Hundreds of Linkin Park fans flooded downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Park Sunday night, with cellphones and flameless candles raised to the stars, proving that they cared that one more light had gone out.
“One More Light,” a song off the band’s eponymous 2017 album, with its lyrics about a life snuffed out too soon, was written by Mike Shinoda and Eg White about a friend who died suddenly of cancer. But it took on new resonance last month after the unexpected death of Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington.
For Ashlee Kelly, who organized Sunday’s event with Maribel Del Villar Pérez, Bennington and Agoura Hills-based Linkin Park were the soundtrack of her childhood — and adulthood.
“[Bennington] was the voice of my youth, and now I’m 30 and he's still relevant to my life and feelings and experiences,” Kelly said Monday.
After learning of his death, Kelly was searching for an outlet for her grief when she came across the memorial plan, still in its nascent stages, and reached out to Del Villar Pérez.
What began as an intimate candlelight vigil to be held at the Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood soon grew into a memorial concert, thanks to a social-media push and some last-minute heroics from volunteers.
Kelly’s only previous experience with event planning was her own wedding, but that didn’t stop the 30-year-old Mary Kay senior beauty consultant from finagling a permit from Grand Park.
Typically, Kelly said, the facility requires permits to be obtained 30 to 60 days before the event, but time was of the essence for those grieving Bennington.
“Please,” Kelly recalled begging the Grand Park officials, “Please let this happen.”
Permits were obtained and Kelly and an estimated 2,200 individuals attended the Sunday event, which featured performances from Signs of Saturn, Dean Schulz, Andrew Cool, Memento and the Gatsby Affair.
Hundreds of fans came and went from the performance area, singing along to covers of their favorite Linkin Park songs and finding comfort in the idea that they were not alone in their grief.
Though organizers had not been in direct contact with members of Linkin Park or with Bennington’s widow, Talinda Bennington, there were signs Sunday that the outpouring of affection had not gone unnoticed.
Talinda retweeted an image from the memorial along with a message stating that she and her children — Bennington had six children, including three with Talinda — felt the love.
Similarly, Linkin Park DJ Joe Hahn posted an image on Instagram Sunday that appeared to be taken from the far edges of the festivities, suggesting that he might have been in attendance.
That was the whole point.
“As much as this was for the fans,” Kelly said, “it was also to show the family and the band that we love Chester. We miss him. To say, ‘We’re feeling the pain with you.’”
Sunday’s event at Grand Park was an entirely volunteer effort, with dozens of individuals offering help for setup and cleanup, photography and videography, as well as performances from the artists.
A GoFundMe has been started to offset the $8,000 required for permits and fees.
In the aftermath of the concert, Kelly described her state of mind as an “emotional hangover.”
“I had so many people walk up to me and say, ‘You have no idea how much I needed this,’” Kelly said. “It was really nice to be able to offer a little peace and maybe a little bit of closure. To have one last memory with Chester and the people that loved him.”