I had planned my whole night out. I was going to go run some errands with the boyfriend, grab food and have a nice night in. That was all foiled when I got approved last minute for the sold-out Deftones show at The Armory in Minneapolis. I’ll be honest, I was a bit annoyed. I’m a planner and I hate when those plans have to be tossed out and I have to pivot to something else. I tried my best to rally and change my mind frame but to no avail and I felt the grumpiness taking over as I walked from my car to The Armory but, somehow, everything changed the second I go into the security line, “passed with flying colors” as the security guy working the metal detector said and got into the giant and beautiful venue.
The excitement was substantial. For being at the show a little bit early, I was shocked by how packed the room already was with about thirty minutes to go before the opening act was on. Beyond that, I was truly struck by the excitement. It wasn’t just people standing around waiting for something to happen, it was people literally running around between friends saying their hellos and explaining their excitement about what was to happen. Although I had nobody to run to to say hi or anything, I loved watching it all happen and it had me instantly forgetting the pivot I had made in plans earlier in the night and had me super excited for what was to come.
Dark and ominous music was floating through the air while cryptic symbols flashed on and off of the sheet concealing the stage. Although it was a small attention to detail type thing, I loved that the band has chosen to do something a little bit elaborate prior to taking the stage. After going to so many shows alone and spending that awkward time before a show just, well, standing alone, I appreciated being given something to focus on. Slowly a countdown started to take over the screen as the symbols slowly faded into the black creating a tense but still excited mood in the audience and then, just like that, the curtain dropped and revealed the opening band of the night– Gojira.
Hailing from France, Gojira has been around since the mid-1990s and they have put out seven full-length albums that have definitely changed the name of the game when it comes to modern heavy-metal music. Although their overall sound is just a bit more all-encompassing when it comes to the heavy metal scene than what I typically go for, Gojira has a legendary live show, and the last time I was able to experience it was back in October of 2016 when the band stopped by the Myth so I was due to check it out again and see if this band has aged like a fine wine over the years or has lost the charm that had me sold on their performance.
Although their set was only twelve tracks, it lasted for just over an hour and I was captivated throughout that hour of time. They sounded perfect and definitely brought an undeniable sense of energy to the stage but it was the lighting that was just the cherry on top. All of the lights on stage seemed to be pushed to the limit both with what they could do and the creativity to make them do those things. It was a staggering show with the lighting syncing up perfectly to the music creating a truly immersive experience. Full disclosure, the lighting guy for Gojira is someone who runs in some of the same circles as some of my friends but I don’t know him personally so I swear I’m not being biased here but seriously, Gojira’s light show was a huge game-changer for me as a passive-fan of the band to start with.
I promise that Gojira was so much more than just the lights. It was the lights that had me hooked but the rest of the audience was eating up every word coming out of vocalist Joe Duplantier’s mouth. I loved watching the people in the crowd desperately trying to catch every small movement on stage from all of the members while trying not to get distracted by the lights. Again, a truly immersive experience in so many different ways, I walked into the show as a passive fan of this band but left a firm believer in what they are doing just due to the entire experience. Gojira ended their set with a cover of “Territory” by Sepultura which is also when the audience got their first glance of Defontes’ vocalist Chino Moreno. Although Gojira was killing it throughout their set, the amount of excitement that radiated throughout the room as the audience got their first glimpse of Chino was palpable.
Like Gojira, Deftones have been around for what seems like forever. They got their start back in 1988 and although this band has been through hell and back, they have never given up and continue to be kings of the scene. Although I have no emotional attachment to this band, as soon as they kicked into their nearly twenty-song set with “Genesis”, I noticed everyone around me having a damn near religious experience and I was loving it so much. Vocalist Chino Moreno has a very distinct voice which is one of the reasons I was never super into this band (it’s not a bad voice, just not for me) but being able to hear that voice live and see it in action definitely had my attention.
Call them metal, call them nu-metal, post-punk, post-hardcore, alt. rock, stoner rock– whatever phrase or genre you want to use would not be enough to explain the sound that is Deftones. There were moments throughout their set on Saturday night where I was getting an almost nu-metal sound but others where it was a straight-up psychedelic vibe. The way this band can transition seamlessly throughout so many unrelated genres is something that can keep someone like me, who isn’t a true fan, engrossed in what they are doing and singing their praises. Although every song came with a flawless sense of power, it was their encore that really stuck to me. The three songs including their performance of “Lotion” with the help of Joe Duplantier from Gojira seemed to be the highlight for many people in the room. I don’t know if it’s because they all knew the end of the set was near or if it was the sheer emotional power in the three tracks but, regardless, it was a stunning way to end a truly stunning night.