I close my eyes preparing to lose myself as the opening beats of Papercut surround me and a surge of adrenaline washes over me as the heaviness kicks in. I’m already emotional, as usual I am overwhelmed with the excitement of actually being here, and the anticipation is brimming over.
I’m stood in a field amongst thousands of other people, mostly dressed in band t-shirts and with paper cups of Tuborg clasped in their hands, who know every single word of this song off by heart — just as I do — and we all sing together in unison whilst caught up in our own headspace, feeling the lyrics in our own way. There’s no doubt that this is the moment everyone has been waiting for all weekend and the atmosphere surrounding the headline act is electric. Linkin Park are doing Hybrid Theory in full. Their debut album. The one that got us all hooked. Welcome to Download Festival 2014.
Hybrid Theory was released towards the end of 2000. The year my parent’s divorce finalised. The year we moved 300 miles up the country. The year that kicked off the bullying that would haunt and harrow my school life for the next seven years when I finally got to leave it all behind.
It was around this time that I started to figure out what I really liked and I had my ‘mosher’ stage. I had this one pair of super baggy jeans that I practically lived in and they had a chain hanging around the pocket in typical mosher-style. This was teamed with big hoodies and my first pair of DMs. I remember I used to poke my thumbs through holes in the sleeves to make my hoodies in to gloves as well and I felt comfortable hidden beneath my armour.
14 years on and I feel like I’m fulfilling a life’s dream. The young girl I once was can’t believe she’s here and the memories flood back as they perform the album, song by song, in order.
I haven’t stopped listening to them since those early days and have continued to follow their work but with their first two albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, still holding a particularly special place in my heart above the rest.
Walking our dog over the field at the bottom of the road after school I would blare these albums in to my ears, droning out the world with my CD walkman (or, eventually, snazzy new mp3 player).
Chester’s anger, his anguish, his strength and his openness were healing and the raw, melodic lyrics were deeply theraputic, washing away the tears I’d cried or choked on in the toilets earlier that day. I felt such a connection to the songs and I truly believe that the music I was exposed to in my home environment (I don’t think Kerrang was ever off the telly!) was vital when it came to coping with everything that I was going through.
You’ll probably hear a similar story told by millions of twenty-somethings across the world right now. He was the voice of a generation when we couldn’t speak. He got us through so much, for once we felt accepted, for once we felt understood.
He saved so many of us without even knowing but yet he couldn’t save himself and for that I am truly sorry. I feel like I owe you a debt, I soaked up the solace that you gave me and I carried on. We all did, and I wish we could’ve helped you.
Your death was so unexpected and I feel heartbroken. For you, for all of us.
Thank you for the peace you gave my heart, mind and soul.
I hope, with everything I have, that you’ve found your own peace now.
RIP Chester Bennington.