Deftones at First Avenue, 4/28/11
There was a time when the so-called nü-metal seemed like it would be crowned the new king, the genre that would create the paradigm shift that grunge once did. Bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit were suddenly on the precipice of the Next Big Thing. Deftones were along on the ride, as well, though they never really fit in with the rest of the movement--they were the bookish thinkers amongst a roomful of potheads. Their lyrics actually meant something, they weren't filled with cartoonish fantasies or hackneyed metaphors. The music has always been tight and crisp, not the sludgy miasma of downtuned guitars that became the both the badge and the curse of nü-metal. Ultimately, the genre went nowhere and, like Saturday morning cartoons, is slowly dying off.
Deftones, however, have survived on their own terms and weathered a terrible tragedy as well: their original bassist, Chi Cheng, now lies in a coma due to a 2008 car accident and has been replaced with ex-Quicksand bass player Sergio Vega. An entire album of recorded material, Eros, was shelved due to the accident and may never see the light of day, but Thursday night Deftones showed a packed house at First Avenue just what survival looks like.
They began with the thunderous, post-hardore-ish "Diamond Eyes" from their 2010 album of the same name, and that song coupled with "Rocket Skates" from the same album were representative of a new hopefulness not present in any of their previous work--odd, given the circumstances surrounding the band currently. But it's much the same musically: cathartic and raw, lead singer Chino Moreno (who is down at least 75 lbs. as of late) alternately barking the lyrics and singing in a voice almost worthy of a Brit-pop band. Moreno had a long bench upon he jumped up and down throughout the set giving the crowd a better view of him, while the screen behind them flashed everything from an animated version of the owl from the Diamond Eyes album cover to unsettling, avant-garde black and white film.
Moreno crawled out onto--yes, onto--the roiling crowd during "My Own Summer (Shove It)", howling the lyrics while the crowd nearly drowned him out as they screamed them back. They slowed things down a bit with a the unsettling, almost prog-rock-like "Digital Bath" from their stellar 2000 release White Pony, and followed that with the one-two punch of "Korea" and "Knife Prty." They largely ignored their underwhelming 2006 effort Saturday Night Wrist, which was just as well. This show seemed to be a "We're hurting, but we'll deal with it. We're ok for now"-type show, and Wrist is filled with the darkest, most disturbing imagery in their canon.
The Crowd: Lots of tattoos, piercings and creative facial hair.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I'm with the band, seriously, let me in." From a woman who jumped the line at the front door and seemed believable enough that security waved her in.
Random Notebook Dump: I love that the song "Knife Prty" could be either "Knife Party" or "Knife Pretty."
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