Earlier this year, the announcement of this summer’s Carnivores Tour brought excitement to many mainstream rock fans. The tour brought together three of the arguably most important bands of the millenium. AFI were a staple for fans in the mid-2000s “emo” alternative scene, with many of their singles making it onto the once popular Guitar Hero game series. Thirty Seconds to Mars launched into alternative stardom around the same time as AFI following the release of their infectious single “The Kill”. Linkin Park are one of the few lone survivors of the early 2000’s nu-metal movement. So how have these bands that have been around for just shy of two decades manage to not only stay relevant, but create such a hype for one of the biggest tours of the summer? The answer is in their stage presence and their musical evolution.
AFI took the stage and were presented with a half full crowd due to a time misprint on the tickets – tickets stated that the show started at 7:00, when AFI took the stage at 6:30. This still didn’t stop a handful of diehard AFI fans from sneaking up to the front row of the seated venue and singing along to every lyric. The lack of crowd did not hinder the band’s performance, however. Singer Davey Havok took the stage with a very theatrical and perfectly rehearsed stage presence to which most female fans whipped out their cell phones to get the perfect shot of the frontman.
Though the band had released their ninth studio album, entitled Burials, only two songs (“17 Crimes” and “I Hope You Suffer”) from the album made the cut for their short, nine song setlist. The majority of the setlist contained their popular singles “Girls Not Grey”, “Silver and Cold” and “Love Like Winter”. The rest of the crowd had finally filed-in by their last song – the hit single “Miss Murder” – the familiarity of it caused a positive reaction throughout the crowd.
Thirty Seconds to Mars have come a long way since the release of The Kill – they fought a $30 million lawsuit from their label, EMI, documented it and the recording of their album This Is War in their award-winning film, Artifact, launched an interactive livestreaming service called VyRT, broke a Guinness World Record for the most shows in a single album cycle, went on a tour that was entirely free for fans to promote their latest release, Love Lust Faith + Dreams, not to mention Jared Leto sweeping this year’s award season for his critically acclaimed role as Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Go ahead, take a chance to catch your breath.
Thirty Seconds to Mars have a stage presence that can only accurately be described as infectious. Leto’s onstage persona is much like Jason Lee’s character in Almost Famous – he works to connect the crowd with the music from the very second he steps on that stage. He works hard on stage to assure that everyone is getting the full Thirty Seconds to Mars experience and have the best time possible.
Concert-goers who may be unfamiliar with the band were at least expected to sing along to the repetitive “oh-oh-ohs” that are found in many of Mars’s songs. During their opening song, “Up In The Air” – he made the entire arena get up off their feet and crouch to the ground – only to bounce back up and lose their minds once the bridge kicked in. “This Is War” was set off by fists pumping and chanting – only for dozens of water balloons to be released into the crowd. During “City Of Angels”, the arena was lit by a sea of cell phones and lighters.
In order to break up the set (and for the crowd in the upper levels to get a good view), Leto grabbed his acoustic guitar to perform a short acoustic set. However, before heading up toward the lawn, he jumped down from the stage to ask for a common courtesy from some front row fans that felt that chatting and sharing a beer was more important than the show unfolding in front of them. “We’re giving it our all up there, I would appreciate if you guys gave us your attention.” he advised. Once he made his way up to the 300 Section, he addressed this further, “I think I’ll spend the rest of the show up here – you guys seem to be having more fun than the people down there,” he said, calling out the front row duo.
` From there, he asked for requests – and the crowd screamed for Hurricane – to which he shot back, “You bunch of perverts,” in reference to the song’s very NSFW music video. He then transitioned into “Alibi”, a soft, hopeful ballad from the This Is War album. Then came the moment the casual fans were waiting for – The Kill. There is something about an acoustic set that brings a sense of unity to the crowd. The relaxed setting made the chorus of fans singing along much more chilling, from the “Crash, crash, burns” of Hurricane, the “Way-ohs” of Alibi, and the chorus of The Kill.
