Live Review: Deftones - Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine
Mon, 06 Apr 2009 11:44:56
Rebirth is a funny thing. Classically, it can happen by fire or by water. It takes place at night or during the day. You can be "reborn" when you're young or old. Regardless, the whole concept always falls in the middle of two polar opposites. The same can be said for Deftones.
The Sacramento band's near-20 year career has been characterized by an intense push-and-pull. On one side, there's singer Chino Moreno's pained, ethereal and strangely sexual vocal catharsis. On the other side, there's guitarist Stephen Carpenter's violent and volatile chugging wall of guitars. The sonic discord generated in the middle of Moreno and Carpenter has made Deftones one of most important and unique "alternative" bands ever.
When bassist Chi Cheng fell into a coma after a tragic car accident in late 2008, while Deftones were working on their sixth record, the band experienced the worst event in their entire history. However, with Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega filling in for Cheng, Deftones were reborn on stage at Bamboozle Left in Irvine last night—by fire, water and a dark, divine inspiration.
Deftones didn't need an introduction. The tightly packed festival crowd had been waiting to see them all day. Minus intro music, the quintet sauntered on stage and opened up the floodgates with a swaying and slaying "Hexagram." Moreno stalked the stage like he was possessed—screaming, jumping and running, while carrying the song's chorus from Hell to Heaven. Carpenter headbanged like his life depended on it, building a cacophony of distortion for the band to groove over. The audience exploded with life and energy as a mosh pit mushroomed in the middle of the throng of fans.
"My Own Summer (Shove It)" immediately followed. Abe Cunningham remains one of the best to ever sit behind a drum kit. He bashed out the song's groove with a schizophrenic sensuality that buttressed the tension. Cunningham can oscillate from funk to fire, and his style is nothing short of epic. Vega locked in with him, nailing each bass line with precision and poise.
However, Moreno has shown the biggest personal growth in his career. He's always been a dynamic stage presence, but he's channeling something else these days. Perhaps it comes with age, but he looks and sounds ready to kill more than ever. From the creepy textural drone of "Beware the Water" and "Digital Bath" to the throat-slashing, paranoid violence of "Engine No. 9," "Root" and "Elite," his voice sounded sharp, sensual and soaring—often all at the same time. As he climbed amplifiers and interacted with the crowd, he took on an iconic pose subtly and humbly, but deservedly. Moreno has never been one for the public eye; he's too busy killing it on stage for that shit. Still, the man's earned every adoring fan he's got.
During the chaotic breakdown in "Korea," he screamed, "We're gonna do this one for fuckin' Chi! We're gonna tear this place down to the fuckin' ground!" The sea of people immediately began jumping up and down on his command. He sounded pristine and strangely poetic belting out the song's refrain. A raw "Headup" gave way to closer "7 Words," and Deftones slowly disbanded towards backstage.
Like anything with Deftones, there wasn't a clear sentiment at the end—happiness or sadness. It was just real. How many artists can cop to that, just ending with a combination of pain, pleasure and power? Way to be reborn, fellas.