The stage’s platforms, ramps and angular slabs of metal made it look like a futuristic factory floor, and Linkin Park proved to be the gleaming machine that keeps the warehouse in brisk business.
In concert at Nassau Coliseum Sunday night, the band was precise and efficient, the members taking on their roles like theater veterans. They ran from side to side without colliding, waved their arms in tandem, leapt from oversized milk crates and waded into the crowd to spread the Linkin love. And for added flair, they brought out an acrobatic breakdancer during “Nobody’s Listening.”
Their musical performance was equally pristine – a polished showcase of electro-metal and rock-rap that re-created the precise, effects-laden sounds of their records so effectively that if you closed your eyes, you might forget for a moment that you were watching a live band.
Linkin Park wasted no time charging into fan favorites like “Runaway” and “Somewhere I Belong.” Joseph Hahn triggered computerized beats and samples from his DJ perch, and rapper Mike Shinoda and singer Chester Bennington fluidly swapped vocals without missing a note.
Linkin Park are one of the most successful rock bands touring today, and one reason their popularity hasn’t waned is because they’re always mindful that their fans’ undying devotion got them to the top. In concert, they never hesitate to give the record buyers props.
“What’s this, like your 15th or 17th [Linkin Park show]?” Shinoda asked one fan before the band started “Papercut.” And after the cathartic “From the Inside,” Bennington, too, played to the adoring public: “I wanna give all you guys a big, sloppy kiss,” he began. “I can kiss guys and not be gay. And even if I was, so what? I just love you guys.” The fan devotion continued when Linkin Park invited a frizzy-haired audience member to play guitar during “Faint.”
Shinoda played rhythm guitar during several songs and sat at a piano for “Breaking the Habit,” “Numb” and “My December.” And Bennington picked up a guitar for “It’s Goin’ Down,” a track the band recorded for the X-Ecutioners’ Built From Scratch.
Following an aching rendition of “Crawling,” Linkin Park ended their regular set with “In the End.” A minute or two later, they returned for the first of two encores. Bennington was carried to the middle of the coliseum floor for “Place for My Head,” and P.O.D. singer Sonny Sandoval joined the band to sing the set closer “One Step Closer,” which elicited a roaring response.
Like Linkin Park, P.O.D. have a few trademark moves. Sandoval leans over and throws his head forward so his dreadlocks fly wildly across his face, bassist Traa has some braided hair tricks of his own, and new guitarist Jason Truby sure knows how to strike an angry thrash metal pose.
But P.O.D.’s performance wasn’t nearly as well rehearsed as that of the headliner. Sure, they’re musically proficient and rhythmically tight, but the band is also gritty and somewhat unpredictable.
When Sandoval went into the pit during “Boom,” for a moment it looked like he’d be dragged to the floor by fans, and when the singer burst into “Change the World,” for a few seconds he was painfully off-key. Such snafus only made P.O.D.’s set more exciting and immediate, as the bandmembers appeared energized and impulsive, vibing off each other musically and capturing the spirit of the moment.
The band opened with “Will You,” the first single from Payable on Death. Truby played with confidence on the songs he recorded album parts for, but he also handled former guitarist Marcos Curiel’s Latin-tinged passages with grace. On “Southtown,” Truby combined Curiel’s surging riffs with an ethereal, jazzy intro. It wasn’t the only multicultural moment. Several tracks, including “Freedom Fighters” and “Wildfire,” combined crunching metal and reggae, and Sandoval wore a red, yellow and black wristband, illustrating P.O.D.’s interest in Jamaican music and culture.
Whether railing with rage on “Set It Off,” settling into a laid-back groove for “Execute the Sounds” or blasting into a mainstream anthem like “Alive,” P.O.D. played with self-assurance, all the while balancing the raging rock with more melodic numbers.
Hoobastank warmed up the crowd with their power rock. “It takes a lot more than a little snow to stop a New Yorker,” singer Doug Robb said before the group launched into their hit “Crawling in the Dark.” Guitarist Dan Estrin frantically strummed his instrument and shook his body, leaving little evidence he suffered a near-fatal head injury last year, and Markku Lappalainen stood stage left thrumming out fat, tuneful bass lines.
The band performed a number of melodic rock songs, but it was the heavier, punk-based cuts like “Out of Control” and “Just One” that really got the crowd moving.
Story of the Year opened with about 30 minutes of dramatic modern rock and capped their performance with a cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”