Linkin Park's 2000 debut, Hybrid Theory, became the biggest selling album in America in 2001, and the California rockers graduated quickly to playing arenas. So last night's 90-minute show at the 1,500-seat Mayan Theater in Downtown Los Angeles was not just a very rare opportunity to see the top-selling rock band of the last decade in a small setting, but was also the band's smallest full gig in a decade.
The occasion was a unique benefit for the group's own Music for Relief organization; the band had invited its top donors from around the world. "We gave you guys a challenge and you blew right past it," frontman Chester Bennington told the audience. Indeed, the minimum amount required to get an invite to the show was $500, but the top individual raised $13,000 and in total the night generated over $350,000 for victims in Japan of the March 11 earthquake, and susequent tsunami and nuclear disasters.
"The money you raised is fucking great. It's all about you," said Mike Shinoda.
Energized by both the occasion and the setting, the band managed to deliver almost their full show –including five video screens, drummer Rob Bourdon and Joe Hahn on rafters, a giant disco ball during "Shadow Of the Day," and more production staples in a much more intimate way.
Bennington jumped into the crowd during "Numb" and Shinoda did the same during a show-stopping "In the End," getting all the way to the back of the Mayan. The cozier confines also highlighted less big-venue-friendly songs like "Burning In The Skies" and especially "Iridescent," where the crowd sang along at the end. Indeed, while the band seemed genuinely moved by what their fans accomplished, for the audience it was just as much about the chance to see Linkin Park come out of the arenas and back to their roots.