Yes, there were an abundance of bands on deck for the annual Sunset Strip Music Festival. Acts like indie heavyweights Awolnation and frat-hopper Asher Roth dominated the main stages set up on opposite ends of the shutdown strip, while up and comers like Sad Robot and veterans Orgy handled things at The Roxy and Whisky. Thousands came out to spend the day with music, art and beer…lots and lots of drinking opportunities, but there were two bands who made people like me wear a nostalgic grin; Linkin Park and Finch.
Over a decade ago Finch released an album that still sits atop many “albums that shaped my life” lists; What It Is to Burn. They’d promised to play the whole thing and that they did. Standing there amidst a sea of Linkin Park fans (more on their cult like fanbase later), I was taken back to high school and the first time my best friend played Finch for me. While MTV pop owned my world, Finch was one of the many far-from-Top-40 bands to enter my life and that album still remains top notch. Last year when Finch played it, it was great and for those who didn’t get to make it out to one of those shows last fall…well you missed yet another opportunity to hear What It Is to Burn in its entirety on the Strip.
It wasn’t an ideal situation since most of the crowd was awaiting Linkin Park and/or Awolnation, but Finch did their best to win over the crowd in the late afternoon. One can only hope the younger folks in attendance walked away wanting to hear more. If not an appreciation for their music, than maybe a chuckle after R2K said they were going to “wild n’ out” like Nick Cannon. Okay, if you don’t laugh at that, you might not have a soul.
After that point, it was a waiting game until Linkin Park closed out the main stages. Oh don’t worry, the party continued after then inside The Roxy, but for those who had to rely on the Metro, you had to book it after LP – and still wait 40 minutes for the 2. Anyways, back to Linkin Park. First off, the fans…You have to respect a band who caters to theirs. The West main stage’s crowd was split down the middle and members of their Linkin Park Underground fan club, got their own side. Another note on the LP fans, if you thought you could pinpoint what a fan of theirs looks like, you wouldn’t even be close; young, old, every race and social class. The crowd for Linkin Park’s set was as eclectic as the festival’s lineup – especially the two older women who were to my right the whole night. Many thanks to you two for the headbanging, blood curdling screaming and your special version of moshing. You two were a delight. Thank you for proving that you’re never too old to be out of the game. I hope I never lose my love of live music like those two.
A little less than an hour and a half, Linkin Park’s set was a mix of all the best from the past and present. They didn’t rely on just “the hits,” which true blue fans walked away valuing. More often than not I could hear this older woman behind me say, “Now THIS, this was worth it.”
The worth came in Linkin Park’s stellar performance. Those guys haven’t let their guard down since I was in 7th grade, and I’m pretty sure they never will. Chester Bennington went into the crowd during “What I’ve Done” and fans exploded with adrenaline. Personally no moment could beat “Lies Greed Misery” followed by “A Place For My Head.” That was the moment the adult I am today collided with the kid I was years ago. At one point Mike Shinoda took it way back during “Bleed It Out” when he tossed in a rhyme they had back in the day. He dubbed “the fastest” he could rap, ever. Impressive would be an understatement. Of course by the end “In The End” was played and even the few who weren’t there for LP were singing along, but nothing topped the energy for “One Step Closer.” Sometime between when that song first dropped and now, Chester added even more aggressive vocals and it paid off.
The Sunset Strip Music Festival could be considered big by some, but it takes only a few blocks and when it comes to bands like Linkin Park, it’s pretty damn intimate. So it’ll be exciting to see who they peg down for next year’s headliners. One thing’s for sure though, if you’re in LA at the start of August and love music, you have to check out the SSMF – just don’t take the Metro, unless you leave early or don’t mind the wait. There were free shuttles, but it was unclear where you’d end up if you hopped on.