There are unfortunate casualties in any revolution: George Washington’s army was annihilated in Philadelphia; Abe Lincoln died for the Civil War. And on July 28, before a crowd of roughly 22,000, Linkin Park — the commanders in chief of Projekt Revolution, a decibel-amping rock-and-rap tour they created in 2002 — suffered the indignity of being upstaged by My Chemical Romance, their support act.
To be fair, Linkin proficiently performed an impressive arsenal of crowd-pleasers such as the tormented ”Somewhere I Belong” and their latest angst anthem, ”What I’ve Done.” But where previous act My Chemical Romance surprised with tenacious tightness, Linkin were almost parodic in the way each member — shrieking singer Chester Bennington, rapper Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist David Farrell, DJ Joe Hahn, even drummer Rob Bourdon — crowded the stage, vying for the spotlight. Perhaps mindful that their May release, Minutes to Midnight, is still 2007’s first-week sales champ (and, hey, tours move even more CDs!), Linkin occasionally undercut the grandstanding with aw-shucks salutations and front-row glad-handing. You know, all the clichés expected of a well-oiled, well-rehearsed multiplatinum group.
Ironically, My Chemical Romance (or MCR to the largely teen turnout) have spent some nine months since the debut of their third CD, The Black Parade, honing their live chops to become…well, more like the amphitheater-friendly Linkin. But on this night, MCR were the masters. Feeding off the 10 previous groups’ energy (which culminated in the screamo Taking Back Sunday pummeling through a thrillingly jagged set), the Jersey band cut loose its usual Goth affectations and launched into a full-fledged rawk & roll assault. Perched atop a monitor, frontman Gerard Way — usually predisposed to marching-band threads, now in tight, black punk chic — commanded the crowd like a general in war. ”When the song kicks in, I wanna see all you motherf—ers off the ground!” he cried as the piano intro to ”This Is How I Disappear” combusted into jets of shooting flames. We’d see this awesome display of pyrotechnics again during Way’s ode to his late grandma, ”Helena.” Cheesy? A bit. But there’s something almost religious in witnessing the Church of Gerard Way taking it to 11 when, like Linkin, the band could easily have coasted at 7.5 or so.
That devotion went into overdrive somewhere around MCR’s poppiest hit, ”I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” when Frank Iero flung his guitar and sliced his hand. He never stopped to bandage the wound. Instead, Iero smeared his blood across Way’s cheek and the singer left it there for a good five songs. It was then that MCR fulfilled a manifest destiny bestowed on them by the rock gods themselves. B+
+ Since its inception in 2002, the Projekt Revolution tour has been green. This year, many of the band buses are using biodiesel, and a dollar from each ticket will be donated to American Forests to help plant trees.