Deftones only getting better with age and still melting faces

It was sometime during the summer of 1997 when I was first introduced to the Deftones. I was a teenager, angst-filled being a kid in a town I had relocated to with a step father I didn’t always get along with. Thus from the moment I first heard the feedback and amps cranked to 11 opening of track 9 “Headup” off of their 1997 release Around the Fur with its blast in the face scream of guitar and matching wave of lyrical content, I knew I had found a new outlet amongst the other bands (Korn, Limb Bizkit) I was listening to at that time for my frustration with my situation in the world. What I would find after that introduction to the band was that buried beneath the fury of that introduction was a band with many more layers than “Headup” would lead on. Now 14 years later at the age of 30 I treat those high school years of my life as a time of music fandom during the so called “nu-metal” era of acts popular at the time as one of embarrassment, like a skeleton in the closet I wouldn’t want any of my music loving friends to be aware of.  I bring all this up as I find it fascinating that out of all the bands from that time that the Deftones have persevered through tragedy, when bassist Chi Cheng was left in a “semi conscious state” following a car accident in late 2008. They have matured well beyond the genre label they were once saddled with by evidence of each album they release embracing something new and different from the last. I still count myself as a fan of their music, both new and old fourteen years on.

Monday night at the sold out Voodoo Lounge with about 1,400 fans in attendance I took in what I recall as my third Deftones show. I missed them last fall on their tour with Mastadon and Alice in Chains when they played Sandstone out in Bonner Springs. The previous time I caught them was on their tour in support of 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist at the Uptown Theater so its been sometime since I had seem them live. I wasn’t sure what to expect, can a band that has been around since 1989 that is known for energetic shows still get the job done? I’m happy to report that yes, yes they can and if anything they might be better now as a unit than I’ve ever seen them.

The set opened with two tracks off of their latest 2010’s Diamond Eyes with the album’s namesake song and “Rocket Skates”. Being that the band is touring in support of that album the setlist would be heavy with tracks from their latest, the only other album in the band’s six studio album catalog equally represented would be 2000’s White Pony. Unlike the last time I saw the band their 2006 release Saturday Night Wrist didn’t have a single track in play Monday night.

Unlike the crowd had for opener The Dillinger Escape Plan, the sold out, jam-packed crowd erupted when the band came out on stage. While the band is just as intense as I recall them being the first time I saw them on a blazing hot summer day in Lawrence at Liberty Hall back on July 3, 2000 the crowd, whose age certainly seemed to skew older was much more subdued than compared to previous shows I had attended. I’m not sure if it was that older age or the packed floor at Voodoo Lounge which is more suited as a dance club and spends most its days as such vs a live music venue. Yes there was still plenty of energy and much crowd surfing going on but there weren’t any fires in the pit like I once encountered at a show out at Sandstone many summers ago.

Regardless of the venue and the crowd the band would put on a set well representative of their catalog. Looking at the setlist it seems albums were being clustered together at the show. Not a bad thing showcasing the band’s range as they tend to do with each studio release. Pairing the quieter “Drive (far away)” with “My Own Summer (Shove It)” from 1997’s Around The Fur was one such example. Lead singer Chino Moreno, who seems to be aging quite well still came out into the audience for portions of “Summer”. The band at one point would be joined on stage by Dillinger Escape Plan’s lead singer Greg Puciato for a fantastic rendition of “Passanger” that allowed Puciato to showcase a little more range than he did when D.E.P. opened the show.

This was easily one of those shows that even with its 22 song set list lasting just shy of two hours seemed to pass by much too quickly. While many bands get lost somewhere along the way the Deftones have been able to carve a nice niche for themselves with a dedicated fan base and consistently delivering solid music both from the studio and once they take it on the road.

Regarding opener The Dillinger Escape Plan, I personally enjoyed their 40 minute opening set, though I was seemingly one of few in the audience who did. Their aggressive style of math rock and matching live show was met with mostly dead stares or boredom and disinterest from the crowd Monday night. Perhaps the crowd was nursing Easter hangovers? Toward the trail end of their set some on the floor began to start a small pit but it was pretty short lived. The band is great live but Deftones fans were obviously not enjoying the band’s effort.

by John Coovert

Pictures by Ryan Davis


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