Deftones in New York City

By Lisa Sharken, New York Contributor
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 @ 7:18 AM

At Roseland Ballroom

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With every album and tour, Deftones have evolved musically and keep doing things on a larger and more impressive scale. Since the group’s formation in Sacramento, California, the music has grown from simply alternative metal into a wider variety of styles, which make it difficult to neatly label Deftones into just one category. The newer material is more textured, ambient and emotional, although the underlying metal roots are still there and they definitely do show their razor sharp teeth at just the precise time.

The show I attended was the second of the group’s two-night run at Roseland, and both nights were jam packed with legions of amorous fans, and many had attended both shows. For the diehards, it was difficult to resist a Deftones doubleheader, especially when the band often changes the set list from night to night so every show is a little bit different.

The stage was set up with band members positioned in what some might consider an unconventional manner when compared to the typical rock band’s stage plot. Then again, Deftones are not a typical band and have always been considered pioneers. But if you think logically about how the band members in this group listen to and play off of each other, the arrangement makes perfect sense. The stage was configured with guitarist Stephen Carpenter set up on the far left side of the stage, keyboardist Frank Delgado was placed to Carpenter’s right and further back, and bit closer to the center. Drummer Abe Cunningham was set up off to the right, and bassist Chi Cheng was all the way on the far right. Frontman Chino Moreno had an elevated platform that stretched across the front center of the stage, where he would command attention and preach Deftones’ gospel. But Moreno certainly wasn’t glued to that platform. He moved all around the stage, often making his way to get as close to the audience as possible. Moreno would sometimes climb out on top of the larger floor speakers in front of the stage that were inside the barricaded area so he could be right at the edge the crowd. At times, he stepped off the stage and leaned into the crowd from inside the barricade in and sang directly to audience members, reaching out to any surfers who cruised by, while security guards held onto him tightly to prevent any over-enthusiastic fans from pulling him over. Moreno also played guitar on a few of the more recent songs throughout the set, usually performing from center stage.

For all the gear heads interested in the details of what the band was using, here’s what I could see: Carpenter was switching off between several ESP guitars, including his signature model 7-string and a baritone guitar. Each guitar is set up in a different tunings, and he uses five different tunings along with a few basic effects like fuzz, chorus, delay and a Digitech Whammy pedal to create the different vibes and textures for each song. Carpenter plays through the same rig he’s relied on for many years, with a trusty rack of Marshall preamps and power amps going through six 4x12 cabinets. Cheng kept the groove with his custom Fender basses pumped through an Ampeg SVT rig. Cunningham was playing a double bass Tama kit surrounded by an assortment of Zildjian cymbals. The spread was well suited to accommodate his tasteful riffy and rhythmic style. Delgado’s electric gear was set up inside a specially built case, so the details of his rig were too difficult to see, but the electronic sounds were definitely heard and felt. For Moreno’s guitar parts, he was jamming on a Fender Strat.

The lighting onstage was fairly dark and ambient, laden with combinations of reds, greens, and occasional bursts of brighter yellow to accent the moods. There were no direct spotlights on any of the band members, but there were usually brighter lights on Moreno. A large screen made of individual lights created the backdrop and provided some cool illuminations as backlighting by occasionally projecting images of people and places that were reminiscent of the cover and inner sleeve photos from the band’s latest disc, Saturday Night Wrist. After taking photos, I moved to the venue’s upper level, where you have a perfect view of both the stage and the crowd.

Deftones had inaugurated the evening by hitting it full-throttle with five tunes from Around The Fur—“Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away),” “My Own Summer (Shove It),” “Lhabia,” “Around The Fur,” and “Rickets.” Just as things were getting started, Carpenter had a technical problem with the signal on his guitar, and immediately swapped instruments. He handled it like a pro, and the changeover was executed so quickly that few people even noticed what happened. After the show, I had the chance to speak with him and he referred to the incident as a “Spinal Tap moment,” explaining how he and Moreno had been watching YouTube, looking for Milli Vanilli video clips, viewing some onstage mishaps by other artists, and were laughing about the Ashley Simpson debacle during her Saturday Night Live performance. He suggested that this incident was merely his pay back for laughing at other people’s embarrassing catastrophes. The rest of the show went down without a hitch, and the sound in the venue was good. Moreno’s voice was right on, and the mix and volume were perfect.

The running order of the set was thoughtfully constructed by the manner in which band would segue between slower and heavier tunes, and drift through darker, lighter and heavier moods. It succeeded in providing a clever snapshot of the music that spans the group’s career. In addition to performing songs from Around The Fur, the set list included material from Adrenaline, White Pony, and some new tunes from Saturday Night Wrist. It was cool to watch how each time the group launched into a heavy tune or there was a crushing outburst within a song, the people in the middle section of the floor would instantly erupt into a full-blown mosh pit, then retreat back into what looked more like a slow dance, with everyone just swaying to the music. This crowd was into it and right on cue! Deftones delivered a great show in every aspect. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the group has in store for its next venture.

Set List:

  • Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)
  • My Own Summer (Shove It)
  • Lhabia
  • Around The Fur
  • Rickets
  • Beware
  • Root
  • Engine Number 9
  • Hole In The Earth
  • Xerces
  • Rats!Rats!Rats!
  • Bored
  • Rx Queen
  • Knife Prty
  • Digital Bath
  • Passenger

  • Cherry Waves
  • Back To School (Mini Maggit)
  • Change (In The House Of Flies)
  • 7 Words / Say It Ain’t So - 7 Words
  • Headup
    Click on the thumbnail shots for the full-size pictures.

    Photos © 2007 by Lisa Sharken

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