Every night on the Summer Sanitarium Tour, Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington is tearing it up, just as he swore he would. There was a time, though, when it looked like he might have to break his promise.
Less than six weeks ago, Bennington was checked into a Los Angeles hospital with severe back and stomach pains, and doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him (see "Linkin Park's Chester Bennington Hospitalized"). "Thank God it's over," he said backstage before a recent performance in Philadelphia. "There's nothing more depressing than a hospital room, with crap hanging out of your arms. They still don't know what really was affecting me, but they believe it was some kind of bacteria or virus. I'm just glad it ran its course, you know, even though it was as painful as it was."
When Bennington was released from the hospital on June 9, he was still having stomachaches. So, as he prepared to take the stage at the Boost Mobile Pro Skateboarding Competition in Las Vegas on June 27 to perform for the first time since his illness, he was feeling drained and uneasy.
"I was really scared and skeptical about whether or not I was gonna be able to actually do the entire set because one of the side effects after getting out of the hospital was that my stamina was really low," he said. "I thought maybe I'd end up doing five or six songs and then going, 'Aw, man, this is too hard.' So, to run through 17 songs was amazing. That's 80 percent of our catalog. It was awesome and the kids just went insane."
Some people who suffer traumatic experiences emerge on the other side with a new perspective on life. Bennington might not have come out with a revised view of mortality, but he has noticed that an increasing number of women who come to their shows are exposing their breasts. This isn't something he's associated with LP's audience in the past.
"I find it fascinating that normal women, who would never in a million years take off their clothes in any situation — even if you paid them a thousand dollars — end up taking off their shirts at concerts.
"If you asked any of those girls before they came into the show, 'Are you gonna show your t--s,' they'd say, 'No way,' and then they're out there like 'woo-hoo!' They get all caught up in the moment and the next thing you know they got the whole place just roaring, and their boobies are rock stars for a couple seconds."
—Jon Wiederhorn, with reporting by Gideon Yago