Deftones & Incubus @ UCI Bren Events Center, Irvine CA 10/23/00
So my lady and I had more or less settled into campus life at UCI. We definitely felt like fish out of water, coming from a little town and ending up in the almost too perfect scenery of ritzy Orange County. A couple of the guys I was dorming with at the time, Jesse and Gabe, told me about the upcoming Deftones show. Jesse was the guy at Wherehouse Music that helped to introduce me to the music of dredg. The Deftones’ album White Pony was one of the most important alt/rock CDs in my collection. I had pretty much fallen in love with the disc, the music was brutal at times, but beautiful and compelling as well. Chino Moreno sounded like a sweeter yet more acidic version of Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, without the annoying whine. I could listen to this album all day. I was heavily into this disc before I departed for college and I made sure not to leave it behind at my parents’ place. I had to keep familiar things with me, to keep me focused on studies and handle the pressures of living independently hundreds of miles away from home. My girlie and I didn’t have the luxury of going home on the weekends like most of our friends and classmates. So we made the most of it, had some adventures and grew a lot in the process.
I quickly bought tickets for the ‘Back To School Tour,’ a double bill with Incubus, Taproot would be opening. I was familiar with Incubus but was by no means a fan. Taproot I hadn’t heard of, but Jesse loaned me a CD (study materials). I invited my lady, I would end up developing a habit of dragging the poor thing to loud, hard rock/metal shows. We made our way to the Bren Events Center that October evening. We ran into Jesse and Gabe in line, as well as Phil, another cool guy from the res halls. We chatted until doors opened. It was a GA event, first come, first served – sit where ever you want type of situation. We found some good spots side stage and sat through most of Taproot’s performance. Another couple sat by us. We said hello and they explained how they were there to see Incubus mainly. We explained how we were there to see Deftones. Cool little dichotomy. Taproot wrapped up, they were a decent band, but just not my thing. Their debut album was out and they had also scored a spot on the Ozzfest Line-up. Taproot vocalist Stephen Richards went on to say at the end of their set “Are you guys ready for Incubus and the muthafuckin’ Deftones? Ohhh you guys are soooo lucky.” My ears perked up and thought wow, could Incubus be as good as Deftones? Jesse also loaned me a copy of Make Yourself, Incubus’ latest album at that point. Some of the material was good, but oh man…in a live setting, Incubus laid it down. They fuckin’ ROCKED the house.
Incubus played a steller set, no pun intended. From their opening “Make Yourself” to the final track, “Pardon Me,” they mesmerized the crowd, including me. They had stage presence, consistency, chops and put on an exciting show. The stars of that band had to be DJ Kilmore on the turntables and drummer Jose Pasillas. The scratches were sick, the drumming was energetic (very much like Stewart Copeland of The Police). They were unbelievably tight and sounded as if they’d been playing together for over a decade. While the songs on the CD Make Yourself sounded a bit muted or restrained, they came alive onstage with more energy and power. The moment that completely won me over and made me a fan was their performance of “The Warmth.” The groove, the melody, the atmosphere, the message, wow…these guys are awesome, I thought to myself. The eye popping moment came when DJ Kilmore laid it down during “Pardon Me.” There’s a scratching breakdown before the second verse of the song. The stage was darkened as Pasillas and bassist Dirk Lance laid down their groove for the pre-verse section. Kilmore then scratched up a frenzy on the turntables while a series of floor level lights, pointing upward and surrounding his turntable rig, lit up in rapid succession, in sync with his scratches. It was like a rapid fire light show that illuminated Kilmore only, as he tore it up on the turntables. The section ended, a rest occurred, and the crowd went crazy. The song picked up again and Boyd began to sing the second verse. WOW. That was freakin’ cool. The set by Incubus went down as follows, to the best of my memory. Unlike what’s posted online, Incubus DID NOT perform “Drive.” Thank goodness.
When It Comes
A Certain Shade of Green
The Deftones then made their way onstage. I was eagerly awaiting an awesome performance. Much to my disappointment, a lot of the magic that made White Pony and Around the Fur great albums was tragically missing from the live show. For starters, the sound level was significantly higher than Incubus’ sound level. Stefan Carpenter’s guitar was way too loud and heavily distorted, so distorted I didn’t even realize they had begun performing “Be Quiet and Drive.” Moreno’s vocals were so inconsistent, it was embarrassing. A more tranquil selection like “Teenager” didn’t go over too well unless you were too high to notice, the vocals were so off key, I was sad for Moreno. My favorite track, “Digital Bath,” was played only somewhat well. Honestly, the saving graces of this band was the rhythm section and turntable/keyboard player Frank Delgado. Abe Cunningham on drums made the show worthwhile for me. I had never seen a Deftones video up until after the show, I hadn’t researched what kind of setup or drum kit Cunningham was using. Based on the sounds he was producing on record, I assumed that he played a monster of a kit, double bass set up with 4 rack toms, 2 floor toms, just a mess of equipment that he commanded with precision and style. The man writes stylish drum parts, very clean, creative and entertaining. Witnessing the band live, I was shocked to see a basic setup, 2 rack toms and a single floor. How does this man get such varied sounds from fewer pieces of equipment. He can rock a 5 piece kit and even put some of those drummers with big kits to shame. But unfortunately, I came to the show excited to see Deftones, I walked away disappointed (but became a new Incubus fan). I struggled to remember the band’s set, It was something like the following:
Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
Engine No. 9
Around the Fur
Change (In the House of Flies)
My Own Summer (Shove It)