The Honda Civic Tour
25 Aug 2012: Klipsch Music Center Indianapolis, IN
How I found myself at this year’s Honda Civic Tour has more to do with rapport building than it does with musical predilection. Suffice it to say that Linkin Park has not been a part of my artistic diet since a short stint in 2001 following the release of their debut, Hybrid Theory. Even then, I was drawn far more to their particular inclusion of electronic sounds and hip hop elements than I was to the idea of a band fronting the nu metal bandwagon. No, on this particular date I was interested in the prospect of finding a common ground with some mutual friends, and what better way to do so than through music—Linkin Park being the point of interest in this case. However, just as in most circumstances as unassuming as this, I got more than I bargained for and learned a few things in the process.
Like most other post-punk/indie 20-somethings caught up in the current of self-righteous media consumption, I tend to decline the notion that anything outside of my palate holds value larger than that of a guilty pleasure. This idea helps keep my reputation intact. Or maybe it just makes me an asshole. Whatever the case, when outside of my comfort zone, I often shut down communication and lose my ability for cordial interaction. Since this night would not allow for such a response, I found myself pushing beyond my typical boundaries and fraternizing with Linkin Park fans on a grassy hill just outside the amphitheater.
The evening began pleasantly enough with a surprising dose of enjoyable nostalgia in the form of Incubus. On the heels of last year’s If Not Now, When? and en route to yet another hiatus at the completion of this tour, the band appeared lively and excited to be on stage. Shortly into the band’s set, I found myself singing along to tracks from Morning View and Make Yourself that I know by heart even without having heard them for a time. Brandon Boyd’s vocals are stellar, as is his ability to perform shirtless, and look good doing it, all these years later. Just sayin’. While stopping mid-set to share a glass of wine by candlelight with guitarist Mike Einziger, no one in the crowd seemed to act the least bit concerned. That is to say, Incubus’ ability to fill a venue with their presence as well as their performance is a sight to see, and feel.
On the opposite side of the spectrum from Incubus’ semi-low key set, which restrained from the use of even the faintest bell or whistle, lays Linkin Park’s mammoth production. As if the sold-out crowd of over 20,000 fans weren’t ready to explode upon the band’s entrance, their performance contained an overwhelming light display accompanied by synchronized pyrotechnics, including a shower of sparks raining down onto the stage, pushing the atmosphere at the Klipsche Music Center to a fever pitch. In possessing seats near the front of the stage, you tend to lose your grasp on your surroundings due to the sheer enormity of the production, not to mention the eardrum shattering volume. Early into the set, I made my way around to the back of the amphitheatre in hopes of gaining a wider perspective of the event.
A large lawn area spreads back from the covered seating and was filled with, quite possibly, the wildest and most intense fans in attendance. Unobstructed by rows of seats bolted into the concrete, there is more freedom to dance and jump about as beer flows liberally from tall boy cans held in coozies by screaming fans. As I made my way through the crowd, one thing appeared certain—no one was having a bad time. Smiles were abundant and groups of people wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulders or turned to sing the lyrics to the person next to them. Everyone may as well have been sitting around a campfire, except that this was, you know, a rock show. Everyone shouted along to fan favorites like “In the End”, “Faint”, “Numb”, and those songs from those Transformers movies. Even tracks from less-lauded albums A Thousand Suns and Living Things drew appreciative and excited reactions from the crowd.
Perhaps none of this is all that surprising, but consider the band’s peers. Can you name another band from the early 2000s nu metal explosion that could come close to selling out such a large venue and create this sort of hysteria in 2012? When asking one fan what continued to draw him back to Linkin Park, he spoke of the band’s ability to continually push themselves creatively instead of pumping out re-hashed versions of Hybrid Theory, along with the band’s progressively impressive live showing. More than anything though, it was stressed that the experience of Linkin Park was about setting aside inhibitions and having a good time.
Indeed, it’s hard not to be impressed by the determination in the faces of Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, and company as they steamroll through their hour and a half long set. It’s also hard not to be impressed by the amount of time, effort, and money that is dedicated to making each and every one of Linkin Park’s shows an undeniably memorable one. When stopping in the midst of it all to look around, one would be hard pressed not to smile and have a little fun. This is a good thing for a certain music writer who’s trained himself over the years that “fun” is equated with a lack of artistic purpose or meaning. No, sometimes it’s good to let you hair down and enjoy yourself at a concert. So there you have it—the story of how I not only ended up at the Honda Civic Tour, but ended up having a good time and growing closer with a few friends in the process.
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