The Deftones @ Gibson Ampitheater


It’s been a while since I’ve been to a real metal show and outside of the music itself last Thursday I was reminded all at once of the things that I like, as well as all the things I really don’t miss. If you need a short list 1) metal chicks are hott, 2) school is out so if she doesn’t have a drink in her hand you can all but assume she’s jailbait, and 3) oh yeah, scenesters.


Minor reality checks aside (I guess I really am getting old), the show was rather enjoyable I’d say. I’ve never been to the Gibson Ampitheater before and it’s actually quite nice. This was a show I’d been looking forward to for a while, and I was hoping it would be a good night. I’ve actually heard mixed reviews of the Deftones live, all coming from sources who love the recorded material. Then there’s the notorious story of the Agora in Cleveland where Chino split his pants on stage in the middle of the set. (I guess I’m not the only one getting old.) But from what I could tell from this particular gig I was watching a band in their prime still rocking it 12 years out of the gate.

Deft Ones

I actually rather liked the venue despite the inescapably obvious corporate interest that adorn every free inch of what could even remotely be considered commercially viable advertising space. And maybe it was the fact that I had just seen shows at Dodger Stadium and The Hollywood Bowl, but for some reason I expected it to be bigger inside. Not that the place is small by any means. One thing about the aforementioned scenester mentality though, if you can be anywhere else in the vicinity when the band you came to see isn’t onstage then you will. It’s also very necessary to trash anyone who is not said band that dares to try and get some exposure by playing for the audience. Granted sometimes this attitude is warranted, but that’s besides the point. I’ve discovered a number of my favorite acts by chance when they were opening for someone else so I always try to give openers a good look if I can.

This night while a good majority of the crowd was hanging out in the lobbies we were treated to Fall of Troy who gave us a nice succinct 4 or 5 song set. I was actually quite impressed by the trio myself. While not perfect they did stand out quite a bit in my mind. They started with a nice extended “math-rock” intro and once the meat of the song kicked in I immediately knew that my review was gonna have to make some sort of comparison to The Mars Volta.

Lead singer and guitarist Thomas Erak actually has a decent voice… when he sings, but instead he often prefers to go for stylized “metal shrieks” instead. Personally I could do without those. I mean I can dig stylized vocals as well, but his just don’t do it for me. That set aside, there is no denying his insane guitar work.

Luckily a good portion of their songs embody long instrumental passages which rocked pretty damn good and apparently they do have songs where he employs a regular singing voice, so overall I give them a thumbs up. Unfortunately they didn’t have any of their merch at the main tables from what I saw or else I would have grabbed a CD. An impulse buy that I would not have regretted by any means, but that I’m not inclined to put in front of my long list of other titles I’ll be looking for on my next trip to the record store. Especially now that I know they have several albums out and I have no idea what their setlist was to help me decide which one I’d want to buy. I actually tried to see if I could find them hanging out after the show, but I guess I just didn’t look hard enough.

Now… I hate to be overly negative, but the next portion of this post is probably going o end up more of a rant than anything else… deal with it. The other opening act that played that night was “Dir en Grey” a name I’ve heard before, but was totally unfamilar with personally. First of all I will say that the band was pretty solid actually. The set they played was a little heavier than what I normally go for, but with the right touch I could see myself getting into it. Sadly that touch was not displayed this night. My disclaimer here is that I can only base my judgements off of what I saw that night and quite honestly the lead singer ruined it for me.

After the huge build up of a prerecorded intro the band came out to take their places right before the singer made his “big entrance”. I was pretty far back, but this guy is noticeable shorter than the rest of his bandmates, and he gave off the vibe of a serious Napoleon complex just from the way he walked out on stage.

Now as a rock star you can usually get away with being full of yourself. Sometimes you can even get away with a lack of any real talent. But rarely can you combine the two. As I said before the band itself was pretty solid actually and I could hear what the intent was in the vocals, but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. I could see a little studio magic making it work, but in person the simple fact of the matter is, the guy doesn’t have the vocal range of say Jimmy Urine from MSI.

Mindless Self Indulgence – Wack

Despite all of this I still wanted to give these guys a chance. Like I said, the rest of the band IS really solid. but it only became more and more apparent how full of himself this singer really was. The dramatic lighting cues, the fan helping his shirt billow around his exposed chest, the constant second guessing of “this must be the big finish” coupled with the startling realization that no, it was only more dramatics. It was all a little much for my tastes. Maynard Keenan he is not, and I wasn’t the only person who was a little perplexed at the spectacle as there was a noticeably defiant chant of “Deftones!! Deftones!!” starting to swell up from the rest of the crowd.

