On one of the official t-shirts for the Summer Sonic festival, vivid red mercury is exploding out of the top of a thermometer. That’s exactly how it felt on the concrete at Tokyo’s Chiba Marine Stadium for the two-day festival (Aug. 10-11), which splits its line-up across Osaka and the capital each summer. It was here that two of the biggest acts in their respective worlds — EDM showman Steve Aoki and chart-ruling rock juggernaut Linkin Park — revealed a new collaboration, “A Light That Never Comes,” live on stage.
While its main business is baseball, on day one of Summer Sonic, Marine Stadium filled with devotees of a different kind, dressed in the colors of Metallica, Linkin Park, Muse and Fall Out Boy. The few shaded areas were scattered with warm beers and bodies draped in wet towels. (The sweltering queue for the merchandise tent, however, remained at-capacity all day.) At the peak of the heat, Linkin Park filed out for a career-spanning set, each song greeted by an instant roar of recognition. As the show reached its finale with “Bleed It Out”, “Faint” and “One Step Closer,” Mike Shinoda gave fans the tip to see Steve Aoki later that night for a one-off surprise. Throughout Linkin Park’s set, Aoki had been watching from front-of-house with the focus of earnest fandom.
At 10 p.m., the Sonic stage — which had hosted Chvrches, M.I.A. and Nas throughout the day — became ‘Midnight Sonic’. As the first act on the festival’s all-night program, Aoki had the unusual duty of re-energizing a huge hall that had been dormant for hours. Within minutes, though, he had the place airborne. As “Turbulence,” “Warp 1.9” and some brand-new Dim Mak cuts rattled the walls, Aoki did his thing — bouncing across the stage, letting inflatable rafts loose and throwing a cake.
Then it was time for his special guests to perform “A Light That Never Comes.” Out strolled Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington to a hero’s welcome, as more fans streamed to the front. Over a hammering beat that suggests a more streamlined Steve Aoki sound, Shinoda rapped his verses while Bennington went all-in on the radio-ready chorus. The call to “jump, jump, jump!” was barely needed with a crowd this hyped, and the cameo was immortalized with the “epic group photo” above, snapped by Aoki’s photographer-in-residence Cobra Snake.
On Twitter, Shinoda has hinted the full collaboration will be unlocked via Linkin Park’s “Recharge” Facebook game, set in a dystopian future. “Steve and I met up like a year ago, maybe more,” he remarked in a quick Q&A session with fans. “It happened pretty organically, just shooting ideas back and forth.”