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Last Night: Linkin Park at the American Airlines Center

Linkin Park, Circa Survive and Paper Tongues
March 2, 2011
American Airlines Center

Better than: an SMU frat party.

Check out more shots in Mike's slide show.
Check out more shots in Mike's slide show.
Mike Mezeul

From across the state and even across state lines, more than 12,000 fans amassed inside the AAC last night to witness the spectacle that is Linkin Park. And nowhere else could one witness such an onslaught of 20- to 30-something males, all with hats turned backwards, most with shirts at least two sizes too small, and many with silicon-enhanced honeys in tow.

It was a well-groomed mass of humanity that shouted along to every song, yelled "Fuck yeah!" when prodded by the singer (of one of the opening bands). But it was also a crowd that generally behaved quite well -- mostly because Linkin Park had the crowd eating out of their palms.

And, even though Linkin Park's last couple of records have found the band moving beyond the nu-metal/hip-hop fusion that gained them such a wide following at their career's start, this setlist, at least early on, concentrated on the songs fans had come to hear.

In fact, one young 14-year-old was so excited that one of the first songs was "Faint" that it looked like he was having a seizure.

"This is his favorite band," his father told me. When asked what other bands his kid listened to, the father did not have a clue.

Fitting.

Whether it was the almost punkish "Given Up" or a sad-sack power ballad like "No More Sorrow," the guys in Linkin Park (especially singer Chester Bennington) made every note and lyric seem like an urgent call to arms.

Fans in the mosh pit flailed away in a respectful manner that prevented evident injuries and, all in all, the vibe was decidedly family-friendly. Aside from the numerous F-bombs coming from band and crowd, it was as if Linkin Park were hosting some sort of bonding event for fathers and sons with the backward cap/boob-job crowd simply along for the ride.

Of course, like most crowds at an arena show, though, these folks were not too happy to have to wait until 9 p.m. for the headliner to come on.

North Carolina's Paper Tongues started things off at around 8 o'clock when the venue was barely a third occupied. Nevertheless, singer Aswan North impressed those who had made it out early with his powerful set of pipes. The band's funk rock was not all that original, but this North guy is worth checking into -- his wail echoed across the AAC like a Dirk three pointer.

The second band on the bill was Philly's Circa Survive, whose set was incredibly tight and energetic, but felt lost in a room of this size. Music this complicated just doesn't seem to fare well in places designed for sweaty athletes and monster trucks.

But once Linkin Park hit the stage, it was all swaying arms and thrusting fists. It was a unified "Fuck you!" to the next day's responsibilities.

Jobs and schools be damned. This was Linkin Park. They brought the noise and the audience brought it right back at them.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Look, I've never been the biggest fan of Linkin Park, but I have to admit that they put on a damn good show. Sure, at times they come across like Ministry-lite, but the songs engage the crowd in a way that requires something intangible. It's like Linkin Park have homogenized the rage of Henry Rollins and made it digestible for dudes in tight black T-shirts who may or may not have trophy girlfriends.

By The Way: Did you know there is a jail cell inside the AAC for the cops to put folks in when they behave badly? A security guard told me about several inebriated sorts who ended up in there during an AC/DC show a few years back.

Random Note: One proud father who took his kid into the bathroom said to the boy, "This is the platinum level and they have clean bathrooms up here. There's nothing like dropping a deuce after eating at Hooters." Classy. You can't make, ahem, shit like that up.

Set list:
1. The Requiem
2. Faint
3. Lying From You
4. Given Up
5. What I've Done
6. No More Sorrow
7. From The Inside
8. Jornada del Muerto
9. Waiting For The End
10. Blackout
11. Numb
12. The Radiance
13. Iridescent
14. Fallout
15. The Catalyst
16. Shadow Of The Day
17. In The End
18. Bleed It Out

Encore:
1. Empty Spaces
2. When They Come for Me
3. Papercut
4. New Divide
5. Crawling
6. One Step Closer

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