For close to two decades, rock/rap/electronica outfit Linkin Park has churned out layered, hard-hitting tracks underneath the late Chester Bennington’s gripping, emotive tenor and co-leader Mike Shinoda’s mix of spit-fire delivery and baritone vocals. It may seem like Bennington’s suicide in July of last year could have potentially hindered the Diamond-certified, chart-topping act from going forward.
However, Shinoda has opted instead to carry the torch, remind Linkin Park fans that they DO matter, and prove to the fans that music can heal all wounds.
The multi-dimensional, Grammy-winning rapper, producer, film composer, multi-instrumentalist, remixer and visual artist hit the stage at The Tabernacle in Atlanta on October 21st as part of the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour. The end result was a 98-minute Technicolor experience and celebration that provided Shinoda room to connect with the crowd, overcome bereavement and most importantly, just enjoy doing what he loves most.
The relaxing Sunday evening didn’t rely heavily on an influx of props, pyrotechnics or gaudy production values. Less was definitely more for Shinoda. Dressed comfortably in a black t-shirt with gold captions, a black skater hat donning his signature font, army green cargo pants, sky-colored hi-top Vans and a pearly white smile the entire time, the consummate performer came onstage to the sounds of a throbbing heartbeat and hues from prism-like strobelighting.
The audience erupted.
Rather than break out with a song from his cathartic debut solo LP Post Traumatic or a selection from any of the seven Linkin Park studio releases, Shinoda unexpectedly opened with “Petrified,” one of the cuts from his hip-hop extension, Fort Minor.
The easygoing Agoura, California raised entertainer gave equal airtime to each of his musical identities, brilliantly balancing between spitting hot bars, tapping fluorescent-colored pads on his beat machine and sampler, tickling the keys, shredding riffs on guitar and of course, paying homage to his deceased Linkin Park co-pilot.
Songs from Post Traumatic, which was released last June, comprised a very small portion of the set list. Shinoda showed off his classic rock-styled plectrum work on “Make It Up As I Go.” The stage splashed a hybrid of burnt autumn lighting alongside the throbbing percussive clanking on “Ghosts” before Shinoda led a flashmob of handclaps on “Crossing a Line” and crooned a mesmerizing Roger Troutman-inspired vocoder solo on “About You.”
The nu metal virtuoso’s impressively lyrical Fort Minor alter ego shined brightly, too: breezing (and flowing) through “Cigarettes,” “Kenji” and “Where’d You Go.”
Given the circumstances, the evening inevitably took a somber yet celebratory moment when Shinoda offered a sonic eulogy to Bennington. Known for humbly deferring to crowd participation, he landed the crowd on its feet with staples from Linkin Park’s entire discography.
The gargantuan “When They Come For Me” resembled an arena rock chorus. Shinoda tinkered with high-pitched samples on “Sorry For Now” and remained deployed behind his towering keyboards and hardware for “Castles of Glass.”
The evening’s more tear-jerking moment continued, giving Shinoda in solitude the space onstage to grieve and to heal along with his fans. As Shinoda mentioned, the audience definitely “made Chester proud,” loudly belting out Bennington’s parts on “Hands Held High,” “Iridescent,” “Waiting for the End,” “In the End,” “Numb” and “Blow Me Away.”
Just when it seemed like the evening was over, Shinoda returned to the stage, damn near stage diving into the erupting, overjoyed audience to perform two more Post Traumatic standouts: the echoing, minimalist “World’s On Fire” and the hard rocking “Running From My Shadow.” A Linkin Park power ballad (“Roads Untraveled”) and an orchestral-flavored Fort Minor heater (“Remember the Name”) wrapped the evening in a bow.
Next to the collection of music spanning twenty years, the reward for the evening was witnessing Shinoda share and feel the love with some of the people responsible for the 55 million records Linkin Park has sold worldwide.
Abandoning sadness and despair in favor of immortalizing his partner-in-song, Shinoda’s last stop in Atlanta, a city he declares is one of the “dopest in America,” was one of his most memorable performances to date.
SEE Mike Shinoda on tour | Dates