Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fires up the Hollywood Bowl crowd. (Instagram)
While I enjoy checking out electro or hip-hop sets whenever I’m at a festival with a lineup that consists of a wide range of acts, I usually don’t go out of my way to see headlining concerts by those kinds of artists. The closest this rock chick gets to actively seeking out an EDM or rap performance would have to be a Linkin Park show.
Their ability to appeal to audiences of most any ilk with their unique blend of rock, rap, metal and electronic is exactly why the L.A. band has sold over 50 million albums worldwide, amassed over 60 million (and counting) Facebook fans and has consistently remained on the charts since the release of their debut album, Hybrid Theory, in 2000. It’s also why they can tour with groups of basically any genre; last night’s stop at the Hollywood Bowl on the final leg of Linkin Park’s national trek with Thirty Seconds to Mars and AFI was testament to that fact.
Dubbed the Carnivores Tour, the evening’s bill featured an opening set from punk/alt-rockers AFI, whose A Fire Inside moniker was quite appropriate for the day’s scorching heat. It was still quite hot as audience members escaped the tangle of traffic outside the Bowl to take their seats and the NorCal foursome tore through well-known tracks like “The Leaving Song Pt. II,” “Girl’s Not Grey” and “Miss Murder.”
As fans waved huge white flags emblazoned with their blue Triad image in the twilight sky, Thirty Seconds to Mars took the stage to an orchestral recording of “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana after an extremely long delay. The L.A. trio began their set with “Up in the Air,” the lead single from their latest album, Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams, and continued to deliver more from the new effort in “Conquistador” and “City of Angels.”
While most focus on 30STM’s charismatic frontman, the Academy Award-winning Jared Leto – who ventured into the middle of the crowd during “Kings and Queens” – it’s Shannon Leto’s solid drumming on songs like “Search and Destroy,” “This Is War” and “Do or Die” that always catches my ear. Since they started so late, Jared was only able to deliver a snippet of an acoustic version of “The Kill” before the band had to end their set with a blast of confetti and “Closer to the Edge.”
After the confetti was cleared and set pieces moved around, Linkin Park finally took the stage. While 30STM’s set was lit with cool hues and bright whites, LP’s was full of passionately intense orange reds, accompanied by Brad Delson’s snarling guitar and Rob Bourdon’s intense pounding of the skins during “Guilty All the Same.” The song was the first single released from the sextet’s sixth and latest album, The Hunting Party, featuring the legendary Rakim.
Several of the tracks off The Hunting Party, which released in June, boasted guest appearances by the likes of Helmet’s Page Hamilton (“All for Nothing”), Tom Morello (“Drawbar”) and System of a Down’s Daron Malakian, who joined his fellow Angelenos on stage for an energetic performance of “Rebellion.” However, LP definitely did not stick to new material for the duration of the set, oftentimes blending older favorites into medleys with the new, like melding Hybrid Theory’s “Runaway” and “Crawling” into Hunting‘s “Wastelands” and “Until It’s Gone,” respectively.
Other mashups included A Thousand Suns‘ “Wretches and Kings” with “Remember the Name” from co-frontman Mike Shinoda’s Fort Minor side project and Living Things‘ “Lost in the Echo” with “New Divide” off the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen soundtrack. My favorite blend of the night began with Shinoda’s bluegrass-like piano intro to “Castle of Glass” and really showcased his co-frontman Chester Bennington’s killer pipes as it continued into “Leave Out All the Rest,” “Shadow of the Day” and finally featured the entire group harmonizing to “Iridescent.”
Bennington prowled the stage during favorites like “Given Up,” – which highlighted Dave “Phoenix” Farrell’s bass skills – “Points of Authority,” “One Step Closer” and “Numb.” DJ and programmer Joe Hahn scratched for a bit before sending the audience into a frenzy with the first beats of “Burn It Down.” Shinoda took his turn producing some beats in front of gorgeous images of light projections swirling behind him and led into “Papercut.” He called for fists in the air for “Waiting for the End” and completely lost himself, soaking in the packed crowd and even snapped a photo with his phone of the the filled famed venue as he walked a platform through raised hands during “In the End.”
After finishing up the Carnivores tour, the band heads to Brazil then Europe with Orange County’s Of Mice & Men. That group’s vocalist joined LP for “Faint,” matching Bennington scream for scream to end out the main part of the set. Shinoda then took a few moments to address the crowd on his own, asking that everyone contribute to Music for Relief’s fund in fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Afterwards, Linkin Park took the stage once again with “What I’ve Done” and “Bleed It Out,” completed with a powerful solo by Bourdon. As Shinoda and Bennington led the entire Bowl in a sing-along to the final refrains of “The Catalyst,” the words “lift me up, let me go” filled the amphitheater – such a wonderful way to end a night of beautiful sounds from music’s many branches.