Linkin Park Keep It Short And Sweet For Pre-VMA ‘Halo 3′ Shindig

Rockers perform three songs at Las Vegas' Tao Beach, but that's just a warm-up for Saturday's Hard Rock show.

LAS VEGAS — Is it still considered a “concert” if a band plays just three songs? What if, during one of the songs, an entire verse is mysteriously left out? Some people might argue that’s not a proper gig, but when you’re a band like Linkin Park, you can do pretty much whatever you want.

On Friday night, perhaps as a primer for the band’s gig this evening at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Summer Stage, Linkin Park performed before a crowd of hundreds — comprised mostly of dudes in crushed-velvet suits and women in what very well could’ve been handkerchiefs — at the Venetian Hotel’s Tao Beach club.

The event, sponsored by Xbox 360 as a promotional vehicle for the forthcoming “Halo 3 ,” was well attended, attracting the likes of Chris Tucker, Jennifer Hudson, Nelly, Pharrell, Bobby Lee of “MADtv” fame and “Real World” alum Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. The throng danced the night away and tested out the new video game as they patiently awaited the band’s arrival.

Linkin Park mounted the stage at about 11:15 p.m., kicking things off with perhaps their best-known hit, “One Step Closer.” Frontman Chester Bennington, possibly distracted, threw off the rest of the band by accidentally skipping the song’s second verse, but the boys kept up and few in the audience noticed the slip-up.

Between the stage and the crowd was an oversize pool in which dancers in red sarongs and beige bikini tops frolicked atop enormous, plastic cubes. The 20-feet-or-so of distance from his fans didn’t sit well with Mike Shinoda, who urged the audience to cool off a bit by leaping into the welcoming water before him. Alas, he had no takers and seemed wholly disappointed.

Next came “Faint,” from 2003’s Meteora. Bennington crept dangerously close to the edge of the stage as he barked out the song’s chorus, the front of his black sneakers sometimes hanging over the side. Some in the crowd had their camera phones at the ready, hoping the singer would take an inadvertent nosedive into the pool, but that viral video moment never came.

Turntablist Joe Hahn cracked open bottle after bottle of spring water, hurling them into the audience at the start of “Bleed It Out,” from this year’s Minutes to Midnight. Water gushed from the bottles as they soared through the air, sprinkling the grateful swarm as they rocked back and forth in the balmy Vegas heat.

As soon as the song tapered off to its eventual end, the bandmembers threw down their instruments and exited stage left. Bennington wished the audience a good night, and instructed them to “have fun at your party.”

And with that, the “concert” was over, leaving the confused crush dumbfounded, but nonetheless rocked.

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