On the evening of 16 May 2017, Linkin Park surprised rush-hour commuters with a stripped-down performance on a subway platform in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The show was the culmination of Good Morning America’s Pop-Up Week, which also included unexpected appearances by Bon Jovi and the cast of the musical The Waitress.
The GMA team spent the best part of the day setting up, so word leaked on social media. By the time Linkin Park started their five-song set, the platform was packed with both commuters and Linkin Park fans. The video of In The End, the last song of the band’s performance, below, shows the camaraderie between Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington.
The musical partnership between founder-member Shinoda, on keyboards, and Bennington, the singer, who joined in 1989 (before the first album), was key to Linkin Park’s massive success. With sales of over 100m records, Linkin Park is one of the best-selling artists in history, yet, in the video above, the band appears devoid of rock star pretensions. As one YouTube commentator notes: “Watch how Mike just looks and smiles at Chester throughout”. Shinoda appears to be reassuring Bennington.
Bennington seems relieved by the warm response of the audience. Linkin Park fans know the sad subtext. Bennington was suffering from depression. On 20 July 2017, two months after the subway show, Chester Bennington committed suicide by hanging. Referring to the In the End subway video, one fan writes: “So symbolic: as soon as Chester sings his last word from the song, the train behind him starts moving and disappears in darkness. RIP.” Below is the subway performance of the band’s 2nd single:
Crawling was the fifth track on Linkin Park’s first LP, Hybrid. The single was released in March 2001 and earned the band the Best Hard Rock Performance award at the 2002 Grammys. Chester Bennington once observed that Crawling, which deals with his battle with substance and alcohol abuse, was the most difficult of the band’s song for him to sing in front of an audience. He elaborated: “Crawling is about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs, hence the line “These wounds they will not heal…”.
On hearing of Bennington’s death, Linkin Park immediately canceled their North American tour. A month later, they announced a tribute concert for their late singer. Linkin Park and Friends: Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington, was staged at the Hollywood Bowl on 27 October 2017. The concert, which was live-streamed on YouTube, featured guests singing and playing with the band. The many guests included Alanis Morrissette, Machine Gun Kelly, and members of Blink -182, No Doubt, Korn, System of a Down, and Sum 41. The concert is still available on YouTube.
Linkin Park has not released new music since the death of Chester Bennington. In April 2022, Mike Shinoda confirmed that the band has no plans for any further activities.
If you are suffering from depression, or know someone with depression, help is always available. The NHS has a link to phone hotlines for people troubled by suicidal thoughts: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/behaviours/help-for-suicidal-thoughts/. Other resources can be found online.