As Adam Ruehmer shared with us, the first international Linkin Park Underground Summit in London five years ago was far from organized and perfect; but as he also recalled, there were experiences that couldn’t possibly be replaced.
Aman Matharu had just turned sixteen two days before Day 1 of the LPU Summit in London. He came as any other fan, he started to enjoy the Summit as any other fan- but he finished it in a exhilarating experience with only one other fan. This is his story as the sixteen year old fan that rocked “Faint” onstage with Linkin Park and fellow LPU Soldier.
11 NOVEMBER 2010 | LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
“The morning of November the 11th begun, rain hammering down in typical London fashion.”
Walking through the doors of the venue, I see a few crowds of people dotted all over the place, everyone shivering and huddled together in their warm coats. After greeting my friends and killing a bit of time, Adam, the then head of the LPU, approaches us all and welcomes us to the ‘first ever, international LPU Summit.’ After the registration process, we’re led by Adam into the actual arena itself.
Our jaws collectively drop as we see the sheer size of the inside of the arena. Row after row of seats, like a never-ending sea of blue. The floor of the arena is unfamiliarly bare, and at the end of the arena, there was the stage. The ‘A Thousand Suns’ stage set. It was breathtaking. Unconventionally angular, yet elegant and sleek, with all the platforms and rostrums arranged perfectly.
For those who’d signed up for the jamband, we were sorted accordingto our instrument of choice and then two guitarists, a bassist, a DJ, a drummer and a few singers were called up in batches. We’re told that we’re playing the song ‘Faint’, as I go up.
I’m met by Brad’s guitar tech, who proceeds to give me Mike’s custom spray painted PRS 24 Guitar, the one used in the ‘Somewhere I Belong’ video. The tech tells me the guitar’s drop tuned- I say to D flat, which he replies they alternatively call C sharp, haha. We start the song, and all have fun, all of us amateur musicians having the time of our lives onstage; bellowing the lyrics, banging the drums, and strumming away to hour hearts’ content. After the song finishes, we receive a mini ovation from the rest of the summit attendees from the floor and are escorted offstage, so the next two jam band groups can perform.
After we’ve all performed, we’re gathered in a huddle, sat on the floor in front of the stage. [We get to talk about the auctions and raffles, and soon the jamband winners are announced.] Everyone for every instrument is called, and I’m the last to be called up for lead guitar. I run up on stage again, performing ‘Faint’ once more, this time with Mark Fiore and the other LPU cameras rolling. Pictures are taken, and we end to another round of applause.
We’re told the band would be here soon, and six blue chairs are pulled up right in front of the stage. The band all walk in to a round of cheers and applause. People gasping, squealing, as they all file in.[After a bit of talking from Mike, and a Q&A with the band,] we’re lined up around the perimeter of the arena. Joe’s the first person to meet, and he deliberately screws around trying to sign one part of my LPUX CD, and then the other side, rapidly alternating between the two. Rob is kind, yet characteristically shy. My friend and I jokingly wish Phoenix a Happy Diwali (the indian festival of light), haha. Chester is awesome, says hi as per usual, and shakes my hand. I told Mike that I’d missed my exam to be here today, to which he was really thankful. I also asked if he could wish me a Happy Birthday during the show, but he said he wasn’t allowed to take personal requests. He did however write “Happy Bday” on my album, and signed it. I begun to thank Brad for inspiring me to pick up a guitar and teach myself how to play, to which he silently put his hands together and bowed his head with a smile.
Later at the show….
As we all wait for Linkin Park to take the stage, the lights go out, and the arena erupts into a deafening roar. Chills go up my spine, as “Fallout” fades in- I can see Mike right in front of me, the vocals modulated a few octaves up, giving that haunting high-pitched echo. The band play their way through a blistering setlist, every drum hit tight, Chester nailing every note, and Brad in perfect tempo.
A good way into the set, Mike takes thhe mic, telling the rest of the audience about the Summit Event that had happened earlier this day. He tells of all the various countries people have flown in from around the world to be here. Then he says “We’d like to call up a couple of our friends from the LPU. From the jam band.” My stomach drops. Brad’s guitar tech comes forth, and tries to pick me out of the crowd. Everyone around me, my friends from the Summit, all start pointing to me and shouting out. He finds me, sends down a huge burly security guard to pull me out of the crowd. I’m lifted up and crowed-surf my way of the barrier, people all helping carry me.
I’m escorted up around the side of the stage, and walk up onstage with William V., from Greece. It takes a moment for to even process the sheer vastness of the sold out arena. We speak to Mike, and I tell him that we know the live outro-extended version of ‘Faint,’ to which he says, “no way, that’s awesome man!” He proceeds to tell Rob and Joe, as well, that we’re playing the extended edition. Brad then comes up to me, hands me his gorgeous cherry red Hybrid Theory PRS Guitar, and tells me, “If you get stuck at all, you can just give the guitar to me okay?, I’ll help you out”. I smile at him, and tell him, “okay”.
The familiar synth intro of ‘Faint’ hits, and it all kicks off.
The band who got me into music. The band who inspired me to pick up a guitar. The band who I’d spend hours of my early teenage years listening to, teaching myself every one of their songs, by ear.
This was my defining moment. My dream come true. And here I was, having just turned sixteen years old, a couple of days earlier.
I now stood onstage, in my home city, in one of the most famous venues in the world. In front of a sold-out crowd, all cheering for me. Friends and family in the audience. Onstage with my heroes, living my greatest dream.
I told myself, “What’s the point of feeling nervous? Fuck it- you’re gonna enjoy yourself and have the time of your life, Aman.” And so I did. I strummed away, sung to my heart’s content, and savored the once-in-a-lifetime moment. Mike rapped away effortlessly, giving the mic during the verses, letting me yell “I am!” as he continued his flow. We played our way through the song, William and I together, rhythm and lead in perfect sync. As the song comes to a close, we go into the extended version of the song.
I nervously fumble my way through Brad’s improv solo. The song comes to a close, as we hit the final build up, I strum the final power chord as the song goes out, the audience all roaring. I take the guitar off, hug Chester, and Mike – he asks our names before saying “This is William, this is Aman!”
“We’re gonna go get these guys a drink,” he says before coming to us, and talking to us personally saying “that was awesome man!” He takes us backstage, asks us if there’s anything we didn’t get signed, and congratulates us once more. We’re then escorted back around to the arena, but we’re left in the space between the barricade and the stage. We carry on watching the rest of the encore from this position, band then ultimately closing out the show with “Bleed It Out”. As the show finishes, I’m led back into the crowd, getting mobbed, by my friends, family, and just about everyone else, completely perplexed at what had just happened. I still can’t believe to this day, that it had happened.
Overall, the whole Summit was incredible. Exhilarating. Magical. From the way it was organised, to the timing of everything, the inclusion of everyone, and the activities we had lined up. But for me, it was a night that changed my life. I had the amazing privilege to meet some life-long friends, feel as if I’m part of an incredible community, and live my childhood dream. And five years on, the memories live on, just as strong.
-Aman Matharu, London, United Kingdom