Friday, August 11, 2017

Diva Chats with the Organisers of the local Memorial for Linkin Park's Chester Bennington

On 20th July 2017, Red Dot Diva received the news of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington's passing, while she was at work. It was terrible news, but since she had to put on her game face at the office, she was unable to outwardly grieve for the loss of this talented musician who had touched her soul with his beautiful voice and music.

"Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora" were released during a time of self-reflection and monumental changes during Red Dot Diva's life, and Linkin Park's angsty anthems which featured an alternate wave of Chester Bennington's trademark raging screams and soothing vocals helped her made sense of things.

She finally got to watch Linkin Park live in concert at the Padang back in 2004. It was one of the most perfect concerts by the band, and she will never forget the experience. She was also a few hundred metres away from Chester himself, when a few of the band members attended the MTV Asia Music Awards held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium around the same time.

Admittedly, Red Dot Diva was a little numbed by the loss of Chester as life's day to day practicalities had to be dealt with. It was only the next evening that she was in an emotional space strong enough to deal with her grief. So, she holed herself in her study and played through Linkin Park's songs and videos for an hour or so, listening to Chester's voice and messages while saying goodbye to this amazing, talented individual.

A candle virgil for Chester Bennington

On 30th July 2017, local fans got their chance to say their own goodbyes to Chester Bennington, at a specially planned memorial called "Remembering Chester". It threatened to rain at first but the skies cleared up in time for people to converge at the event, which was held under the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. Red Dot Diva was unable to attend because she was not feeling well. She followed the event online, watching the Facebook live videos, and pics of emotional fans singing songs and lighting candles. More than 60 people attended the event throughout the evening, and many stayed through till the end. The fans shared their tears, laughter, and personal stories about what Chester and Linkin Park's music meant to them. It was a means of catharsis for so many who needed someone to share their grief with.

The "Remembering Chester" Memorial was organised by a cohort of dedicated fans, with many others who chipped in neared the date. Red Dot Diva managed to speak to the main organisers - Vanessa, Kyra, Cain, Aisyah and Jaslyn:

Red Dot Diva: What spurred the organising of the public memorial service for Chester?
Jaslyn: I was searching through Twitter after knowing about Chester’s passing. I wanted to see if Singapore was holding any memorial going on but there was none. After a few days, I finally saw a tweet from @LPSingapore and that was how a few of us came together to try to make it happen. We did not expect the turnout to be this good but I am so happy that we made it happened for the fans here.

Vanessa: The band has been an inspiration to us for years. Hearing Chester's voice as I grew up, it broke my heart to hear about his passing. We hoped to be able to congregate the fans in Singapore to remember him.

Listening to one of Linkin Park's song "Leave Out All The Rest", and seeing the other 300+ memorial happening around the world, we hoped to attend one ourselves.

Kyra: Since Chester's passing, there has been many memorials conducted worldwide, but none was made locally. Honestly we did not expect this many responses, but we think that it was a success considering the feedback we got.

Aisyah: After finding out about the death of Chester Bennington, my Facebook feed was filled with my fellow Linkin Park Underground (LPU) friends sharing the memorials across their cities (such as from India, Malaysia, and Russia). I was hoping for one to be in my city. I was so glad that one of my long time LPU friends Jasparina, linked me to the Facebook event page, and I joined the group chat shortly after. From there, I met the other fans and we talked about more about what each of us can contribute. I was very excited because I love contributing especially in the Art or Designing aspect.

Red Dot Diva: Were there difficulties organising it, and how you and your team overcome these?
V: As none of us have met each other, it was hard to locate the other fans who would have been interested in attending a memorial dedicated to Chester. We had to spread the word by mouth, and through various social media platforms. Thankfully, we were able to reach out to a large number of people with this method. It was also difficult to find an open public space where we were not be considered a public nuisance by blocking other people's path.

J: First of all, we did not know one another. We have never met before. This event was organised wholly through WhatsApp discussions and everyone volunteering themselves to the cause. We had less than a week to prepare but everything gelled together quite fast. We had a change of venue a day before the event due to some event happening at Marina Barrage, but I glad fans still turned up even though it is somewhere more secluded than Marina Barrage.

K: We had less than a week to prepare for the event, as the responses we got mostly stated that August would be a busy month for them especially for those who are still studying. We initially wanted to hold the event at Marina Barrage since it is an open space that is easy to locate, but sadly, there was an event organized by PUB running at our preferred location. We only found this out a day before the event day, so updating the event goers was part of the problems we faced.

A: Time was limited, for each and every one of us. Some of us have full time jobs, part time jobs, while some of us are still in school. Everyone played their part to ensure the event would go smoothly. The best part of all was that we were all strangers, but managed to overcome all the difficulties. It was a team effort and I feel so blessed getting to know each and every one of them.

Red Dot Diva: Wow. I did not know you did not know each other previously. Considering that and the logistics involved, you guys did a great job!

Red Dot Diva: Was there anything special in particular that you will remember about this memorial? 
J: I was really touched by the scenes of fans hugging each other when they cried. This showed the impact Chester and Linkin Park had on each and every one of us. No one will cry for just anybody, unless that person helped you in one way or another. Chester did and all these youngsters (some are even younger than Linkin Park’s career) are here, stronger because of what he did.

