Linkin Park’s Epic VMA Performance: Making The Show

We look back at the detailed rehearsal that made 'The Catalyst' explode at L.A.'s Griffith Observatory.

LOS ANGELES — Much of the mystery surrounding Linkin Park’s Video Music Awards performance centered on just where it would be taking place. And though Internet sleuths had figured it out before the band even started rehearsing (you win this round, Buddyhead), there was still the matter of the performance itself: Just what would LP do high atop Los Angeles at the Griffith Observatory ?

Well, as it turns out, they brought the thunder, filling the night sky with a multitude of multicolored searchlights, curling wisps of fog and, of course, one cacophonously loud song.

This was the first-ever televised performance of “The Catalyst,” the debut single off their A Thousand Suns album (in stores Tuesday), but Linkin Park didn’t show any signs of nerves. Instead, when paired with a suitably epic location like the Griffith, they launched the song into the stratosphere. Chester Bennington’s guttural wails practically reverberated off the Hollywood Hills. Brad Delson’s guitars roared like the helicopters circling overhead, and Mike Shinoda’s eerie, otherworldly synth lines were downright ghostly in the night air. Simply put, it was the perfect pairing of a band, a song and a location.

But during last-minute rehearsals on Saturday night, there were still kinks to be worked out. The production team hustled around the observatory positioning spotlights, wrenching massive camera cranes high in the air, and working out the complexities of getting suitably massive shots from a helicopter soaring overhead. The band hammered through the song dutifully, over and over again, while camera moves were perfected and an audience of lucky LP fans repeatedly sprinted to the front of the stage.

But through it all, the enthusiasm never waned. The fans cheered wildly, Bennington struck rock-star poses, and Shinoda and bassist Dave “Phoenix” Farrell shot each other “Can you believe this?” smiles from across the stage. They were clearly amazed to be there — everyone was — and though it was just rehearsal, you could tell something big was going to happen.

Turns out that feeling was right.

The Moonmen have all been handed out and the stars have gone home, but there’s plenty of 2010 MTV Video Music Awards news, interviews, behind-the-scenes scoop, party reports and more still to come, so keep it locked on MTVNews.com.