There were a lot of the girls eating it up in front of the stage though. Again being very noticeably diminutive in stature compared to the rest of his bandmates, I couldn’t help but think that this was a guy who got constantly picked on in school and then joined a band where the inevitable groupie love all went to his head. The size of this guys ego was only capitalized by the fact that later on that night we would be given humblingly redundant “thank you’s” from the headlining act in between every other song. I didn’t feel too bad about skipping out to make a few trips to the beer line and the restroom during their set.


Then I looked more into it before writing this review trying to figure out why people actually bought into his whole thing. I found out that these guys ARE actually foreign (band names are never good indicators of nationality when it comes to metal) and for some weird reason it made a little more sense to me. Maybe the fact that he wasn’t actually singing in English when I thought he was is what threw me. I can’t confidently say that it’s a cultural thing, but for some reason I was more willing to accept the ridiculousness of it all. They’re Japanese to be specific (I was too far away to make this out at the actual show) and I do have a thing for Asian cinema, so at any rate they have some pretty cool music videos. They seem to be even more popular in their home country and they do have quite a bit of an international following, but I still think my original impression has a bit of validity to it. For what it’s worth I shouldn’t have to know the history of an act before seeing them live in order to “get it”. In theory the music should be able to speak for itself.

That being said, I also stumbled upon this track which, is surprisingly tolerable considering my original thoughts. It’s actually quite the contrast to the heavy set I heard from them Thursday and the singing style is a little more appropriate for this track. Again the band is pretty solid regardless of how I feel about the vocalist.


Dir en Grey -Cage

After Dir en Grey left the stage, it was amazing how quickly the rest of the seats inside filled out. One of the minor points on the long list of scenester tendencies I could go without. Then there’s the random girl who mistook me for her boyfriend in the aisleway. (tip to the ladies: You should make sure you’re sure of who’s walking behind you before you start grabbing for things) After politely informing the young lady in question that I probably wasn’t who she thought I was, I got back to my seat just in time to catch the entrance of the NorCal hard rockers we all came to see.


Opening with “Root” from their debut Adrenaline, not a person in the house was left seated while Chino and company gave every indication that they planned to bring a full energy performance that night. The huge LCD screen behind the band as well as the monitor screens on each side of the venues projected old Bettie Page reels and other stock footage and vintage stag films throughout the night.

After the opening number we were launched right into the first of many crowd pleasers that night with “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and the audience was glad to get into it and sing along.

Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove It)

Running through an amazing setlist that covered a nice range of new and older material, both new and longtime fans were treated to many favorites. A fairly sizable entourage of lucky fans could be seen standing off to either side of the stage catching the action up close and personal and at one point a little girl somewhere between 10 and 12 years old was invited to come out and sit next to the drum kit for a few numbers.

The picture that resulted in the firing of a Texas newspaper editor

About halfway through the set a short little intro played from a documentary about underwater volcanic eruptions right before “Hole in the Earth” from off of the latest album echoed through the halls. From there they slowed the tempo down for a few numbers including Xerces complete with piano parts and all. Then they played a few more fan favorites before bringing it all home with “Passenger” from White Pony. If I were to call it I’d say the selections from that album seemed to get the most response throughout the night.

Deftones – Digital Bath

Surprisingly when it came time for the encore, Chino asked the crowd if they were “ready to do this shit” and erupted into “Back to School (mini maggit)”. One of they bands more popular songs, it has been said that they actually regret recording it, as it was dictated by the label for them to make a more commercially viable “hit single” for an album that they already felt was complete. Nevertheless, they seemed to enjoy playing it for the fans this night.

Deftones 2003

Determined to make the encore epic, we then were also treated to “Change (in the house of flies)” and “Minervathe only song from the eponymous fourth album represented that show. For the big finish the crowd was encouraged to join in and rock it out to “Head Up” with Chino holding the mic out for everyone to shout back “SOULFLY!!!!” during the chorus.

All in all a very good showing that I was rather glad to see. If any of those other disparaging reviews from the past were true the band on stage this night showed no resemblance as they ripped through the show with the confidence and accuracy of true veterans. I wouldn’t hesitate to catch them again next time around. For today’s bonus I give you a track that was brought up the last time I talked about the Deftones around these parts.

Deftones – No Ordinary Love (Sade cover)

Despierta Los NiñosGauzeAround the FurWhite Pony


16 Responses to “The Deftones @ Gibson Ampitheater”

  1. adam Says:

    that cover is brilliant. but then, i love anything jonah matranga does.

