Linkin Park raps, rocks the Revolution.
Linkin Park, however, has emerged a full-throttle survivor. Minutes to Midnight, released in May, expanded the band's sound and spawned one of the biggest mainstream hits of its career (What I've Done).
The California outfit held its own amid a slew of younger bands during Sunday's Projekt Revolution tour stop at the Woodlands Pavilion. Linkin Park's headlining set was vital, vivid and viciously relevant.
Lead vocalist Chester Bennington and emcee/instrumentalist Mike Shinoda immediately established a dynamic interplay, expertly trading verses back and forth throughout the group's nearly two-hour performance.
Somewhere I Belong was typical of the evening's fist pumping, singalong intensity. Teenage and 20-something boys furrowed their brows in unison, jumping into each other throughout the venue. Girls bobbed along coolly.
There is, at times, a bit of Billy Corgan in Bennington's vocal delivery. But it's a fuller sound that doesn't fall prey to whiny-boy tendencies.
But when Bennington unleashes a full-out roar, it's a heavy, heady does of metal. Current single Given Up's blood-curdling lung workout should have immediately shredded his vocal chords. It's a wonder he's able to talk the next day.
The screams were temporarily silenced when Bennington brought out his infant son, protected by large headphones, for a quick cameo.
"This is my baby's second concert," he told the crowd. It was a sweet, sincere moment.
Early single Papercut was an intense showcase for Shinoda's rap skills, and Leave Out All the Rest was the evening's first mid-tempo moment, and it came with a command to raise cigarette lighters to the air. (Most of this crowd opted for cellphones.)
Numb, though not a recent single, is indicative of the band's evolution. It still churned with some rage but benefited from a pop-friendlier song structure. And Pushing Me Away was a dramatic, piano-driven highlight.
Those were the show's best moments, the band bending and flexing its aggro-rock vibe into different shapes. New tune The Little Things Give You Away was a chugging industrial ballad filled with mournful wails. But Shadow of the Day was an exception--a shameless U2 ripoff that fell flat.
Better was Bleed It Out, which was buoyed by genuine hip-hop flavor and rock urgency. It sent the already enraptured crowd into a full-on frenzy and was the evening's best example of Linkin Park's often-dynamic duality.
My Chemical Romance's hourlong set came as the sun was still beating down on the crowd. The band's black wardrobe--including frontman Gerard Way's long sleeves and military-inspired vest--was an odd contrast to the shirtless, sunburnt crowd. But the stylish schtick seems to work.
The group relied heavily on tunes from its platinum 2006 disc, The Black Parade. There's not much variation in the sound, a messy mash-up of punk, goth-rock and '80s-inspired riffs.
Mama was an exception, its quirky gallop like something Jack White would dream up.
Welcome to the Black Parade incited an earnest singalong before blasting into an arena-rock fervor . And Way played up the Rolling Stones-inspired groove of Teenagers by prancing across the stage like Mick Jagger.
Way is an intriguing frontman. He's aloof and accessible at the same time, addressing the crowd in a slightly superior, feminine tone.
"This is my favorite part of the night because all the beautiful boys are going to take their shirts off," he shouted, half-serious, at one point. It was a calculated statement designed to ruffle the crowd's testosterone contingent.
There were a few awkward seconds of dwindling enthusiasm and some tense pockets of silence. But soon enough, scores of males were waving their shirts in the air--an unlikely act of surrender to the androgynous frontman.