I'm not a huge metal fan but there are a few acts that really rock my world. And of these, my favourite is, without a doubt, Deftones. I've been a fan of theirs since I first heard Around The Fur. But listening to them is not anything like seeing them live. Thanks to a Christmas present from Mine, this is exactly what I was going to be doing.
Their only side-show in Sydney while touring with the Big Day Out, Deftones made it an all-ages to accommodate their younger fans. As a consequence, I barely had time to look at the merch stand (disappointing) before Deftones started their set. I raced up stairs to the balcony level and was surprised by how good a view I was able to get. Even so, the few photos I took with my phone don't really do the position justice. And of course, being the sort of gig it is, the constant jostling made it even more difficult. See what I mean:
Looking down on the thrashing sea (well, large pond) of punters, I was glad to be standing in the relative calm on the balcony. Stand-in bass player, Sergio, looked to be at home with the rest of the band, working seamlessly with Abe Cunningham's percussion and darting between his mic and the front of the stage, while Stephen Carter's hulking presence is personified by his massive guitar riffs layering over Frank Delgado's keys and soundscapes.
But if the night belongs to anyone, it is to Chino Moreno, who not only held the audience in the palm of his hands but whose vocals were every bit as powerful as they are on record. Standing on a platform over the top of the fold-back speakers, it wasn't hard to imagine it as an altar, with Chino sacrificing his voice over and over, much to the delight of the sweaty throng.
The set, a massive 23 songs, included material from all their releases. I loved hearing older tracks like Minerva, Nosebleed, My Own Summer (Shove It) and personal favourite Around The Fur. I was a little disappointed they didn't play Back To School but with six albums of material, its not hard to understand why it didn't make it. There is no denying the power of the new tracks included in the the set however. Diamond Eyes was made to be performed live while Sextape provides a welcome change of pace between Royal and big crowd favourite, Rocket Skates. Check out the full set list here.
I'm sure Deftones have no problems playing the big stages, but there is nothing like seeing a band such as this in a small venue. And while it's still early in the year and I may end up eating these words; could this be a contender for gig of 2011? Only time will tell, I guess.