Deftones are a hard-rock band out of Sacramento, California. Their sound is hard to define. Some hipsters might call them ‘alternative metal’ or something like that. They are heavy (and loud), but the songs also take quieter turns at times and the band always finds ways to make each song sound unique. Deftones first showed up on the music scene in 1995 with their debut album, Adrenaline, and last November released their 7th studio effort, the critically acclaimed Koi No Yokan.
They are one of the few heavier bands from the 1990′s that I actually still listen to and after 18 years I’m still always excited to hear their new stuff. That’s because the band continues to find new, interesting ways of presenting their brand of loud music. The new album is arguably the band’s best yet, full of consistently well-crafted songs that always have some sort of cool, heavy element for the long-time fans. Deftones just finished a few weeks of shows over in Europe and after playing Berlin, Germany on Tuesday night, rolled into Toronto on Friday to start off the 2013 North American tour at the Kool Haus.
Scanning the crowd as I waited for the band to hit the stage, I saw the typical Deftones crowd: lots of people dressed in black, a large number of dudes with beards, as well as lots of hoodies and Vans/Airwalk shoes being worn. The mostly male audience ranged in age from teenagers to
old, ancient people in their 40′s. It was 9:15PM when the lights dimmed and the band came out to tear into one of their biggest hits, Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away). The crowd was loudly shouting the word ‘far’ in the line ‘I don’t care where, just far!..away’.
There was no let-up to the sonic assault as three more songs from 1997′s Around the Fur album followed. The heavy-hitting Lotion, My Own Summer (Shove It), and Lhabia provided familiar songs that many in the crowd had been rocking-out to for years. My Own Summer was a massive hit for Deftones back in the day and tonight the fans eagerly shouted the ‘shove it! shove it!’ part of the chorus. At this point I realized that this may not be a good night to piss off any of the bouncers. The loud/aggressive music in the air could easily provide a nice soundtrack for them to woop someone’s ass. In my head I imagined a bunch of them dirt-stomping some drunk hooligan out back to the thumping rhythm of the bass drum.
Lead singer Chino Moreno grabbed a guitar to help out on the next song, Minerva, the first single off the band’s 2003 self-titled disc. By Deftones’ standards, Minerva is kind of a quieter song, but the crowd didn’t have to wait long for the really heavy stuff to return.
Three very heavy songs from 2010′s Diamond Eyes album were next. The title track came first followed by Rocket Skates and You’ve Seen the Butcher. I must say that Rocket Skates is an absolutely killer, killer tune. It might be Deftones’ loudest song; I was definitely hoping to hear it tonight and it did not disappoint. The crowd went nuts for it. Probably the loudest they were the entire night was during the chorus, as they screamed the ‘Guns! Razors! Knives!’ line at full volume. Fact: all of these things are banned from carry-on luggage, too.
Feiticeira and Digital Bath (from the 2000 White Pony album) were performed before the band finally got into some of the material off the new album, Koi No Yokan. The newest radio single, Tempest, received a warm reception. When the song finished, lead singer Chino Moreno said hello to the crowd, asking what was up in Canada. He also held out the cup he was drinking from onstage and remarked (about the amber-coloured beverage in it) how much he just loves ‘apple juice’. This started an impromptu ‘Apple juice! Apple juice! Apple juice!’ chant from the Kool Haus audience. Pretty darn funny, I felt like I was at a WWE wrestling event. Other new tracks Poltergeist, Rosemary, and Swerve City followed. The crowd was super-into the latter track, the new album’s opener.
The beautiful 2006 song Rivière was dedicated to Chi Cheng, the band’s original bass player. Chi was in a terrible car accident in 2008 and because of that remains in a partially conscious state. There will hopefully come a day when Chi can rejoin his band-mates and make it back onstage to scream those background vocals like he used to.
Next came another one of Deftones’ massive, monster hits: Change (In the House of Flies). The crowd needed little coaxing to sing along to this well-known number off the White Pony disc. Following this song, Chino (plied with apple juice courage no doubt) decided to chat with the crowd some more. Getting philosophical, he talked about how even though he was ‘half-dead’, it was pretty good to still feel so alive. He also bragged about his knowledge of Toronto geography, saying there’s a part of the city called North Yonge (there’s a North York and a Yonge Street, but no North Yonge that I know of). He also stated he’s been to the Eaton Centre (big-ass downtown Toronto mall for those of you not familiar), saying he goes to the mall and buys Slurpees.
After getting that off his chest, Chino introduced the next song, Engine No. 9, to a massive crowd roar. During this fan-favourite, there was moshing-galore with clothes being seen literally flying out of the mosh pit itself. I might have nabbed a free shirt… Towards the end of the song Chino put on a bright blue Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap before tossing it into the crowd. Nosebleed, another track off Deftones’ 1995 debut, Adrenaline, finished up the band’s initial set before the encore break came.
After a short break, the band came back out to hammer through the last two songs of the evening. Both songs, Root, and 7 Words (both off the Adrenaline album) are really loud and heavy, especially 7 Words. It was a good song choice to close the show as the crowd went ballistic for another well-known hit.
This was an awesome, loud rock show. The band was clearly enjoying themselves and sounded like they had the volume turned up ‘to eleven’. Guitarist Stephen Carpenter hammered those riffs out all night while the rhythm section of drummer Abe Cunningham (hidden most of the night behind his massive baby-blue drum kit) and bassist Sergio Vega kept the beat while gently massaging my interior organs most of the night with their percussive touch. Frank Delgado helped out with the keyboards and samples giving the more recent songs a nice creative touch. When he wasn’t singing, Chino spent some time slo-mo salsa-style dancing on the monitors at the front of the stage (must have been the apple juice!). I doubt any Deftones’ fans left disappointed tonight. They got to see a wicked, tight band play an absolute monster setlist of great tunes very, very loud.
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PHM Rating for Deftones: 9.0 out of 10
Setlist for Deftones @ Kool Haus, Toronto, Canada – March 1, 2013
Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
My Own Summer (Shove It)
You’ve Seen the Butcher
Change (In the House of Flies)
Engine No. 9