Deftones/Dillinger Escape Plan/Funeral Party The Pageant April 26, 2011
The Deftones crowd favorite "My Own Summer (Shove It)" has a false ending right before its final chorus. Last night at the sold-out Pageant, the moment between the song and its built-in encore was powerful: Stephen Carpenter summoning feedback from his 8-string (!) Ibanez guitar, the band lost in the blue crowd-facing lights, the audience giddy from the one-two punch of "Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)" and "My Own Summer." Then the chorus came roaring back, a gift from the Deftones to its rabid fands. It was an early highlight in a mostly-searing set.
The band's catalog isn't predictable, but it is fairly consistent. Ignoring the handful of early cuts that feature Zack De La Rocha-esque rapping, tracks from 1995's Adrenaline could work on last year's Diamond Eyes and any Deftones record in between. But last night the band made up for its lack of head-turners with its execution. Each unison attack had a hint of sludge, falling ever-so-slightly behind the beat in the vein of Sabbath, drawing just enough tension to cause an involuntary head bang. The band's dynamic range is massive, starting with vocalist Chino Moreno, who sang on quiet parts, screamed on loud parts, and at one point made a dolphin-ish squeal. Lights were arranged for maximum drama, and a few songs were accompanied by videos projected behind the band. These were usually your standard stoner b-movie fare, but "Digital Bath" featured clips from the stop-motion masterpiece Koyanasqatsi, which is more like stoner art film fare. Unfortunately, the Deftones dragged towards the show's end; 105 minutes is a lot of time for a band whose book of tricks has only a few well-worn pages.
Throughout the set, the spotlight was literally on Moreno. The crew erected a small ramp over the front monitors so Chino could lord over his fans, and he kept the crowd in his palm. He convulsed and folded himself in half while screaming. His dancing during instrumental passages was closer to prancing than I expected. Did I mention the bit about the dolphin?
Guitarist Stephen Carpenter was mostly stoic, but fill-in bassist Sergio Vega covered a fair amount of ground on stage. For the band's last two songs, Chino crawled off stage and wandered through the audience, singing atop the bar that separates the Pageant's sitting area from its floor. Vega utilized the ramp in the vocalist's absence, an ambitious move that indirectly caused his bass to stop working. He was able to swap out with another, but this should be a take-home lesson in what happens when a bass player oversteps a boundary.
Chino's bar-walk was not the first band/crowd interaction. Both of Dillinger Escape Plan's guitarists explored the same areas of the Pageant earlier in the night. It is appropriate that Chino was tethered to the stage by a microphone cable but Dillinger's members used wireless setups; Deftones works within self-contained stylistic limitations while Dillinger Escape Plan has made a career out of doing the opposite.
DEP put on the kind of over-the-top performance seemed like it might disintegrate at any second. Nobody would have guessed Dillinger was not the headliner. A contingency of hardcore kids pumped fists, screamed along, and celebrated breakdowns with a modest circle pit. The band's geometric metal lends itself to arrhythmic moshing. Pity the audience members trying to clap along to a beat that kept changing under their feet. Dillinger's light show was heavy on the strobe - the only way to keep up with such speedy double-bass - and the slow-down visual effect paired with the band's on-stage sprinting to make its members seem to appear and disappear like prairie dogs. Vocalist Greg Puciato was responsible for the group's boldest move, standing atop the venue's PA stack and intentionally causing his microphone to screech against the wall of speakers.
Funeral Party opened with a solid, if out of place, group of post-punk numbers. The young band's tunes felt wonderful, and its songs locked into the evening's deepest grooves, but Funeral Party fell on mostly deaf ears in this crowd. In fairness, it hardly mattered who opened the show. It barely mattered that the most innovative hardcore band since Refused played second. As soon as those house lights went black and the 1,500 or so in attendance screamed like The Beatles' jet just landed on the roof, it was obvious that this show belonged to The Deftones.