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Saturday, January 17, 2004, 7:00PM marked the day of one of the best concerts I have attended in a while (although I must say, KISS was rather entertaining on their double headlining tour with Aerosmith).  On the line up at Worcester Centrum for that night were Story of the Year, Hoobastank, POD and the headlining band, Linkin Park.
You could see that half the stage was already set up with Linkin Park's equiptment (covered by black drapes), and that all the opening bands were only using half the stage (and all of them using a background banner, whose purpose was twofold: to showcase the band's name, and hide LP's stuff... brilliant).  The lights dropped, the crowd cheered and Story of the Year took the stage first.
Story of the Year put forth a valiant effort, however, I couldn't get pass lead singer Dan Marsala's infatuation with the word "fuck."  I think he was just trying to show us the diversity of the word.  The one song I did enjoy was their cover of Metallica's "Enter Sandman", admittedly, the only song I recognized from SOTY's set.  I must say the band's acrobats and high energy was a great set up for the night ahead.  And I laughed to myself as I figured they had some unwritten rule about only having two band members on each side of the stage at all times, because as one person moved to the left or right of the stage, another would move to the opposite side, as if an unequal weight distrubution on stage might mar the show.  Of course, what did suck about the show was the sound levels, I had a hard time hearing any vocals on the songs (but he was rather articulate w/ the f-word in between songs...).  But, like I said before, SOTY's high energy levels really set up the audience for a night of great music.
With a relatively quick stage change, Hoobastank took the stage next.  The banner behind the stage that read "Story of the Year" now read Hoobastank, and tapestries were draped in front of their amps with the familiar infinity logo used in their name.  A soapbox in the middle of the stage would serve as singer, Doug Robb's podium for their set.  Hoobastank opened with a familiar favorite, "Crawling in the dark."  Despite having just released a new record, emphasis of the show seemed to be their platinum selling debut album.  They eventually played a few songs from the new record, "The Reason" and tried to push it; however, it was the familiars that got the crowd going, especially when Robb asked the audience for help as the band kicked into "Running Away."  Live, the band sounded incredible: with high energy levels from the crowd and the band, the songs came alive.
POD took the stage with, by now, a familiar stage set up: a band banner in the backdrop.  The addition of rugs and the huge light boxes made a nice touch (as did the projected images and laser light... oooh lasers...).  Again, the band was very energetic, carrying on the momentum set forth by SOTY and Hoobastank (and to be followed by Linkin Park).  They played some crowd favorites like Southtown, Set it off, and Alive.  Sonny even ran down to the floor several times, singing right into the pit (perhaps a foreshadowing of LP's show).  By this point, I was getting antsy, waiting for the main attraction.
Before I could marvel at Linkin Park's stage set up (various ramps and props, including four oversized boxes for the band to stand on, made the stage look like a large warehouse), I was distracted by an audience that kept it self busy by doing "the wave."  I couldn't help but be annoyed as people cheered louder the farther the wave went around the Centrum... sad.  
When Linkin Park finally took stage, the Centrum erupted into roaring applause.  Throughout the set, they churned out amazing renditions of their songs.  Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington were at the top of their respective vocal game.  They played a great mix of songs from their latest album, Meteora and their debut album, Hybrid Theory.  The crowd sang along to familiar songs like Crawling. The band was tight playing with incredible energy.  An unexpected grand piano rolled out from underneath the drummer's podium, as Shinoda sat and played a few *quieter* songs.    
Sonny (of POD) made a  guest appearance on the night's closer, "One Step Closer."  The crowd sang along to the chorus as lights and laser flashed across the Centrum, closing one of the best concerts I've been to in a while.

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