Live Review: The Projekt Revolution Tour - Verizon Amphitheatre, Irvine
Mon, 11 Aug 2008 17:12:29
In many ways, Knoxville's 10 Years were the "perfect band" for this year's installment of Linkin Park's annual road show, the Projekt Revolution Tour. During their phenomenal mid-afternoon set, the quintet blended a modern hard rock sensibility with classic grunge emotion. Given the show's headlining combination of Chris Cornell and Linkin Park, 10 Years bridged the gap between two decades of rock, proving to be the ideal middle ground between old and Nu.
It was a sunny afternoon in Irvine at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, and 10 Years turned the fest's "Revolution" side stage into their playground. Singer Jesse Hasek stalked the stage with a serious passion for each line as he entranced the crowd with his presence. The band flawlessly ran through a set of cuts culled from 2005's The Autumn Effect and their 2008 release, Division. Guitars crescendoed from a jagged, distorted crunch to sweeping melodies during the likes of "Beautiful" and "Wasteland." Everything simply worked for the five musicians on stage, and the outdoor setting, with its mountainous Orange County backdrop and the bright summer sun, was perfect for their organic and hypnotic sonic fireworks.
After 10 Years, Atreyu's homecoming was filled with big arena-ready choruses and raucous '80s riffage. The OC crowd was especially receptive to the band, even though the metalcore stalwarts didn't possess the same tangible passion that 10 Years so righteously displayed. On the main stage, Street Drum Corps pumped up a more-of-the-same set with a cameo by a makeup covered Adrian Young of No Doubt fame.
After Street's tribal drumming finished, Ashes Divide flew the crowd back to outer space. Helmed by A Perfect Circle mastermind Billy Howerdel, Ashes Divide played a set filled with slow, warm guitars and intriguing, strange choruses. The band kicked things off with "The Stone" from their debut, Keep Telling Myself It's Alright. Howerdel has certainly come into his own as a frontman; he stood center stage smoothly playing and singing simultaneously. He gyrated to the hazy melodies the band created, while vocally carrying the choruses of "Prey" and "Stripped." To his left, guitarist Andy Gerold simply shredded, providing the perfect technical complement to Billy's "feel"-based style.
After a solid set of radio anthems from The Bravery, Chris Cornell showed the kids how to really rock, circa 1994. Hitting the stage in cutoff pants and huge Doc Martens, the wavy haired singer looked like he did during Soundgarden's heyday. Grunge fashion choices aside, his set was the perfect balance between old and new material. He opened up with a fiery version of Audioslave's "Cochise." His voice sounded pristine, and he nailed each and every high note. After the solo track "No Such Thing," he revived the '90s in one fell swoop. "Outshined" possessed the same urgency that it did back when Lollapallooza happened in every city. "Spoon Man" jumped back into the Superunknown. "Hunger Strike" was something of a generational marriage, as Linkin Park's Chester Bennington came out and sang Eddie Vedder's verses, bouncing off Cornell. Then both singers' kids took center stage all smiles. It was quite a moment. Cornell followed that up with a chilling rendition of "Black Hole Sun" that saw the singer in the crowd while belting out those chilling, apocalyptic lines. To cap it all off, "Rusty Cage" resounded through the night like a howling wolf.
After a long day of eclectic sets, Linkin Park had a lot to live up to, but they didn't disappoint. The band has become a bona fide live juggernaut. In fact, their stage show falls somewhere between the grandiose arena bombast of U2 and Nine Inch Nails' visceral, hyperkinetic electro shock therapy. Linkin Park tore through a 90-minute plus set of pure hits, with a lot of jumping and running around the various risers adorning the stage. At this point in their career, the band's got such an amazing catalog of radio anthems that they truly are Xbox Nation's answer to U2. Cuts from Minutes to Midnight have become especially powerful live.
Opener "What I've Done" provoked a massive sing-a-long, and it's piano-guitar juxtaposition sounded utterly divine. Linkin Park is all about balance. The guitars and electronics on "Given Up" and "Bleed It Out" complement each other but never clash. In the same manner, frontmen Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington volley vocals back and forth seamlessly. The older classics got everyone jumping. "Faint" exuded mosh pit urgency, while "Don't Stay" saw Chester emanating pure rock fury. "Numb," "Crawling" and "In the End" felt seat shattering when carried by the band's prowess and stunning light show. A blanket of strobes covered the stage in a flurry of flashes that fit the band's sound. The final track, "One Step Closer," packed a powerful punch, and Linkin Park closed out on a heavy note.
At one point, Mike made an interesting comment. He said that he liked playing Orange County because "it's less Hollywood" than L.A. Linkin Park have definitely been presented with the chance to become "Hollywood," if they were so inclined, but have never fallen into the tabloid trap or abandoned their fans. Rather, they've become even more accessible, as the pre-show video of their Habitat for Humanity work would confirm. They're the real deal, and they're here to stay.