Revention Music Center
March 22, 2016
Way back when Revention was still called the Ariel Theater, Deftones came to town for one of their first big Houston headlining shows. Riding high on the critical acclaim and general success of White Pony, the band was out on the road with Incubus and Taproot. It was a good show with a weird crowd; Incubus had become a buzz band between the tour being set up and actually happening, and a lot of people left before Deftones took the stage.
I give you this history lesson for two reasons: The first is that, crazy as it sounds, I think Deftones might be a stronger band now than they were way back in 2000; the second is that I have never seen so many people at Revention for a concert.
To deal with the more controversial of those two opinions first, Deftones just sounded incredible. From the jump, the members of the band were completely locked in with each other; their little tour of Texas started on the 16th, but they’re playing like a band three months deep into a set they’ve mastered back to front. The show might not be technically flawless — Chino Moreno has a tendency to mutter his way through songs where the lyrics come too fast – but it succeeds in delivering the spirit of the songs in a way that is more than satisfying.
The set was shaped in a way that saw the band dipping into the different eras of their history in chunks. Three songs from White Pony here, four songs from Around the Fur there, a stop to visit a couple of tracks from their new album, and so on. It worked out quite nicely, because as the band evolved, the songs of each album have their own energy and momentum; “Rickets” and “Tempest” and “Root” are all great songs, but they’re all different faces of the band.
Although things were a bit slower, relatively speaking, for “Digital Bath” and “Change (In the House of Flies)," this show was built for aggression and heaviness delivered by guys who are now delivering the goods as well as, if not better than, they were doing in their youth.
Which explains why Revention was packed to the walls on a Tuesday night. The line from the merch table reached halfway back toward the door of the venue, and the crowd on the floor was so big that some folks were damn near in the lobby watching the set. Just walking into the venue was an exercise in pushing your way to your destination, so you can imagine what trying to find a good place to see the show was like.
And yet, far as I could tell, everyone was in good spirits and the majority of folks weren’t being jerks or drunken embarrassments. I saw a lot of temporary friendships forged in the glory of good music, and more than a few people making out at different parts of the show.
Crowds like this have allowed me to finally be at peace with the fact that Deftones never became as famous as they should have. They didn’t hit No. 1 on TRL and they didn’t headline amphitheaters and they didn’t have a string of multi-platinum releases; fun fact: They’ve never even had a No. 1 record. That’s okay. Those albums were still good, and I’m not alone in my love of the band. Let Korn and Slipknot and Disturbed – DISTURBED! – have their throwback nostalgia fun up in The Woodlands.
The one constant between Deftones way back when and Deftones today is that they’ve always been the better band. And they’re still proving it.
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Personal Bias: I think the number of times I’ve seen Deftones live is now greater than the number of fingers that I own, and no, I don’t have a finger collection, you weirdo.
The Crowd: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this many tattoos and this many smokers at a show. Also, lots of people breaking the “don’t wear a shirt of the band you’re seeing” rule, but in fairness, the Texas tour shirt they made for these dates is pretty awesome.
Overheard in the Crowd: Swiping this from ace photographer Jack Gorman, who overheard the following: “Do you think they sold too many tickets?”
Random Notebook Dump: I did water aerobics before heading to the show, so if at any point in the night you found yourself wondering, “Why does it smell like a pool in here?” mystery solved. You have my apologies.