November 11th is, of course, Remembrance Day, and it is a time that we take to reflect on the conclusion of World War I and on those brave enough to give their lives in protection of their country, their families, and their friends. It is a time of remorse for past human history, but also to remember to look forward to a future without war.
Now, as potentially terrible a segway as it may be, I will remember November 11th, 2016 for more than just its honorable, traditional meaning. And that was due to spending a Friday night in Melbourne with a few thousand other people who (rightfully) decided to see Deftones live at Festival Hall, alongside Karnivool and Voyager.
First off, opening up the night were Western Australia’s Voyager and previous to this gig I hadn’t really taken the time to listen to them. Yes, yes, I can hear the calls now that I am a bad writer and all that jazz.
But as such, I went into the opener’s set with no expectations and came away disappointed as a whole. From their opening track, ‘Hyperventeraliting‘ right up to ‘Misery is Only Company‘, it’s clear to see that they are a very well-rehearsed band that just sadly failed to further intrigue not only myself but many others in attendance from what I could tell. But not for a lack of trying, however.
I will say that the main highlight of their set was when the whipped out a keytar and ripped into ‘Sandstorm‘. As in a cover of Darude’s ‘Sandstorm‘. This rather unexpected inclusion in their set received by far the most crowd involvement of Voyager’s entire time on stage and easily had the most positive reaction of their relatively short set.
However, to briefly swing back around for another criticism, the sound quality during their set was less than great. Many parts of the mix came through very harsh and everything was pushed to the extreme, as far as mixing levels seemed to be concerned. While that may not have necessarily been the band’s fault, it still worsened their support slot.
Of course, each member of this outfit individually appears to be very talented, I think they just fail to collaborate and intertwine with one another in an overly engaging manner live, and I wouldn’t rush back to see or listen to the band again, unfortunately.
Okay, let’s be real here; one of the best bands Australia has produced in the alternative and heavy music scene is easily Karnivool.
After being on YouTube for day prior re-watching much of the band’s live footage, it was safe to say that my expectations were sky high and that I was a little more than eager. And man, the group wasted no time in striking a resonating note, secure the crowd’s attention and ensure that they had the audience eating up everything they had to offer. With such personal expectation invested on my part, their set more than lived up to the self-made hype, and then some. Karnivool are is a band that chooses to play exactly what is on a particular album and improvising where appropriate all at the same time. Opening up with ‘Simple Boy‘ and quickly diving into ‘Goliath‘, the crowd was ready for them to play for the whole night.
Unlike the previous act, their set was mixed perfectly. There was nothing too loud or too quiet, and everything was clearly heard, giving each member and as such, their songs, their own unique moments to shine. I will say, however, that Karnivool are not that energetic of a band in terms of kinetic energy on-stage, and they do not run around nor do they jump up and down to the music. They remain fairly stationary and just merely groove with the vibe of each song. Much like Tool do, now that I think about it, and while that band’s stage presence isn’t a spectacle in itself, people still watch in awe of their talent and connect with the music. The same can be said for Karnivool.
While their set only went for seven songs, it still lasted well over 40 minutes and had the whole room loving every single minute. They also played a new track called ‘All It Takes‘ and fucking hell, what a track it was! It was both heavy and laid back, creating a terrific ebb and flow and it had you locked in a trance. So maybe it goes without saying that I cannot wait for their fourth album, as it is more than likely going to destroy your ear holes.
Wrapping up their set with the classic ‘New Day‘, the crowd got even more involved than previously (which is really saying something), yelling back the lyrics to the band as loud as they could, moshing hard and creating a truly chaotic state within Festival Hall. Afterward, I turned to my friend when they concluded their set and said, “I’m not sure if Deftones can top that!” But fucking hell, Deftones sure topped that!
From the very beginning, Chino Moreno was running around the stage, screaming his head off to ‘Diamond Eyes‘. Then without a moment’s hesitation, they launched straight into ‘Digital Bath‘ and then once more right into ‘Kimdracula‘. It was at this point that Moreno was in the crowd for the first of many times time of the evening. My eyes were drawn to all of the members, but particularly to their drummer, Abe Cunningham, as he smashed the utter living fuck out of his kit with his pristine drum tones and his near-perfect combination of over the top fills and perfectly tight, rhythmic grooves. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t the biggest fan of ‘Gore‘ (nor was our editor) when it first came out, but this show, from Cunningham’s drumming and Moreno’s strong energy has converted me on that album. The title track, ‘(L)MIRL‘ and ‘Acid Hologram‘, were all performed with such clarity and energy that it was nigh on impossible to not be drawn into the sonic fray.
I am a huge fan of the group’s previous record, 2012’s ‘Koi No Yokan‘, and the album’s first song, ‘Swerve City‘ is a song that I’m sure they’ll be playing for the rest of their career. See, ‘Swerve City‘ just has a vibe, a groove and a delivery that just makes everyone want to bounce. I really do believe that they could play that song’s riff on repeat for two hours and you’d want to jump around for as long as you could. Other softer songs like ‘Tempest‘ were also played from that album, giving the set a nice rounded feel. Of course, the band’s encore featured a handful of songs taken from their nu-metal sounding debut album, ‘Adrenaline‘, for all of the long-standing fans in attendance.
But as much as I loved their show, my only real complaint towards the band’s performance were the high pitched screams of Moreno, which he found necessary to do at every single opportunity he had. While it is for a strong sonic effect and was sometimes a nice change up for the vocals, that was not the case towards the end of the set. He just ended up sounding like a 12-year-old girl on crack during these moments and it was actually painful to listen to at times.
But occasionally excruciating vocals aside, that was but a small dent in the robust armor that is a Deftones show.
I left this gig nearly half deaf, and nearly half-blind from the headliner’s blistering light show but I could not have been happier. Deftones showed up Karnivool and I honestly should not have doubted their ability to do such a thing, given the quality that the latter band is known to deliver. Now, I did originally think that the $100 ticket price for this show was a bit much but having now seen the Californian outfit live I can say that they are worth every damn cent. From playing a great collection of their classic back catalog to converting me on ‘Gore‘, to showing me why they continue to blow audiences away, you must see Deftones live the next time they tour Australia. If past touring schedules are anything to go by, that may not be until 2018 and that’s at the earliest.
PC: Jordan Tan.