The Austin Music Hall was the place to be Saturday night for hardcore fans in Austin. The best of everything was offered in one big-ticket show. The opener was one of the best up-and-coming rock bands on the scene. The co-headliner was a capable headliner on any given night at a smaller venue. Then there was arguably the best alternative-metal band of the ’90s and early part of last decade, Deftones.
The last time I saw Chino Moreno and company was years ago at the old Austin Music Hall (before renovations) when they toured with Glassjaw. That was one of the best concert memories of my youth and I did not expect Saturday’s show to top that, even with a band as awesome as The Dillinger Escape Plan co-headlining. Nothing, I mean nothing, could top a Deftones/Glassjaw concert in the height of the nu-metal era. While that proved to be true after watching the entire show Saturday, this show certainly came in a close second.
The show’s opener was Le Butcherettes, a band I’ve followed all year since South by Southwest. Fronted by the dynamic Terri Gender Bender, the alt-rock trio and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez discovery, came out with they all they had from the show’s beginning. Kicking off with “Tonight” from their latest album Sin Sin Sin, Terri immediately had all eyes on her. There were surprisingly a lot of eyes watching Le Butcherettes as the Austin Music Hall filled up early so it didn’t feel like a typical opening band experience given the large crowd. While the crowd watched in both awe and confusion, their attention was held as Terri powered through “New York” and what seemed to be the crowd favorite, “Dress Off.” If you haven’t see Le Bucherettes live, you are missing the closest thing to a modern day era Courtney Love; not the Celebrity Skin era Courtney Love but rather the earlier Live Through This Courtney Love.
While Le Butcherettes were a great opener, the show really got started for attendees with the incredible The Dillinger Escape Plan. While the line-up is different from the Dillinger I first saw many moons ago, the band’s intensity and rip-your-face-off live set they are known for was still very much intact. Vocalist Greg Puciato is the Dillinger vocalist I am familiar with and used to hearing on some of their records. He sounds even more intense live and has a huge stage presence. “Farewell Mona Lisa” and “Milk Lizard” got some of the better crowd reaction or cheers, but this was by far the calmest crowd I’ve seen in front of Dillinger. Even Puciato seemed a little frustrated by the lack of crowd surfers and mosh pits. He did recognize the rowdy bunch facing the left side of the stage, so it was obvious he noticed too. That didn’t keep the group from their usually jumping off of amps or into the crowd. They swung their guitars around and leaped off whatever they could find in true Dillinger fashion. Too bad everyone wasn’t so appreciative. I guess being a fan of Deftones doesn’t necessarily equal being a fan of The Dillinger Escape Plan.
As in every concert, the crowd came alive as soon as the headliners took the stage. Touring to support their newest album Diamond Eyes, I expected the set to be loaded with new songs and some greatest hits. “Diamond Eyes” was the opening track and immediately the mosh pits and pushing ensued. It didn’t take long for people to start screaming “Chino” at the stage in hopes of getting frontman Chino Moreno’s attention. After “Diamond Eyes” and “Rocket Skates,” it was great to hear “Birthmark” and “Engine No. 9” from their first album, Adrenaline. Both sounded the same as I remembered from my two previous Deftones concerts I’ve attended over the years. It was reassuring because too often a band that has been around as long as Deftones doesn’t always sound like they did originally. Chino Moreno not only sounds the same, but even looks close to the same. The only thing different this time was a fill-in bassist for Chi Cheng. Hearing “Digital Bath” from White Pony and “My Own Summer (Shove It)” from Around The Fur live again made my night. Apparently that was the case for everyone else as those and the other “greatest hits” got the loudest cheers. Either way, regardless of age or which Deftones album is your favorite, no one in attendance left unsatisfied.
It may have taken years for Deftones to build the epic catalog of albums and singles they have now, but it all makes for a great concert. After Saturday I can honestly say experiencing a Deftones concert in my thirties isn’t the exciting experience it was in my teens or in my twenties, but the set list is way better. Being able to drink legally is also a nice plus.
(Deftones performed at Austin Music Hall on June 4, 2011)