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Live Review: Projekt Revolution in Devore, CA

My Chemical Romance has one of the best modern-rock albums this side of the millennium in "The Black Parade," breakthrough singles at Top 40 radio, and a stage show and delivery to match every bit of their burgeoning fame and fortune. They were firing on all cylinders at the Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen Saturday night (7/28), unleashing a performance that could have headlined the already eight-hour Projekt Revolution and left fans feeling satisfied.

The only catch was, they weren't the headliners. And as good as My Chemical Romance was, Linkin Park was better. Not an easy feat, but one that demonstrated just how far the tour's founders, headliners and namesakes (Linkin Park Presents: Projekt Revolution) have come in three studio albums that have--for better or for worse--shaped the face of hard rock in the 21st century.

Hailed as one of the preeminent bands to fuse rock with hip-hop, Linkin Park has gone out of its way to distance itself from the rap-rock tag and genre, particularly on new release "Minutes to Midnight." The irony is, the fusion of frontman Chester Bennington's pained and anguished vocals with Mike Shinoda's more rapid fire, hip-hop heavy blasts and spoken-word beats is where the band is clearly at its best live.

Opening behind a white curtain, the band's shadows projected from atop an erector set-like staging as the instrumental pangs of "Wake" ebbed through the crowd of more than 15,000. As the curtain split and shot into the rafters, the Southern California six-piece exploded into "Given Up," the crowd exploded to life, and both maintained the fevered pitch throughout the 90-minute, 21-song set.

"No More Sorrow" slammed with a Metallica-like urgency (think "Am I Evil," albeit less menacing), a piledriver of riffs and drums that, like the openers, featured co-frontman Mike Shinoda on rhythm guitars. Shinoda took the mic and shared center stage on "Lying from You" and "Don't Stay," the pair trading lines and injecting depth to the guitar-driven and drum-paced maelstrom paving the wake, the heavy scratch and sonics of DJ Joe Hahn sending ripples of texture through the music.

A mid-set coupling of "Minutes to Midnight" ballads followed by a trio of mid-tempo crowd favorites offered a necessary change of pace from the amped proceedings, but also showed Linkin Park at its most vulnerable--on both the personal front, and as a band. Bennington's onstage convulsions can compete with the most manic out there, his screaming softened by a singing edge. Relying solely on pained, sorrowful singing atop Shinoda's keyboards on "Leave Out All the Rest" and "Shadow of the Day," the results weren't quite as jarring.

Yes, the crowd ate up every minute of it, hanging on every word and singing along in complete abandon. That said, the attempts at a U2 and Coldplay-like landscape still require refinement, the delivery lacking the flawless confidence of the rest of the set, and perhaps submitting a bit too much to the feelings of incompleteness expressed in the tracks.

"Breaking the Habit" offered an infectious dose of synth-pop, electronic rock that harkened a passing glance back to mainstage opener Julien K, and ushered in the final third of the set in grand fashion. Encore-opener "One Step Closer" truly set the night off, dropping like a shower of gasoline on already kinetic flames.

Where Linkin Park was at its most vulnerable expressing pain and remorse, My Chemical Romance was at its most poignant best expressing the same sentiments.

Dusk was the backdrop as My Chem opened with a sustained burst of flames and pyro, launching into "This Is How I Disappear" and "The Sharpest Lives" with a musical certainty that defies the group's emo-punk roots. Like Linkin Park, MCR also has three studio releases under its belt, but unlike the headliners, MCR's latest launches them into a landscape of infinite possibilities, a resplendent tandem of hard rock riffs and punk rock rapture, all interwoven by an almost Broadway-like appreciation for harmony and melody.

Where Bennington is infectious via his energy, My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way is gripping in his dynamics, his presence as endearing as it is commanding, whether orchestrating the creepy, carnival-like sideshow psychosis of "Mama," or closing the set alone with a piano on the heart-wrenching "Cancer."

And just as "One Step Closer" helped define a generation of music fans for Linkin Park, My Chem's "Teenagers" is an anthem for the ever-growing legions of disenfranchised, like much of the set, fueled by the blues-soaked guitar riffs of lead guitarist Ray Toro, whose afro-like hair and classic rock demeanor offer a jarring compliment to Way's casually-confident front.

The night may have belonged to Linkin Park, but not by a safe margin. Judging from the response and performances, it's only a matter of time before My Chemical Romance can be atop similar festival bills.

With such a top-heavy load of talent, fan-favorite support acts like paled in comparison. Taking the stage immediately before My Chemical Romance, Sunday couldn't hold a candle on this Saturday night. The group's riffs were solid despite a lack of songwriting depth, and, while frontman Adam Lazzara had presence to spare, he lacked the refinement to match the band's boisterous pomp with his own disingenuous bombast.

H.I.M. and Placebo also joined Julien K on the mainstage. The Revolution sidestage was headlined by Los Angeles veterans Mindless Self Indulgence, and also featured newcomer buzz bands Saosin and The Bled, and openers Madina Lake and Styles of Beyond.

Linkin Park Setlist
"Wake / Given Up"
"No More Sorrow"
"Lying From You"
"Don't Stay"
"Somewhere I Belong"
"From the Inside"
"Points of Authority"
"Leave Out All the Rest"
"Shadow of the Day"
"Pushing Me Away"
"Breaking the Habit"
"The Little Things Give You Away"
"What I've Done"

"One Step Closer"
"In The End"
"Bleed It Out"

Live Daily - July 31, 2007



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