Chemical Romance upstages Park

07.05.2008
Projekt Revolution was the biggest all-day festival of Shoreline Amphitheatre's summer season.

The 10-hour show, which took place on Sunday at the Mountain View venue, featured two acts that can each headline arenas and amphitheaters and one that appears destined to reach that level. Respectively, those bands were Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday.

In comparison, Shoreline's other rock festivals _ Live 105's BFD, the Warped Tour and Ozzfest _ combined to offer just one arena-caliber headliner, Ozzfest's Ozzy Osbourne. What they lacked in big names, they had to make up for with bountiful lineups.

Given the bill, it's easy to understand why such a huge crowd _ more than 16,000 fans - turned out to party at Projekt Revolution.

The tour's origins stretch back to 2002, when Linkin Park decided to organize a trek with Cypress Hill and Adema. The tour returned for outings in 2003 and 2004, featuring such acts as Mudvayne, Korn, Snoop Dogg and Less Than Jake. Now, following a three-year hiatus, the Revolution has returned with what is undeniably its strongest lineup to date.

Linkin Park, as the tour founder, ranked the headlining spot and did a fairly good job with its 90-minute set. My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday, however, both managed to upstage Linkin Park with their offerings.

The concert began just before 1 p.m. out on a second stage erected in the parking lot. That's where head-banging early birds baked in the sun and enjoyed Styles of Beyond, the Bled, Mindless Self Indulgence and other purveyors of hard sounds.

The main stage opened right around 4 p.m. with electronic act Julien-K and really got hopping once the next band, HIM, took the stage. The Finnish group _ which ranks as the only act from that country to score a gold record in the United States was a heck of a lot of fun in concert.

Led by vocalist-songwriter Ville Hermanni Valo, HIM (originally known as "His Infernal Majesty'') combines a solid foundation in pop hooks and catchy melodies with an aggressive pop-metal sound. To that, they add some well-rehearsed metal theatrics and an attitude that screams, "We are rock stars!'' The whole shebang makes one feel like HIM is playing a joke on the crowd _ like, at any minute, the band might break out giggling _ yet the music is never a laughing matter.

The best part of HIM's set was the seriously sexy and alluring cover of Chris Isaak's classic "Wicked Game,'' which can also be found on the band's full-length studio debut, 1997's "Greatest Love Songs, Vol. 666.''

Taking Back Sunday was up next and delivered a 40-minute set that ranked as the day's best offering. Still touring in support of its third CD, 2006's gold-certified "Louder Now,'' the Long Island quintet gave every impression that it should be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

The energetic hardcore/emo troupe opened with a ferocious version of the latest album's "What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?'' and then proceeded to up the ante with each song in the set. Lead singer Adam Lazzara was a formidable front man, conjuring visions of such all-time greats as Dave Gahan and Roger Daltrey, as he whipped about his microphone and crawled along the stage in fits of passion.

By the time it was all said and sung, Taking Back Sunday had proven that it is one of the most exciting young acts in rock, one that seems destined for much bigger things.

Next up was My Chemical Romance, which drew the greatest response from the crowd. These New Jersey goth lads have skyrocketed in popularity since the release of 2006's "The Black Parade.'' The concept CD is one of the few discs in recent memory that has a chance to be considered a "classic'' when folks look back upon this era of music. Or, perhaps, it will simply be remembered as a copycat of Green Day's "American Idiot'' _ time will tell.

One thing is certain, "Black Parade'' is an album that the listeners at Shoreline hold very near to their hearts. It was even more fascinating to observe the audience, as the fans screamed out every word to each song and pumped their fists wildly in the air, than it was to watch the group's performance.

The connection that the fans felt to the music was what really made this set memorable. For my money, however, My Chemical Romance came across too polished and whitewashed like what a goth band would sound like on a Disney Channel program. In fact, it won't come as a complete shocker if the group's next album includes a duet with Hannah Montana.

Linkin Park closed the affair with a 90-minute dose of old hits and new songs from the recently released "Minutes to Midnight.'' That album has been another huge success for the band, selling some 623,000 copies in its first week on shelves. To put things in perspective, that was the highest first week tally of any release this year.

Despite the new album's impressive sales figures, fans at Shoreline still seemed most interested in hearing tracks from the band's debut, 2000's "Hybrid Theory,'' which was awarded the rare "diamond'' ranking (signifying sales of 10 million).

Count this critic among that group. The group was at its best when it was delivering rap-rock hybrids like "Crawling,'' "One Step Closer'' and "With You,'' nuggets that called for a mix of Mike Shinoda's rhymes and Chester Bennington's howls. The tracks from the new album didn't feature nearly as much rapping and, not coincidentally, were somewhat disappointing.

Overall, however, Projekt Revolution did not disappoint.

Contra Costa Times - July 31, 2007

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