For fans, Mike Shinoda's struggles are theirs too
James (not his real name), 25, was one of the many people who brought handmade placards to Mike Shinoda’s first solo concert in the Philippines. In hopes of getting his sign noticed, he'd raise his handwritten sign up high whenever Shinoda would dart his eyes around the crowd.
It might have be annoying – at least, at first – because his placard blocked the view of the people behind him (not to mention the dozens of smartphones held up to record the memory of the event). But the occassional glare of the stage headlights made his sign readable even from behind. In turn, it made you understand just why he was doing what he was doing.
YOUR OCT. 2017 SHOW FOR CHESTER PUSHED ME TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. I’M UNDERGOING ONE YEAR AND 7 MONTHS OF THERAPY. THANK YOU. #makechesterproud
After the concert, James talked to Rappler about how he found himself in the middle of a crowd singing their hearts out with Shinoda during the Manila leg of the Post Traumatic Tour. The American multi-instrumentalist was brought by Insignia Presents to the New Frontier Theater on September 6.
“Actually kasi, napanood ko ‘tong concert na ‘to nung 2017, October. Tapos may depression ako kasi nun tapos na-kick out ako ng school,” he said, referring to the Linkin Park and Friends: Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington concert with the band as well as guest performers such as members of Blink-182, Avenged Sevenfold, System of a Down, and No Doubt, among others.
(I watched the concert in October 2017. I had depression and I was kicked out of school.)
It was in December 2017 when James felt the immense pressure of law school; and he was, as the Linkin Park song goes, one step closer to the edge. While waiting for the results of his last major exam, a dark thought crossed his mind: failing his major exam would make him take his own life.
“Nung January 2018 nag-isip ako, kapag di ako pumasa magpapakamatay na lang ako. Pagdating nung January 2018, yung araw ng enrollment, yung nanay ko dinala ko sa McDo tapos ang sabi ko, ‘Ma, ayoko na. Di ko na kaya. Gusto ko magpatingin sa doktor.' 'Dun na ako nagstart maghanap ng doktor ko,” he said.
(In January 2018, I thought: If I failed, I'd kill myself. When January 2018, enrollment day came, I brought my mom to McDo and told her, 'Ma, I can't take it anymore. I need to see a doctor.' That's what I started looking for help.)
Since then, he has been attending therapy sessions.
Between his first time seeking professional help in February 2018 and the night of the concert, James said he could feel the difference – suicidal thoughts came less frequently. He's since stopped taking antidepressants although his doctor has given him new medication for bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a mental health condition that "causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression)."
It hasn't been easy, but James said Linkin Park songs like “Heavy” and “Roads Untraveled” have helped him through his most trying times. He especially resonates with the latter, which he described as the perfect song to describe his everyday life.
“Sa symptoms nga nung sakit ko yung kailangan kong kaladkarin yung sarili ko palabas…yung kailangan kong gumawa ng pekeng personality para ipakita sa tao na normal ako. Pero pag-uwi sa bahay sobrang ano yun, sobrang ano ng utak ko…magulo. Di ko maintindihan kung bakit hirap ako i-let go yung traumas ko. Bakit kailangan ko siyang kaladkarin araw araw?”
(The symptoms of my condition mean that sometimes, I need to force myself to go out. I need to make a fake personality to show people that I'm normal. But when I get home, my mind is a mess. I don't understand why I can't let my past trauma go. Why do I need to relive it everyday?)
As a lifelong fan of the band, he said he couldn’t resist seeing Shinoda live. Themes of depressive struggles pervade both his songs with Linkin Park and his solo album, Post Traumatic. The 16-track album was released almost one year after the death of Bennington. Although it started as a three-track EP while Shinoda was still reeling from the loss of a bandmate and a friend, the songs eventually came together and became available to the public in July 2018.
“Parang nagkaroon siya ng closure na hindi ko maintindihan, 'yung makita yung mukha ni Mike na nakakangiti ulit,” he said. It was a little overwhelming for James, who did his best to fight his tears as Shinoda performed one song after another.