Tomo Milicevic and Shannon Leto joined Jared back onstage, breaking into an instrumental cover of Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”. To close out the set, they gave fans yet another unique experience of being picked to join them onstage. A crowd soon rushed toward the stage with fans on shoulders, carrying signs in hopes of joining them in the “Closer to the Edge” dance party. “No! No! No! No!” Leto lead the arena in a chant before heading off the stage.
Linkin Park took the stage in their typical, high-energy fashion, opening with the lead off single from the new albu, The Hunting Party, entitled Guilty All The Same featuring legendary rapper Rakim. Since Rakim was not present at the show, Mike Shinoda, the band’s frontman and rapper took over the mic for Rakim’s verse. Within the first three songs, they covered the all the bases of their career – The Hunting Party era – their heaviest album to date, “Given Up” from Minutes to Midnight – one of their biggest commercial successes to date, and “Points of Authority” from Hybrid Theory – the album that started it all.
As usual, the show was filled with non-stop high energy that we’ve come to expect from Linkin Park shows. What was different about this tour was that band seemed to be even more cohesive onstage. Normally, we comment on how happy Mike and Chester look to be performing in front of the fans – but this time it was a little different – that look of enjoyment we’ve come to recognize could be seen on every single band member’s face – even the typically stoic “Big Bad” Brad Delson’s.
For a band like Linkin Park with an extensive album catalog – it’s difficult to fit all of the fan favorites and hit singles within one setlist – but somehow they found a way to fit the vast majority of them in there by shortening them (see: “Runaway”) and by mixing them into medleys, such as the ballad medley featuring “Leave Out All The Rest”, “Iridescent” and “Shadow of the Day”. One of the more special medleys was the mix of “Wretches and Kings” and “Remember the Name” – in which Mike Shinoda got a solo moment to perform the Fort Minor tune.
Songs from The Hunting Party included “Rebellion” (which features System of a Down’s Daron Malakian), “The Final Masquerade” and “Wastelands” – which was remixed by Shinoda halfway through the song into a more EDM-style tune.
Throughout the show, there were several EDM-rave-style interludes by both Mr. Joe Hahn and Shinoda – showing the evolution of Linkin Park and how they’ve managed to stay relevant for the last fourteen years – they adapt to the trends. By constantly evolving, they have been able to keep people’s interest and develop a legion of dedicated fans along the way.
One of these fans is Sal Spurge, a Staten Island native who has seen Linkin Park in two countries and ten different states. Over time, he’s formed a close enough relationship with the band that they even talk about him in interviews. Monday was a special night for him right from the start. It was his 50th Linkin Park show, he had a front row seat waiting for him and a meet and greet pass all lined up to go. Throughout the meet and greet, the band let him know how much they appreciate him being so dedicated to them and thanked him for all the support over the years. “The things they were saying made me want to cry a little bit,” his younger cousin commented.
To make the night even more special for Sal, during “Numb” (which had the nice touch of Mike Shinoda rapping Jay-Z’s verses from Collision Course), Chester Bennington jumped off the stage and sang the song duet-style with Sal from his seat.
“Give it up for Sal! This is his 50th Linkin Park show! Five – zero!” Mike Shinoda exclaimed, “Sal’s been with us since the first time we played New York. We played Roseland Ballroom – we were f-ing opening up the show in 2001!”
“Thank you Sal,” Chester added.
The night was not over yet, though – Linkin Park closed out the show with a five song encore – including their breakout hit “Crawling”, “New Divide”, “What I’ve Done”, their latest single “Until It’s Gone” and wrapped everything up with the crowd favorite “Bleed It Out”. But before they could let everyone leave, the band had one more surprise in store.
DJ Steve Aoki had nominated Mike Shinoda for the Strike Out ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but Mike decided to make sure that Sal’s 50th show would be a chilling one to remember by bringing him up onstage and having both of them doused by Chester. Mike would later tweet that he and Sal would be donating to ALSA every month for the next year.
Overall – The Carnivores tour is the ultimate “can’t miss” tour of the summer. Each band brings their own unique sound and stage show to make it entertaining and exhilarating from start to finish.
To make a donation to ALSA, please visit http://www.alsa.org
Linkin Park are also using their charitable project Music For Relief to help aid those suffering from the Ebola epidemic in Africa. Please visit http://www.musicforrelief.org for more information.