Series of in the Park hits

08.05.2008
TORONTO -- Linkin Park's first Toronto show was at the tiny Horseshoe Tavern back in December 2000. The place was packed and afire with buzz for the up-and-coming California rap-rockers, but I couldn't see why. Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre, with more than 20,000 people screaming for them, I still didn't get it.

Normally when a band can sell out such a massive venue, it's pretty obvious why. Celebrity (Britney Spears). Legacy (Simon and Garfunkel). Deal with the Devil (American Idols). Linkin Park shows none of the signs of superstardom. Yet in just three years, they've released two incredibly successful albums and convinced a generation of young music fans that of all the rock bands du jour, they're No. 1.

Admittedly, the band has fresh ideas. First, there are two frontmen, singer Chester Bennington and MC Mike Shinoda. They also use a live DJ, Mr. Joseph Hahn.

But when the jumbo curtain dropped and the clean-cut five-piece jumped onto the stage, whatever makes Linkin Park special in theory dissolved into a wall of echoing effects noise.

Thankfully, Shinoda wore a hat, so you could tell the two vocalists apart. It would be several songs before his mic skills were particularly audible.

His solo intro to It's Going Down (Linkin Park's collaboration with NYC hip-hoppers the X-Ecutioners) was a sign of credible talent, until the band kicked in with more synthetically pumped-up, vacuous boom.

Still, Linkin Park made all the right stadium rock moves, dividing the crowd into halves for a shouting contest, playing a piano ballad, encouraging the faithful to "make some noise!"

They even pulled, at random, a fan named Alex up to play guitar on the popular Faint, from last year's Meteora disc, which he did with much gusto. Finally, someone I could cheer for.

Nevertheless, you can't argue with hits, and Linkin Park has plenty.

The two-hour concert was like listening to the Edge 102 countdown: Somewhere I Belong, Numb, and Crawling were just a few of the massive sing-alongs.

I may not understand Linkin Park's appeal, but to quote another of their smash hits: In the end, it doesn't really matter.

JAM Showbiz - January 24, 2004


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