Five years ago, Linkin Park took a step closer to their fans. With what we now know took a lot of chances of disappointment, the Linkin Park Underground Summit was envisioned to bring the fans closer to each other and to the band, the very first LPU Summit in London.
Since London, the summits have taken off- Sydney, Australia. Chicago, USA. Hamburg, Germany. Tokyo, Japan. Camden, USA. Cape Town, South Africa. Auckland, New Zealand. Cek Lap Hok, Hong Kong. Darien Center NY, USA. Woodlands TX, USA. Amsterdam, Netherlands.
It’s a tradition of sorts that grows more and more diverse, fans worldwide coming together to spend a day with one another, and to meet the band on a more personal level. It has become difficult to imagine any tour without at least one LPU Summit, and a lot of our thanks is to Adam Ruehmer, former LPU Head.
10 NOVEMBER 2010 | LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
“The first LPU Summit in London was quite a learning experience.”
If I remember correctly, we announced it only a few weeks in advance of the event itself. We had no idea how many people to expect, what the reaction would be, what kinds of things fans would enjoy, and how much time was really needed for everything. I think the best way to really describe what we learned from that Summit is by breaking down the good versus the bad. I’ll start with the bad.
1) Number of attendees. We had no idea how many fans to expect. We didn’t put a cap on the first one. We wanted as many fans to come as possible. I think over 300 fans came to that first one. Lesson 1: that’s way too many people. It was really hard to organize that many people into activities and give everyone a chance to participate in things. There were a few people from that first one who didn’t get to do some things because of that big number. After that, we started capping the attendees. I don’t know how many they allow now, but we scaled back to around 200 for the summits I organized after that. 200 was the perfect number in my mind.
2) Organizing activities. Moving around hundreds of people into groups (backstage tours, walk the stage, etc) was hard for that first one. Fans signed up for activities by writing their names on a list. I realized almost immediately that it would be impossible to use that list with hundreds of names on it. It was useless. For the next Summit, I came up with the idea to use colored wristbands and colored stickers to show who was going to be doing what activity. So rather than saying “BACKSTAGE TOUR PEOPLE!!!” I could just yell “YELLOW WRISTBAND PEOPLE!!!” Much easier.
3) Check in. The London check in was a nightmare. Totally unorganized, took way too long, wasted a lot of time, too much sitting around. By the time I worked my seventh and final Summit, I had a really good process for check in. When I would get to the venue that morning, I organized the tables in a very specific way so there was plenty of room for people to do each thing while others checked in. While I checked off names, we simultaneously gave out wristbands for activities. The London Summit was not smooth. Check in took forever and it was an disorganized mess. The following summits were much better.
4) Food and drink. We didn’t learn our lesson here until I think Tokyo. Those first few summits, those poor fans were stuck at the event all day without food or water. In Tokyo, we finally decided it was important to change that and we provided food and drinks.
5) Communication. Because we were pretty much making it up as we went for that first summit, it was hard to communicate things to the fans effectively and clearly ahead of time. That left a lot of fans confused or unsure of what to expect. I think we got much better at that after that first summit.
1) Events. We pretty much nailed it on that first summit in regards to events. From the jam band, to backstage tours, to walking the stage… we came up with some great once in a lifetime things for fans to take part in.
2) Day 1 activities. The first day of the London summit, there was a park clean up (I think), some people helped paint a building, and we had a soccer tournament at Hyde Park. It was Mike’s idea to have fans get together outside of the arena to do something non-Linkin Park related, and it was a great idea. The soccer tournament was a blast and was a great chance for that small group of LPUers to meet before the main event the next day. That led to us always trying to have a cool “day 1” event for fans, and that tended to be my favorite part of the summit. I loved hanging out with fans outside of the venue. Whether it was soccer in London, ice skating in Chicago, mini golf in Germany, park clean ups in New Zealand and Philadelphia, or tree planting in Cape Town.
3) Meet & Greets. We had a lot of discussions about how the meet & greets should go. The band hadn’t done meet & greets with that many people in a long time, and we debated limiting the amount of people who could take part in it. From the day we decided to do summits, I always said it was super important for everyone to meet the band, and thankfully we made that happen every time.
4) Post-show drinks/hang out. After the show was over, a bunch of LPUers from the summit went to a pub inside of the venue. I joined them and we hung out there after the show for a while. It was so fun to see how excited they all were about the summit, hear their feedback, and hear them talking about how they wanted more! It was a really special moment for me to be there with those fans in London.
5) The band was happy. I knew that if I screwed up that first Summit and the band wasn’t happy with it, we might not be able to do them again. Even though there were some hiccups, the band came up to me after and told me I did a good job. That felt really good. It was a long day for the band, and they weren’t used to these at that time. For them to tell me that they enjoyed it was huge and something I was really proud of.
While the London Summit was not perfect (in fact, it was FAR from it), it was incredibly special. It was the first Summit. It was my first experience of what would be many traveling with the band.
Had that Summit never happened, I probably never would have ended up going on tour with the band. It was a really long day in London, but fans were very patient, very understanding, and couldn’t have been nicer. I will never forget the fans I met those two days. The London Summit was a highlight in my career.
Here’s an interesting tidbit about that first Summit that I don’t think any fans know- I wanted to be there so badly that I paid my own way. I was not actually supposed to be there originally. We had some other people we were sending there to work on it. They were not going to send me. I had put so much into it and wanted to be a part of it so bad, that I just paid my own way. Bought my own flight, bought my own hotel. Worth every penny. Because I did that, it showed how invested I was to the band and they sent me to every summit after, and eventually brought me on tour. Booking that flight to London was definitely one of the smartest things I’ve ever done! I will say, I think they ended up covering my hotel for my stay there in the end. 🙂
-Adam Ruehmer, Los Angeles, California