The Honda Civic Tour: 25 August 2012 - Indianapolis, IN

What happens when one indie music writer ends up smack dab in the middle of a wild crowd during Linkin Park's set at this year's Honda Civic Tour? He actually end up having a pretty good time.


The Honda Civic Tour

City: Indianapolis, IN
Venue: Klipsch Music Center
Date: 2012-08-25

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.




Linkin Park

Linkin Park

Linkin Park

Linkin Park

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Why filmmaking as a means of expression? Was there an inspirational or defining moment?

Not really, no. I have always done documentary. I used to write scripts and TV series but I only make documentaries myself for radio and television. For this story, I figured out after a while that it deserved a bigger ambition and a bigger screen and that's why I don't very much believe in inspiration. To be honest, I made this film because I had to do something. I didn't have a big project where I thought: I want to make this. I went there and I found a little money and at the end the ambition and the inspiration came along the way. But there was not an urgent necessity to make this film. It fits with a lot of things that I'm interested in, like popular culture -- What does art stand for and why do we go to the cinema? What is the purpose? This is a question I'm interested in, but inspiration, not so much.

Has The Prince of Nothingwood provided you with the answers to those questions?

It has, and I hope it helps people to think about this question. It tells you that there is an urgent need to make images, to make films, even during war,and even if you don't have the money. And even if the films are not very good, they will find somebody who will like them. So something is going to happen, and I think that's very touching. I don't like Shaheen's films, I hardly watched them -- I paid somebody to watch them. But I'm very moved by all these people that do like his films, and it makes you think about the value of art and the purpose of why we make cinema. I used to study aesthetics in London, so it was one of the questions I had and while the film is lighter than this, that's what was in mind.

The film uses Shaheen as a doorway, beginning as a story about one man which becomes a story about Afghanistan, its people and culture.

Yeah, but it's not so much about Afghanistan and it's not my purpose is to say things about the country. There's one guy like him in Iran who makes cowboy movies in the Iranian desert and there's also a guy like that in Tunisia. I mean you have this person with an urgent need to film whatever they have under their hand and since it's war, then it tells you something about the war. But it's not so much interested in him.

There was a lot of editing, 148 hours that you haven't seen [laughs]. Making a documentary is really telling a story and I don't have any idea of objectivity -- it is my point of view on Shaheen. Some people say to me that they would like to show his films, that they really want to see his films, and I say: "You don't see how much I have edited. I show you the very nice parts of his films." People think he's a great filmmaker and that's the story I wanted to tell -- but I could have told another story.

To my mind, objectivity is a human construct, a falsity that does not exist.

Except mathematics maybe, and sometimes physics.

The purist opinion of documentary as objective is therein built on a faulty premise. From the subjective choices of the filmmakers that bleed into the film to the subjectivity of the subjects, it's not purely objective. Hence, it calls into question the traditional dividing line of the objectivity of documentary and the subjectivity of narrative fiction.

Totally! It's the editing, and why you chose this guy, how you film it and what you show, or what you don't show. It's not only subjectivity, it's storytelling. Not many people ask me about this, they take it for granted that it's the real Shaheen. But I'm not lying, I'm not saying things that aren't true, but I am telling a story, a fictional story out of what I filmed. I took scenes that happened one day and I put them with another story that happened three months later and that's why we had seven months of editing with three editors. So it was a lot of work.

One of the striking aspects of the film are the light and comedic moments offset by a darker and heavier sensibility, which include moments when, for example, Shaheen talks about arranged marriages.

We made 70rough cuts and there was one version we tested and you couldn't believe you were in Afghanistan. People would say: "Oh this is too funny. You don't see Afghanistan, it's just a bunch of crazy guys." I then said: "Let's put in a little more darkness." You then have to strike a balance and to me, if it's not perfect, I'm happy.

Shooting the film in a dangerous and volatile part of the world, was the approach that once you had enough footage you then looked to shaping the film in the edit?

It's not when you feel you have enough, it's finding a balance between security and artistic concerns. That's it. You have a plan and you have an agenda. There are things you want to do, but it has to be balanced with security concerns. The real story I was going to tell about Shaheen I found in the editing room and in the end, I only kept five days of the shoot. The whole film takes place in Bamyan (Province), nothing in Kabul, although I had weeks and weeks of footage there that I had to take away.

There's a moment when Shaheen asks if you are scared, which sees him verbalise our silent recognition of your boldness and courage to bring this story to the screen.

It's very difficult and it's not like you are walking in the street and there's a bomb. This is not what's difficult. The difficulty is to cope with your fear and to have rules and to follow or to not follow those rules. There are many foreign people that never go out at all in Kabul -- it is forbidden. You have British diplomats who do not even drive their car from the airport to the embassy -- they will take an helicopter that costs £2,000 each way. Then you have foreign people who walk in the street without a scarf -- these girls get kidnapped.

In between these you have Shaheen, who is telling me all the time that I'm too scared, because it's a man's value to be brave and he's a brave guy, there's no question about that. He was in an attack two weeks ago. There was a bomb in a Shia Mosque and he helped to carry out the bodies. So there's no kidding about the fact that he's a brave guy and he has to be because he's been fighting to make his films. But you are in the middle of this and I'm not a brave person at all and I don't think being brave is a very important question. It is, but I'm not brave, I'm very scared and so in the middle of all of this stress it's enough just to manage to not go crazy, or to not drink too much [laughs].

Salim Shaheen and Sonia Kronlund (courtesy of Pyramide Films)

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