Deftones frontman Chino Moreno has an unmatched intensity on stage. With his trademarked disposition, Moreno hovered commandingly over the crowd, hunched over and screaming until the veins on his head popped out, belting songs like "Tempest," one of many of the band's songs that pair thick riffs and deep-pocketed grooves with earnest (if awfully dark) lyrics. The show last night at the Fillmore was basically the same one that audiences have been seeing for years, but no one seemed to care. The Deftones have become something like the more aggro version of your parents' old sofa: Familiar, well-worn and comfortable.
See Also: - Slideshow: Deftones and Fans at the Fillmore, 10/19/12 - The Deftones at the Ogden Theatre, 4/22/11 - Q&A With Chino Moreno of Team Sleep and Deftones - Mastodon, the Deftones and Alice In Chains at Red Rocks - 10/04/10
"Feiticeira," "Passenger" and "Be Quiet and Drive" led off the early part of the set, with Moreno, looking alternately like a pained child and a human hurricane, leaping across the stage, while drummer Abe Cunningham laid down grooves deep enough to sink a truck. On stage, the amps were draped in white sheets -- the better to project lights onto, presumably -- while Cunningham and DJ Frank Delgado were perched atop risers at the rear of the stage.
One of the one of the less pretentious-looking (and sounding) bands out right now, the Deftones look refreshingly like their fans, opting for flannels and T-shirts, and there were no grandiose diatribes or witless banter between songs. Just rock. The Deftones made it abundantly clear they were not here to fuck around. And this worked heavily to their advantage. Favorites such as the half-whispered "Digital Bath" and the heavier, more recent single "Rocket Skates" sucked in the audience like some kind of big tent revival. Crowd surfing commenced, as Moreno wrapped the mike cord around his neck, and the band executed their material flawlessly.
A sweat-fog had formed near the stage, casting a haze over the audience and bandmembers both. One song came right after another with hardly a break in-between. This was a marathon race of a concert, and it was perfectly apt, considering that the Deftones' music does not lend itself well to experimentation. With precise stops and starts, the songs are constructed like erector sets, making for perhaps the least-noodly music out there.
Perhaps the least-expected part of the set came at the end of the night, when Dillinger Escape Plan singer Greg Puciato appeared onstage to sing with Moreno. The set's final song, "7 Words," was essentially a showcase for Puciato, a fireball of aggression whose own early-'00s output elevated his band to the higher echelons like the Deftones. While both have been around for well over a decade now, it's safe to say last night only served to burnish their reputations.
Personal Bias: Not to be genre-obsessive, but any notion I might've had that nu-metal -- or alt-metal or whatever sort of hyphenated pseudogenre you want to hang on it -- faded with the rise of hipster rock a few years ago, has since been disabused.
Random Note: As a provision of being guest listed for the show, the Deftones requested that all media outlets donate $5 to the Chi Ling Cheng Special Needs Trust, to benefit fallen bassist Chi Cheng, who is continuing to recover from a car accident in 2008 that left him in a coma.
By the Way: System of a Down offshoot Scars on Broadway opened the set, priming the still-building throng for the bedlam that would characterize the rest of the night.
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