(It's like he had closure of sorts, seeings Mike's smiling face again.)
James wasn’t alone in showing gratitude and solidarity to Shinoda. Hundreds queued for hours in Cubao to see him rock the stage.
And Shinoda returned that love with so much more. While the entire concert was supposedly a promotion of his album Post Traumatic, he had a song or two for every fan out there. Whether they only went to hear the hits from Linkin Park or in hopes of catching material from his Fort Minor project, there was a treat for everyone who joined him that night.
Shinoda, who has been touring with drummer Dan Mayo and keyboardist/guitarist Matthias Harris, picked different songs across his rich discography from multiple projects. For fans of Fort Minor, he opened set with the aptly titled “Welcome” while kept the fans wanting more with “Remember the Name” during the encore.
For those who went for Shinoda’s solo material, there was plenty of material where the hip-hop artist showed that he is just fine on his own. He dropped heavy hitters like “IOU,” “Crossing a Line,” and “About You” from Post Traumatic.
While he cheekily said “looks like there are some Linkin Park fans in the house” before belting out “When They Come for Me,” he didn’t disappoint as he took everyone throughout the band’s seven-album discography. He would hop behind the synthesizer in songs such as “Invisible,” “Roads Untraveled,” and “Iridescent.”
Before he launched into “Castle of Glass,” Shinoda said that the stripped down, live performance was “closer to the demo version” prior to becoming a single off their 2012 album Living Things. Don Broco vocalist Rob Damiani and guitarist Simon Delaney joined him for “A Place in My Head” before the encore. The Bedford rock group opened for Shinoda since the tour’s kickoff.
People may know him as the “rapper” from six-man band hailing from California.
However, he also works as a producer — and used the tour to show off his remixing skills. He performed “Sorry for Now” with his bit from The Hunting Party opener “Keys to the Kingdom.” For a mix of old and new, he mashed up the emotional “Over Again” from Post Traumatic with the angrily turbocharged “Papercut” from Hybrid Theory.
Other songs he stitched together included Linkin Park tracks “Waiting for the End/Where’d You Go,” “Good Goodbye/Bleed It Out,” “Lift Off/High Voltage,” and the X-Ecutioners song “It’s Goin’ Down” with the chorus from “Step Up,” a song recorded by the band prior to their debut album.
Although the entire set was a celebration of his different projects, it turned emotional when Shinoda played the keys to “Numb,” while letting the audience sing Bennington's parts. He then followed it up with a stripped-down version of “In the End,” with the crowd singing their hearts out to its anthemic chorus.
Shinoda closed the gig with “Running from My Shadow,” the 14th track from his debut LP under his name. According to his verified Genius commentary, the chorus “[talks] about futility, about going in circles.”
Although the tragedy that befell Bennington will always be a part of him, Shinoda proves that he can still conjure powerful songs out of dark places, whether as part of Linkin Park, Fort Minor, or just as Mike Shinoda.
And for that, fans like James will always be thankful.
- Welcome (Fort Minor song)
- When They Come for Me (Linkin Park song)
- Make It Up as I Go
- Sorry for Now/Keys to the Kingdom (both Linkin Park songs)
- Crossing a Line
- Hold It Together
- Invisible (Linkin Park song)
- Roads Untraveled (Linkin Park song)
- Lift Off/High Voltage (Hybrid Theory song)/Skin to Bone (from Linkin Park remix album Rechardged)
- Waiting for the End (Linkin Park song)/Where’d You Go (Fort Minor song)
- In the End (Linkin Park song)/Enth E Nd (from Linkin Park remix album Reanimation)
- About You
- Over Again/Papercut (Linkin Park song)
- A Place in My Head (Linkin Park song, with Don Broco)
- Wisdom, Justice, and Love (Linkin Park song)
- Iridescent (Linkin Park song)
- World’s on Fire
- It’s Goin’ Down (The X-Ecutioners song)/Step Up (Hybrid Theory song)
- Remember the Name (Fort Minor song)
- Good Goodbye/Bleed It Out (both Linkin Park songs)
- Running from My Shadow