Checking in with Linkin Park
Linkin Park has been around for 12 years now, but it was only last year that it made what has been hailed as its best album.

On Thursday, the veteran band will perform at Verizon Center as part of its "A Thousand Suns" tour, which recently completed sold-out runs in Europe and Australia.

When Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson and guitarist and rapper Mike Shinoda started the band in California in 1996, it was just another one of the rising rap-rock groups that formed at the time.

But the aggressive blend of the two genres hit a nerve in 2000, when the band released its debut, "Hybrid Theory." The album sold some 10 million copies, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Since then, Linkin Park become one of the most successful touring bands around. Billboard magazine and Nielsen SoundScan recently named Linkin Park the best-selling rock and alternative band of the 2000s. According to its label, the band has some 50 million sales worldwide.

When its new album, "A Thousand Suns," was released last year, it made its debut at the top of the charts, the third consecutive album from the band to do so. But with all that success, the group has always been a popular favorite rather than a critical darling.

That changed with the new album, which Shinoda produced with Grammy winner Rick Rubin.

Writing in the Village Voice, Christopher R. Weingarten said the album finds the band fully in control of its sound, "with no time for indie rock's terminal afflictions of coyness, bet-hedging, and irony."

When the band performs at Verizon Center, it will bring what members describe as a multimedia blast that's as multifaceted as their records.

"We play different set lists, and then within those set lists, we improvise, so we wanted a way for the look of the show to kind of ebb and flow with whatever we do with the music," Shinoda told Billboard.

"From night to night," he added, "the music will be different and the visuals will be different as well. No two shows will be the same."

Linkin Park performs Thursday at the Verizon Center, 601 F St. N.W., Washington. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $42.50. Call 410-547-7328 or go to ticketmaster.com

—Erik Maza