  2. Epiphany Says:

    you had to look it up ,to see if they were actually foreign ?
    They sing IN Japanese
    And the singer is full of himself ?

    A-He has the fan on him for health reasons.
    B-Dirs fans expect his theatirics ,so he never disappoints .
    C-They blow the deftones AWAY.Half the audience leaves after Dir play.For all the east coast shows, i hate to tell you ..
    Get a grip …

  3. doctashock Says:

    It seems you are a fan and I’m not here to get into pissing matches, but I think I already addressed your points above. Let me reiterate:
    A. The fact that I couldn’t even tell what language he was singing in should tell you something right there. blame it on the sound guys or whatever you want to do… but like I said, I can only judge the band from my impressions of that night. From where I was sitting I didn’t even guess they were foreign until I looked it up, it came as a total surprise to me.
    B. As an entertainer… especially as an opening act, especially on foreign territory, my job is to try to win over new fans as well as give a good show for the people who already know me, not alienate everyone except for my own followers.
    C. I’m not a scenester fanboy and everyone is entitled to their own tastes and opinions, so I’m not going to sit her and coo over the band I wanted to see that night, but half the audience definitely did not leave before the Deftones at this show… in fact they stood outside until they came on (see above). Maybe Dir En Grey do have a stronger fanbase on the east coast, but in that regard I refer you to my point B. Any tour manager will tell you you have to go to a specific locale a certain number of times before you can expect to have a following there. Maybe the specific number of times is lower now in the internet age, but the formula still holds true. I don’t know how many times they’ve played LA or the west coast even, and yes there were people there who were looking just to see them, but it was nowhere near what I would call a huge following.
    I like to think I have a pretty solid grip on point based reasoning. I repeatedly mentioned that I think the band is very solid in their playing. I also mentioned several other singers who consistently put on theatric stage shows (did you see my review of Iggy Pop?) I was wrong about the point with the fan apparently, but I think already explained why I got the impression I did. I repect your right to an opinion and I have my own.

  4. deppenpointe Says:

    Now I really don’t understand why everytime I come across a journal or a blog that withholds the slightest negative criticism against Dir en grey, the fans infest the comment box with such tactless attacks against the blogger in defense of the band. No! The fact that Dir en grey comes from Japan does not make them too “unique” for the average US audience to grasp. They are not gods or demi-gods, nor are they the greatest band in the world. Jrock is not the “unique” groundbreaking genre it is. It’s not even a genre. It’s just a marketing cliche. No wonder the fanbase is constantly labeled as a group of immature, delusional teenagers.
    As a Dir en grey fan, I’m very appreciative of hearing how open you were toward the opening acts. I guess Fall of Troy’s prog-sensibility makes them a bit more musically appealing to Deftones fans and those in the metal scene than a band like Dir en grey, whose sound (wrongly so) is often attributed to the nu-metal scene that seems to have died down years ago. I believe they’re unbelievably underrated throughout their decade-long career, in terms of their musicianship rather than their image as some far-out crazy Japanese rock band with a psychotic blood-spewing troll doll as a lead singer, churning out even more psychotically unnerving music videos. Their guitarists aren’t close to being the next Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai, but they excel in composing tracks that come off naturally and minimally while still being full of nuance, rich colors, and texture. Probably the best examples are the Withering to Death and Vulgar albums. They’re not there to showboat but to play music.
    It’s unfortunate to hear your first experience with Dir en grey, or more specifically their lead singer, wasn’t a good one. The singer has a very impressive range and this often can be seen in their lives in 2003-2005. He’s expressed now that he wishes not to focus too much on the technicalities of singing in fear of sacrificing a more raw, emotionally honest performance. Although in my opinion, singing cleanly can be a better choice for some songs.
    Here are a few good examples of his commanding vocal work and “theatrics” during 03-05…

    And here’s one of Dir en grey’s ventures into prog to let the guys end it off on their own note.

  5. deppenpointe Says:

    Ah sorry to double-post, but just to repost a link.
    The youtube link for Dir en grey’s prog venture doesn’t have as great of a sound quality so it’s hard to pick up on all their note choices.
    Here’s a better clip.

    Now..I’ll leave you alone.

  6. doctashock Says:

    Thank you for that… I always appreciate well thought out discussions and people who can make counterpoints to my views with examples to back them up.

    I agree that maybe the band has been wrongly catagorized when it comes to the most appropriate genres for them to tour with. Judging from the track I posted above, I could easily see myself liking the band more if they had been packaged differently.

