Supported by Karnivool, Voyager
Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Californian experimental, alt-metal veterans Deftones were back in town last week – their first visit since the final Big Day Out a few years back where they played to a modest, but excited crowd on one of the smaller stages near the end of the day. This time, touring on the back of their eight album, Gore (their first to go to number one in Australia), they played to an adoring, near-capacity Metro City.

The dedicated fanbase and lasting appeal of this band are due to their uniqueness as a musical entity – always pushing the envelope, the boys have never been content to be confined to the limits of any genre. While they came out around the same time as other bands lumped into ‘nu-metal’ like Korn and Limp Bizkit, Deftones always had a differentiating edge over their peers – their layered guitar sound was more complex and dynamic – and of course, they have Chino. His voice really is like no other – alternating from a fragile, broken, tortured croon, to a full blown, raw, snarling, metal howl.

Of course the other reason this gig had some big pulling power was due to the awesomely chosen support of Karnivool. But before Perth’s own global-conquering heroes, another local metal talent kicked things off, with Voyager having the opportunity to rock out in front of a big crowd, purveying their classic prog-metal style. Chugging, distorted guitars, ripping lead solos and some solid metal vocals. They even unexpectedly snuck in a sample of the notorious riff from Darude’s Sandstorm before kicking back into gear with a heavy finish.

Karnivool took the stage and had already won over the crowd before they even played a note. They played some shows earlier this year, celebrating 10 years since their debut, Themata, and with the promise of a new album coming, things are looking very exciting for Karnivool fans. An incredibly tight unit, they’re just an impressive, world-class band of talented musicians – and are in their element live. Their duelling guitarists flank the stage, while the awesome 5-string bass work of Jon Stockman keeps things locked down, alongside Steve Judd, who’s an absolute machine behind the kit. While of course Ian Kenny is one of the best vocalists and frontmen to ever emerge from our fair city and he was having a great time, feeding off the energy of the big crowd.

As Kenny put it, “We’re psyched to be here!” The boys are big Deftones fans and no doubt influenced by their sound. They charged through an energetic set, touching on all their albums, enhanced by a blistering, strobing light show. Simple Boy from Sound Awake was an epic way to get things rocking. The Refusal from 2013’s Asymmetry was a crushing workout, and we got a sneak peek at a track from the upcoming new album.

The title track from Themata always goes down well and New Day was a perfect, more progressive, intricate number to finish on, starting slowly and building to a huge climax. You could have been forgiven for thinking Karnivool were headlining such was the reaction at the end of their set, with screams for an encore – but of course, being a support act on this night, they left everyone wanting more.

Chino Moreno - Deftones

If the atmosphere, sound and lighting was big for Karnivool – Deftones took things to a whole other level. As the tension and smoke built in the darkness, slowly, one by one the band took the stage to the sound of an ominous, droning synth, until Chino Moreno walked into the spotlight, front of stage and the crowd broke out into howls. He paused for a moment, looking up into the crowd, smiling, before the band and lighting show exploded into life, as they launched into Diamond Eyes, the title track off their 2010 album of the same name. With huge banks of lights and stacks of amps, it was a stadium scale show – the band created a massive wall of sound, with heavy, chugging guitars and pounding beats. Ever the dynamic frontman, Moreno stalked the stage, leaping and throwing himself around, as he screamed into his mic. It was quite an entrance.

Moreno picked up a guitar and took it down a notch with the more mellow and menacing sounds of Digital Bath from their seminal, breakthrough third album, 2000’s White Pony. Despite touring their new album, it was a generous setlist, taking in a selection from most of their releases, and not really all that much from Gore – thought the title track was belted out early. The audience certainly didn’t mind at all though as they blasted their way through the best of their back catalogue, spanning 20 years and 8 albums. Swerve City was huge and had the crowd pogo-ing to its mighty distorted riff, while their epic, grungey, shoegazey anthem Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) from ‘97s Around The Fur was massive.

Sergio Vega - Deftones

Lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter didn’t move around as much, content to lean back and tear out scorching solos as a fan blew his hair back in classic rock style. Sergio Vega is a beast on bass – taking over from the sadly departed Chi Cheng. His big, curly, pink fro bobbed with his head as he kept it locked down with Abe Cunningham who was beating the crap out of his massive kit all night. While in the background, Frank Delgado, added an extra dimension to the band’s sound, on keys and turntables – but all eyes are on Moreno as he bounds around stage, a bundle of energy, getting right amongst the crowd, on his knees, reaching out to hold outstretched hands.

There was an awesome atmosphere in the room, and you could feel the love for the band. “What a lovely crowd,” Moreno commented genuinely. “I always think about Perth as furthest away from where I live, so it’s so good to see so many of you, for real.” He chugged a Mexican beer (“it’s the only way I can drink this horse piss”) and dedicated their song Prince to the late, great Prince Rogers Nelson – as the massive light show of spinning beams turned purple. They brought things home strong with arguably still their greatest song, Change (In The House Of Flies), before finishing with Knife Prty.


Carpenter stayed on stage as the others left, and kicked into the opening riff of Bored, from way back off their 1995 debut, repeating it in a loop, until the rest of the band returned and they launched back into action. They finished on another classic oldie from their first release, Engine No. 9, leaving the stage waving and smiling. Purple Rain played as the crowd filtered out adding to the emotion of the moment. No one would have left wanting from this show – it was a full show in every way – from a great band, still performing at their peak.


Photos by Alfred Gorman

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