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Source. Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington / Photo by Ian Witlen.

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one… Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. Bhagavad Gita

From the first moment of “Requiem” from A Thousand Suns, ripples of peripatetic paroxysms began to spread across the sold out Madison Square Garden arena the evening of February 4. Peripatetic, because the source of LP’s music was dynamic, shifting from percussion to keyboards to the trading lead rapid-fire vocals of rapping Mike Shinoda to Chester Bennington whose signature is a primal full-voiced “scream.”

This video provides a glimpse of what I tried to express in words:

Fans filmed Linkin Park performing the single, “Waiting for the End.” Footage was shot Jan. 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, and Jan. 28 at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul.



Paroxysms, because of the sharp emotional response of the audience, bubbling up in fits and starts in response to and in anticipation of their set list, sampled from landscapes sometimes raw and sensual to the discovery of one’s deepest fears and weaknesses (“Crawling” – I’ve felt this way before / So insecure!) to stark pronouncements of independence (“From The Inside” – I won’t waste myself on you!)

These ripples in the audience brought to mind Jake in “Avatar” when he first touched the Helicoradian flowers but with opposite effect. He touches one and it responds immediately as if a raw nerve, retreating. He touches another, and the sensitive flowers respond as a community, hundreds reacting in the blink of an eye.

Here the MSG audience opened up and let loose, tentatively at first and then as a community of some 20,000. Outward appearances did not matter, ranging from pre-teens to teens in sneakers and Goth garb to young professionals fresh from a day’s work to moms and dads linked to Linkin Park via their children. It was a delight to observe, and participate in, well, the community paroxysms.

Like this, there were the giggling Asian teens transformed into hard core rockers, in a moment seeming to begin convulsions during “Blackout” {No / you’ve gotta get it inside / You push it back down / You push it back down.}

Like this, there was the mom and her teen daughter, seemingly distant at first {daughter texting during intermission, mom bored out of place} becoming a joyful dancing duo in the aisles during “In the End” {There’s only one thing you should know / I tried so hard / And got so far / But in the end / It doesn’t even matter.} Indeed.

Like this, there was my young son and I, celebrating his birthday, at his first concert, tentatively transforming into rockers in our own right, sharing grins abound throughout, including “One Step Closer” {I need a little room to breathe / Cause I’m one step closer to the edge / And I’m about to break!}

With “The Radiance,” LP presented a curious blend of rhythm and film; as the song unfolds, an enormous projection of Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear weapons, appears, filling the arena with his voice:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form, and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.
-Robert Oppenheimer

As he speaks, the film appears to be controlled via keyboards, projecting smoothly, then paused, then “wrapped” in a loop highlighting Oppenheimer’s mouth, transitioning to a live projection of Mike Shinoda (what is the message?)

There is much more to share, but I don’t want to spoil it. The thousands of fans engaged with mobile devices throughout their performance foretold future performances enhanced by the audience’s emotions shared by text, photos and video linked to the giant screen on stage. Imagine an interactive version of songs like “The Radiance” in which the band and the audience peform and experience the art as a tapestry of music, video and texts, creating a unique experience for each arena.

See Jon Pareles’s review of this concert in today’s The New York Times.

Comments

  1. #1 Kelly
    February 7, 2011

    I was there and as difficult as it is to express the effect in words you’ve done it beautifully.

  2. #2 Jeff
    February 7, 2011

    Thank you very much – very kind of you!

  3. #3 Animeidol
    February 7, 2011

    I got linked to this review by Mike Shinoda on his twitter. Very nice review, I must say! I like the choice of words – Peripatetic Paroxysms

  4. #4 Kelly
    February 7, 2011

    You’re welcome! Going to experience the Linkin Park Effect again in San Diego!

  5. #5 Jeff
    February 7, 2011

    Thank you and thanks to Mike Shinoda for tweeting my review!

    @m_shinoda MIke Shinoda
    First Linkin Park concert review to use the term “Peripatetic Paroxysms” http://bit.ly/h31M7e

  6. #6 dbg
    February 7, 2011

    This review has given me goosebumps.

  7. #7 Bala Subramanian
    February 7, 2011

    Music, words, feelings and interconnectedness – weather in poetry or in prose – in thoughts, in paintings or in movies – we remain forever mystified by the mysteries of this universe ! indeed !

  8. #8 BilgiSpot
    February 8, 2011

    Thank you. This excellent

  9. #9 Jeff
    February 8, 2011

    Thank you so much. Your response is the goal of every writer attempting to share a profound experience – words are such a feeble medium aren’t they? Part of my prose was inspired by “Lying From You” from “Meteora,” drawing upon the power of LP’s music in my expression in words to invoke the emotion of the audience. “Like this…”

  10. #10 Mike Leong
    February 12, 2011

    I wouldn’t go as far as saying words are a feeble medium — they do convey powerful meanings. Music, rhythm, melody amplifies the meanings by intoxicating the crowd, drawing them in and inspiring them to absorb those meanings, expressing them and sharing them through emotion. I see myself doing it when I listen to music my daughters like and it sucks me in. It gives me every opportunity to connect with them!

  11. #11 BilgiSPot
    February 12, 2011

    I love this artist