Jul
21
12.46pm

#REALTALK // A Tribute to Chester Bennington

chester bennington

Most people have a cool first record. Some managed to score Nevermind; some, like myself, did not. Hybrid Theory is my second CD ever (the honour of first goes to Eiffel 65’s Europop).

I was seven years old when I had to convince Mum to buy me a Linkin Park CD because she thought it was Limp Bizkit. “Don’t worry, they don’t swear,” I proudly grinned in the shop. Hearing the tracks I’d wait to hear on Video Hits was a turning point. I planned on getting flames on my wrists just like their singer Chester Bennington, who I thought was the coolest guy in the world. It was my first ever introduction to music that could be heavy.

I listened to their live albums from the age of ten so much I knew EXACTLY when the vocals would melt away and the crowd would take over with a smile on Chester’s face. I was 11 and sick in Thailand, and the only thing that would make me feel better was the pirated DVD copy of Live In Texas I’d just scored outside. I’d never seen footage of a concert that I’d ever wanted to go to, but I knew I would make it my life’s mission to see them live. In 2007, the band made their way over to Australia to celebrate the release of Minutes to Midnight. I preordered the record at Sanity; probably the only one in the store, but there was no chance I was missing out on a copy. Learning all the songs off by heart (What I’ve Done had exploded and I loved the new all black look that Chester rocked out in the oil fields), the excitement to finally see them in the flesh was almost too much.

Then, tragedy. My cousin couldn’t attend, and my parents wouldn’t let me go without an adult. It’s one of the only times I ever felt like a typical teenager with them, and at the time it felt like one of the worst moments of my life. “They might not ever come back!” I yelled. They would, but it didn’t feel like it at the time.

By the time I finally saw them when I was 16 I’d managed to attend a fair share of concerts. It’s probably the concert the ringing in my ears became permanent as the recently purchased earplugs got discarded, but it was worth it to hear everything. Chester’s vocals were some of the best I’d ever heard, and it fell in a year I saw Alexisonfire; my other favourite band at Soundwave. They still stand as two defining sets and examples of how perfect a concert can be.

Recently out of home, I was given a choice between attending a compulsory Res meeting at Uni or Soundwave 2013. “If you aren’t there, I’m not sure we can keep you on campus. Especially if it’s just to go to a show.” Mate, Metallica, Blink-182, AND Linkin Park are playing; he was never going to get it. I responded by saying there was no chance in hell I’d be in attendance. It was a gamble they wouldn’t be able to find someone in two days to replace me.

I was seven years old when I had to convince Mum to buy me a Linkin Park CD because she thought it was Limp Bizkit. “Don’t worry, they don’t swear,” I proudly grinned in the shop. Hearing the tracks I’d wait to hear on Video Hits was a turning point. I planned on getting flames on my wrists just like their singer Chester Bennington, who I thought was the coolest guy in the world. It was my first ever introduction to music that could be heavy.

As the sets wore on, I watched Blink-182 on the screens from the opposite pit. Seeing people who’d waited in the burning sun for their favourite band to arrive screaming the lyrics was a perfect precursor. I had one of the best days of my life after knowing the right moment to grab Mike Shinoda as he ran through the middle of the crowd to sing my all time favourite song In The End (it still is) with a microphone shoved in our faces. That moment of divine intervention was definitely all due to the fact that I knew exactly when Chester’s part would end from all those live records. Returning to Res, the warning “You’ve still got your spot, but you’re on notice. I hope it was worth it” elicited a grin. A top 10 life moment? You’re damn right it was worth it.

A year later, The Hunting Party served as a return to Hybrid Theory form after their previous records shied away. Records like Living Things and A Thousand Suns weren’t given the respect they deserved. But it seemed like the band had finally given thought to what the fans had clamoured for and gave it to them. And just like that, no one listened. They never made their way over here for a The Hunting Party tour; even with a #3 ARIA debut, it still didn’t seem like we cared enough.

Jokes are flying that “it doesn’t even matter”, but it’s more than that. The singer wrote “We all fall down/We live somehow” to close their latest during Sharp Edges, and that’s what we have to still believe.

So the band made their way into pop. I gave their latest record One More Light a 3/10, saying it “sounds like everything around it and that’s the real disappointment.” Now I sound exactly like everyone else, shocked that this has happened. It’s not entirely shocking though; people tore apart the record without even listening to it. The exact cause of Chester’s decision isn’t known, but the immense stress of pouring his heart into something only to have it ripped to shreds can’t have helped. His death doesn’t change my opinion of the record, but it does make a point that we all have our breaking points. Jokes are flying that “it doesn’t even matter”, but it’s more than that. The singer wrote “We all fall down/We live somehow” to close their latest during Sharp Edges, and that’s what we have to still believe.

I was supposed to do interviews with the band a few months ago but they never came through. It’s selfish, but I have a list of people I would be fine with giving up interviews if I spoke to them. Chester was one of them.  One of the people who made me who I am today, that introduced me to the music I love so much and listen to everyday, is gone. I’ll never get to tell him that, but we can hope that next time an artist tries something different and says that everything feels heavy, the least we can do is listen.


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