I was in charge of the Facebook event and I wanted to be as positive as I could for the fans who were still feeling down because of what happened. I wanted them to know that there is always a way out and all of us care. I hope people can my message across and be positive in life.

K: To me, it was heart-warming to see people crying over Chester. Some of them never even had the chance to meet him in person, but the heartfelt emotions that spurred during the memorial was enough for everyone to understand that he was indeed a legend that will never be forgotten.

As my role in publicizing the event through social media, I have gotten many different responses. That included people who were willing to go to the event no matter what, and those who were upset that they were not able to make it. There was also a response indicating that they were not a fan of Linkin Park, but still intended to attend the event in respect for Chester. As quoted, "Don't have to be an LP Soldier to pay respects for a legend. I'll be there." The event was not only limited to locals, but there were also people mentioning that they were over in Singapore for a holiday and was excited to attend the event.

A: The best part of the memorial was seeing the turnout for the event. Different people from different walks of life were present at the memorial. Regardless of our race and religion, we were all united, as we all share the same love and passion for Linkin Park, and wanted to pay respects to our beloved Chester. Even though we were strangers, we somehow felt connected.

My role was to design the main banner, and I contributed the Tribute Artwork for the event. I feel so touched and blessed having both Linkin Park and non-Linkin Park fans who were willing to help me out. Carmen and Jasparina from LPU also messaged me personally, offering to contribute money to print the banner. Hafiz and Farid who helped me out in sourcing for printing shops.

On the event day, I was there early to set up the place. There were other Linkin Park fans who approached me and worked hard together to help put up the banner. We also decorating the memorial with flowers, stuck up pictures of Chester on the wall, and arranged the candles into the LP logo. I feel that Singapore Linkin Park fans are awesome!

While setting up the place, I was also multi-tasking to finish the tribute Artwork for Chester with Illa from LPU.

We also gathered in the circle to sing One More Light for Chester. I felt our hearts connected during the singalong session.

Red Dot Diva: How has the memorial helped dealing with our combined loss for Chester?

V: We were sad but through this memorial, we got to know people who felt the same way. This helped us remember that Chester would always be in our hearts.

K: For some of the people who went to the memorial, they admitted to not having anyone to turn to when they found out Chester had passed. They either knew people who did not listen to Linkin Park, or just no one to talk to in the first place. At the end of the event when everyone sung together, many tears were shed. Initially strangers, these people formed a new bond through Linkin Park's music, and were there for each other at that point in time. Being able to sing without shame also helped to let out their bottled up emotions.

J: Our memorial was held on the same day as Chester’s funeral (which we knew about it later) therefore, it is a sort of closure for us. Although the pain and sadness of knowing he is gone forever will still be a part of us, I know from this we can grow stronger than the grief. The memorial also helped the fans know that they are not in this alone and that even though we were strangers, we are now friends who will be there for them when they need us.

A: Every fan has their own different way to deal with the loss of Chester. Some fans sung their hearts out, to release their sadness. Some preferred making new friends, talking to one another about how Linkin Park’s music changed their lives. Some also wrote personal letters to him.

As for me, I never fail to give a piece of artwork every time I met the band. For me, doing this tribute artwork for Chester was a way for me to deal with his passing. I invited Illa, one of my old LPU friends to create this Tribute Artwork with me. I am really happy with the outcome, as many fans were looking and approaching us while we were finishing the Artwork at the venue.

We are planning to send this Tribute Artwork and Scrapbook to L.A. on behalf of our LP Soldiers in SG. 

Red Dot Diva: Really wish I was able to join all you that evening.

Red Dot Diva: Are there any plans to have an annual get together / memorial for Chester?
V: For now, we have not thought about it, but that is a really good idea. 

J: We do not have any plan yet because everyone is healing at their own speed. Like Mike Shinoda said: “One day at a time”. I hope the next time we gather, we are in a happier mode and I really do hope it will be at a Linkin Park concert.

Cain, another member of the organising team piped in, "I just want to thank the official Twitter pages of Linkin Park - @LPAssociation, @LPFanCorner, @LPLive for coming up with the hashtag that link fans to their respective countries memorials. Mike Shinoda himself also tweeted the message out so that was how I got to know the fans in Singapore and helped to set up this unforgettable event. I also want to thank everyone who came and for those who contributed too. Everyone matters so thank you."

The team also wanted to sincerely thank the many others who had helped with the tribute event - Carmen, Fauzia, Zhenying, Rinn, Fee, Serene, Samantha, Viraj, Nur, Erna, Izzah.

During "Remembering Chester", fans had written heartfelt messages in a special book, and Red Dot Diva understands that the book will be sent to the band soon.


Watch videos from "Remembering Chester":
Video 1
Video 2


To those reading this article, if you need help or talk to someone, please call the Samaritans of Singapore at 1800-221 4444. Suicide is not the only way out, and you just need to take a small step, and reach out to someone. If you know of someone in need, click here for some tips on how to help.


All photos are from the organisers of "Remembering Chester" memorial.

Follow the local Linkin Park news with @LinkinParkSingapore on Twitter, or the Linkin Park Revolution Singapore Facebook Group.

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