Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park Makes Solo Debut at Identity LA Review+Photos: Mike Shinoda @ Identity L.A. 2018
LOS ANGELES, CA- For Mike Shinoda, the past year has been an emotional rollercoaster.
On May 12th, Shinoda made his first public solo appearance at Identity LA (following KROQ’s Weenie Roast) since the death of his Linkin Park bandmate and friend Chester Bennington last July. His performance was both a celebration and tribute to the music he has made as Linkin Park, Fort Minor and his new pursuit as a solo musician — and it was nothing short of emotional, heartfelt and incredibly memorable.
“People used to tell me back when we put out our first album, ‘Oh your album’s so angry, your album’s so angsty,’ blah blah blah,” Shinoda said to the crowd.
Before going on to play Linkin Park favorite “In The End,” he continued: “They didn’t know it wasn’t about the negativity. It was about putting the negativity out and coming to a show and being positive. Letting all that bad stuff come out so that it didn’t come out in other places in a negative way.”
“Am I right?” Shinoda asked the crowd, who cheered in pure excitement.
In an especially emotional moment, Shinoda took to his keyboard to play a stripped-down version of “In the End,” encouraging the crowd to sing-along; and in what would have been an overwhelmingly emotional moment proved to be moving and cathartic as the crowd of 10,000+ sang along Shinoda to pay tribute to Bennington.
Shinoda, who released his emotional three-track EP Post Traumatic in January of this year as a response to Bennington, has had a lot on his mind — and music was his natural antidote.
He presented new songs like “Running From My Shadow,” incredibly reminiscent of Linkin Park with its blend of atmospheric hip-hop beats and arena-rock guitar riffs. His recent work, although having come from a place of incredible grief, has allowed him to create one of his most telling and impressive works of art today. He crafted hip-hop beats and piano riffs at his keyboard; whipped his guitar to play arena-heavy guitar riffs and bass lines. He gazed intently into the crowd as he spit his verses about texting and talking, planning the next show with Bennington and spiraling into grief (“Over Again”). In “Watching As I Fall,” an anthemic song with an incredibly catchy hook that shows Shinoda singing in an almost helpless plea (“They’re watching as I fall, to somewhere down below / But maybe I’m just falling, to get somewhere they won’t”), Shinoda ultimately tells the story of his own personal experience with grief.
With familiar hip-hop beats, piano, guitar riffs, driving bass lines and Shinoda’s clear plain-spoken vocals and verses, his performance was energetic and engaging, as he talked to the crowd, moving swiftly across the stage with his hands in the sky and calling out the crowd, even running out to them during “Bleed It Out.”
Shinoda also played Linkin Park favorites “Beneath My Skin” and “Remember The Name,” as well as Fort Minor’s “Where’d You Go,” bringing along Japanese rock band ONE OK ROCK frontman Taka (Takahiro Moriuchi) to sing along and Linkin Park bandmate and DJ Joe Hahn to join in on “Castle Of Glass.”
Shinoda’s performance was cathartic and emotional, at best; and if his performance at Identity LA was any indication of the direction Shinoda is headed, then we’re in for a treat. Shinoda, who is on to release his debut solo album Post Traumatic on June 15th, continues to kill it with his infectious hip-hop beats and rhymes, clever sound production and pure approach to his music. His incredible passion and talent in his craft goes unnoticed — but it’s his pure heart and place of cathartic release you feel in his music that keeps you listening.