Saturday Night: Deftones at Bayou Music Center

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Deftones, Periphery Bayou Music Center March 30, 2013

After a decade, it's easy for bands to make the short trip from real band to nostalgia act. They might continue to record new music, pushing out singles that radio will ignore and doing interviews about how excited they are about how this is their best work yet. But when they arrive in town, it's usually an hour of the "hits" with one new track so the label will give them some tour support.

Eighteen years after the release of their debut album, Deftones are not a nostalgia act. Longtime fans may feel the hints of nostalgia -- it's hard not to be taken back to 1997 the moment "My Own Summer" starts -- but unlike many of their contemporaries, Deftones aren't just coasting on their back catalog.

That's not to say that the old stuff isn't awesome, just that the new stuff is pretty good too.


How Deftones Survived and Evolved Past Their Nu-Metal Brethren

Saturday, the final night of this leg of the band's Koi No Yokan tour found them in a silly mood. Maybe it was the upcoming "Easters" holiday -- front man Chino Moreno's words, not ours -- or maybe the band is just really happy to be selling out venues the size of the Bayou Music Center.

Much of the silliness came from Moreno. Still one of the most charismatic front men of his generation, and arguably nu-metal's one true sex symbol, he was in a playful mood for much of the night, riffing on various items being thrown onstage, mocking the dumb things most singers say to get the crowd going, and the aforementioned "Easters" joke.

Although his ability to hit the high notes wasn't what it was in previous tours, whether due to the last month and a half of touring or just getting older, he can still deliver when it comes to his signature half-sung/half-moaned vocal style.

The sound was muddy at times -- a little too much bass here, a little too much keyboard there -- but the band sounded tight, especially on the newer tracks they were playing in Houston for the first time. In context of the rest of their catalog, new tracks like "Poltergeist"and "Tempest" fit in just fine in the set list, their depth in sound and texture making for a nice contrast with the rawer tracks from their first album.

It would have been easy and profitable for the band to simply go out, play all of White Pony or Around the Fur, and call it a night. That they haven't had to reduce themselves to that and are still able to draw a sold-out crowd to a venue of the size of Bayou Music Center is a testament to the level of devotion they've managed to cultivate over the last 15-plus years.

Deftones have survived, not just the "decline" of rock music and the toxic feelings toward nu-metal but the interpersonal drama that looked to derail the group in the mid-'00s. It's hard to say how much longer they'll stick around putting out new music and hitting the road, but as long as they do it's safe to say the fans will be there.

Personal Bias: This was my eighth time seeing the band.

The Crowd: Lots of guys, lots of girls, lots of T-shirts, lots of jeans, lots of facial hair, and more people making out than you might expect. "Sextape" gets mouths moving, apparently.

Overheard In the Crowd: "How can they waste a beer like that? They're like $9 here," asked a friend in response to someone who chucked an almost full cup of beer in to the crowd. I've often pondered that myself.

Random Notebook Dump: Watched someone in the crowd lose a fight with one of those heavy curtains on the sides of the general-admission area. It was like watching a ghost taking its first steps -- kind of creepy, but mostly hilarious.

So How Was The Opener? Periphery, those pioneers of djent (Internet for "people who really like Meshuggah"), played a set of technically impressive but emotionally cold metal to a largely receptive crowd. It would have been nice if they spent a little less time staring at their fingers -- gotta pay attention to pull off those intricate guitar runs -- and a little more time looking at the crowd.

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