Marathon Music Works was crowded with alt bros in baseball caps on Friday night, and The Spin loved every minute of it. Deftones concerts are where the bros and the sad theater kids can rub elbows like it's The Breakfast Club — and Chino Moreno was full-on Judd Nelson in a red-and-black flannel, his trusty goatee and a wallet chain. He held the extra-thick microphone cord like it was a whip, and screamed with an impressive set of lungs that transported us to 1997.
Deftones opened with "Diamond Eyes," the title track from their 2010 release, but it was when they played the second song, "Be Quiet and Drive," that the crowd achieved flip-out mode. Fists pumped and iPhones raised, and we all shouted, "I don't care where — just far," in unison without missing a beat. In a sea of black T-shirts, a middle-aged woman in a tight blouse raised her ring-adorned, acrylic-nailed hand into devil horns and shouted lyrics at the top of her lungs. Hipsters, goths, rednecks and old people, all together for a few hours like a family enduring dinner together. We were all just happy to be fed.
"Rosemary," a new-to-us track from Deftones' latest, Koi No Yokan, started Team Sleep-ish and down-tempo but eventually picked up and crescendoed in textbook Deftones fashion — Chino laid it on thick with his nu-metal Jeff Buckley purr.
"Feiticeira" was sinister as shit. "Change in the House of Flies" was chilling.
The set list was pretty fluid — at one point Chino asked what the audience wanted to hear before launching into "Headup," probably The Spin's least favorite Around the Fur cut, and the only one that was co-written with Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera. That's the side of Deftones we never really warmed to: the lowest-common-denominator-pleasing, radio-metal box they're occasionally thrown in with Korn and Limp Bizkit, rather than, say, Hum or Jawbox. But that's what the audience asked for, and they seemed to fucking love it.
By the time Chino & Co. came out for the encore, it was obvious they were skipping through the newer, lesser-known songs, in favor of the crowd-pleasing old faves from Adrenaline and Around the Fur. Chino shed his flannel shirt, and the Joy Division T-shirt he'd been wearing underneath was like a surprise ending — the happy reveal in which we discover that Deftones are Jedi, not Sith. Take that, Darth Bizkit.
Thanks, Nick Cave, for ruining pretty much every other show we're going to see for the rest of the month. Or year. Or ever. There's no way anybody is going to top what The Spin saw on Saturday night at the Ryman. Maybe if Jesus descends from heaven to front a re-formed Flipper and they get, say, The Screamers to open ... that might top it. Mr. Cave and his Bad Seeds threw down a monster set of epic goth cabaret in the Mother Church last weekend, an evening of dark beauty to cap off one of the most beautiful days in recent memory — the sort of night that is going to throw off the curve for ages to come.
So anyway, The Spin, whose concept of punctuality isn't the best to begin with and definitely wasn't being helped along by the sudden influx of St. Patrick's Day-celebrating and basketball-watching douchebags downtown on Saturday night, was a little bit late to catch former local and Scene favorite Sharon Van Etten. But damn, the last half of her set was gorgeous! With only a drummer and her guitar, Van Etten's voice filled the the Mother Church, soaring to heights that we haven't heard from her before. (OK, yes, we were in the balcony, but you get what we're saying.) It was a minimal if stirring performance that highlighted Van Etten's strengths as a writer and a vocalist. Plus there was that whole "beaming with pride because an old college buddy is killin' it at the Ryman" thing, which may or may not have clouded our judgment. (It didn't. Sharon always kills.)
And speaking of killin' it, Nick Cave not only killed it, he chopped up the body into itsy-bitsy little pieces and sprinkled them all over the greater Metro area. While we've never considered ourselves huge Nick Cave superfans — we enjoy his music and own his records, but we're not scouring the Internet for demos of German B-sides, like some Cave completists we know — we were pretty fucking stoked going into this show. It was a set crammed with classics and filled out with some of the most intriguing songs from the latest Bad Seeds album, Push the Sky Away. It also sounded unlike anything we've ever heard at the Ryman: innately heavy, but with an astounding clarity that made every note and drum fill resonate in such a way that it enveloped us in buzzing, throbbing warmth.
Half the fun of the show was watching the crowd wig out — people were into the first few songs from the new album, but it seemed like the folks near us were going to explode when the band broke into "From Her to Eternity" from 1984's album of the same name. It was like suddenly we weren't in a roomful of adults, but rather a trauma ward full of teens suffering from Bieber Fever — and it only got crazier at the opening notes of "Red Right Hand." Absolute bedlam. Well, with the exception of the dude next to us who had fallen asleep! How in the fuck do you fall asleep when the Bad Seeds are destroying the building you're in, Cave holding you in the palm of his hand like the spindly Specter of Death himself?
As the crowd rushed the stage — male and female alike, hoping for a brief handshake or maybe a fierce moment of faux-face-humping from Cave — and the band unfurled more classics like "Your Funeral, My Trial," "Jack the Ripper" and "God Is in the House," it was impossible not to be seduced by the entire affair. The way Cave moves and the way the band plays, it's like every thrust of hips and move of fingers across strings is calculated to bring each member of the audience to their own personal climax — it's sexual as much as spiritual, a perverse melange of all that is wrong and right about being human. And then there was the literal climax: an extended, triple-X workout of "Stagger Lee" that pretty much guaranteed there was not a dry pew in the house as Cave's titular anti-hero put four holes in the devil's motherfucking head. Capped off with an encore of "Tupelo" and "Push the Sky Away," it was a mind-blowing evening of rock 'n' roll.
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