Review: Deftones at Thebarton Theatre

Words by Jordan Leovic

Chino Moreno declares Coopers Pale “a fuckin’ good beer”, yet not good enough to chug.

Photo courtesy of  Deftones

Photo courtesy of Deftones

Thebarton Theatre hosted Deftones for their Adelaide leg of the Gore tour – a night that involved a delicious mixture of musical prowess and appreciation for South Aussie beverages. Having missed Perth prog band Voyager and rock heavyweights Karnivool, I relied solely on Deftones to make up for the shitty start to the night. The short answer is: they did.

Bursting through the doors at the end of their opening song ‘Diamond Eyes’, I could tell that the crowd had been eagerly waiting for Deftones to hit up the stage. As expected, there were two types of audience members: the common metalheads moshing hard up front and the thinkers at the back, who showed appreciation through what seemed like analysis rather than movement.

The first 40 minutes of the show were explosive. Cranking out favourites like ‘Rocket Skates’ and ‘Digital Bath’, the mosh pit was nothing short of a riot. The top pick had to be ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’, which ended in a nosebleed and a chipped tooth – indications that moshing was on point. However, the atmosphere eventually fizzled when they played one of their softer, more melancholic songs ‘Rosemary’ as confused metalheads stood around, not knowing what to do about the lack of aggro guitar riffs.

But not long after, the performance reached its climax when vocalist Chino Moreno started telling the audience about the brewery he had visited that day. “What was that beer called again? Someone bring it here.” he requested. A techie brought out a green bottle and delivered it with utmost care to Chino, who said, “That’s right – Coopers!” He raised our most celebrated ale to his lips before taking a sip and concluding, “Now that’s fuckin’ good beer.” And the crowd went wild. In response to the audience’s demand for him to chug it down, he said: “I ain’t gonna chug it; it’s not that good.” Clearly, he needed to spend a bit more time in South Australia.

It’s the complex musical brew of Deftones, which separates them from most metal bands. Of course, there’s bone-crushing metal. There’s grind and groove. But there’s also reflection, thought and melody. Most of it is carried by the elastic range of Chino’s voice - he floats up and down in ‘Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)’ and ‘Tempest’, but stings with raspy screams in new tunes like ‘Gore’. Technicality is not only where Chino excels. His high energy and willingness to physically engage with the crowd has rendered him one of the most electrifying metal vocalists of our time. Punters at the front were hungry to get a touch and feel when he dove into the crowd and he was generous in providing this.

If the appreciation of Coopers wasn’t enough to fire up the atmosphere again, then classics from their 2000 album White Pony would certainly do the job: ‘Change (In the House of Flies)’ followed by ‘Knife Party’ made for an incredibly satisfying finish. This wasn’t the end as guitarist Stephen Carpenter returned alone, playing the menacing riff to ‘Bored’, hoping to quench the thirst of the insatiable audience. The rest of the band returned to the stage and delivered astronomical performances of ‘Bored’ and ‘Engine No. 9’ – two well-loved pieces from their debut album Adrenaline. It was a remarkable ending to the night, capturing the essence of what makes Deftones such a unique outfit; like a river, they meander gently in moments of calm before violently crashing down and sweeping away anything in their path.