It seems slightly blasphemous to have to type it out like this – and believe you me I’m still wincing slightly at this point – but the album that truly taught me how to love the Deftones’ music was Koi No Yokan. But while I now understand that it is far from their best work (that honour probably belongs to Diamond Eyes – cheers Greer), I think I needed the benefit of the superb range of melodies and slower dynamics showcased on their seventh studio record in order to ease myself into a band that had seemed, upon first glance, a bit too sonically uneven for me. Such a sentiment may not endear me to the most stalwart of purists, but honestly, I can think of no better purpose for an album whose title means “premonition of love”.
As I write this, Chino Moreno and co. are now on a well-deserved break after an aggressive leg of touring that saw them visit ten destinations in both Oceania and Asia. I also think it’s extremely worth highlighting out that the Koi No Yokan Tour was actually the second tour in a row in which the Sacramento band actually came out to South East Asia to perform. Now, I’ve regularly made a fuss (especially here on the Sput) about how this region as a whole isn’t really been the best of places to be in if you’re the type of person that likes to catch live shows every now and then, but the Deftones’ return to this part of the world hopefully marks the continuation of an extremely promising trend which began with 2011’s Diamond Eyes Tour.
That being said, I won’t be counting my chickens just yet, for the band’s second sojourn to the southern tip of Asia only saw them perform in four countries – namely Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia; locations that were now geographically surrounding my home country of Malaysia like a pack of newly-minted, musically-entitled bullies.
Deftones – successfully avoiding where Irving lives since 1995.
Nevertheless, I knew I had to try and get to at least one of the shows; Singapore looked like the most promising locale, so I rang a buddy up, who got us tickets, and the two of us soon began plotting our three-day getaway to the Jewel of the Causeway. Getting a few days off from our respective employers turned out to be a bit of a bitch, but we eventually succeeded and were soon settled safely on a six hour express bus ride down to Singapore.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, the island nation actually has a slew of venues which can and have historically been used to host live gigs (the last Deftones show, for instance, took place in the open-air surroundings of Fort Canning Park). However, this particular performance was scheduled to take place in the Hard Rock Hotel Coliseum – which was itself on a separate island (one of Singapore’s other sixty-two). This effectively meant meant that on top of having to cross an international border, my partner and I would also have to catch a separate train to get to the actual venue.
It’s also probably worth mentioning that my compatriot for the week – one Mr Sheikh Fadzil – was perhaps the perfect antithesis of me in terms of being a Deftones fan. Sheikh had been listening to the American five-piece ever since Adrenaline first came out, and on the trip down also shared with me his memories of owning most of the band’s discography on cassette. Even more crucially, he believed White Pony to be firmly deserving of its place in the list of the Top Ten Albums of All Time. Contrast this to yours truly, who was introduced to the band using Diamond Eyes via Koi No Yokan, and had only learned to love Saturday Night Wrist within the past couple of weeks. In any case, the point of all this exposition is not to state any notions of disagreement that I might have had with my partner’s opinions, but rather to illustrate my belief that he would have been extra delighted at how our Deftones experience would pan out.
To provide some additional context: I had perused Setlist.fm the night prior to the show in order to understand the auditory spread that I could reasonably expect to experience, and the results that I got back surprised me a little – the Koi No Yokan Tour could, if you ignored the anachronistic presence of some new material, easily pass as a Diamond Eyes or White Pony tour setlist. Four to five songs (each) from the latter two Deftones records would commonly dominate the setlist and a Diamond Eyes cut would also, without fail, start off the night. The only question at this point, really, was whether Singapore would hear “Diamond Eyes” or “Rocket Skates” first.
I admit that this bothered me a little. Given the propensity of bands to ditch their deeper album material in future tours in favour of the invariably much-more-popular singles, I felt that the Koi No Yokan Tour represented the only real opportunity for songs like “Goon Squad” or “Romantic Dreams” to ever see a live audience. However, all doubts and misgivings quickly faded away the moment the band sauntered up onstage later that night to the opening bars of “Diamond Eyes”.
The reception from the crowd was raucous to say the least. Although at 8 pm it was still early on in the night (partially because there was no opening act) the band quickly proved that they were more than capable of getting the party started. Drummer Abe Cunningham was the first to set the tone for the evening, with his enthusiastic thrashing of his kit giving no quarter to the fact that his band was playing at one of the most humid locales on their current tour. Elsewhere, Chino Moreno was less subtle about what he thought of the heat, though, ditching his leather jacket within minutes of the show starting.
