Deftones

with Rise Against, Thrice, and Three Trapped Tigers

Sunday, June 18th, 2017 – Red Hat Amphitheater

You know it is summertime when RDU Music finally puts on shorts and ponies up the $12 for Yeungling tall boys at Red Hat. This time just so happened to be for one of our all-time favorite bands, Deftones.

Openers

Three Trapped Tigers

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As gate security was touching me in my no-no zone, Three Trapped Tigers were bringing their synthy, breathy, instrumental rock all the way from foggy Londontown. They sounded as if Horse the Band “sold out” and met up with Chon to get, like, hella blazed and just totally chillax, you know, but still managed to write some good Minus the Bear-style jamz. They played a good set, which is no easy feat when you are opening for huge bands at an amphitheater. They must have a dope manager to get on this stacked bill for their first time in the states. Cheers, mates.

Thrice

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Thrice has aged well, despite the fact that literally everyone I know prefers their early work. Their entire catalog drips with emotion and solid song structure though, so I can’t complain too much that their set consisted of mostly new material, but you are about to set off on a huge amphitheater tour with some of the biggest bands in rock. Did you maybe think that you should dust off the old bangerzzz that everyone wants to hear? [Deftones didn’t play a single song off of their latest release, and that record is very good. More on that later. -Ed.] I just feel like that was a missed opportunity to really go out there, play the most beloved hits from your storied, near-20-year career. Really kick the fucking door in and remind everyone that Thrice is still a kick-ass band, you know? Especially when you only get 8 songs. Instead, they went with the, “Hey, please buy our new record, guys,” strategy, which was met with lukewarm regard from rock fans who had not yet quite caught a buzz in the soupy Southern heat. What a shame.

Dustin Kensrue is still one of the more underrated front men in rock. [Though Lan thinks he is Nickelback-y. -Ed.] If the world were a just place, Rise Against would be opening for Thrice but radio appeal is a palpable thing, especially for amphitheater shows. RA hammers that nail despite being the inferior band. [#sorrynotsorry RA fans. It’s only gonna get worse from here. -Ed.]

Rise Against

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Going into their set, I underestimated the sheer amount of fans that were in attendance solely to see Rise Against. They received one helluva crowd reaction when they took the stage. For not being a fan of their band, they still put on a fun and energetic show. I just cannot come to terms with all the fans that left after their set. I saw a lot of boyfriends nodding along politely while their girlfriends went crazy for Tim McIlrath and co. That is why Rise Against has roughly 1.5 million more FB likes than Deftones. [Criminal. -Ed.]

I did see the sweetest bf in the row ahead of us though. His girl was jumping around, really getting into Rise Against. So much that she almost lost her phone so she put it in her purse and was gonna set it on the seat but he took it and held it for her. D’aww. She was having the time of her life while he did it all for the nookie. And was probably a Nickelback fan. [No judgment. They write hits. Straight up. -Ed.] But then they left 3 songs into Deftones so fuck ’em in the ear.

Partway through the set, Tim decided to break it down and “tell us about America.” Rise Against might just be the softest activism of all time. Like activism for attractive people. Not that their message isn’t important, it’s just old hat. Or maybe I am just old hat. [Mind = blown. -Ed.] He spouted such aphorisms as, “Resist the urge to bury your head in the sand,” and “I can’t put my finger on it but there is a reason we are all here tonight.” [Yeah, it’s called, “Deftones.” #yaburnt -Ed.]

I will say that I am a sucker for the portion of a set where the frontman takes the stage by himself to play a heartfelt solo electric guitar track. Tim killed it on that one but to me, Rise Against and Deftones just don’t overlap in the Venn diagram of my heart, so I was ready for them to vacate the stage and get Deftones up there.

Deftones

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I hadn’t seen Deftones in 17 years. I also hear that had not played Raleigh in 16 years. For the first 10 years of their existence, I used to say that they were the best band of that era. (I still do.) As the pages of the calendar fell one by one, I never stopped loving each new Deftones release. I had just filled my life with countless other bands. Seeing Deftones in 2017 rekindled my 20+ year infatuation with them and will likely go down in history as my favorite show of the year.

As the stagehands were doing their thing, I scanned the crowd, as I am wont to do. There was an interesting mix of graying beards, Carolina Rebellion faithful, and girls who took great care in not letting their fathers see their outfits before leaving the house. My favorite though was the over-30 fella carrying a Hello Kitty backpack, followed by his daughters who were adorably holding each others’ hands so as to not get separated, with his super Goth wife bringing up the rear, noticeably stoked that the sun had gone down a mere 2 minutes before she came out of hiding. They looked like a fun, modern, counterculture family. I wanted to share a bottle of wine with them and discuss how music just ain’t what it used to be.

I was ripped from my reverie as Deftones kicked the door in and announced that they were ready to burn this motherfucker down by opening with fan-favorite rager, “Headup,” which they had used as a set closer for a good portion of the late 90s. Deftones proceeded to outclass all of their opening bands combined in the first two minutes. The energy and intensity of the crowd skyrocketed as they segued right into “My Own Summer (Shove It).” I was instantly teleported back to 1997. All the old emotions of my formative teen years came flooding back as I lost myself in Chino’s trademark banshee shriek, which sounded as fresh as it did 20 years ago.

The setlist was strictly limited to only two pairs of back-to-back Deftones albums: Around the Fur to White Pony and then Diamond Eyes to Koi No Yokan. No jumping around from raw Adrenaline-era scorchers to artsy Saturday Night Wrist experiments made for an interesting and oddly cohesive overall aesthetic. The majority of songs (5) came from Diamond Eyes, which happens to be a favorite of mine. Deftones also took a cue from my rulebook: If you are headlining an amphitheater tour with $50+ tickets and $12 beers, you had better bring your hits, which they totally did, especially in the back half of the set with a stunning trifecta of “Change (In the House of Flies)” into “Passenger” (with Rise Against’s Tim taking the stage to masterfully sing Maynard’s parts) before majestically transitioning into “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away).” I was stunned.

I seldom look up a band’s setlists for previous nights of the tour because I love experiencing the moment when I can feel the set about to wrap up and am left to wonder what classic song will be used to cap off an excellent evening. On this particular night in Raleigh, Deftones decided to close with the rough and tumble “Rocket Skates,” defying the most jaded of music journalists [Cough. -Ed.] to, “fuck with me,” leaving us to “drown underneath the stars” and “drink with our weapons in our hands.”