Every concert has their own moments that will always stick to you. It’s a feeling that is better told as a story than captured on a device. Every album cycle or every tour leg has its own unique experiences, but the Post Traumatic EP release show in New York was something different.
Linkin Park had been a staple in the fabric of alternative rock for close to 20 years before the tragic suicide of Chester Bennington on July 20th, 2017. When you revisit most of the material now, the songs have a different tone to them. There’s a coat of melancholy that’s thick within the lyrics. “In The End,” one of Linkin Park’s beloved songs off their debut album, 2000’s Hybrid Theory has a new layer of sadness to it. For musicians, the process of creating serves to be a healing experience and the legacy of Bennington will forever be abundant through the art he created.
The surviving members of the band did a tribute show for Bennington at the Hollywood Bowl on October 27th, 2017. There, it was an outpouring of love within memories and singalongs for the three hour show. After, there were some questions to face. How would the band continue without one of it’s beloved members? How would these talented musicians, but most importantly, human entities be able to process this loss?
From someone whose lost a best friend, you can’t comment enough on the bravery from Mike Shinoda to be open and honest about his grieving process. You recognize him as the immensely creative and talented frontman of Linkin Park and Fort Minor, but it takes a lot to peel that veil back and show the man himself. While he’s always established a connection with fans through his lyricism and conversation, this time, it was our voices and well wishes that needed to help him.
“Place To Start” was the first song released by Mike Shinoda on the Post Traumatic EP at the beginning of the year and is the first track both on the EP and album versions. It’s a profound stream of consciousness that captures the shock of the moment of trying to pick up pieces.
The lights dropped and there was a warm blue hue that hugged each side of Shinoda while he performed the song. His hoodie hugged over his cap as Gramercy Theater went to a quiet hush. From that moment forward, you could feel that there were going to be a kaleidoscope like-range of emotions. Some tears. Some smiles reliving some songs that brought up particular landmarks of when you experienced them. A lot of healing.
Although the Post Traumatic show was just Shinoda himself, it was equally as powerful. He performed a medley of material that chronicled Linkin Park songs, Fort Minor, and songs from his newest release. There were instances that stood out in particular. Shinoda took to the crowd during the later half of “Over Again” and performed his verse from “Papercut” where the fans screamed out Bennington’s part during the chorus.
It’s almost if the essence of the memory of Bennington was speaking through the crowd as Shinoda performed songs like “Roads Untraveled.” The crowd would add their own harmonies to fill everything in. Everything wasn’t all sad, however. Shinoda made things upbeat with mashups of “Waiting For The End/”Where’d You Go.” “Good Goodbye/Bleed It Out” became a celebratory jolt.
Towards the end of the show, Shinoda had looked out towards the crowd at a particular sign. On that sign had three words – “Make Chester Proud.” The last song of the night was “Running From My Shadow,” and as the song concluded, Shinoda went to the barricade and ended the show. From there, he gave hugs, took notes from fans, and signed some autographs until the place emptied out.
Ultimately, the mission statement of Linkin Park will be the enduring benevolence of the love fans express through hard times. Even through his own battles, Mike Shinoda became a conduit of not only his legacy, but every bit of being human that we forget that musicians have as well. That will continue to make Chester proud.