Bats fill the sky, the ever-cauldron sun sets, the hoards of fans have gathered for Deftones.
As I first set foot into the Hordern Pavilion (12 November), the Deftones faithful are out in force. Thank god I wore my black t-shirt.
Opening act Perth’s Voyager were wrapping up. Five-part metal, part space explorers, parting too soon for me to figure them out. They’re stalking the flames. “You ready for the Deftones?” Fair dinkum.Click here for photos from Deftones Brisbane show.
Also from Perth, next up were Karnivool. Man, Ian Kenny. This kid can sing. And they can play. The singing is quite smooth, but also at times vulnerable, controlled, somehow Nordic. If he was a shepherd, his flock would calmly find him every time. Not unlike his other band Birds Of Tokyo.
But sometimes you wanna flock off, you want filth too. We need it. So when bassist Jon Stockman steps up to the mic to deliver vocals on ‘The Refusal’ the filth has arrived. With blast beats. More of this I’m thinking. But the guitar work, harmonies, both axes and voxes (echoes of Thin Lizzy maybe?), and drumming are all killer too.
Standout track ‘Goliath’. F*CK! I invented a new word to describe this cohesive onslaught for their adoring crowd surfer lemming-ing towards the bouncers. Ready? Synchrofrantic. And the way ‘Goliath’ goes deep for the last 20 seconds. “Please waaaake uuuuup!” We have!
Ok, next, the time has arrived. But before diving into the Defpit, a moment to consider the week that has been. For context. The Chicago Cubs World Series win and Ireland beating the All Blacks ended 108 and 111-year droughts respectively. And Hillary becoming the first fff……. F*CK NO! And Leonard Cohen too? F*ck.
Brother Chino, pray scream-croon us through this doubt. Carpenter spark us up the biggest bifter ever and let the tribe inhale your marariffs. Cunningham, unburn this Stannis child and beat life back into these dripping walls.
The Deftones showed up in most '90s kids consciousness with a tom-snare crack into ‘My Own Summer’, the infectious horror call and answer scream-along verse, a dystopian chorus of aloft guitars and a video with f*cking sharks and shit. And it would be one touchstone in tonight’s relentless glorious tour de force.
This band has given so much sonic happiness over the years. How to summon all ancient echoes from whence their planetary soundscapes are formed? Down the road from their Sacramento home breathe the ancient sequoias. Channels to the air of ancients.
Other bands of their era have dated. But not so the Deftones. In this, their fourth decade they pull up with the likes of ‘Swerve City’ a Porsche of a riff with that immediate, groove on sexosity. They’re still great. Live, I popped my Defcherry at the Big Day Out, wrenching myself away from Pearl Jam and sidestepping Snoop Dogg to see them in a dirty warehouse; it was a gear-smashingly perfect first go.
Now in the Hordern, a full set on their own terms. Opening with ‘Diamond Eyes’, it begins. Everything is incredible. Abe Cunningham, Jesus, how does he do it night after night? Huge, eight-string deep riffs. Samples and bass (turn up his vocals!). And the skipper, Chino, the showman. Our Sinatra. “Ha ye goin’?” he asks in a pretty good Aussie accent. We adore him.
Here comes ‘Rocket Skates’. And ‘Change’, ‘Knife Party’, ‘Digital Bath’, and the life altering ‘Swerve City’. It’s pummellingly magnificent. Ok, we need to talk about the musicality of Chino's singing. Cunningham’s drumming, boiling cymbals, ghost-driven snares, Carpenter’s scything Chuggs (free plug!) and pull offs, the sample-bassness; these are a forest through which Chino’s voice navigates better than that sheila out of Avatar. I’m telling you, the ancient sequoias’ air is in this band!
Other gig highlights: Chino jumps on the bass amp (on wheels), which a roadie has to rush to stabilise a la Jimi Hendrix fucking his amp. The octave down vocal movie announcer effect on one track. Bane, tis yourself! Good of you to join us. The bass player’s Wendy James haircut, err. The greatgigintheskyesque screamvox on ‘Knife Party’ happens thanks to Frank Delgado Serato-ing shit up. And finally, Chino orders us into a circle pit. We loyally obey.
Just what is it that makes America great… again? D.E.F.T.O.N.E.S. The gig ends. I check my left ear. Lads, my left ear isn’t working!? Outro music: ‘Purple Rain’. Beautiful.
PS. My left ear is grand again.