Bands rock at Projekt Revolution.
WEST PALM BEACH - The bands playing the Projekt Revolution tour at Sound Advice Amphitheatre on Friday had one trait in common: They all cared.
This was a day of hard rock for softies, metal for budding poets and punky pop for brooders. A few of these bands have played other, differently themed events such as Ozzfest and Warped, and had no trouble fitting in. But lined up next to this tour's founding act, the rock-rap combo Linkin Park, they came off like a series of interventions for anguished teens.
Linkin Park, also the headliner, capped the festival with the day's biggest exercise in pain management. In front of a swirling, multi-colored palette, the six-piece band offered empathy and, courtesy of vocalist Chester Bennington, screaming release through songs such as "Crawling."
The Linkin Park repertoire of alienation ("Somewhere I Belong"), compulsion ("Breaking the Habit") and wasted years ("In The End") got grandiose treatment. Joe Hahn's DJ scratches and rapper Mike Shinoda's duck-and-jab verses took some of the excess weight out of padded arrangements. But given the band's fondness for power chords and sad piano - think Nadia's Theme - there's only so much flexibility the hip-hop touches can add.
Linkin Park wisely signed off with a straightforward thrash tune called "Bleed It Out," almost an antidote to an otherwise somber set list.
Earlier in the day, the London band Placebo plied the outdoor crowd with churning waves of guitar, and the charms of a frontman who sang about doomed romance and entropy.
While this band didn't dress to the nines, there was a fashion-plate aura about the core trio - joined on stage by two touring musicians - and a sense that Placebo used style as armor against life's suffering. Songs including "Nancy Boy" and "The Bitter End" paired an aloof, observational chill with little bursts of vulnerability.
The metal band HIM played as if no music made after 1984 had passed between their ears. Doggedly retro in the '80s hair-band mold, HIM paid regal guitar-and-keyboard homage to Dio and Ozzy Osbourne. And as if to cover the whole '80s catalog, they sometimes exhibited a Top 40 sensibility that might have gleaned from listening to Laura Branigan.
The songs pleaded for love and despaired of the heart turning "into a tomb." A muscular four-piece instrumental section provided most of HIM's heft and propulsion. The singer, more crooner than screamer, was a surprisingly meek figure on stage considering the showboating tradition of '80s metal frontmen.
Taking Back Sunday's own frontman struck a blow for transparency on Friday by pointing out early on that three of the six musicians on stage were temps. A guitarist and a second singer were standing in for one original member, and an understudy was behind the kit while Sunday's actual drummer recovered from a back injury.
Maybe the substitutions were to blame for a balky set. With dueling lead vocals, Taking Back Sunday brought energy and motion to their music but occasionally sounded as if they were playing two songs at once.
Other shortcomings weren't related to personnel. A couple of tunes had more fundamental harmonic problems: They worked so hard to adhere to the schematics of punk-pop and emo - the sped-up guitar and bass lines, the vaulting vocals - they ignored basic principles such as agreement between chord sequence and melody. These bouts of tone deafness tended to undercut Sunday's efforts to be wrenchingly heartfelt.
Where Linkin Park projected punctuality and business-like discipline, My Chemical Romance was cheerfully ragged. Traipsing through emo, goth, glam and classic rock, My Chemical Romance has distinguished itself lately with an interest in death - a fascination expressed at album length with The Black Parade, a collection of concept songs the band trotted out on Friday.
What My Chemical Romance lacked in cohesion as a live act they made up for in drama and theater. In bringing some dark humor to their mortality play, they also cut an affable contrast to Linkin Park's monumental seriousness.
Sean Piccoli can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4832.
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