Deftones frontman Chino Moreno spent much of Saturday evening (July 28) standing on a speaker, leaning aloft over the sweating, panting crowd that filled Los Angeles' iconic venue The Troubadour. At one point, midway through the band's hour-plus set, Moreno looked over the audience and said, "I don't know what to say."
That was about the longest sentence Moreno uttered throughout the set, which was a special performance meant to herald the band's recent completion of a new, as-yet-untitled album and the world premiere of two new songs.
But the audience, which included members of Alice In Chains, Dillinger Escape Plan and Deftones' upcoming tourmates System of a Down, didn't appear to be clamoring for new material. In fact, the two new numbers the band did debut, which arrived buried at the end of the set, were greeted with moderate enthusiasm - at least compared with the hits from the band's 2000 classic "White Pony" and their most recent effort, 2010's "Diamond Eyes," which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200.
Moreno said nothing as he and his bandmates took the stage at the beginning of the night, urging quickly into the thrash of "Rocket Skates," a cut from "Diamond Eyes." The set list encompassed a range of older and more recent numbers and appropriately punctuated with occasional acoustic ballads like the hypnotic "Digital Bath." Moreno's only other memorable commentary succeeded a raucous performance of "You've Seen the Butcher," during which the singer took deep inhales of an audience member's joint. "Woo," Moreno muttered after the song, "I'm stoned."
If any fans hoped that this performance, The Deftones' return to the stage since touring behind "Diamond Eyes" (Moreno has recently toured with his other project Crosses), would invite the announcement of an album release date, they left disappointed. There was no mention of the upcoming disc, which is finished and expected via Warner Bros. in the fall. The only indication that the group plans to offer up a seventh full-length came three-quarters of the way into the show, when Moreno abruptly said, "Here's some new ones."
These fresh material were composed of two strikingly different numbers: an aggressively hefty number titled "Roller Derby" and an entrancing ballad called "Rosemary," which starred an eight-string guitar. The energy was high and the mood elevated, although poignant moments filled the sparse lulls between songs when the crowd would chant "Chi Chi Chi" in honor of bassist Chi Chang, who was injured in a car accident four years ago and remains in recovery.
Moreno at one point remarked, "It's nice to see everybody," and one fan shouted back, "It's nice to see you." In the end, that sense of enduring fandom and ongoing support vocalized what Moreno could not: the reason that bands like Deftones make music is so the songs can say everything for them.