- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2004

Call it progressive, nu-metal, punk, hard-core but when it comes down to the basics no matter what sub-genres people create its still rock n roll.

On Friday night, the several thousand fans packing the Patriot Center at George Mason University got to experience rock music in all its many forms. Hailed as the first big rock tour of 2004, the Meteora: World Tour lived up to its billing, presenting a four-hour nonstop barrage of power chords, screaming vocalists and head-nodding beats.

Kicking off the evening was up-and-coming act Story of the Year. With its major label debut “Page Avenue” gaining momentum on the charts, the five guys from St. Louis played a hard-hitting six-song set that showed these guys have what it takes to be on this tour.

Platinum recording artists Hoobastank hit the stage next and hit it running, bringing the crowd and the show to a whole new level with melodic radio-friendly rock. Playing a mix of songs from its self-titled debut and recently released sophomore album “The Reason,” the Los Angeles quartet proved they probably wont be an opening act for much longer.

After an extensive set change and some minor technical difficulties (it was opening night of a major tour) P.O.D. took hold of the sold-out show with its hard-hitting spiritual rock tunes.

Known as one of todays more crowd-friendly acts, lead singer Sonny Sandoval spent nearly as much time in the crowd as he did on the stage. With new guitarist Jason Truby along for the tour, the San Diego rockers played a more musically technical set than many fans are used to. Thats not to say, however, that the linebacker-looking rockers have gone soft. Their 11-song, 45-minute set had heads nodding and bodies being tossed in the air the entire time they were on the stage.

By the time Linkin Park arrived on its massive, out-of-this-world looking stage set, the audience was primed and ready for the headlining act and the opening screams seemed to last long after the band left the stage. Known for its onstage intensity, band members spent their entire 16-song set running back and forth across the stage, leaving almost no area untouched and no fan unattended. With years of almost constant touring under its belt, Linkin Park is one of the few bands that seem to play and sound better live than on CD.

Barring only minor set and sounds problems, many of which could bedevil any live concert, it was hard to tell that it was opening night. Although billed as the first top rock tour of the year, by the end of its run it may actually go down as one of the years best.

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