It’s hard to believe but we are already at the fourth annual Dia De Los Deftones. What started out as an ambitious festival for the Northern California hard rock band has turned into a much-anticipated annual event that sells out well ahead of time each year. They have really focused on bringing forth a diverse and eclectic group of performers from all genres, while recognizing local San Diego talent, as the event is housed at beautiful Petco Park.
Unlike previous years, however, where the event was located at Gallagher Square, this would be the first year where the event was held inside the actual stadium itself, which elevated the experience.
Pinback, who opened the main stage Saturday, have long been heroes of the San Diego indie rock scene. In the early to mid-2000s they saw some success at the height of the emo wave, but where many bands faded into obscurity, Pinback has remained a mainstay proving the band’s longevity.
Although their lineup has changed several times over the years the band has remained the brainchild of singer songwriters Rob Crow on vocals and guitar, and Armistead Burwell Smith IV on vocals and bass.
They opened with the beautifully mellow “Tripoli” and moved into “Good to Sea.” You could tell several locals showed up early to catch their set, as many were singing along to every word. Crow and Smith are two exceptionally talented musicians; take for example, “Loro,” which features no guitar, but instead the duo on dueling basses.
A loud cheer went up as the band went into “From Nothing to Nowhere,” one of their most upbeat songs of the day. They finished with “AFK.”
I had heard stories about Knocked Loose – particularly their insanely wild live shows – and Saturday night I got to witness it firsthand. A hardcore band from Kentucky, their fans are notorious for aggressive, violent mosh pits often leaving people bloody and bruised. The band exploded into “Deep in the Willow,” and the double bass kick drum by Kevin Kaine pounded throughout the stadium, as mosh pits erupted all around me.
It was quite fitting that the band started right at sunset, almost as if sending an ominous metaphor from the transition of the slow, melodic Pinback to the darkness that is Knocked Loose. Combining elements of hardcore punk with metalcore, lead singer Bryan Garris’ screeching vocals pierced through as backing vocalist and guitarist, Isaac Hale provided deep, barking backing vocals. I feel like Knocked Loose is right on the precipice of blowing up into something even bigger and Saturday you got to catch a glimpse of that rising sun.
For “Trapped in the Grasp of a Memory,” Hale said, “I need to see two circle pits!” and immediately a faction split up into two massive pits of carnage. Before “By the Grave,” Garris said, “Right now we are going to play a heavy song. You don’t have to know this song; I just want you to move the fuck around. Let’s see what you got.” During the song’s breakdown Hale said, “We’re gonna play a little game right now. I need everybody to look at the person standing next to them. And I need you to start pushing that person” and the crowd immediately broke out into chaos, as people began pushing and shoving each other, forming one big pit. For the last song of the evening, “Everything is Quiet Now,” Hale split the crowd in half and the crowd blew up into madness up until the band’s very last note.
Next up was the wildly popular and critically acclaimed, 100 Gecs. Coming out dressed like wizards, vocalist Laura Les was rocking a purple robe with gold stars, while Dylan Brady was wearing his gold robe with black musical notes, and his famous yellow, starred hat. The hyperpop duo opened with “The Dumbest Girl,” and followed with the fun “Stupid Horse.”
Watching and hearing 100 Gecs live is like a video game come to life, both musically and visually. You can hear the influence of pop, electronic, rock, grunge, hip hop, and even 8-bit gaming in their sound. One of my favorite moments came when they went into “fallen 4 Ü,” which sounds like it could be a pop punk song, with Auto-Tuned vocals and a low-fi sample playing in the background.
At one point in between songs, Les said how excited they were to be playing Dia De Los Deftones saying, “The only reason we said yes to this is so I could be right there when the Deftones play” pointing to the side of the stage.
“Hollywood Baby” was about as rocking as 100 Gecs get, featuring a heavy guitar sample throughout. Though the band did not feature any live musicians, as most songs were played on Brady’s keyboard, they played hyper-paced, “I Got My Tooth Removed,” followed by the heavy bass influenced “hand crushed by a mallet” featuring Les’ Auto-Tuned vocals against a backing track. They finished their dance party with “mememe,” “800db cloud,” and fan favorite “gec 2 Ü.”
New to the main stage this year was a catwalk that went out about 40-50 feet into the center of the audience. As the lights went down, the Deftones began filling out one by one until lead singer, Chino Moreno walked to the front of the catwalk atop the risers and they launched into “Genesis.” Just three songs into the night and the band played a special treat as guitarist Stef Carptner began the familiar opening riff to “Korea.”
At times Carpenter can be lost in his own world, but Saturday night was about as jovial as I’ve ever seen him. Rocking a light blue hoodie, he was all smiles continuing to acknowledge people in the crowd by flashing the metal sign.
The band jumped into “Feiticeira,” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away),” and Moreno looked and sounded incredible, able to hit the highest of notes, while still screaming out lyrics such as on “My Own Summer (Shove It).”
Drummer Abe Cunningham played the ultra-cool “Swerve City” just perfectly, showing why he’s one of the best in the business. Moreno strapped on his guitar for the sultry “Sextape” and later showed off just how good his vocals sounded on “Cherry Waves,” which was truly one of the most gorgeous moments of the night. Dia De Los Deftones is truly intended as a special night for the fans, and the band played “Kimdracula,” “When Girls Telephone Boys,” and “Phantom Bride” for the first time since 2018; then really dug back for “Xerces,” which they have not played since 2010.
They finished their regular set with their breakthrough single “Change (In the House of Flies)” and the angry “Rocket Skates” as the crowd chanted back, “Guns! Razors! Knives! Fuck with me!” along with Moreno.
They came back for their encore as Moreno strapped on his guitar once more for the slow-paced “Minerva,” but then promptly took it off to finish off the crowd with the hectic “Heads Up,” drawing the crowd into a frenzy once more.
There’s just something about seeing your favorite band play a stage on the home plate of a baseball field.
Though the band are proud natives of Sacramento, San Diego showed they will always have a place in their hearts for Dia De Los Deftones.