By ANDY LYONS
(digitalBURG) – There is no feeling like the excitement of the lead singer of one of your favorite bands leaping into the crowd a few feet in front of you as he’s bellowing into the microphone.
During a recent show in Springfield, Mo., Deftones lead singer Chino Moreno made sure to get the crowd involved by stage-diving and standing on the security gate to lean over the crowd as he sang during their hour and a half long set.
For the majority of concerts I’ve attended, the pit section is where I prefer to be. It does get rough due to moshers and crowd-surfers, but it’s close to the stage, the music is loud, and the artists interact the most with fans close to the stage.
On Monday, April 29, I took my “puffy hands,” which are thick three fingered gloves that look like Mickey Mouse’s hands, out of my closet and made the trek down to the Gillioz Theater. The Deftones were in town to kick-off my first concert of 2013.
Inside, there was a really mixed crowd, from old guys with long grey beards wearing “Slayer” T-shirts to young women clad in black leather skirts. Once I was in the pit section, the diversity really showed. Young and old men, couples with their arms wrapped around each other, and groups of girls all converged at the front of the stage.
The opening act, a local band called Enduval, came to the stage around 8 p.m. They were voted by fans as one of three finalists for a “Road to the Deftones” contest. Of the three, the Deftones picked their opener. Enduval played for about 30 minutes. They were decent at best. Their lead singer, Josh Krone, bass player, Derek Potter, and one of two guitarists, Dan Knatcal, were full of energy and moving around the stage a bit and working the crowd. The other guitarist, Billy Mullings, stood in place for the set and watched his band mates enjoy themselves.
Their sound is similar to Killswitch Engage or maybe All That Remains in that it blends vocal melodies with heavy screaming. The musicianship was really good on all fronts, but to a fan standing in the middle of the pit it sounded like the vocals needed to be turned up a bit to match the music.
Without a doubt, Enduval has a solid fan base in the Springfield area, based on the amount of head banging, fist pumping, and screaming fans around me. Upon listening to the band’s “Rise As One” official video on YouTube, their mastered music is better than what I heard at the Gillioz, and I’d be willing to give them a second chance live.
After Enduval finished their set, there was about 30 minutes while roadies and crewmembers took down Enduval’s instruments and set props and set up for the Deftones.
It was the third show the Deftones played since the passing of their former bassist, Chi Cheng. Cheng was in a car accident in November 2008 and had been in a coma for over four years. According to oneloveforchi.com, a website his family set up for fans and supporters to donate for his care, Cheng died at a hospital April 13, when his heart suddenly stopped after he was rushed to a hospital in Sacramento, Calif.
Finally, the lights went dark and I slipped my puffy hands on, a tradition at every metal concert I attend. The opening guitar riff to “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” had bright incandescent lights flashing with the high notes, and the raw energy of the Deftones sent the crowd into a fury.
The Deftones played an hour and a half long set, with people pushing, surfing, screaming and singing along. They played music from all of their seven albums. From hard-hitting anthems like “Rocket Skates” and “Around the Fur” to softer more melodic songs like “Rosemary” and “Sextape,” the Deftones know how to work a crowd. As much as I could, I had one or both of my puffy hands in the air with the pointer finger and pinky up, the “metal horns” made famous by the late Ronnie James Dio.
Before a song midway through the set, guitarist Stephen Carpenter was having difficulty setting his effects pedals and the crowd took up a raucous chant of “Chi, Chi, Chi,” over and over. After about a minute of the chant, Moreno spoke into the microphone about how tough the past couple of weeks have been for the band, saying that “Chi is with us all tonight, right here,” and pointed down at the stage.
As the crowd reacted to the next song, a constant stream of crowd-surfers started coming from the back of the pit section, the first of whom I caught full force with my head and shoulder since I was unaware. For the rest, a man in a Deftones T-shirt next to me yelled “heads up!” to warn me.
After singing one of their most popular songs, “Change (In the House of Flies),” followed by “Bloody Cape,” Moreno thanked the crowd and walked off stage with his band mates. The crowd wasn’t ready to end their night and again took up chants of “Chi” and “Deftones.”
After a few minutes the lights went dark again, bassist Sergio Vega, who’s been playing with the band since Cheng’s accident, came out and the crowd again went into a frenzy. As the band came out one by one, the crowd was full of cheers. As the crowd reacted to the Deftones coming back on stage, I ended up about three feet from the security gate. As the crowd pushed and swayed it sent me about seven feet closer than my spot for the first part of their set.
For their encore, they played “Root,” “Engine No. 9” and “7 Words,” all from the first Deftones album, “Adrenaline.” As the show finished, Moreno again thanked the crowd, and members tossed guitar picks and drum sticks into the crowd and walked off stage.
Overall, the Deftones is one of my favorite bands to see live. This is the fourth time I’ve seen them since August 2012, and each time has been in a small venue. The energy that Moreno brings and the way he gets close to the crowd is awesome. There were several songs, such as “Change (In the House of Flies),” that went longer than the original version, as Deftones always feed off the crowd. During “Sextape,” Moreno plays one of two guitar parts, and he seemed to focus more on his guitar playing and sang into the microphone less as the crowd sang the lyrics spot-on for him.
I’ll be keeping my puffy hands in my car so they’re ready for my next show, and except for the occasional wash that’s where they’ll stay until September, when the summer concert season ends.
Andy Lyons is the incoming managing editor for the Muleskinner at the University of Central Missouri where he is studying journalism and creative writing.