“This is your chance… Revolt, Resist!
Open you chest, look down, reach in.
Shedding your skin, showing your texture.
Time to let everything inside show.
You’re cutting all ties now and forever
Time to let everything outside you.”
I never thought I’d be spending so much time north of LA.
I’m speeding up the 101 on my way to the foreign land of Ventura for the first date of the Deftones tour. I’m so glad I reconnected with this band through Diamond Eyes in 2010, their music has always taken me to a place so separate from everything else I listen to. It gets as angry as some of the metal I listen to, but that’s not what it’s all about. It gets as dark as some of the rock music I listen to, but not as dark. It can be sexy, uplifting, motivating….perhaps this multitude of emotions is why they are so polarizing to people.
The last time I had seen Deftones I had newly moved to Hollywood for a brief stint last year, so it felt symbolic to see them again so close to my becoming a full time resident. With their new album, Koi No Yokan, releasing soon, I was looking forward to hearing some new songs from them.
Pulling up to Ventura was like going back to Texas; I love that any time I’m homesick I can drive 30 minutes in any direction and find that slower moving suburbia feeling. Due to a friend not being able to make it last minute, I was meeting another friend out front. As I walked up, who do I see walking towards me from the bus but Chino. I did a double take and then my normal ‘pretend he’s just another person’ thing, all the while looking around to see if anyone else notices. No one seems to as he stands next to me on the phone. And then a younger girl and her boyfriend noticed and it all kinda went downhill from there.
Once inside the theater, which was reminiscent of The Warfield in San Francisco or The Wiltern in LA, but smaller, I watched Scars on Broadway. Similarities to System of a Down were prevalent, but I found myself distracted and spent most of the set in a ridiculously long bathroom line.
I was in a strange mood that day, so all reason went out the window and I made my way into what I knew would soon erupt into a rough pit area. Perhaps I was slightly less fearless because my concert mate was a rather legendary pit fixture at my metal shows. And indeed, he saved my ass several times throughout the night…which was so much fun.
Opening with new tracks “Rosemary” and “Poltergeist”, all the fans in that room’s ears perked up as they took in these tracks for probably the first time ever in that live setting. They proved to be as gripping as anything on Diamond Eyes, and with that special groove and seductive edge that Deftones tend to bring. Then time started rolling backwards, as we went from three DE tracks: “Diamond Eyes”, “Rocket Skates”, and my favorite, “You’ve Seen the Butcher”, and on backwards in their catalog. The floor erupted, as the fans fell into the rhythm of the sounds of their favorite band. Early on, Chino dove into the crowd near me, causing a mass frenzy.
I love how Deftones sets ebb and flow in aggression within the setlist. Just when you think you can’t stand up anymore, things ease up a little with “Passenger” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”. As soon as I hear “My Own Summer (Shove It)”, I’m taken back to high school….and I love that some of their songs can do that to me.
The hard hitting “Elite” is followed by the mood inducing “Digital Bath”, bringing a flux of emotions I almost can’t stand it. But I look around and see all the strangers immersed in the song just like me. As the setlist staple dedicated to Chi, “Minerva” is performed, an even more sobering moment occurred. Chino looks out at the crowd and tells us that he just realized that this is the last place they played with Chi. I’m pretty sure everyone had chills.
Another new track, “Tempest”, bled into a portion of “Fireal” and then onto “Engine No. 9”. This is where I experienced my usual dose of drama during a Deftones set (a girl once burned me with a cigarette because I was too close to “her man”, Chino), where a tall blonde decided it was cool to scream “whore” in my face along with the song. I retaliated by pushing her away, which just happened to mean grabbing her rack. Then, she said something to the extent of “I’m not calling YOU a whore, honey” and kissed my cheek. And then we went back to the show. Whatever.
“Leathers” is the only new track I knew going into this, and it was great to experience it live. And the final new track of the night, “Riviére”, melted into “Change (In the House of Flies)”, a song that wakes me up every morning as my alarm.
After a brief break, the band came back for three final songs from their debut album, Adrenaline: “Bored”, “Root”, and perennial closer “7 Words”. I jumped up and down along with everyone, using my last bits of energy, and the floors in that old theater became a trampoline of sorts, bending with our weight. By this point, everyone was spun in every sense of the word.
There’s something about a Deftones show that re-centers me, and as I drove back to the city, I felt a sense of relief wash over me.