Linkin rocks the Pinoy park

07.05.2008
IT'S difficult for one to ignore or avoid the rapcore metal fusion band, Linkin Park. One catches them so often that one remembers their faces more vividly than one's personal pals. Their fame is so infectious one ends up knowing the words to their songs by heart. And when their music comes on the radio, after being exposed to a few bars of their formulaic music (rap verses and screaming melodic choruses), one knows it's unmistakably them.
In some circumstances one even ends up watching them -- live at the CCP open grounds. This was the case last June 15 when Linkin Park performed for 15,000 fans in connection with their Meteora World Tour.

I got a slot at their press conference and was entitled to ask one question. (Yeah, my eyebrow is up in the air now at those diehard fans.) Although I didn't feel like I was in front of the Beatles, I have to admit I was starstruck. The whole band was three meters away, separated by a velvet rope and a coffee table with gangs of 10-ft bodyguards on every side.

The conference started with a three-minute photo shoot: Brad Delson (guitar), semi-afro with a beard and looking stoned; Chester Bennington (vocals), sporting a Nazi-meets-Misfits haircut and wearing heavy-metal preppy wear; Phoenix (bass), looking normal; Rob Bourdon (drums), very professional; Joseph Hahn (turntable), looking bored; and Mike Shinoda (rap vocals, guitar), very sporty.
I confess, I'm a music fan and easily whimper. I had one question to throw and spoiled it since I was the first one to ask. It was, "What was your first gig like?"
Then Shinoda instantly answered, without even knowing where to look into the press audience, that he remembered phoning Brad that he was very nervous. Their first gig was at The Whiskey A Go-Go, LA.
During the press con, Brad and John were the jokers and lazy responders, Chester and Mike were very into it. And Rob just answered once.

What was your goal in making 'Meteora'?
Chester: To make a timeless record. You see "Meteora" is a very old place in Greece and it has been there ever since.

What's the next thing with Linkin Park? What's your next goal now that you've toured the world?
Chester: Our first goals were to have a Grammy, play at the Roxy, and just hang out after. Now it's still the same: make another album, which is a real challenge for us.

What's your writing process like?
Mike: All of us have computers and Pro-Tools at home or on the road. Then each of us puts our part. We don't jam the songs, it starts in the computer and we just assemble it after and (find out) how to play it live.

If you would bring only five CDs on tour, what would they be?
Chester: Each of us has our own I-Pods and already maxed it out. We are so much into music I don't think we'd be able to bring just five CDs. We'd probably go insane.

If you would get a chance to collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Chester: For me I really had a good time collaborating with Korn. If ever I was to collaborate with anyone though... I'd say Depeche Mode.

Worst and best compliments the band has received?
Chester: Worst is that rumors say that we lip-sync live and don't play our instruments. At the same time it is the best because we must be that good to sound like we were just lipsynching our shows.

What's the best thing playing live and out of the country?
Mike: When people respond and sing along, especially those countries out of the US that don't speak English as their first language... and when the fans know the songs by heart is one of the greatest feelings.

After the Q & A portion, Warner Music gave the band a plaque for selling more than 300,000 albums in the Philippines. "Hybrid Theory" went platinum seven times (210,000 albums sold), "Reanimation" went gold (more than 25,000 albums sold), and "Meteora" has gone double platinum (over 60,000 copies sold).
Several camera flashes more, everybody was standing and saying goodbye. Since they seemed so nice at the conference, and they mentioned that they were really into music, I immediately went up to Shinoda and said, "Hey, here's my band," and gave him a copy of my band's CD (I always try to carry a few to sell).
I saw through my peripheral vision that a bodyguard was about to intercept me. Mike took the CD and said thanks. But he instantly gave it to the ready-to-pounce giant and left. He didn't even check out the cover.
In my mind I said to myself, "Hey what happened to the we-love-music? I ain't got anthrax or anything! I ain't no fan!" Then suddenly I felt like a fan.
Grabbing a cigarette, I hung outside with fellow writers, DJs, and friends. Reactions I got: "Prima donnas;" "Mas mukhang rock 'n' roll pa 'yung itsura ng Incubus; ito mukhang naka-tsamba lang," (Incubus looks more of a rock band; these guys just looks like they got lucky); "Si Chester kamukha niya yung skinny guy sa 'Road Trip'" (Chester looks like that skinny character in 'Road Trip') . . .


Impressive show


The show was supposed to start at 8 p.m., but I unfortunately got there at around 9:30 and just caught the last two songs. Walking to the venue, there were hundreds outside standing on anything that could let them catch a glimpse of the show.
Inside, the field was packed mostly of teenagers, some even accompanied by their parents. My girlfriend and I entered the field with Linkin doing a cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Wish," which was very surprising and impressive.

The stage design had a large Linkin Park logo behind in "Reanimation" green. DJ Hahn's booth was elevated on the left, and Rob's drum kit with an umbrella of cymbals was on the right. Brad was down left; Chester was in the middle (still wearing his press-con shirt). Mike was on the right, occasionally playing the guitar; and Phoenix was extreme right.
The sound system was amazing. The guitars were heavy, and you could feel the bass in your heart. The band played so tight that when they started with a sample and exploded into full band, their tempo stayed intact. Especially when they broke back to the sample, the transition was flawless.
The crowd in the silver section in the middle wasn't as crazy compared to the people in the front and the back. Didn't hear any news of uncontrollable rowdiness or stampedes, which is very pleasant to know. Just overheard from the audience after the show about the bruises they got from falling flat on the ground because of unsuccessful crowd surfs.

The last song the band played was "One Step Closer," which made the entire crowd jump in unison.

The last foreign show I saw in Manila was Rage Against the Machine at the Cuneta Astrodome. In that show I was more prompt than a job interview and really danced hard, shouting almost all the lines with the crowd. At that time, I was really a Rage fan, and I recall the lights were amazing.

Linkin Park was an amazing live act, hands down, but I ain't really a fan. I feel for the kids who write the band and say that the band's music has really changed their lives. I also feel for those who were sitting at the gutters outside their hotel, trying to get a sight of the band. I'd probably do the same for those artists I really like.

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