When Linkin Park organized the initial Projekt Revolution tour in 2002, the rap-rockers were all about putting on a show that featured a groundbreaking, diverse musical caravan.
"Back when we started this tour, our idea was to showcase groups that were doing something revolutionary," Linkin Park rapper/keyboardist/guitarist Mike Shinoda says in a conference call. "That's something we've always tried to do."
Linkin Park headlines the event, which returns to Blossom Music Center. The show also features one of rock's most distinctive set of pipes in former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. Charismatic rapper/provocateur Busta Rhymes, pop-rockers the Bravery and quasi supergroup Ashes Divide (which includes A Perfect Circle guitarist Billy Howerdel, former Guns N' Roses drummer Josh Freese and cellist Devo Keenan, the son of A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan) also perform on the main stage. Atreyu, 10 Years, Hawthorne Heights, Armor for Sleep and Street Drum Corps play the Revolution Stage.
"From the beginning to the end of the show, you get a lot of different sounds," says Shinoda. "You get a lot of different experiences. That's what makes it fun."
In particular, Shinoda is a long-time admirer of Cornell. "Just from a fan's perspective, it's really enjoyable to watch [Cornell] play all of these songs," says Shinoda. "And that's whether it's a Soundgarden song, an Audioslave song or a solo song. It's almost like a greatest-hits set, which is great. It's a lot of fun to watch." On the other side of Cornell is the relatively unknown Street Drum Corps, which is slated to perform after show opener Armor for Sleep.
"Street Drum Corps is improvisational rhythm," explains Shinoda. "When [Linkin Park singer] Chester [Bennington] and I saw them, they had to be on the tour. When we described them to the rest of the band, we told them they are a punk rock Blue Man Group. It's almost like Stomp. But it's way more street and less Broadway."
Since crowds start gathering at 11 a.m., odds are that folks are a bit drained by the time Linkin Park and Cornell hit the stage.
"It makes it a little trickier for the people who play later, because all the fans have been there since 11 a.m.," admits Shinoda. "We have to work extra hard to get them into the set and excited, which we are happy to do." Usually, bands that play mega-events such as Projekt Revolution deliver paint-by-number sets, since they're part of a massive production. However, Shinoda claims Linkin Park's performance will include some extemporaneous moments.
"As far as the Linkin Park set goes, we're trying to build as much wiggle room for improvisation and kind of screwing around with existing songs as much as possible," he says.
Shinoda realizes that money is tight and there is competition among concert caravans. But he's confident his tour will draw well, despite Warped Tour and Rockstar Mayhem, two festivals that cut into his demographic.
"When these tours cross over, there's obviously concern," he says. "But if you're a fan of the bands on the tour, you're going to the show. That's how I look at it. I mean for me, growing up, there were shows like Lollapalooza or just different tours of bands. It wouldn't matter if they were playing days apart. If I liked the bands and could afford the tickets, I would go."