said costumes, but had enough hair and facial hair to basically fit the description. In a word, it was weird. This felt like the beginning clicks of a hard rock rollercoaster that would immediately plummet to the ground, or perhaps fly out of the amusement park altogether. The lead yeti bared an uncanny resemblance to the yeti from SSX Tricky, if anyone remembers what that looks like (Google Image Search yields no results). They also had an autotuned lead singer with a pop-singer style headset microphone, which led me to quip that “wow, Kanye’s new stuff is getting weird” (He did wear that yeti mask once.) But hold up! There’s more. After the set finished, it was discovered that this band may in fact be Brand New, who are scheduled to play Summerfest the next night, in disguise. Initially, the thought process was “there is absolutely no way this is possible and the internet is cruel”, but AP did a piece about the conspiracy, and now I have no idea what to think anymore. Research during and after the show suggests that they may actually be the same guys, and now my mind is blown. Long live yeti-rock?

Moving forward, non-yetis and actual opening act A Day To Remember absolutely crushed every single bit of their set, playing with probably every ounce of energy in their body. Veterans of festival tours like the Warped Tour, they knew how to make themselves memorable, with a heavy set loaded with their blend of hardcore and pop punk, as well as a ton of beach balls, confetti, and smoke machines. Surprisingly, I thought that I only knew one or maybe two of their songs at best, but in actuality I’ve heard a lot of their stuff before. I’m not the biggest screamo/hardcore fan, but I think I’ve definitely become a fan of them, if not for just their live show. Ever the skeptic, I was worried that Linkin Park may have just been upstaged by their opener. Things were not looking good.

And here’s where I was really wrong.

The lights in the Marcus Amphitheater went dark, and then sporadic bursts of white light blasted the crowd. There’s the obvious roar that comes with it, and then vocalists Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington ambushed the stage from the opposite wings. A closer listen to the opening song, and then I realized it was “Papercut”, the first song on 2000’s major label debut “Hybrid Theory”. I started looking at Shinoda and Bennington trading vocal parts, and they’re smiling. They’ve been playing this song for 15 years, and they’re still having fun while they do it. That set the tone for the night.

A majority of the set came from Linkin Park’s best selling albums, “Hybrid Theory” and “Meteora”. Very rarely did the group go more than two or three songs without going back to material from those two albums. Deservingly so; Shinoda started the second song by stating the mostly cringe-worthy “here’s one from our new album”, and not surprisingly the crowd reaction wasn’t on par with the reactions to earlier songs that the band played. Breakout hit “One Step Closer” was played very early in the set, which surprised me, but seemed like a smart play to get the crowd up to maximum excitement for the rest of the show. Linkin Park knew what their fans wanted to hear most, and they delivered on it as not-explicitly promised.

There were a lot of other interesting takeaways from the show, too. I noticed about roughly 1,000 GoPros on stage that added to the visual aspect of presenting the show (A. that’s an exaggeration. B. DJ Joe Hahn is also a director, including many LP videos.) There were also a few times where the band combined two hits into one extended jam, making for a unique experience of seeing them live. As an added bonus, we also heard a new Fort Minor song, as well as “Remember The Name”, the big hit from Mike Shinoda’s side project and also every athletic promotional video ever. In fact, there were some times throughout the night where the stage was cleared for Shinoda to run things by himself, as a testament to his creative work on both the production and vocals that helped make the band successful.

The set finished with mega-hit “Faint” from “Meteora”, and then the high-speed single “Bleed It Out”, followed by no encore. The group stayed onstage for pictures and to throw anything they could foreseeably not need in the future into the crowd, and that was that. The show didn’t even need an encore though, because it was filled with hit singles, including some that I had even forgot existed. All in all, it was a definitely good decision to see Linkin Park live, and it doesn’t really feel like they’ve lost a step since the peak of their success. I don’t think that I’ll be donning the homemade iron-on LP t-shirt that I made when I was in sixth grade, but I definitely have a new appreciation for everything that they’ve put out over the years, as well as everyone that was in attendance last night at the Marcus Amphitheater.

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