CINCINNATI — Linkin Park thundered their way into the outdoor-festival season Friday with the kickoff of Projekt Revolution 2004, which this year features the biggest lineup in its three-year history.
Headliners Linkin Park were joined by Korn, Snoop Dogg, the Used and Less Than Jake on the main stage of the Riverbend Music Center amphitheater, playing before a crowd of more than 13,000 fans.
The eight-hour event had all the surprise and excitement — as well as a few of the technical glitches — expected of an opening-night show. The switchover after Snoop’s set lasted close to an hour before Korn finally hit their first notes, and nü-metal kingpins Linkin Park didn’t begin until 40 minutes past their scheduled start.
But long delays couldn’t subdue the crowd’s rowdy anticipation, and both Korn and Linkin Park delivered walloping sets, with Linkin Park going an additional 15 minutes past the 11 p.m. Riverbend curfew.
Opening their 19-song performance with “Don’t Stay” and ending 75 minutes later with a fireworks-punctuated finale of “One Step Closer,” Linkin Park’s set was a string of hits, tied together with rarities like “Step Up” and a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Wish.”
Rapper Mike Shinoda and singer/screamer Chester Bennington bounced up and down the ramps and risers of the metallic stage during such energy-overdrive hits as “Faint,” “Somewhere I Belong” and “In the End,” while the giant screen behind the band provided flickering music-video accompaniment during songs like “Breaking the Habit” and “From the Inside.”
Metal heavyweights Korn went for a simpler, stripped-down, black-on-black stage design, putting most of the focus on the relentless stomp of their music. They also had the video screen working, but mainly for the purpose of intensifying the proceedings, as close-ups captured the quintet in full rocking-out mode.
One stretch of Korn’s hour-long set began with kilt-wearing singer Jonathan Davis busting out the bagpipes for the wailing intro to “Shoots and Ladders,” followed by “Freak on a Leash,” with just enough of a tease of Metallica’s “One” thrown in as a bridge to send the crowd into a frenzy. Later, Korn’s take on Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” (doing both parts I and II) drove the audience even crazier.
For all of Korn’s stage-design restraint, Snoop Dogg went in the other direction. There was an orchestra-size ensemble of musicians and hangers-on, including two MCs, two keyboardists, a guitarist, a drummer, a DJ (perched on the roof of an oversized dog house in the middle of the stage), a bass player, a percussionist, a three-man horn section, eight female dancers and another dozen entourage members standing to the back. A giant dog bone, engraved with Snoop’s name, hung from the rafters.
Snoop ingratiated himself with the local crowd early and often, wearing a Ken Griffey Jr. Cincinnati Reds jersey and calling a hometown musical icon to the stage.
“I got an uncle in Cincinnati,” Snoop howled. “I want to bring out my uncle, Bootsy Collins!”
The legendary P-Funk bassist — who had been in the background sipping from a bottle of water and bobbing his head to “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” “Deep Cover” and “Tha Shiznit” — stepped forward and joined Snoop for a slow-groove funk chant-along. Then Collins, wearing a top hat and a cheesy T-shirt bearing the airbrushed image of an Alaskan Malamute, took over on bass as Snoop and the band busted into the super-smutty “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None).”
Utah hard-rock quartet the Used whipped through a 25-minute set, mixing songs from their upcoming album, In Love and Death, with familiar sing-alongs like “The Taste of Ink.”
Less Than Jake started the main-stage proceedings with a fiery half-hour of pared-down and punked-up ska. Singer/guitarist Chris (no last names, please) filled in the crowd on how the band landed on the bill. “Guess whose place we took on this tour? Here’s a hint: ‘He did it all for the nookie, so here’s a little cookie.’ Yeah, Limp Bizkit. [Fred Durst] didn’t want to go first,” Chris said.
Five more acts were scheduled to play on the smaller Revolution Stage in the Riverbend parking lot, but only Ghostface, Funeral for a Friend and Downset performed. M.O.P.’s no-show was apparently related to travel complications, and a fifth unannounced band was scratched as well.
Other bands booked for the second stage at upcoming Projekt Revolution dates include Mike V and the Rats, No Warning, Instruction and Autopilot Off.