Hard to believe it’s already been a week. On September 5th, a select team from Open Labs traveled to Houston, Texas for the Linkin Park Undergound (LPU) Summit and ensuing concert by Linkin Park. After arriving a little after 11 a.m. at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands, the very kind LPU administrators let us in to set up our Stagelight merch table. Thankfully, it was in an enclosed area with air conditioning. The day was a scorcher, in case anyone was wondering.
During the meet and greet with the members of the LPU, we gave out free Stagelight t-shirts, free Stagelight bandannas and handkerchiefs (which would come in handy later at the concert) and, of course, some free copies of Stagelight, the Easy Way to Create Music. Many LPU members even gave us their email address so they could receive the Open Labs newsletter, updates, deals, etc. It was a solid two hours of shop talk and music education, and everyone knows how passionate the LPU is for that kind of convo. The most enthusiastic responses we got were for the Linkin Park sounds available inside the Stagelight in-app store. People want to drum, strum and loop with the same sounds LP uses!
After the greeting period, the staff moved all the tables and chairs around to make room for two Q&A sessions. The LPU crowd gathered together again and sat on the floor. First out of the gate was Linkin Park’s impeccable stage crew. The techs and sound pros unwound tales of last minute fixes, arrangement innovations and other vagaries of the touring industry. For folks who would be working super hard in little less than two hours, the LP crew were all very jovial and friendly.
Then, with a greeting of rapturous applause and hollering, Linkin Park themselves came in for questions. The LPU crowd was clearly amazed at being in the same room with their heroes. There were questions about the band’s songwriting process, the thoughts that went into recent album release The Hunting Party and the method Chester Bennington uses to keep his vocal chords from tearing night after night. The climax and highlight of the session was when Brad Delson pulled out an acoustic guitar for an impromptu, unplugged performance of “Final Masquerade.” Chester’s voice, without a mic, is still all kinds of powerful.
Linkin Park are friendly, down-to-earth people who just happen to be in one of the biggest rock groups in the world. Mike Shinoda is a not only a great front man, but a great conversationalist with a lot of insight on technology and the music industry. The band had to get up and get ready for their sold-out, headlining show at the Pavilion soon after; this would be a major stop on their Carnivores Tour. the sounds of LP’s two opening acts – AFI and Thirty Seconds To Mars – were already filling the area.
We got to our seats just in time to see Jared Leto, frontman for Thirty Seconds To Mars (and an Oscar winner) run by us on his Bono-esque concert-ending routine. The final song by the band was punctuated by a gigantic confetti explosion – shades of The Flaming Lips’ show – and dozens of people gathered on stage after an invite by the generous, bare-chested Leto. If anything, Thirty Seconds was trying to tear the roof off before the headliners made it to the stage. An admirable desire, at least.
But the crowd reaction to Linkin Park’s beginning put to bed any notions about who had the main show. Exploding out the door with a rampaging “Guilty All The Same,” the following 28-song concert was like a torrential downpour of music. Well into their second decade as a band, Linkin Park owns whatever stage they play on. Mike and Chester moved around in tandem, basing their stage placement according to who was singing lead. You don’t realize how important Dave “Phoenix” Farrell is on bass, or how much Joe Hahn adds as the DJ, until you see it in person. The set design – replete with moving, cage-like pieces – further impressed. Also, the new Hunting Party material gives all the guitarists, especially lead axe-slinger Delson, a lot of room to shine. Delson is a guitar player’s guitarist – strumming from his arm and not his wrist and letting his picking hand lead the way on his extensive solos.
It’s an impeccable show. Chester’s screams arch over the rhythms and melodies, and the momentum never lets up. All the big songs – “Numb,” “One Step Closer,” “In The End” and especially “Until It’s Gone” in the encore – became a concert-wide singalong. It’s not hard to imagine a non-LP fan (if there were any in the crowd) coming out of this September 5th show with a newfound appreciation for the group.
After this exhausting and thrilling trip, Open Labs is more convinced than ever that Stagelight has a great ally and booster in Linkin Park and their organization and fanbase. The trip to Houston makes it clear that LP is the musical real deal in all the ways that count. If you still want to catch them, here are the remaining dates on the Carnivores tour: http://www.linkinpark.com/events.
To see more images from Open Labs trip to Houston, check out our Facebook photo album: http://on.fb.me/1rTSgjS