Linkin Park first invaded the airwaves in 2000 with the massive hit "One Step Closer," which merged raw nu-metal muscle, hip-hop turntable scratching and the soul-bearing screams and shouts of Chester Bennington. At Friday's emotional tribute to their late frontman at the Hollywood Bowl, Linkin Park mixed their recent pop-leaning tunes with raging early hits from the days of Hybrid Theory and Meteora. It was the band's first live performance since Bennington's suicide in July, and a crowd of guests turned out to help fill the empty musical spaces. Metallica made a heartfelt appearance from the road in one of the night's video tributes — but the most metallic moments unfolded live onstage.
"One Step Closer"
Korn's Jonathan Davis
The Korn frontman helped create the Nineties nu-metal genre that Bennington and Linkin Park exploded into as young upstarts at the beginning of the new millennium. Joined at the Bowl by members of Bennington's hard-rock side project Dead By Sunrise, Davis took on the raging "One Step Closer" — a song he'd previously recorded and performed with the band in remixed form as "1Stp Klosr" on Linkin Park's Reanimation project. Missing only his H.R. Giger–created alien mic stand, Davis ripped into the lyrics like he was singing a Korn tune all along: "I need a little room to breathe/'Cause I'm one step closer to the edge/And I'm about to break!" By the closing moments, Linkin Park rapper/multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda had leapt into the crowd to shout along with the nearly 18,000 fans that were in attendence.
System of a Down's Daron Malakian and Shavo Odadjian
System of a Down guitarist Malakian hit the stage to recreate the crazed aggro guitar he recorded on "Rebellion," from Linkin Park's manic 2014 album The Hunting Party. Adding to the noise at the Bowl was bandmate Odadjian on throttling bass lines, making for as close to a System performance as we'll see in the U.S. this year. Shinoda noted that Linkin Park had memorably once opened for System at the Whisky in West Hollywood at the very beginning of their career. Another page in that shared history was written with the joint performance of "Rebellion," with Shinoda singing "We are the fortunate ones," joined by Sum 41's Frank Zummo on drums.
"Somewhere I Belong"
One Ok Rock's Taka Moriuchi
Prior to Bennington's death, Linkin Park were scheduled to tour Japan this fall with local heroes One Ok Rock. With Shinoda on rhythm guitar, the young singer Moriuchi leapt to the stage to join the band for an explosive reading of "Somewhere I Belong." One of the few guests to nearly recreate an epic Bennington-sized scream, Moriuchi sounded ready to carry the message forward: "I want to heal, I want to feel/Like I'm close to something real!"
Bring Me the Horizon's Oliver Sykes
Another young frontman who joined Linkin Park onstage to honor Bennington was Sykes, delivering one of the night's most intense performances with the throat-shredding "Crawling" from Hybrid Theory. With DJ/producer Zedd on drums, Sykes prowled the stage during the agonized tune, then waded into the crowd for its final moments.
"Burn it Down"
Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows and Synyster Gates
For the night's closing encore performance, M. Shadows came correct with his version of "Burn it Down," the melodic rock anthem from Linkin Park's 2012 album Living Things (not the 2005 Avenged Sevenfold tune of the same name). Upon its dramatic conclusion, Shadows declared, "Let's do another one!" and peeled off his red-and-black flannel to run across the stage, as Gates joined the band on guitar for "Faint." Shadows traded lyrics with Shinoda's raps, and erupted on the song's enraged vocal hook — "Don't turn your back on me/I won't be ignored!" — before Gates unfurled a final speedy lead. The Avenged dudes stayed onstage, which was crowded with many other guests from the night, as Linkin Park closed out the evening with a rousing performance of "Bleed it Out" — sounding altogether like a band with every expectation to continue another day.