When I woke up on Saturday at 6am to get ready for Download I still couldn’t quite realize that I was actually going!! Me and my hubby made this decision just a few days earlier after watching LP’s Rock In Rio performance. We loved it but at the same time we were kind of depressed that we couldn’t see them ourselves – AGAIN. Last time I saw them was the small show in Berlin 2012, and Paul hadn’t even seen them since 2010! It was like chasing the sausage dangling off a stick that’s attached to you. You sure can see and smell it, but actually have it? Nooooo way, José! But apart from a sausage it were six sausages (…giggity) and they seemed just unreachable. Until we said “Fuck it” and spent our savings (!) on tickets and travel. The best “Fuck it” moment after deciding to have takeaway instead of cooking I’d say – but there’s a huge gap between those two moments, of course.
Anyway, we arrived at the Bristol bus station just to find out that WE FUCKING FORGOT … my hay fever tablets (tricked you nicely for a second there, didn’t I?). No biggie, we bought new ones and then approached the bay to wait for our transportation. While standing in line to show our ticket I noticed a guy standing behind Paul fiddling near our backpack. Naturally I assumed he was a thief and just casually trying to nick something (OUR TICKETS??!??!?!?!!) so I grabbed his hand and said “What are you doing??!” He looked at me, puzzled and shocked at the same time. I didn’t notice the pole that separated the waiting area from the queueing area and when Paul moved I realized that he in fact didn’t try to get in the bag but just played around with the top of the pole. You may call me overcautious but our “Golden Tickets” were in that bag and I would NOT let ANYONE take them. (And damn my reaction time was incredible. It’s so beneficial to be a gamer!) We all had a good laugh about it and not-a-thief-guy wasn’t mad at me. So we got into the bus and travelled to Birmingham, then Derby, then to the venue.
Well hello there, Download! You look fab!
We approached the big “Download” sign which was the official meeting place for the LPU meet-up. Sadly we were there just a little too late (literally by only 10 minutes) so we missed quite a few of the LPU members, including Craigooo, who hosted the gathering. Luckily Boz, Abby and her boyfriend Joe were still there! We had met Boz a year ago at an unofficial LPU meet-up in London, but never met Abby or Joe. A little later we met LPFC Jack and his friend Jamie. Let me tell you one thing: the LPU is full of the nicest people in the world and it’s always amazing to actually meet them in person. We bonded quicker than you could play “Foreword” off Meteora.
We had two boxes with LPU 13 posters and Hybrid Theory stickers to give away to fellow Downloaders wearing LP or LPU shirts (One dude apparently didn’t want to wear a shirt and wrote “I LOVE LINKIN PARK” on his chest. Smart!). And boy, let me tell you, I was amazed by how many different LP shirts I saw. It kind of reminded me again how long Linkin Park has been around. I’ve seen stuff that was sold 14 years ago. 14 FUCKING YEARS AGO. I didn’t feel old… just a little bit vintage.
Paul, Abby and Joe did most of the “scanning” (for LP shirts), Boz and I took care of the distribution of the goods. It was so nice to make so many people happy! I noticed an adorable little girl – probably around 10 years old – walking with her mom, both wearing Linkin Park shirts. Without a doubt, making that little girl smile belongs to one of my festival highlights! (Also I saw her kissing the poster! :D)
Meanwhile – and I have to mention this – Killswitch Engage was pitch perfect! I can’t let this just slip aside. I have rarely seen a band so spot on during their live performance. Kudos to them!
As the day progressed and listened to all the other bands playing on the Stephen Sutton Main Stage we made plans on how to approach the crowd for the moment of moments, right after the lucky ones had their Meet&Greet with Linkin Park (Paul and I were unfortunate). Since Linkin Park hadn’t been in the UK for quite some time and this would be the first and only time they would play Hybrid Theory from front to back we assumed quite a congestion but because the Linkin Park Meet&Greet was on the right side next to the stage there was only one thing we could do: invade.
After Fall Out Boy played their last song and the lucky fuckers went backstage to have their M&G (My friend Chandan was nice enough to take my LPU 13 poster for LP to sign! WHAT A GUY!) Paul and I went in. We found a temporary spot that was near the backstage entrance so when they would come back out again, they’d know where we are and join us. Not every one of them found us but Boz, Jack, Jamie and Chandan did and since we were still quite away from the stage we decided to try to get closer, invade, without much success, but hey ho we knew that would happen. I mean It’s Linkin Park we’re talking about!
