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Review: Deftones bring out the faithful for a passionate night at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

It’s been less than a year since Deftones last stepped into the Bay area, but that didn’t stop the faithful from turning up. Instead of the Ritz (which housed Manchester Orchestra and Cage the Elephant Tuesday night), Deftones graced the stage of Jannus Live in St. Petersburg.

Due to a noise ordinance, the show started early; too early for most to catch the first opener, Mexican punk band Le Bucherettes. I, however, got there in time to see them exiting the stage doused in fake blood. Super sad I missed that (I also love Gwar for that reason).

Before the next opener, the Dillinger Escape Plan, fans trickled in and, oh my, the people-watching was glorious. Among the gems were spiked mohawks, girls clad in high heels (why?) with faces too caked in makeup for May in Florida, corsets, cocktail dresses, clothing cleverly (and intentionally) revealing enough tattoos for a convention and even a pregnant gal. Faithful, indeed.

With maybe 200 people in the crowd, Dillinger Escape Plan went on and delivered a guttural opera that some might describe as aneurysm-prone. This was not my flavor of hardcore. However, the energy and pure stealth at which these guys performed was highly admirable. The lead guitarist jumped on and off everything possible, swung his guitar around by the strap and gained my devotion with every committed conniption. All of them, even in skinny jeans, covered every inch of the stage in a primal passion of thrusts and jumps. They believed in their music and warranted a full-time mosh pit rather than the slumped faux-hard crowd they received. Did I mention all them were amazingly ripped (the good kind, gush!)?

By the time (not even 9 p.m.) Deftones came on, fans packed in and filled Jannus, bobbing beers and cigarette cherries in a chorus of applause and cheers. Singer Chino Moreno entered wearing a red Dillinger Escape Plan shirt and the band, sans introductions, dove into Diamond Eyes, the title track of their most recent album and the tour.

Chino hovered over the crowd, standing up on a platform strategically placed center stage, so even those in the back could revel in the view. A giant projection screen behind the band featured an array of creepy cartoons, cityscapes, foreign film excerpts, skeletons, water — you name it.  Things flew around in the rowdy crowd: cups, shoes, clothing, water bottles, random legs of unsuccessful crowd surfing attempts. Although there was constant action, the band’s enthusiasm paled to DEP’s. Stoic lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter, posted up left stage and stayed there, only moving for guitar changes, while the fill-in bassist, Sergio Vega, would shake his head so hard that sweat flung off him like a sprinkler in summer.

Let me clarify that I am not a diehard fan. I have an affinity for some songs and a knowledge of the band, but I’m not a faithful. Yet I admit, the allure of Chino becomes captivating. From his grooving mannerisms to the way he coiled the mic cord around his neck, the mere sight of him made women gush and yell, “I want to have your babies!” and “I love you!” Men just exuded their toughness, only letting their star-struck excitement peek through in fleeting moments. I caught several couples slow-dancing or kissing for unexpected romantic moments on a few of the “ballads.”

Chino had a few tender moments of his own, including dedicating a song (Digital Bath, if I’m not mistaken) to Chi, the original bassist who suffered a brain injury from a car accident and is still in a coma.

The highlight of the show came when DEP’s lead singer, Greg Puciato, joined the band on stage for the popular Passenger. Chino and Greg took turns on vocals and worked the stage together, getting one of the biggest rises of the night.

In 90 minutes they played nearly two dozen songs in a sweaty serenade, spreading out the hits, with Chino providing guitar on several songs. He incited the crowd to jump from front to back on Hexagram and added some Katy Perry lyrics from Fireworks in the closing song, ’95 hit 7 Words. Throughout the show, the music (albeit ear-ringing) and vocals were spot-on, from what I could tell.

I admit, having been to my fair share of metal shows and taking enough elbows for a lifetime, I was reluctant to immerse myself into the crowd, but soon realized there was no reason to be wary. The occasional pit broke out, but the crowd was surprisingly benevolent (aside from emphatic and expected bouncing and banging) and came together for one unified purpose: Deftones.

— Stephanie Bolling, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 5:05pm]


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