I moved out to LA recently and was excited to be in close proximity to the band whose music I admire so very much. I knew it was a little silly to think mere proximity would make any difference (LA only has 9.8M people living in it, after all), but after only a few months in my new home, I heard about an open call for fans to attend their live performance for the VMA awards at a 'secret location'.
Anyone that wanted to come to the concert for free just had to sign up at a website called 1iota.com, which is essentially a casting site. I decided, heck, free concert, historic event, what did I have to lose? I got my ticket and tried not to hyperventilate with excitement for a week, till the actual concert.
We were told to meet at 3pm at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park (which is in the same ridge of hills as the Hollywood sign) and that buses would shuttle us to the 'secret location,' which most of us figured would be Griffith observatory just up the hill. There were about 1000 fans, all lined up, waiting for the buses for a good part of the afternoon. We chatted with each other, tried not to get stung by a bee that kept divebombing us, were nearly deafened by someone's panic alarm when their car went off right next to us for 3 minutes straight, and joked around with the friendly camp counselor guys working for 1iota.
The buses finally came around 5pm and moved us up the hill to where a whole trailer park of equipment vans, Star Wagons, and TV crews were camped out in front of the observatory. We waited in the parking lot for another half hour, the sun in our eyes, as the rest of the crowd was bussed up the hill to join us.
Finally, they started letting us into the concert site in small groups. It wasn't your typical concert venue because Linkin Park was only performing one song, and it was all for the cameras, not for us. Our job was to throw our hands up and look like we were having a good time. The stage consisted of five big, shiny cubes, each about 8 feet tall--the middle one the ‘main’ stage, where Mike, and Chester would work their magic, the other band members each on a satellite cube. We fans were nestled down in the pits between them, craning our necks, wondering when the band would appear.
Around sunset the temperature cooled suddenly and a breeze came up. It had been hot all afternoon and now suddenly people were rubbing their arms and wishing they'd brought their hoodies. Luckily the band finally arrived and got into position up on their cubes.
The staging made for a weird audience experience: on one hand we were super close to the band, on the other, we could only see whichever members we were closest to. I was positioned at the base of BBB’s cube, with a good angle on Mike if I turned around, but I couldn’t watch both at the same time. What a dilemma!
They ran through The Catalyst to make sure the cameras angles were set and everything, then played Bleed it Out, to get us going. You'd think the crowd would be crazy with excitement, considering we were within spitting distance of our favorite band, and for free to boot, but we'd been told so many times that afternoon not to run, to keep quiet, and to wait, wait, wait, that we were all kind of subdued (and a little tired). We were also aware that somewhere else in Hollywood the VMA's were in full swing and yet we had no idea whatsoever what was going on or who was announcing us or anything.
The director counted down for us and the band live televised performance began. The smoke machines were going full blast and there were hundreds of colored lights and super troupers combing over everything. The sun had just gone down and the sky was very clear overhead. We all shouted and waved our hands and sang along and the band did their thing.
Brad kept leaning over toward where I was standing and it looked like he was looking right at me. He was wearing sunglasses, though, so it was hard to tell. He was so close, I could have tried to talk to him between numbers, but I wasn’t sure he’d hear me, with those giant headphones on. I like to think he was serenading me just the same.
Anyway, the song rocked past and the next thing we knew it was over. The cameras turned off and it was time to go. Well, not quite. The band, I think, felt bad that we'd come all the way out here and waited all that time and hadn't even gotten a full show, so they played New Divide for us. I think they would have played more if they could have, but they weren't equipped for a full concert (Mike lamented he didn't have his guitar with him). We appreciated it, though!
Then the show really ended and we headed back to the buses. I told you there were a 1000 fans, and the buses could only move 50 people at a time, so it took a while. While we stood behind crowd barriers waiting, all of a sudden Chester reappeared and worked the crowd, signing autographs. He had two big bodyguards with him, one holding a pen light so he could see to write. I didn't ever get close enough to get an autograph, but it was cool that he came out and made our wait that much more interesting.
Somehow I ended up at the end of the line (first in, last out), so by the time the buses took me back down the mountain, I was ready to go home and eat some dinner. It was my first close encounter with the band and such a thrill to see the geniuses behind the music. I remember thinking, as I walked out of there, ‘this is real. This is happening.’ Thanks Linkin Park for sharing your music and your VMA moment in the spotlight with the little people in the pit just a hand’s reach away.