Since I believe in honestly through transparency, I can comfortably say that Mike Shinoda, the front man rapper and second vocalist from one of the greatest bands to come out of the West Coast, was one of the last people I expected to see perform in a live setting this year. The name Linkin Park slowly rang through my head as I read the name on the Fillmore Charlotte’s website – I hadn’t typed this beautiful name on any search bar since lead singer Chester Bennington passed away. I try to keep my head clear of any sad, negative and mortifying thoughts, I like to keep my glass half full as often as possible. But I knew that Mike’s return to North Carolina would more than a just a typical concert experience – it was a reunion for all fans and supporters of Chester, and the movement that Linkin Park started in the Underground Rock scene almost two decades ago. It was finally time to experience Mike Shinoda’s artistry once again, and now, I could cherish Chester’s memory with other people who feel as strongly about this legend and the legacy he left behind.
As soon as I stepped into the boundaries that separated the real world from the Fillmore, I could feel the anxious energy in the air – fans were eagerly waiting for one of their childhood idols to finally hit the stage. I patiently waited for the man of the hour to make his way to the front of the crowd – I was more than excited to get to witness this star performer show off his passion in my city once again. I’ve had the pleasure of catching Linkin Park perform once in North Carolina several years ago when they stopped by with another one of my childhood favorites, Thirty Seconds To Mars. So you can believe me when I say that I was beyond ready to get those precious elementary school vibes flowing once again (I was a rowdy child). I know I’m not the only out there with an older cousin, brother, or uncle who showed us the way to Rock, so many years ago. I felt like I was going backwards in time throughout the entirety of Mike’s performance, and I was totally okay with this.
I kept wondering if Mike was going to perform by himself, or if he’d have a few other musicians join him on stage as support. It wasn’t long before the California native was on stage powering through the first song of his set. The anxious feeling in the air quickly turned to excitement as the stage got brighter, giving members in the back of the crowd a full view of all the instruments that Mike had on stage. He had his own personal mixer and some kind of turntable set up so that he could unleash his masterful scratching abilities, which isn’t a skill that you would normally catch him using frequently at a Linkin Park show. Standing at Mike’s nine and three were his incredible tour-mates, Dan Mayo, who took charge of the drums and Matthias Harris who showed off his talents with his powerful guitar. The show was beyond ready to kick into high gear.
I only listened to a few of Mike’s new tunes off his latest full length project, Post Traumatic, before hitting up the show. It must have been because I wanted a fresh experience – I wanted that special feeling you get when you hear a song for the first time. There was a moment when Mike asked the crowd if anyone believed in Ghosts. I quickly threw my hands in the air and yelled “Hell yeah!” because in my time, I’ve certainly had my run ins with the spirits from the great beyond. Mike started talking about his little sock puppets that he takes around on tour – I didn’t really understand the inside joke, but some of his die hard fans at the rail were showing off their sock puppets and all their glory. You can tell they were excited that Mike took notice. After watching the music video for “Ghost“, I now understand the sock puppet reference. I really enjoyed the fact that his performance was a perfect split between impactful, rap-heavy tunes and his softer, more emotionally driven creations like “A Place to Start” and “Nothing Makes Sense Anymore.” The love and positive energy continued to prosper throughout the Fillmore – there was hardly a soul in that building that wasn’t flashing a tremendous smile on their face.
Mike and his crew even performed a classic called “It’s Goin Down“, which really got the crowd roarin’. Hearing all this incredible music from someone that I’ve always looked up to for the past seventeen years really played an impact on the rest of my week. I felt motivated for days to come. I even wound up taking my brother and uncle to the Raleigh tour stop a whole week later to experience this incredible performance once again. I really appreciate the times when the crowd would honor Chester’s memory, like when Mike started performing “Numb“, and “Paranoid“. If you could only imagine how shocked and excited the crowd was to hear these songs for the first time in what felt like a century, you would feel the same love and admiration for the boys who shaped the way we listen to Rock music nowadays. It was absolutely surreal.
** As I reopen this Mike Shinoda piece, I realized how long its been since he actually came to the Carolinas, so let’s drop a few more favorite details of these shows and wrap it on up! **
There were so many incredible songs that I definitely would like to mention. I felt like I was transported to a funky New York City techno show whenever Mike started performing “Wisdom, Justice, & Love“. There was even a moment where Mike performed one Fort Minor’s best pieces of music, “Where’d You Go“. One of my favorite songs of his set was hearing “Sorry For Now” for the very first time – the vibes were absolutely beautiful, I really enjoyed hearing the crowd sing back the chorus before the EDM portion of the song kicks in, I felt like I was transported to a Marshmello set at Lollapalooza.
I would also be lying if I didn’t say that Mike’s performance of “Waiting For the End” wasn’t one of the most peaceful demonstrations I have ever witnessed. I was one of the many people who were singing my heart out from start to finish, you could tell I was excited. There was even a couple who tapped me on the shoulder and told me that they really appreciated my energy, I couldn’t help but dance! Mike even performed and acoustic version of “In the End“, which really made the crowd emotional for a few minutes. I’ll never forget hearing a guy scream out “We love you Chester!“, before causing a massive uproar of pride and thrill for the late vocalist. And who can forget when he performed “Bleed it Out” with all the love and ambition that the whole band put behind the original production! We even had a comedic break when Matt and Mike had a little dispute with about the proper pronunciation for the word math. In London they say “MATHS, “ending the word with S, Mike responded by saying “Science doesn’t end in an S!” It was nice to laugh for a few seconds. Folks, I’ll leave you with one more, when mike performed.
To wrap things up, I want to say a huge thank you Mike for also performing his Fort Minor hit “Remember the Name” – this is one of my younger brother Zarek’s all time favorite songs, so we had a lot fun jamming out together! Also, Mike showed a lot of love to a fan from the audience who went up on stage to perform “Running From My Shadow” with Mike and the crew. It was absolutely beautiful to see how much he appreciates his fans! Overall, I would have to say that these shows were some of my favorites live music experiences of all time. (**All photos used in this story came from Mike Shinoda’s Facebook Page!)
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