As the LPA community is well accustomed to, we strive to post prior to each Linkin Park performance - highlighting the history behind the band's performances in that city or for a particular event, and we certainly love to speculate about what the band might perform and how they might mix up setlists from show-to-show (especially on a large tour). Going into Mike Shinoda's two performances yesterday, we wanted to change it up. Leading up to these two shows, and certainly after brief reflection, it felt different. It's not that these were solo shows - you might recall that Mike performed a small string of intermittent solo shows in Europe while the band was promoting The Hunting Party back in 2015. It was more than that. After all, these would be the first performances by any member of the band since they performed their tribute show to the late Chester Bennington on October 27th at the Hollywood Bowl. And while a lot has happened since then, including the announcement of Mike's forthcoming solo album, Post Traumatic (out on June 15th) and additional tour dates across Europe and Asia, we all perhaps were a little more curious about what Mike's return to the stage would be like on Saturday in Los Angeles. We really just had to wait to see what would happen. So this time, I invite you to look back on these two shows with me. As I reside near Los Angeles, I had the awesome opportunity to attend both shows - and I'd love to walk you all through the day I had and tell you about Mike's performances - first at the KROQ Weenie Roast 2018 festival at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA, and the second at the Identity LA Concert & Celebration outside of City Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. On average, a weekend trip to Los Angeles takes at least an hour from where I live. I made the trek down to Carson and arrived at the StubHub Center right at 3 PM. As I entered, the place was already packed - long lines had formed in front of food and drink vendors, and a large contingent of individuals had already taken their places on the floor and in the seats of the Bud Light Side Stage. Since the side stage was sort of a "be wherever you want" type deal, I decided to make my way to the floor but chill out in the back. I figured trying to push my way into the crowd towards the stage was going to be more stressful, so I lingered in the back near where all of the sound and mixing equipment was. I was content with watching Mike from afar, just to be a witness of the event. But it didn't take long for me to realize that Mike's set-up was different. By all of the equipment, I spotted Mike's guitar, I spotted a setlist with handwriting that could only be his, and I spotted Lorenzo (who if you don't know works very closely with Mike). I started to notice that behind the railing I was leaning against, a smaller stage was being set up. It had turned out, by pure coincidence, I would be front and center for Mike's show. So I turned around and held my spot, ignorant to the James Bay performance happening behind me, and waited for Mike's turn. Mike's set-up would be simple. A laptop and a couple of keyboards and microphones on one side, and a small assortment of other audio performance equipment on the other - a small open-air studio, if you will. You might have seen a small drawn diagram of his set-up on Mike's Instagram just the other day. Soon enough, 4 p.m. arrived, and it was time. Mike emerged from the back of the venue and walked down through the crowd up onto this small stage. He was welcomed by the show organizers as a long-time friend of KROQ, and was well-received by the audience. I could only imagine that the people who were less than thrilled were the people who were at the very front to see James Bay, and only realized that they would be in the very back for Mike. Mike kicked off his first solo show in ages with "Welcome," his 2015 Fort Minor single. The song had made multiple appearances at both Linkin Park shows and Mike's solo shows back during that time, but it was refreshing to hear that song again. I was surprised, however, when immediately after Mike dived in to "Good Goodbye" from 2017's One More Light, but as I learned quickly during his 30-minute set, Mike didn't want to be predictable. After rapping the first verse, he dove into a crowd-involved rendition of "Bleed It Out," that would be sung over the backing track (it made for a decent mash-up). At that moment, I thought it was a good way to get the crowd involved and to remind people who were less familiar with the name "Mike Shinoda" who he was. He was the guy from Linkin Park, and the guy behind Fort Minor. As we've also learned from many years of watching the band, it's not a Linkin Park show of any kind without captivating intros. Mike hopped onto his keyboard and vocoder and ventured into his new solo material - slowly bringing us into his new track "About You." There was a minor change in the opening lyrics (for both shows, I think) before the backing music really came on. "Even if it's not about you, about you - everything