Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance bring the noise in Devore

07.05.2008
Brian Molko was the first musician to allude to the Projekt Revolution tour moniker from the main stage. "We are Placebo from London and we come in peace," said the androgynous singer/guitarist.

Although there was no subversive activity going on in Devore on Saturday, more than 20,000 concertgoers did turn up at Hyundai Pavilion to watch some of the hottest names in alt-rock music - notably Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance.

These days, it doesn't get any bigger than Linkin Park, a NuMetal survivor from the early '00s. On the Rick Rubin-produced "Minutes to Midnight," the sextet went in a more atmospheric direction, downplaying the aggressive sonic approach that became a Linkin Park calling card.

The CD debuted at No. 1 and sold an astounding 600,000 copies - a feat that hadn't been achieved since last Christmas. Meanwhile, first single "What I've Done" was lodged atop Billboard's Modern Rock chart for nearly four months.

Then there's My Chemical Romance. The emo/goth-tinged New Jersey rock group is touring behind platinum seller "The Black Parade," a critically acclaimed concept album about death. It was one of 2006's crowning achievements.

Early on at Glen Helen, the moderate sized crowd was well-behaved; no problems with local police officers were reported by mid-afternoon. Several My Chem fans wore face paint and dressed up in high school marching band-type attire, a nod to the band's leader Gerard Way.

Merchandise booths did big business, with long lines throughout the day. Unbelievably, one concessions area ran out of Papa John's Pizza for two hours around 3 p.m.

More venue restrictions than usual were in place (or maybe it was just business as usual for the 2007 season): few items were allowed in the gate and all water bottles had to be emptied into plastic cups before entering the orchestra section. Staffers also were extra vigilant about people's seat locations in that area.

Linkin Park delivered a powerful performance, led by lead vocalist Chester Bennington's mighty roar. Joe Hahn worked his turntable skills with a scarf over his face.

Obscured by a curtain, the members were initially seen in shadow playing the brief instrumental "Wake," the first of eight "Midnight" tracks. It dropped to reveal a steel industrial building-type stage setup. A beaded curtain projected various images.

Chunky guitar riffs were at the fore during down-to-my-last straw sentiments of "Given Up," where Bennington repeatedly screamed "put me out of my misery." Older radio hits ("One Step Closer," "Crawling," "Numb") packed a wallop, but several quieter new numbers ("Little Things Give You Away," "In Pieces," the "Joshua Tree"-era U2 grandeur in "Shadow of the Day") proved to be equally compelling.

"Pushing Me Away" got an effective acoustic treatment with only Bennington and co-vocalist/guitarist Mike Shinoda, while "Breaking the Habit" started in a similar way before the band joined in. Toward the end of the 90-minute set, Shinoda thanked fans for their patience and continued support. "One Step Closer" was among the encores.

My Chem was fiery - both literally and figuratively. During their allotted hour (everyone else got 30-45 minutes), flames shot up and pyro ignited. Even without the theatrical underpinnings of regular headlining gigs, the guys were still riveting.

The proceedings kicked off with a frantic "This is How I Disappear." Singer Gerard Way, clad tastefully in black, worked the stage with a vengeance and snarled like the rabid dogs shown on the backdrop. Frank Iero took his frustrations out on his electric guitar on "Sharpest Lives." Fans went crazy and sang along loudly during the hit "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" as Way spat out the lyrics.

Way did a verse of The Doors' "People are Strange" before the Damned-styled insanity in "House of Wolves" and drummer Bob Bryer's kit rotated. The bombastic "Welcome to the Black Parade" featured everything from piano and militaristic drums and Queen-styled guitar work from Ray Toro. A definite highlight.

Other highlights included the German music hall vibe in "Mama," "You Know What They Do," where Way planted Iero with a big kiss amid a key lyric, the singalong "Teenagers" and emotional closer "Cancer."

Elsewhere, Taking Back Sunday emerged with all guns blazing for "What's it Feel Like to Be a Ghost" and continued to impress on a clutch of hard-edged, melodic alt-rock songs ("A Decade Under the Influence," "This Photograph is Proof," "You're So Last Summer," "Make Damn Sure"). Leader Adam Lazzara took awhile to warm up, but eventually did his usual showmanship routine (lassoing the microphone cord, adopting an announcer shtick).

Finnish goth-metal group HIM is immensely popular here. 2005's "Dark Light" CD went gold and has some appealing tunes ("Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly," "Vampire Heart"), but few managed to wow in an outdoor setting. Ville Valo, clutched a cigarette for most of the set and sang in a low croon about suicide and death. A moody take on Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" was snoozeville.

Placebo's dark sex and drug-filled rock tunes are akin to walking through a seedy nightclub unsure what is around the next corner. From the droning early hit "Pure Morning" and a harrowing "Meds" (as in "you forgot to take your") to feedback guitar-laden "Nancy Boy" and primal "Taste in Men" (featuring guitarist/bassist Stefan Olsdal's interpretive dancing), the trio was a rush from start to finish.

Daily Bulletin - July 30, 2007

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