» Blog Archive Deftones Make 20 Year Return to Asbury -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

DSC05378 (2)I spoke with a woman at the Deftones show on the August 11th about being a “long time fan” of a band: said artists come and go, they change styles, and sometimes they just change their genres entirely. However, rarely, do you see bands adapt, and that brought us into discussing Gore, the latest release by Deftones, and how it’s still still original and yet distinctly them. “I’ve been a fan since I heard ‘7 Words,’” she told me, but “But honest to God, I love everything they’ve put out.”

That kind of love and admiration was present through the vast majority of the crowd through the build up to Deftones’ set. Even as legendary punk act Refused were playing, people in Deftones merch were still piling into the summer stage behind the Stone Pony. By vocalist Chino Moreno’s estimate, it had be about twenty years since the band had been to the Stone Pony, in which they were playing indoors, and to much smaller numbers. Energetic and playing a startling twenty song set, Deftones were making a triumphant return to the legendary New Jersey venue, and they were more than satisfied with it.
DSC05211 (2)Unbeknownst to many of the concertgoers in attendance, the summer stage was being opened by Brooklyn act Spotlights. Having no knowledge of them prior to seeing them on the concert’s schedule, it was a pleasant surprise to feel a thunderous bass guitar shake my kneecaps in the most sludgiest of ways. Spotlights brands themselves as a mixed between sludge metal and shoegaze, and they could not be more obvious with their music if they could. I find that most sludge metal bands today tend to lean into the atmospheric direction, imitating acts such as Neurosis and Isis (Some doing a better job than others) but Spotlight changed the game up considerably. Refreshing does not even begin to describe them.

Perhaps most enjoyable was how vocalists and instrumentalists Sarah and Mario Quintero changed between vocal duties, instrumental passages, and even instruments. At one point Sarah joined her bandmate on stage with a guitar, while he also changed between vocals, guitar, and keyboards/programming to his side. Spotlights are without a doubt an interesting and fascinating act, and one that I can’t wait to see where they go.

DSC05247 (2)Having to set the stage for a legendary punk band, Refused took their time getting to the stage, if not for artistic purposes. After a droning, feedbacking noise had been ringing out for some time, vocalist Dennis Lyxzen led his band mates onto the stage, looking out into the crowd for what would possibly be the few moments where he actually stood still. Once drummer David Sandstrom counted the group in, however, the entire band were firing all engines as “Elektra” and “The Shape of Punk to Come” opened their set up.

DSC05281 (2)Despite stopping the set for a few minutes to discuss people leaving because of political speeches, Lyxzen said he was surprised because punk rock has always been political and he was going to be “that guy” tonight. Even though it took a while for him to get these words out, Refused more than made up for it as their set on, throwing surprises left and right for the audience. Immediately after his speech, during “Rather Be Dead,” Lyxzen jumped into the crowd, walking around amongst concertgoers, posing for pictures, and climbing on objects all around the outdoor venue. At one point during their set, the band even transitioned into “Raining Blood” by Slayer, keeping the fun and surprising set all the more entertaining. Refused have a legendary standing in punk rock, and seeing them live no doubt confirms that they are worthy of such praise.

DSC05321 (2)Even with the extensive sound and light checking, Deftones finally took the stage in a cloud of smoke. Breaking out with “Rocket Skates,” the band wasted no time in setting the tone for the night. Even as the band moved into the lower-tempo “Acid Hologram” from their most recent release, the momentum didn’t stop. Even though Chino was typically the one to be up front and close to the crowd, even jumping to the barrier at point in the night, bassist Sergio Vega was quick to occupy the rest of the space, as guitarist Stephen Carpenter was often busy with his own guitar work.

At one point, before they began “Prince” from Diamond Eyes, Chino took the time to acknowledge each of his bandmates to the crowd. Known to all fans, Chino also briefly mentioned the absence of Chi Cheng, the band’s late bassist who passed away after being in a coma for many years. While not wanting to bring down the mood, he quickly moved the band into the next song, and kept the positive momentum going forward, jumping across the stage as he normally does.

DSC05329 (2)While Deftones were no doubt tight, despite some technical issues, one instance of problems came forth during the night. Starting with “Swerve City,” the band made a noticeable tempo change to the song, being much slower than it had been recorded. This wouldn’t have been a problem if it had not been done later in the night, as well, during “Tempest.” What made it acceptable on the former and problematic on the latter is that “Swerve City” was consistently at the lower tempo, which ultimately made it heavier. On “Tempest,” it seemed that drummer Abe Cunningham couldn’t decide on what tempo to play and would often change it from riff to riff.

DSC05354 (2)Despite this inconvenience, Deftones’ setlist was without a doubt one to appease casual and more die-hard fans. The inclusion of “Minerva,” “Kimdracula,” and even “MX” was enough to bring a smile to my face, thinking I would never hear those songs live, but the more popular ones such as “Passenger,” “My Own Summer (Shove It),” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Aw       ay)” were refreshing to hear amidst the deeper cuts.All around, coupled with newer tracks included from Gore, their set was satisfying all around, ending the night with “Bored” and a sense of accomplishment.

Deftones have adapted and survived over the years, often changing sound from album to album, and even song to song. While strong opening acts, Deftones manages to make the entire night at the Stone Pony feel rewarding and satisfying, despite a few setbacks here and there. It’s hard to say when a band is in their “prime,” but after almost being a band for thirty years, it seems they are going to constantly being their prime for years to come.

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