There are some bands that give off the impression in their live shows that theyd rather be somewhere else, or that they’re just going through the motions, their mind drifting over random thoughts (Im reminded of what Lemmy Kilmeister said when he plays the Ace of Spades; hes wondering if hes turned the stove off). Fortunately, of all the times Ive seen the Deftones, Ive never gotten that impression from them. Their recent tour kick-off with Dillinger Escape Plan at Seattles Paramount Theatre was no exception. Put plainly, the Deftones want to be there and are glad youre there too.
While I missed the first opening band, Funeral Party, I made sure I could catch Dillinger Escape Plan. Youll never find a more energetic, kinetic ball of metal mayhem than this band. The mathcore unit is a tireless, sonic assault on your senses, and trying to focus on either enigmatic vocalist/superhuman Greg Puciato, bassist Liam Wilson or guitarists Ben Weinman or Jeff Tuttle is akin to capturing lightening in a bottle. It cant be done. You just need to let it all blast over you, take everything in, and try and steady your nerves from blitzing out entirely.
The audience didnt have much time to catch their breath before the Deftones came out. Within seconds of Diamond Eyes ripping across the venue, frontman Chino Moreno was flying up the skateboard ramp at the front of the stage and launching himself off of it without missing a single harmonious note. Rocket Skates soon followed, a gritty, grinding showstopper of metal and unapologetic energy that got the audiences heart rates up and Morenos on-stage antics at an all-time high.
The rest of the show felt luxuriously long (perhaps to make up for their rather short set-time the last time they were in Seattle as part of the Black Diamond Skye tour) and was an eclectic mix of fast and slow songs from Adrenaline, Around the Fur, White Pony, their self-titled effort, and Diamond Eyes. Songs like Bloody Cape, Birthmark, Root, and Risk got the band and crowds vigor up to nuclear status with their merciless gnashing, while Moreno donned the guitar and added extra oomph to more melodious favorites such as Digital Bath, Sextape, and Pink Maggit. Personally, I think the set reached its peak with Change (In the House of Flies) and Minerva, due solely to the crowd sing-along that accompanied each song. With “Minerva” especially, the line So God bless you all, for the song you sang us, for the hearts you break, was almost tear-jerking, like a metalheads version of Kumbaya. I saw more than a few bashful folks hiding their misty-eyes after that one.
The other highlight of the show was when DEPs Puciato came out near the end to sing Passenger with Moreno. Ive seen other artists take the reins in this song, instead of the original vocalist Maynard James Keenan, and Puciato was probably the best Ive seen, paying homage to Keenan yet still retaining his own personal twist on things.
Being the first show in their latest tour, it wasnt hard for the band to be at the top of their game. Even when Moreno is keeled over and doing his trademark inhale screech, it comes across as just a second nature to him. The constant push and pull between throat-burning screams and melodic whispers is a delicate game that just seems effortless. Bassist Sergio Vega and Morenos matching energies played off of each other well, while Frank Delgado kept the keys going, steady Stephen Carpenter held down the monster riffs on his guitar and Abe Cunningham pummeled the drums like an animal. Cunningham is one of the best drummers in the business and all it takes is one Deftones show to hammer that point into your head. Along with the band’s technical prowess and perfect pitch, they looked good too, happy and comfortable, which is what you hope everyone feels like on stage.
As tough as the crowd looked at times, everyone was in a genuinely appreciative, pat-each-other-on-the-back kind of mood and even moshing was kept to a polite minimum. Im sure some people might lament the lack of violent intensity amongst the fans, but the vibe of camaraderie more than made up for it. The venue itself was also a bonus. The Paramount Theatre is gorgeous and intricately detailed with lavish designs and colossal sound to boot. The only negative aspect of the show was their usual exclusion of any material from Saturday Night Wrist. But, really, thats peanuts when you take in the show as a whole.
All that aside, its the Deftones themselves that made the event so memorable. Their enthusiasm and gratitude, their love of what they do for themselves and for their fans, was just as catching as their music – and that says a lot.
Engine no. 9
Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
My Own Summer (Shove It)
Around the Fur
Youve Seen the Butcher
Change (In the House of Flies)
Pink Maggit (partial)
Gallery by Karina Halle