Linkin Park Performs Hits and Misses

After finally settling into a nine-to-five job, I needed a reminder of my angsty preadolescence, so in a fit of nostalgia I bought tickets to the Linkin Park concert at Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld-Expo. Unfortunately, I was only half-right: Linkin Park would have been perfect if they had only played hits from Hybrid Theory and Meteora, but instead the band awkwardly straddled generations in a concert that pleased neither demographic present at the show.

There were a lot of twenty-somethings who, like me, were looking to relive their teen angst moments – yeah, we LP fans are a masochistic bunch – and then there was a crowd of 13-year-olds who really liked Linkin Park’s new stuff – basically, what we were 10 years ago. The thing is that Linkin Park’s music now versus that of 10 years ago is completely different. Or maybe I’ve just grown up.

Either way, it created a weird audience dichotomy: the teens were really bored when the band played its old hits and the entire twenty-something contingent sat down when anything new came on. Thankfully, the arena is enormous and no one noticed that only half the crowd was even remotely enthusiastic at any given time during the show.

The first song the band played was “Faint.” After the initial “Hey, cool, it’s Faint,” my internal comments were in the vein of “Holy shit. They’ve gotten old.” Whatever, still good, right? But when Linkin Park began to play their newer stuff it was almost completely unappealing. I spent much of my time wondering if anyone actually listens to what they say. For example, “Do you feel cold and lost in desperation” was one of the many lyrical gems LP proferred that night.

Not to say that they weren’t good, I just sat down through everything I didn’t like and took notes throughout. Considering I didn’t take any notes for my review of the Friendly Fires show, it says a lot, though I was in a much larger and more impersonal venue. My scribbled comments mostly bashed Linkin Park’s use of Auto-Tune and I spent a lot of time fruitlessly wishing for a Jay-Z cameo.

Their old stuff was solid, which is what I had expected. Chester Bennington’s voice lasted until his rendition of “Numb,” after which his voice started cracking, indicating that he seriously needed a throat lozenge and some hot tea. The band also played old favorites like “In the End” and “Papercut,” still compelling after all these years, but I was surprised that they didn’t play “Points of Authority,” a favorite of all the LP-obsessed guys I knew at 13.

To be fair, though, this tour is for their new album A Thousand Suns, and objectively I suppose they performed their new stuff well enough. They even attempted some Cantonese, which made them a hit with the already-adoring Hong Kong crowd.

In terms of the attempt to relive my youth, Linkin Park’s performance was yet another reminder that real life can’t live up to the sublime warmth of a childhood memory. Still, all’s well that ends well, and the most engaging part of the concert was the last song. Ending with “One Step Closer,” the concert’s finale was cathartic, and the preteens screaming “Shut up when I’m talking to you!” at their parents while we exited the Expo amused me to no end.

What bands represent teen angst to you?

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