Nice socks: Deftones’ Chino Moreno.
PHOTO: Chris Shields
By David King
Lights, June 10
I didn’t want to be at the Deftones concert on Sunday night.
I didn’t want to be anywhere but in front of my TV, watching
the Sopranos series finale. I had seen the Deftones
a couple of times before, including once in Long Island, in
a tepid set, opening for Godsmack. (They didn’t look like
they wanted to be there that night, and I sure as hell
didn’t want to see Godsmack.) But this Sunday, the Deftones
looked happier than I had seen them before, and their choice
of recorded music to play before their set—which included
Milli Vanilli and Warren G—told me that, if nothing else,
they had brought their senses of humor.
When the fluttering synthesizers of Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver”
gave way to a hum of warm Moog synthesizers and a Pink Floyd-esque
soundscape, I got a little excited, thinking that maybe the
’Tones were about to play a practical joke on the amped-up
crowd (now chanting “Def-tones! Def-tones!”) by laying down
their most arty tracks—the ones more influenced by DJ Shadow
and Mogwai than by Metallica or Slayer.
But I was wrong, and happily so. The ’Tones launched into
what could have been an arena-dominating set, led by one of
my personal favorite Deftones tracks, “Korea.” From there
it was a barrage of classics: “Be Quiet and Drive” and “My
Own Summer” bashed into each other like blinged-out Bentleys
in some sort of deranged-millionaire demolition derby.
Then it was on to the meatiest tracks from their breakthrough
second album, Around the Fur. Lead singer Chino Moreno
poured a particularly nasty sort of zeal into “Rickets,” half
singing, half choking, “I think too much, I feed too much.
. . . You’re probably right but I don’t want to listen. .
. . I don’t even care,” successfully channeling the angst
of In Utero-era Nirvana. (Noticeably missing were any
tracks from the Deftones’ 2003 self-titled album.)
Finally, as the wave of aggression broke like a window being
opened on a sweaty summer night, the band dug into the most
rewarding songs in its catalog, the ones where they successfully
balance their love for art and harmony with the need to channel
Tracks like “Beware” and “Xerces” from their latest album,
Saturday Night Wrist, were ridiculously enchanting.
And for a band that is supposed to have lost its steam along
with the death of nü-metal, they pretty well dismissed any
doubts I still had about them with the opening chords of “Knife
Party.” Then they smacked me for doubting them by playing
“Passenger,” another My Bloody Valentine-inspired treat from
It was only when the band struck up the playfully inspiring
“Back to School,” in which Chino reminds other bands (hopefully
Korn and P.O.D.), “Who ruined it? You did! Now grab a notebook
and a pen, start taking notes!” that I remembered I had wanted
to be somewhere else.
During the obligatory radio hit “Change (In the House of Flies),”
which has graced many a prom dance, I started wondering if
Tony Soprano was getting shotgunned. But rather than go out
on that warm, radio-friendly note, the band broke out an oldie
but goodie: “7 Words” from Adrenaline, in which
Moreno again lashed out against expectations, screaming, “You
don’t know me! Shut up, you don’t know me!”
The Frank Wakefield Band
Performing Arts Studio, June 2
hope I read Frank Wakefield’s review of my concert and he
doesn’t like it.”
That’s typical of the 73-year-old Tennessee-born virtuoso
mandolinist’s relentless onstage banter. Grinning like a court
jester, he greets the crowd with “Goodbye,” bids adieu with
“Hello,” speaks of aging in reverse, switches the first and
second persons in his speech, and tells the audience not to
buy his CDs and the live-FM-broadcast listeners to turn off
their car radios. And, then, when you’re trying to stop laughing,
he’ll get serious and pick his dulcet-toned 1923 Gibson F-5
mandolin like nobody you’ve ever seen.
When Wakefield, still rebounding from coronary-bypass surgery
six months ago, took the stage at the Linda Norris auditorium
last Saturday (with bandmates Deane Lewis on five-string banjo,
Pat Mullaly on guitar, and Fred Woodward on upright bass),
it became obvious why his former pupil David Grisman hailed
him as having “split the bluegrass atom.” He played with the
speed and precision of Bill Monroe (who told him 50 years
ago to find his own style) and Ricky Skaggs, but also explored
musical regions unfathomed by them with his bizarre yet canny
note choices. Dizzying downward spirals of dissonant runs
and other melodic epiphanies blown over the conventional chords
of old-school bluegrass songs left these ears amazed.
Deane Lewis was luminous on three-finger-style banjo and tenor
vocals, while Pat Mullaly flatpicked occasional, sturdy guitar
solos on the slower tunes in addition to his fine backup work.
Both joined Wakefield in trio harmonies and also sang lead
on a few numbers.
Wakefield’s backwards- reality shtick aside, the show was
a mix of material he recorded for Folkways in 1964 with singer
Red Allen and banjoist Bill Keith, and more recent work. Highlights
included the minor-key gospel tune “Counting on David,” in
which Wakefield’s penchant for outré soloing first surfaced,
“The Mexican Stomp,” an original with seamless 3/4 to 4/4
time changes, and “Ashes of Love,” in which his clowning took
a musical turn as he picked out a playful solo based on wide
melodic leap in slow rhythms before following it with a second
chorus, this time a cascade of fast eighth notes.
The only major foul-up of the night was the beginning of “Little
Maggie,” when the band went off half-cocked, lurching through
a few bars of bedlam before finding the beat. Given Wakefield’s
extraordinary playing, though, even that didn’t stop the show
from being among the top nights of acoustic music in the Capital
District so far this year.