Mike Shinoda's Touching Tribute To Chester Bennington At Reading Festival And Why It Matters

Last weekend's Reading Festival saw Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda pay tribute to his late bandmate Chester Bennington by highlighting the importance of mental health awareness - whilst simultaneously drawing attention to the relationship between music and mental well-being, by acknowledging the sheer number of people who proclaim to have been helped by Linkin Park’s music.

The connection between mental health and music is one so integral, yet one that is rarely explicitly expressed by musicians themselves. And so it was refreshing to witness Shinoda - during his solo Main Stage set - give voice to the silent knowledge of how effective music can be, as both a respite and a cathartic outlet for many of those suffering from mental illness

But whilst the omnipresence of Bennington's death was an undeniable reminder that music is not always enough, Shinoda's heartfelt statement that ‘hopefully by coming to these shows and enjoying the music . . . it makes some of that bad feeling go away’ told the audience that it can be. The notion relayed by Shinoda wasn't naive or irresponsible, it was hopeful. Shinoda simply reminded us all that music has its own power. One that has been successfully harnessed by many who credit Bennington and Linken Park as a remedy to their mental and emotional ailments. By stopping mid-song to give this positive message, Shinoda allowed the audience to live in an elongated, amplified moment of musical reprieve.

Importantly, Shinoda also delivered more practical guidance. His admission of his own anxiety was an important display in a time where a high number of people are still too ashamed or afraid to speak out about their mental struggles. He went on to highlight this message further by telling the audience that, if they are hurting, they ‘have no reason to be ashamed of that, ever’.

Members of the audience were visibly tearful as Shinoda gave his earnest speech over the soft chimes of his keyboard. But the feeling in the air during his speech, as it made way for the final part of 'In The End', was unmistakably one of uplift. The poignant atmosphere reached its height as Shinoda called out to the audience to sing the evocative chorus 'so loud that Chester can hear you’. And that they did.

Recent studies have shown that a large percentage of people report a feeling of euphoria when watching big rock acts play at festivals. And with all the standard contributing ingredients to that phenomenon being combined with Shinoda's uplifting words, the nostalgic presence of a band with an undeniable healing ability, and a tangible moment of connection with the late Chester Bennington, the emotion led joy in the air during the set was sure to have been off the charts. Also making it the perfect setting to allow for Shinoda’s important words to truly resonate with a large number of people.

You can watch Mike Shinoda and the crowd’s tribute in full below:

Amani Carson