This Projekt Gets A Failing Grade
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This Projekt Gets A Failing Grade

Photo of My Chemical Romance in California by cantsaynotohope.
Immediately upon entering the grounds of the Molson Amphitheatre Tuesday night, we realized that Projekt Revolution was not aimed at us, as we are no longer an awkward, alienated 14-year-old with oddly coloured hair (though we did see one lady who looked to be at least 55 wearing a Linkin Park shirt). We decided we would try to have a good time nonetheless. For the most part, we failed.
We arrived just in time for the main stage portion of the day. First up was Julien K: a band featuring two members of Orgy. The new band sounds very similar to Orgy, with their industrial-lite, Stabbing Westward vibe. And as with many of the bands who came later, their lead singer was prone to yelling ridiculous, pseudo-rebellious phrases. The most inadvertently hilarious was an anecdote about how they don’t even have a record out yet—they wanted to come and have fans discover the band before “some tired-ass record label” told them to. Right. Because a tour headlined by Linkin Park has nothing to do with giant, “tired-ass” record labels. The band’s music was mostly forgettable, and we were convinced at one point that their bass player was simply hitting random notes at any old time. Not a great start.

2007_08_23Placebo.jpgPlacebo was next, and they were definitely a step up. Taking the stage to the opening strains of their biggest hit, “Pure Morning,” they blasted out a crunchy version of the immensely catchy song. They divided their set between older tracks, like “Every Me and Every You,” “Special K” and “Taste In Men” and cuts from their overlooked newest album Meds, including a moving, crowd-pleasing rendition of the title track. Overall, the band had an energy and aggressiveness you wouldn’t expect based on their recordings—their set was one of the more earnest and enjoyable.
Speaking of enjoyable, other big festivals could learn something from Projekt Revolution in terms of set changes. The mere fifteen minutes between bands was one of the most impressive aspects of the show, especially considering some of the complicated sets.
If Julien K were atrocious and Placebo were excellent, then Finnish band HIM fell somewhere in between. The audience, though, went positively insane for everything they did. HIM’s dark pop-metal was well-executed, technically, and featured some ear-catching melodies. And while the song has been covered a million times before, their version of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” was actually pretty good. It was the next song, “Your Sweet Six Six Six” that was so self-serious that it was funny, complete with lyrics sung in a growly demon voice. The set ended on an unfortunate note, with lead singer Ville Valo following the phrase “This is a song about how hard it is when you lose someone” immediately with, “don’t forget to spend all your money on Linkin Park merch,” while opening his jacket to show off his hoodie. If there was any doubt about the merch-minded focus of the festival, that cleared it right up.
Taking Back Sunday‘s biggest strengths are their tag team vocals and knack for incredibly catchy hooks, both of which came through on Tuesday. With help from a guest drummer and a guitarist from second stage act Saosin, the band blasted through hits and fan favourites like “You’re So Last Summer,” “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)” and “A Decade Under The Influence.” Lead singer Adam Lazarra won points for gutsiest stage banter of the night for following a story about going to see Justin Timberlake at the ACC with the comment, “There’s all these meatheads in the audience like ‘Uh-uhh, no way.”
Taking antagonistic audience interaction even further was My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, dolled up in skull makeup. For their entire set he was goading the audience into some sort of reaction, whether it was commanding them, “scream!” and “everybody in this whole place clap!” or pitting the girls against the boys by insisting the females were screaming louder. It reeked of a need for validation—when your band is doing its job, you don’t have to rile up the crowd with your stage banter.
That said, their show was fairly high-energy, with bombastic versions of made-for-the-stadium tracks like “Welcome To The Black Parade,” “Mama” (sadly without a cameo by Liza Minnelli, who sings on the album version) and “Helena.” After an intense set full of bursts of flames shooting up from the back of the stage, firecracker explosions and balls-out rock, MCR ended anticlimactically with the quieter track “Cancer.”
It was at this point that we decided to pack it in. Soggy from the rain, we couldn’t handle the idea of sticking around for Linkin Park. We had a feeling they’d do no wrong in the crowd’s eyes. While to us the day was full of cheesy between-song banter, over-inflated frontman egos and mostly mediocre music, for the people it mattered to, it was probably the best day of the summer, despite (or maybe because of) the clouds.
Photo of Placebo at the Sziget Festival 2006 by alexis suspicious.