New vibe from Linkin Park.
For many Chinese fans, Linkin Park's first beloved songs were a formative explosion of rock, punk, rap and lyrics about feeling out of place. But today the music is more melodic, more social criticism.
Shanghai audiences have just about seen and heard it all - from international mega stars to all kinds of rock/alternative performances by musicians from all over the world. But Linkin Park's concert this Sunday will be the first major international rock group concert held in an outdoor stadium on the Chinese mainland.
The Grammy-winning group will stage a two-hour rock performance at Hongkou Football Stadium. They will sing 20 songs, half from their newly released album "Minutes to Midnight" and the rest its most popular songs.
The six-piece band is one of the most popular Western bands on the mainland, partly because of two Asian-American members (Mike Shinoda and DJ Joseph Hahn).
The Linkin Park China Fan Club has 23,239 official members, not to mention those who never join clubs. Fan club head Xu Pengyuan saysabout 3,000 fans will attend the live show. Moreover, fans will welcome the group at the airport.
"I've heard a lot of good things about China and Shanghai, not least that we have a lot of really great fans here. It's a really exciting place to play. We would like to visit some traditional Chinese places and experience the Chinese music here," the bands' co-vocalist and programmer Shinoda says in an e-mail interview with Shanghai Daily.
For their Shanghai concert, the group didn't ask much in the way of accommodation - only regular rooms and no special food.
"A good concert, is not the production or the lights or anything like that, it's more about playing and putting together the best experience for the fans that we can. We have a lot of room for improvisations," he says.
The band was formed by Shinoda, lead singer Chester Bennington, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist Phoenix, drummer Rob Bourdon and DJ Hahn. As a metal band, Linkin Park debuted in 2000 with its hit "Hybrid Theory."
Then the Los Angeles-based rap-rockers followed up with the five-time platinum album "Meteora" in 2004.
The first two albums are very much alike. The melodies are hard core, sometimes tending towards heavy metal. The lyrics are angry but emotional and even melancholy about the pains of an ordinary person in today's world. The pain - "Nobody's Listening," finding "Somewhere I Belong," or feeling so "Numb" - is described in words that are felt and understood by many.
Linkin Park is often categorized as nu-metal or rap-rock but the band dislikes this label.
"I hate nu-metal," says Bennington. "I never liked any of the bands - not even the ones I was friends with."
Shinoda is much milder. "I don't hate nu-metal per se. I just hate being called nu-metal. We were never a part of it. We didn't care to be part of it, and to have people labeling us as that - nu-metal, rap-metal, whatever - was just annoying."
But to many fans, the powerful rapping over the hard instruments and screaming vocals is also a signature of Linkin Park.
"It was something brand new to me," says Liang Qin, a city fan since he heard their first album when he was in high school. "The punk, the rapping, the rock, the lyrics, they combined all these. Six or seven years ago, for kids like me, that was a complete explosion of rock music."
A busy computer programmer, Liang has already bought a ticket for "nostalgia of my times in high school and university."
Like some other fans, Liang feels less connected to "Minutes to Midnight," the band's third studio album released in May. Working with producer Rick Rubin, the group has taken a big step away from their defined style. And they had expected they would lose fans with this new sound.
Shinoda admits it was difficult to change the sound because "the old sound was so widely accepted and loved." But he is pleased with feedback from fans who say they're "reaching a higher level."
The 12 tracks have milder melodies and more direct lyrics about world affairs and war, compared with the personal feelings expressed in the past.
"Some people have called it political, but I'd just call it aware," he concludes.