    A good example of this is local cult favorites “Batlord” who will throw you for a loop if you see them out of place and don’t know what to expect. I mean I wouldn’t take someone to a Gwar show without some kind of explanation as to what they’re about to be in for.

    I’m not above giving a bad review to even my most favorite bands if it’s warranted. Everybody can have an off night. At this point in my life I’ve been to and put on enough shows to disregard the “awe” of the live atmosphere and judge each performance from a technical standpoint as well as a scale of showmanship.

  7. Lei Says:

    “As an entertainer… especially as an opening act, especially on foreign territory, my job is to try to win over new fans as well as give a good show for the people who already know me, not alienate everyone except for my own followers.”

    That’s one approach. And I’m sure Dir en grey would welcome any new fans that might be attracted to them through this exposure. But I would say – and I think they feel this way to – that their ‘job’ is to put on the best show they know how, they way THEY feel is best, as it suits them. Everyone has their own idea of what makes a great show. Yours might disagree with theirs, and it doesn’t make either one wrong.

    “he gave off the vibe of a serious Napoleon complex just from the way he walked out on stage.”

    I can see how that might be interpreted in such a way. I personally see that he has a stage presence 10 feet tall, which is awesome, and I know getting into the whole stage persona is his way of channeling the emotion needed to give us the heart and soul that he pours into every performance. I never saw this as Kyo being full of himself – and in fact know enough about his personality to be sure this is entirely untrue – but everyone has their impression of things. Sorry that was yours.

    I don’t know what you heard, I’m befuddled. Kyo does have good range, he can go from feminine & melodic to gutteral growl to high-pitched shrieking wail in a blink, and I was shocked to hear him do the things live which I had thought were due to studio equipment.

    Yes everyone is entitled to their own tastes and opinions. Also as you said everybody can have an off night; but I’m not sure that’s what happened here. It seems more likely that this particular style of emotion > vocal technicality is not your personal taste. Whereas to me, I don’t mind when the singer’s voice cracks with emotion, and I would rather hear Kyo choking up heart and guts onstage than have him just sound like he does on the cd. Because if I want that, I can just put on the cd.

    I just want to say thank you for being fair, and at least giving them a chance. Your opinion is your own, and even though I don’t agree with it, I respect it. Which is more than I can say for 95% of the obnoxious and often racist crap I’ve heard from their negative reviews.

  8. Lei Says:

    PS – My apologies for any typos above, I’ve been 26 hours without sleep and about to collapse in bed. Perhaps I should have waited until tomorrow to comment. ^^;; Hope I made some sense.

  9. vanessa Says:


  10. iori Says:

    As a former Dir en grey fan I’d like to say for the article’s writer and every non-Dir fan here:

    1) They come from a Japanese rock moviment called visual kei. It has a strong image (like what Dir en grey HAD) and many kinds of music styles. What you listen in “Cage” is one of them.

    2) Through the years, Dir en grey’s music changed a lot. It came to a time where it started to have a lot of inffluence from Wester nu metal. Meanwhile, Kyo’s voice developed a lot. If you have the chance to watch “TOUR04 THE CODE OF VULGAR[ism]” DVD, you’ll see Kyo in his best shape.

    3) In the last years, Dir en grey’s music have become heavier and noiser. Then Kyo started to scream so much and sing less and less. This fucked up his voice more and more. Plus he fucked up his live performance too.

    4) Dir en grey released some pretty notable works and did some pretty ass-kicking gigs durring their career. That gave them a very nice reputation and fan-base in the West. But when they finally come here, the band is doing borring performances and Kyo is all fucked up. A real shame that Dir en grey is representing Japanese rock at the Western non-fans circuit.

    5) MUCC should be in Dir en grey’s place in the West, for the “heavy-ness matters”:

    6) But hey, there’s a hope called S.K.I.N.!

  11. Pretty Lush Says:

    This is the only LA area Deftones show that I’ve missed in the last few years, and from what I hear, the best. DAMNIT.

  12. Pretty Lush Says:

    Re: Thanks for coming by. I’d love to contribute anytime, thanks for the offer. You can e-mail me:
    I imagine we would end up running into each other. Shows are my vice. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes and purses and girl shit, but concert tickets anytime. I found you browsing from blog to blog… there was a link to here and I dug the name. I don’t recall who had it though…

  13. kate Says:

    if you dont like deftones, youre tone def

    shakedown kate

  14. john "Lunch boX" Wilson Says:

    Deftones is the shit there whoive looked up to soface

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