Live: Deftones and Dillinger Escape Plan at Sunset Cove, May 22

​DeftonesWith Dillinger Escape PlanSunset Cove Amphitheatre, Boca Raton Sunday, May 22, 2011There are few towns in the tricounty area less metal than Boca Raton. So last night's show there by Deftones, supported by the even more berserk Dillinger Escape Plan, was unlikely to say the least. The venue, Sunset Cove Amphitheater,...
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With Dillinger Escape Plan
Sunset Cove Amphitheatre, Boca Raton 
Sunday, May 22, 2011

There are few towns in the tricounty area less metal than Boca Raton. So last night's show there by Deftones, supported by the even more berserk Dillinger Escape Plan, was unlikely to say the least. The venue, Sunset Cove Amphitheater, is virtually hidden in a sleepy residential stretch of town, at the end of a municipal park boasting a fancy dog run. The smell of meticulously manicured grass is unavoidable, a placid, man-made lake looms in the background, and the last act to perform there before Deftones was Hootie and the Blowfish's Darius Rucker. 

Pleasantly, none of that dampened the vibe created by the evening's headliners, who have been on the road more or less continuously since the spring 2010 release of their latest album, Diamond Eyes. This final leg of Deftones' tour behind the record seems bent on tying up any and all touring loose ends, and in fact, last night's show marked its second in the same general market in nine months. 

The band's last South Florida show, in August 2010 at the Fillmore Miami Beach, was one of that venue's best of the year. But while the outdoor, expansive setting of the Boca show lost much of the cozy of that previous theater show, it allowed for a much more spontaneous performance. 

The Fillmore is beset by behavior rules and physical limitations -- seats, barriers, levels -- but Sunset Cove is an expanse of grass designed for standing room. Or, as it turns out, circle pit room. For all of Boca's uptight rep, this was one of the few heavy-music shows in the area in recent memory at which fans were allowed to dance -- OK, mostly, slam sweaty dude flesh against sweaty dude flesh.

Much of the physicality of the later part of the evening was at least partially courtesy of Dillinger Escape Plan, whose opening set shattered the ice fast. Starting at just 7:45 p.m. and still in sunlight, the group went on unseasonably early for their particularly fiery, warp-speed, unhinged take on off-timed math rock. Ugh, OK, that's a terrible term. Let's say DEP specializes in very fast, heavy music that stems at some point from hardcore but is way too unpredictable and technically proficient to be saddled by that genre's conventions.

In other words, the group's music lends itself, also, to unpredictable behavior, led by its gym-taut gonzo frontman, Greg Puciato. Though he looked positively apoplectic by the third song, poached red and sweating bullets in the unforgiving humidity, things started relatively mildly. Puciato paced back and forth, spittle flying, but he mostly behaved, threatening to make this one of the least rowdy Dillinger Escape Plan shows. 

That is, until late in the set, during relatively melodic songs like "Black Bubblegum," when Puciato decided to climb atop the PA cabinets and ominously swing to another hanging bank of cabinets. Then, during "Sunshine the Werewolf," he seemed to notice a group of rabid dude fans beckoning from the pit and took the invitation. Leaping into the fray, Puciato was quickly engulfed by dozens of fans piling on for mic props, as full beers discharged through the air and even a couple of women rushed in. 

Back onstage a few minutes later, he ended the set by kidnapping his drummer's cymbal, climbing those cabinets again, dropping and breaking the thing, pounding on the drums himself, losing his mic, and finally leaving the stage yelling and waving, unamplified. 

With that, when Deftones took the stage at precisely 9 p.m., they seemed almost civilized by comparison, though no less energetic. Though the set list they would unveil was largely the same as the one they had played previously in Miami (and throughout the tour, probably), there were few signs of repetition fatigue. Singer Chino Moreno was almost sprightly, working the stage and doing a boxer-like back-and-forth hop.

Nor did he and the rest of the band spend any time dithering. Moreno is not a chatty frontman, to say the least, sacrificing virtually all of the usual patter in favor of cramming as many fan favorites into an hour and a half as they can. Those came fast and furious early on, with guitarist Stephen Carpenter's clean but crushing staccato chords driving the pace forward. 

Both newer cuts -- the latest album's title track and "Rocket Skates" -- and older material -- "Engine No. 9" -- appeared early on, Moreno's veins popping as he alternately sang, shrieked, and even, on the oldest stuff, rapped. It was enough to turn the field, within about a 30-yard radius from the stage, into one disorganized circle pit, frozen cocktails and testosterone-spiked sweat flying. Much later, early-evening ringmaster Puciato himself even reappeared, joining Moreno for a gut-busting duet (hah!) rendition of "Passenger."

But that all comprises just one side of this multidimensional group, and though the musicians didn't let the energy flag, they did provide ample reminder that they were capable of melody and texture too. "Minerva" and "Sextape," for instance, were the closest things to sappy ballads, complete with colored mood lighting. 

Throughout too, keyboardist/DJ Frank Delgado's synth washes and sequencer experiments seemed even more pronounced, hinting at future possible avenues of exploration for the band. Perhaps the band-prescribed preperformance house tunes, which included bassy electronic selections by Jamie XX and Salva, provided a further subtle clue?

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: I love me some hardcore and metal sun by strong, angry Italian-American men, so Dillinger Escape Plan has always been an easy sell in my book. Meow. 

The crowd: Dudes in Heat jerseys, a surprising number of cute girls, but actually, wait, a lot of dudes after all...

Overheard in the crowd: "Fuck you! Fucking maggots! Maggots! MAGGOTS!" -- sweaty shirtless long-haired dude who spent the last hour of the show in a solitary, aggressive, calorie-torching interpretive dance on the grass.

By the way: Pretty much everyone missed the first opening band, the Mexico-by-way-of-L.A. girl punk band Le Butcherettes. That includes me, which sucks, but check them out, as they are fucking awesome. 

Deftones Partial Set List: 

-"Diamond Eyes"
-"Rocket Skates"
-"Engine No. 9"
-"Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)"
-"My Own Summer (Shove It)"
-"Digital Bath"
-?? "Korea"
-"Bloody Cape"
-"You've Seen the Butcher"
-"Knife Party"
-?? "Feticeira"
-"Change (in the House of Flies)"
-"Passenger" (with Greg Puciato)
-"Back to School"
-"7 Words"

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