Revolution is in the mix

03.05.2008
Despite its name, the Projekt Revolution tour isn't all that revolutionary.

Headlined by one gangsta-rap icon (Snoop Dogg) and two bands that feel equally comfortable with rhyming and headbanging (Linkin Park and Korn), the tour's central point is to bring hip hop and hard rock together. But that idea has been around for 20 years now, since the early days of Run-D.M.C. And these days it's getting pretty dull.

Still, the relevance of a concept depends on what you do with it. And when Projekt Revolution hit the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., Friday, there were plenty of interesting variations on display.

The early hours of the festival were the most stylistically widespread, including performances by ska-punkers Less Than Jake, Welsh metal upstarts Funeral for a Friend, and former Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah.
In keeping with the cross-genre nature of Projekt Revolution, Snoop Dogg was backed by a full band, including guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, percussion and a three-piece horn section. The presence of so many people and instruments onstage put extra grit into his delivery, leading to unusually energetic takes on old favorites like "Murder Was the Case" and "Gin and Juice," along with his most recent hit, "Beautiful."

Led by kilt-wearing singer Jonathan Davis, Korn followed Snoop with a testosterone-drenched set so hellishly loud it was often impossible to make out what was going on. Clever moments stuck out amid the sludge - a chiming guitar part here, a brutal drum break there - but the excess aggression quickly grew tiresome.

There was one bright spot: a cover of all three parts of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," presented as a mini-suite. Fitting in perfectly with the band's alienation esthetic, the song also gave Korn a chance to show that they're fans themselves.

As for Linkin Park, the reason for their enormous appeal became clear the moment they hit the PNC stage. Even when the band's raging at full throttle, with tormented skater-dude Chester Bennington screaming his lungs out, you can tell they're softies at heart.

Coupling disaffected lyrics with simple, anthemic melodies, songs like "Crawling" and "Breaking the Habit" were almost sweet, in a teenage melodramatic way. Adding to the latter number's sensitivity, MC Mike Shinoda stepped out on baby-grand piano. How many rap-rock bands pull that trick?

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