“Thank you, sir. Enjoy the show.” I carefully placed the remainder of my ticket in my wallet, not wanting to ruin the only tangible reminder I would have of this event. I was 13 minutes late for the beginning of the 2004 Meteora World Tour. The drums were already pounding as I took three stairs at a time to get to the top of our section as quickly as possible. At the top, what I saw almost knocked me off my feet.

Story of the Year was playing “Anthem of Our Dying Day” and I was instantly hurled into a sea of sound. It was as if every sound wave in the stadium bounced off each person and ricocheted directly at me like light off a diamond.

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Gradually, I became aware that there were people everywhere – packed into the floor section, stacked up practically to the ceiling, and in every seat of every row of every section! I had never seen so many in one place with all their energy focused on one thing.

Hoobastank played next, and then P.O.D. took the stage for the best show yet. Then the lights went out, but you could see people setting up the stage to host what almost everyone there considered the greatest band alive. You could almost taste the ecstasy in the air, and I do not mean drugs. Finally … Linkin Park!

Rapper Mike Shinoda, singer Chester Bennington, guitarist Brad Delson, bassist David Farrell (a.k.a. Phoenix), DJ Joe Hahn and drummer Rob Bourdon took the stage and immediately started playing. Chester unleashed his famous howl and everyone was singing along – or screaming, depending on your point of view.

“I’m gonna need your help with this one. It’s called ‘It’s Going Down!'” The beat started and Mike said, “When I say ‘It’s going,’ you say ‘down!’ It’s going!” he screamed.

“Down!” the audience roared. Linkin Park had the audience help them with a bunch of songs and it felt like we were actually connecting with the band. The audience played a crucial role and had the same effect on the music that a sounding board has on a guitar: it channeled the sound and made it 10 times better.

I got to see my favorite bands perform my favorite songs live – it doesn’t get any better!