is still about you." This resonated differently for me - and I think this brought the crowd back down to earth for a second: as fun and exciting as this show was, it feels weird. There's a darker context to it all that we know in the back of our minds, which Mike would get to later. The rendition of "About You," was shortened slightly to exclude blackbear's bridge and the outro, and the song seamlessly transitioned into "Over Again." At this moment, Mike got close to the crowd. He jumped down from his stage, and in standard Mike fashion, climbed onto the rails and started bringing fans closer to him. As a spectator, this was particularly emotional. No one was singing along anymore - we were just listening, and watching Mike recount those last days in October and singing about his grief. At this point, I felt this was no longer just a performance for Mike. Obviously, I can only speculate, but this stage of the show was a test for himself. The song transitioned seamlessly into "Papercut," and Mike would perform pretty much the entire song over a musical mash-up of the two tracks. The sung outro, which had historically been sung in duet-style with him and Chester, was now layered with vocoder harmonies. The crowd would fill in for Chester during the verses and came out strong for every "beneath my skin" outcry. At this point, Mike acknowledged Chester and asked for the crowd's involvement on the next track, and reminded the audience to make Chester proud (which has since been a commonly used hashtag on the social media accounts of both the band and his wife Talinda). The track would be a piano rendition of "In the End," which Mike had said was how the song was originally written. The audience rapped and sung the whole thing from beginning to finish. And as this song ended, Mike exhaled and shared with the crowd that if he could get through all of that, he could get through the rest of the set. Mike moved on to a really nice mash-up of Fort Minor's single "Where'd You Go?" and the 2010 Linkin Park single, "Waiting for the End," and followed that up with his new solo single, "Crossing a Line." He would close with Fort Minor's most famous track, "Remember the Name," - which really brought the crowd in, but funnily enough, he accidentally forgot to move into his second verse. He had to stop the show for a second, to which he said, "Oh I'm not going to go out like that!" and that he would have to "Kanye" this for a sec. He started the track over, and without hesitation ran through the crowd - which you can now see an awesome shot of on his Instagram. As the show ended, I managed to grab a copy of the setlist - which you can now view below. And guys, that was just one show that day. But what a show it was. I made the brief half hour trek up to Downtown Los Angeles. At this point, it was about 5:30 p.m., so I killed some time at a Starbucks, calming myself down a bit from the excitement. About an hour or so later, I went to the meeting point for a special Meet and Greet with Mike. There were about 40 or so fans there, and there was a large contingent who had shown up in flannel (confirming that this year we had our best April Fool's joke ever). We all lined up and got to meet Mike, who took photos with all of us and signed our items. And Mike, the gracious man that he is, put together a small shoutout for all of you awesome people here at the LPAssociation. After exploring a bit of IdentityLA and grabbing some food, it was time for Mike's show. I sadly didn't get as close to the front this time (there were already so many people there), but I got a decent view of the stage this time. I wondered if Mike would change the set up at all and how long it would go. And sure enough, he did. This setlist was longer and threw in a few surprises. Once again, Mike opened with "Welcome," but then dove into "Place to Start," which definitely set a different tone than the previous performance. Following this was "Watching As I Fall." I have to say that Mike absolutely killed it on both of these tracks, and I am thrilled he performed them. The first three tracks off of Post Traumatic are challenging and dark ones, and I was always curious about how you recreate the dark-room vibe of these songs. Mike did so really well, as he would do on "Over Again," later on. The surprises kept coming. Mike would bring out fellow Linkin Park band-mate Joe Hahn to perform the band's single, "Castle of Glass." I think this was the first time in a long time that the song was performed in its original rendition, as oft-times the band had incorporated Mike's remix into the track during live performances. As the track finished and Mike embraced Joe as he left the stage, Mike returned to the mic to say, that one of the things he loved about performing solo shows was that he could play some of the lesser-known tracks. Without hesitation, "When They Come For Me" started playing. I imagined that most of the crowd, which I think was on-the-whole more unfamiliar with Shinoda than the KROQ audience was, would not know this song - but boy did they feel it. The song has