March 6, 2004
Philips Arena - Atlanta, GA



Love it or hate it, this is rock and roll circa now. The attitude was there, the performances were there. The crowd was there.

The surprise of the night was Story Of The Year. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is easily the most energetic band I’ve ever seen. It was as if Lou Perlman (‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys) had decided to manufacture a nu-metal band full of gymnasts. These guys did full back-flips off of risers, over each other and even with audience members for the duration of their short set. They never stopped to breathe and they kept taking it higher. I can’t remember their songs, but their show was unbelievable. Of all the bands on this bill, I look forward to the return of SOTY the most.

Near the end of Story Of The Year’s set, the pranks began. This being the final night of the tour, the typical shenanigans were a must. Linkin Park’s crew, dressed in Hawaiian shirts, began dismantling the drum kit in mid-song. The band just kept flitting around, undoubtedly plotting their revenge.

Story Of The Year

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Hoobastank, on the other hand, was just there. They did their thing, ran through the few hits and stretched it out with filler but there was absolutely nothing special or memorable about their songs or performance. It was workmanlike and they did appear to be enjoying themselves, but the songs stuck in the brain only as long as they were being performed. On an interesting note, lead singer Doug Robb announced the presence of Ludacris to the crowd. They booed viciously. Robb, completely shocked about Atlanta not having “the love,” then mentioned OutKast to even more raspberries. I found this funny coming from a crowd that so loves bands obviously heavily influenced by hip-hop. Hoobastank simply changed the subject and moved on.

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While P.O.D.’s set was a bit more uplifting, the song remained mostly the same. Detuned guitars with pseudo-rap-singing over a thundering beat were the order of the night. Linkin Park sounded and handled the stage best, but P.O.D. had the best songs. Songs like “Alive” and “Youth Of A Nation” are fast becoming classics in a genre that has few. Front man Sonny never even had to sing a word of the choruses. He just turned it over to the packed house to do his job while he smiled and slapped hands with those who paid to see him. Their sound was a bit muddy but their heavy use of Sabbath-like lasers and dramatic stage set made them stand apart from the other acts.


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Linkin Park:

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Headliner Linkin Park fared the best. Their material conjured something very similar to Nine Inch Nails’ moody moments, but LP lacked the spiritual exorcism and existential power of Trent Reznor’s work. Lead screamer Chester Bennington stalked the stage and belted out notes that weren’t unlike what I imagine a hog castration might sound like. The nearly sold out crowd ate it up. It felt like a rock show. My problem was that these guys looked a little too old to be going through such adolescent dilemmas themselves. It felt a bit forced. They served it up to the audience in massive doses, though, and judging from the reaction, Linkin Park are striking a chord with their mostly teenaged male fans. The mood was best captured during “One Step Closer,” which is an emotionally superior version of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Something.” Hearing and seeing a crowd of riled up, hormonally supercharged young men repeatedly yelling “Shut up when I’m talking to you” like they were fighting for their lives was a little unnerving. I just hope they use this to get that violence out of their system instead of as a warm up for something more sinister.

Near the end of Linkin Park's set,  Story Of The Year showed up during one of the more dramatic, teeth-gnashing numbers to retaliate with their own idea of last night antics, attacking the band with blow-up love dolls and humping to the dramatic beat. Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington completely got fouled up with laughter while the other bands slowly filtered into the lights. Hoobastank came out with Nerf footballs, tossing across the stage and playing catch with audience members. P.O.D. then emerged from the shadows as well. Before long, the crew showed up, too, and about 100 people were on stage. This was a fun, unexpected ending to a long, predictable night.

Chris McKay /

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