Then the background music stopped and the latest LPTV Episode “Road To Download” started playing on the big screens followed by a little Frat Party At The Pancake Festival trailer. A little flashback to a time when they only had Hybrid Theory and songs off its EP to offer at live shows. The crowd welcomed Joe and Rob who were the first on stage then it got quiet for just a few seconds. The very second they started Papercut the crowd cheered and you could hear and feel the excitement of each and every one of them – and us! Big smiles! Once the guitars chimed in and Mike (wearing a red wig! Good one, Boz!) told everyone to “get the fuck up” we got the fuck up. If Mike tells you something to do, you do it!
My instinct was to get to the front as fast, neat and sneaky as possible without everyone hating me. Thinking they’d follow me I got all the way to the third row and I’d probably had no problem making it to the first row minding the fact that so many people got pulled out. But I realized that the gang wasn’t following me so I decided to go back. Even if I would’ve gotten the perfect spot, I could never enjoy it without my friends around me. Plus, it was mine and Paul’s first Linkin Park concert together. So I went back to have a better time with them. Celebrating Hybrid Theory. Celebrating Linkin Park.
After Points Of Authority Mike was so astounded he had to stop the show to share his initial thoughts on how a first concert can be a life-changing experience. How a band can be so inspirational that it brings out the desire to learn an instrument and be on stage as well one day. His little speech made me tear up a little bit, as Linkin Park was my inspiration for so many things, including music. ”Whoever out there is gonna be the next Bring Me The Horizon, the next Fall Out Boy, the next Linkin Park… wherever you are, we love you.”
And I love you, too, Mike.
They continued with another fan favourite Crawling and the crowd sang along. Looking around me I noticed fans covering all ages. Earlier I talked to a guy who was probably in his mid 40’s and he knew every word. He was even kind enough to let me go in front of him when my goal was to reach the front before. (I said “I’m not pushing – I’m shifting” and he called me Shifty. When I jokingly introduced myself to him as Shifty, he shook my hand and said “Hi, I’m Shiftier”. Smooth.) Seeing all those different people, different generations, knowing the songs by heart, it just made me feel very happy and proud to be part of this fan base. Linkin Park reaches everyone. They hunt you (pun is so intended).
When they reached Pushing Me Away I realized that that was it. The end of HT live. And came so quick but fuck it was amazing to hear all of those songs live. Especially cause I haven’t heard some of them in their original form before; some of them not at all!
The show restarted with their current tour intro – a mashup between The Requiem and The Catalyst. That was probably the ballad(!) of the whole show, because, man, they fucking kept pouring fuel into the fire! Chester sounded incredible! Rob was killing it on the drums! Just fucking WOW.
I screamed my heart out and apparently impressed some people around me. I didn’t know that I could still do it but apparently I still fucking got it! Some dude next to me said “You’re gonna have a sore throat tomorrow!” It was already starting, but stopping was no option. When Chester screamed – I screamed. And that talented motherfucker screamed like the end of the world was near.
It was also the first time I heard Lost In The Echo live which I didn’t even realize until Paul pointed it out to me later.
Again, I didn’t see much of the stage, could barely see the guys and couldn’t see Joe and Rob at all. The big screen helped but as Paul commented after the gig that it felt like watching a YouTube video I also thought that that’s not what a concert is about: watching them on a screen. No! I turned around and partied with my friends. If I can’t see LP on stage, I want to see my friends rock hard. I want to sing the songs we love, jump, clap and just have the time of our lives. And we did.
Next to Guilty All The Same and Wastelands, Until It’s Gone was quite a feature. It sounded amazing to hear the crowd sing. Dear Linkin Park, if you want some hardcore fan advice, for everyone’s sake, keep it in the goddamn setlist.
The usual Bleed It Out finale including Rob’s epic drum solo made this a perfect ending to a perfect show. Amazing. Simply amazing. I’m having trouble to find the right words ‘cause you just had to be there. It was just perfect from start to finish!
All in all I had the best time with the best people. It was worth every single penny spent. Every bruise, every ache… All worth it. I wanna thank everyone who shared this experience with me. It was one of the best days ever and I can’t wait to meet you all again. You guys rock! It was amazing to be a part of this unique concert. Even though it’s over it still feels quite unreal to me. Despite the fact I didn’t see a lot, shit was going down were I was – and that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what made this concert so special. A celebration of genres and generations. For that I sincerely love and thank you, Linkin Park.