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DEFTONES IN CONCERT 2011: IT’S A LOVEFEST

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Photo by Emily Di Frances

A few days before I crossed paths with the big Deftones and Dillinger Escape Plan tour last week, Deftones drummer Abe Cunningham told me that the band has only now emerged from years of intra-band discord and label battles. It kinda blew me away to hear that “it absolutely sucked” to be involved in the making of Saturday Night Wrist, a classic record which seems like the product of a thousand men’s pooled awesomeness, not of five embittered, isolated former friends (plus Bob Ezrin). The live shows from those fractious years gave no clue to their travails, either; they played awesomely killer always. Weird.

Cunningham’s words got me pumped to assess the newly happy, friendy, post-wake up call Deftones. The question: With no one to battle, would their blades grow dull? Does this band thrive on friction like fellow all-time raddest American bands Faith No More and Talking Heads? Are they poker-faced like other ego-rich Yank greats Slayer and Van Halen? Now that they are tight again, would their on-stage fury be sapped of its fuel?

Answer: A Deftones show is a bigger, blasting-er, bombastic-er event in 2011 than ever. And more fun, as each ‘Tone could be caught smiling, rocking out, and, in the case of singer Chino Moreno, clowning around behind the drumkit. They joyfully ripped up “Birthmark” and “Digital Bath” early in the set, “Beauty School” and “Elite” later. No one even crinkled an eyebrow when Dillinger’s Greg Puciato, a guest to the stage for duet vox on “Passenger,” seized control of the ego-ramps and leadership of the jam, a move tantamount to standing on Moreno’s dick for five minutes. Hey, we were all friends there, even with an ever-peacocking musclehead.

The onstage love was infectious, it seemed, cuz holy shit there were a lot of couples making out in the damn joint. But never mind my feeling that the gig was an impromptu convention for stars of rejected amateur porn; those devotees of public snogging were no match for my rich, silky mane as I headbanged them right out of my proximity. You french in my face and BAM, a hair-whip to the eyeball. So even I was horsing around, all thanks to the good-time vibe of five pro rockers with love on their minds.

-ADF

The lovely, sold-out Deftones tour with Dillinger Escape Plan and Funeral Party continues Friday in New York City. Dates here.

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