a way to get you moving, and this crowd got involved. Mike performed his verses, but closed the song before it entered the bridge where Chester would have sung in the past. I suspected as I was driving to LA earlier on in the day that Mike might perform some lesser-known Fort Minor tracks. I was listening to "Kenji" on the way over and wondered if that song might make an appearance at IdentityLA, since it was indeed a celebration of Asian culture and the song speaks to the historical experiences of Japanese Americans. Naturally, I smirked when he started to play it, but the mood definitely changed. I think this song in particular grabbed people in the audience who didn't know Mike as well. And off the cuff, I don't actually know if Mike has ever performed "Kenji" live, so if he hasn't, this was truly great to see in person. It was a special part of the show. From there, Mike played Linkin Park's "Roads Untraveled," which I found hard for me to get through. It brought me back to the band's performance at the Hollywood Bowl and how challenging that was as a spectator, but I was happy to see how well Mike performed it. He followed this up with a repeat performance of the "Waiting for the End" / "Where'd You Go?" mash-up, for which he brought Taka from ONE OK ROCK to sing on the choruses. To me, the biggest surprise of the evening was "Sorry For Now," which was one of only a couple of tracks the band had not ever performed off of One More Light. I particularly enjoy this song, not just because of its personal touch, but because this might be Mike's best sung performance on a Linkin Park album - and he killed it live. I was thrilled to catch the live rendition of this track. The track was followed by repeat performances of "Crossing a Line," the piano rendition of "In the End," and the really beautiful thread of "About You" into "Over Again" into "Papercut." What struck me about this part of the show was that it came late into the setlist. As I'd mentioned earlier, it felt like at KROQ, these songs came early and felt like a personal test Mike had set for himself to get through. This time, they came towards the end of his show. I felt the sea change in the crowd a bit, as once again people really listened in during "About You" and "Over Again," and sung along passionately for "In the End" and "Papercut." Mike acknowledged at this stage in the show that he would be remiss not to talk about Chester, and that he was looking down proudly at all of us. Mike commented on how when Hybrid Theory was released, everyone commented how "angry" and "angsty" it was. He mentioned how what they failed to realize was how the very outlet of those emotions was positive, and that people should see those tracks as a more positive and encouraging way of handling and letting out very tough emotions and experiences. The crowd celebrated Chester with him in this moment, which I really appreciated. To close, Mike would bring the crowd back in with a repeat of the "Good Goodbye" / "Bleed It Out" mash-up, and of course "Remember the Name" to go out with a bang. The last track in particular brought the whole crowd in perfectly. I swore I overheard several people say, "Oh yeah! I know this one! Hell yeah!" It was awesome, and an appropriate end to one hell of a day. While I didn't get to grab the setlist this time, someone else thankfully did, which you can now see on our Instagram account too. This show was great and was an unforgettable experience for every Linkin Park fan out there. So, now that I've had some time to sleep on this and openly reflect on the experience with you, this day truly felt important for the Linkin Park fan base - and I'm sure this day felt really important for Mike, too. It's not enough to say that two shows in one day is impressive, and it's not enough to say that Mike really brought energy to both of those shows. I think it's important for us a fan base to be grateful for this journey we are going on with Mike - how tough and at the same time how beautiful it can be to overcome our greatest individual challenges and to turn unthinkable grief into touching, shared human experiences. As every Linkin Park show was, and as Mike's shows yesterday certainly were, these were moments to connect not just with a world-renowned musical artist - but to connect with an actual person and actual people. At the meet and greet, I truly loved people walking back with smiles on their faces the moment they met Mike. That moment alone is beautiful. The smile speaks to their admiration for him, the band, and their music. And Mike, I hope you're reading this, because it also speaks to your impact and to the band's lasting touch on all of our lives. As grateful as I was to be a part of the experience yesterday, we are all even more grateful to have you and the band in our lives, and we are so excited for where you will take us next. Thank you for yesterday. - - - Now it's your turn, LPA. Did anyone else get to go to either show yesterday? Did you watch the live streams? What did you think of Mike's performances? Come and tell us on our forums!