Look mum – no jacket!
The anthemic choruses of “Diamond Eyes” presently gave way to the grittier, bare-knuckled edges of “Rocket Skates”, and you could tell by the way the crowd responded that they had been waiting for this one. The enthusiastic grin on Chino Moreno’s was clear for all to see as he led the gathered throng into several chants of the song’s signature line (“Guns!!! Razors!!! KNIIII-VEEESSSSS!!!”). Despite my jumping around like a mad hatter, I was able to absorb enough of my surroundings to note that the slick, lean cartilage of “Rocket Skates” contrasted nicely with the slightly rawer and more muscular Around The Fur triumvirate that followed (“Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”, “My Own Summer (Shove It)”, and “Lhabia”). Over the course of the night, this particular trio of songs was probably best remembered as the moment the Singapore throng – along with a few, equally-as-guilty Malaysians – started their crowd-surfing activities.
It took a while for the first Koi No Yokan cuts to appear, but when they did, they arrived in large, concentrated clumps – “Entombed”, “Poltergeist”, “Tempest”, and Swerve City” were all performed one after another. More interestingly, the newer material gave both the audience and band the rare opportunity to observe each other in a fresher, slightly less-familiar light, and I was extremely gratified to see that both groups passed with flying colours – the performance of “Tempest” for instance, was marked by a significant chunk of the audience knowing the words to the verses, while Deftones looked like they had been playing the number for years. Elsewhere, “Poltergeist” saw Moreno send the crowd into hysterics as he scaled the barricades and leaned into the throng, allowing the roiling mass of hands to support his weight as he belted out the song’s hard-hitting verses. Bassist Sergio Vega was also a beacon of showmanship throughout the night, throttling back and forth across the stage whilst waving and slashing his instrument in a manner that suggested it was made out of nothing more than pure aluminium.
In as far as setlist gems went, Singapore was treated to “Elite” (only played five times prior on the Koi No Yokan Tour) and “Entombed” (only fourteen prior performances). I recall that the former went down particularly well, and was turned into an even better spectacle by the fact that Moreno actually had to be rescued by security at one point after the last of his trademark mic-swinging sessions ended with the cable getting entangled with one of his neck chains (ow!). In addition, I also remember feeling that the song that chased “Elite” – the perennially popular “Change (In the House of Flies)” – going down in my psyche as one of the performances of the night. That song definitely sounds much better with Stephen Carpenter’s amplifiers mere meters away from you.
Pantene hair model.
The night closed out with a series of songs from Adrenaline – “Engine No. 9”, “Bored”, “Root”, and “7 Words” – and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I thoroughly enjoyed all four cuts from a performative standpoint. Adrenaline has aged surprisingly well – especially given its strong nu-metal/mallcore/whinecore (have your pick of a pejorative term) influences. Not once did feel a bit strange to hear and see a bunch of guys pushing forty jamming numbers they wrote almost two decades ago, which says a lot about the quality of both the songs and their parent band.
Thet being said, I do confess to some disappointment with the manner in which two of the band’s albums – their self-titled and Saturday Night Wrist – were given short shrift by going completely unrepresented that day. I concede that this is an argument that borders on the ridiculous – especially given how Singapore received a total of 21 songs that night (none of which I feel like trading out), but a part of me fears that I will never get to hear “Bloody Cape”, “Hexagram”, or “Beware” in a live setting. While thoroughly enjoyable, it definitely felt a bit “safe”, almost as if Deftones knew exactly what would work best and decided to do just that. But beyond the concept of risk minimization, I also like the idea of fans occasionally being rewarded with the less “expected”, more unorthodox cuts, so it is my hope that the current batch of songs from Koi No Yokan – so aggressively displayed here – don’t fade away into the annals of history when Eros or something or other comes out.
Auditory existential musings aside, it had been a great night. Here’s hoping that the next sojourn down south won’t be too far away.
Still repping Ottawa (and Canada).
Deftones Singapore 2013 Setlist:
Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
My Own Summer (Shove It)
You’ve Seen The Butcher
Change (In the House of Flies)
Engine No. 9
– Encore –