Projekt Revolution
Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
Monday, Aug. 13, 2007

It’s easy to understand how nü-metal came about: On its deathbed, grunge mated with its mainstream successors and spawned an unlikely hybrid with characteristics of both. Emo’s journey from obscure mid-’80s hardcore offshoot to world-conquering force is more mysterious. Still, the youth-culture appeal of music that renders emotional storms on a grand scale is not.

United by loud guitars and suburban angst, nü-metal and emo have mostly melded into one cheerfully anguished omni-genre. At Monday’s Walnut Creek stop of Projekt Revolutionheadlined this year by Linkin Park and My Chemical Romancethe only meaningful difference was eyeliner.

Linkin Park founded the national package tour in 2002 to bring together nü-metal bands with rappers like Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg. This year, they donated $1 from every ticket sold to American Forests and made the switch to biodiesel buses. Charity is good press, and the denaturing of genre is good business: Linkin Park is one of nü-metal’s seminal bands, but their 2007 album Minutes to Midnight and its attendant press push have strived to extricate them from the genre they helped create. With Rick Rubin at the helm, they minimized the rap for a more melodic, sweeping style. That is, more emo.

This year’s Projekt Revolution, in fact, featured only one rap act (indie throwback Styles of Beyond), making room for more “sensitive” bands like Taking Back Sunday, Placebo and HIM. The emotional melodrama was at stark odds with slick presentation. Watching the stage shows was like watching a music video being made.

Nevertheless, a massive crowd convened in the withering heat: So much so that Linkin Park needn’t worry about being pigeonholed. This demographic (one that’s as diverse as lower- to upper-middle-class white people can be) simply doesn’t make genre distinctions. Wake Forest resident Chip, 23, summed up the prevailing sentiment: “I’m more of an includer than an excluder.”

Austin, a 15-year-old also from Wake Forest, spent all afternoon with a “Free Hugs” sign, giving out about 200 hugs by 3 p.m., he claims. He identified himself as a “hardcore” fan, admitting that Saosin was as close as the Projekt Revolution bill came. But “good music is good music,” he put it. Did his new emo friends at least like the hugs more than the surly hardcore kids? “Everyone likes hugs.”

This is the MySpace generation, after all, more concerned with all-inclusive social networking than elite subculture. Fans could send text messages to two giant screens flanking the stage. And there’s the massive popularity of Metal Sanaz, 33, who interviews metal bands on the tour for MySpace (where she has more than 500,000 “friends”), YouTube and “any other tubes out there.”

Sanaz’s look is a mix of goth and cheesecake pin-up, with heavy makeup, fishnet tights and skimpy black bottoms, “Kiss My Ass” emblazoned across the back in white. Some fans were ecstatic to see her. Others mistook her for Mindless Self Indulgence’s drummer or Gwen Stefani. Still others asked, “Who is she?” Then, of course, they took her picture.

“You’re so awesome! Can I get one more picture?”

“Of me or my butt?” asked Sanaz, whose handlers kept her on the schedule of a foreign ambassador. She raised her rear to the camera. Click.