After going silent the last two years due to COVID, Dia De Los Deftones, the rock festival headlined by the hard rock band it is named after, was back at Petco Park in San Diego for its third inception.
The one-day festival featured a diverse array of bands scattered across two stages, while the three-acre park was beautifully accented with Day of the Dead decorations – rugs adorned with floral petals, giant Dia De Los Muertos skeletons, and plenty of photo opportunities for a completely sold-out crowd.
Doors had not even been open for an hour and the area in front of the second stage was already packed with fans who had gathered to see Cold Gawd. Lead singer and guitarist Matt Wainwright stated that one year ago, they played their first show ever. I really enjoyed their set; a combination of moody, trippy music and melodic hardcore – think Deftones around the “Saturday Night Wrist” era. Be sure to check out their second album, “God Get Me the F*ck Out Of Here,” which was released in September.
The first band to grace the main stage was Destroy Boys from Sacramento. In order to kick off the day, you needed a high-energy band to get the crowd excited and Destroy Boys were just that. The band led with “Drink,” “Crybaby,” and “So What,” which lead singer Alexia Roditis led with chants of “f*ck the police.” Before “I Threw Glass at My Friend’s Eyes and Now I’m on Probation,” guitarist Violet Mayugba encouraged the crowd to start a mosh pit, which they happily obliged. For the next song, “Muzzle,” Roditis and Mayugba switched places, allowing the latter to shine on vocals for the 60-second song ending in a guttural howl. Being a punk band from up north, you could sense that not many were initially familiar with the group however, I could see Destroy Boys winning over the crowd before my eyes and they finished with “Fences” to a huge ovation.
Next was Phantogram, and you know it’s a stacked lineup when a successful band with quite a few alt radio hits is second to hit the stage. They opened with the sultry “Black Out Days,” followed by the tripped out, electronic “Run Run Blood.” Phantogram is the brainchild of lead singer and keyboardist Sarah Barthel, and guitarist synthesizer-player Josh Carter. Barthel picked up bass for “Don’t Move,” and people began cheering as they played “Fall in Love,” their first breakout single from 2014’s “Voices.”
Phantogram is an electronic, indie pop band very reminiscent of Portishead, and accented by the gorgeous vocals of Barthel. Musically and vocally, they are just such a tight band. They played their radio hit, “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” and closed their set with “When I’m Small.”
When you talk about bands that have really found their groove and hit a peak in the past year, I don’t know if anyone comes to mind more than the melodic hardcore band Turnstile. The popularity, hype, and live show that these guys put on, you feel like they are at the precipice of becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. Turnstile’s live show is a combination of both how good they are, and the rabid-ness of their fans, equally matching the energy that the Baltimore band is putting out.
Petco Park | San Diego
Dia De Los Deftones
It’s the kind of show where even if you’re unfamiliar with the band, the passion and chaos of the audience, singing along to every single word is infectious and sucks you right in. The band exploded with “HOLIDAY,” off of their 2021 breakthrough release “Glow On,” one of the biggest albums of last year. While they played songs from their entire catalogue, the focus was definitely on “Glow On,” consisting of 11 of their 17 songs.
Original lead guitarist Brady Ebert recently departed the band, and Greg Cerwonka of Take Offense has been filling in on live shows. Song after song, Cerwonka shredded, providing metal riffs, surrounded by heavy bass riffs by Franz Lyons. Lead singer Brendan Yates wailed on songs like “BLACKOUT” and “UNDERWATER BOI,” as he danced with spastic moves in between vocals. The band finished their energetic set with “MYSTERY,” and “T.L.C. (TURNSTILE LOVE CONNECTION),” which has become their mantra.
If any band was equipped with having to top the phenomenal set we just witnessed, it could only be done by hard rock gods, Deftones. Drummer Abe Cunningham hit the floor tom twice, signaling lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter to begin the familiar guitar intro to “My Own Summer (Shove It),” causing pits to break out everywhere. They then went into the ultra-heavy, “Rapture” from their “Saturday Night Wrist” album. Lead singer Chino Moreno, donned in all white, said “let’s go back” and Carpenter launched into “Minus Blindfold” off of their debut, “Adrenaline.” It was a great throwback to all of the old school fans who had been supporting them for nearly three decades now. They then slowed things down with the beautifully melodic “976-EVIL,” which they have not played live since 2010.
For the first three bands on the main stage, there was a rafter where each band’s banner hung. This was removed for Deftones, revealing a half dozen 20-foot screens. This was used to show scenes from movies and television shows, intermixed with clips from the music video of the song they were playing.
You could see Moreno was really having fun and enjoying himself, looking genuinely touched that so many thousands had come out to join them for their very own festival.
Moreno would alternate between running along the stage, tower over the audience by standing on the monitors, or even coming down and singing on the barricade, like he did for “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away).”
Since the departure of bassist Sergio Vega earlier this year, Fred Sablan has been filling in, with Lance Jackman providing backing guitar and a lot of screaming vocals.
Moreno strapped on a guitar as Deftones played the stunningly gorgeous “Cherry Waves,” one of my favorite moments of the entire day. They followed this up with the equally lovely “Digital Bath.” Cunningham remains one of my favorite drummers to watch as he beats his drums with ferocious force and expert timing.
The band came back for a three-song encore, consisting of “Genesis” off of their latest release, “Ohms,” their biggest hit “Change (in the House of Flies),” and finally ending with “Back to School (Mini Maggit).”
After taking a forced hiatus, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way to return than this flawless day of amazing music. With the popularity and positive experience of the crowd, I have no doubt Dia De Los Deftones will be returning as an annual festival for many years to come.