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Sacramento-natives the Deftones played to a sold-out house at Ace of Spades Tuesday night. The Dillinger Escape Plan and Le Butcherettes joined them for a concert where all ticket proceeds were donated to the Chi Ling Cheng Special Needs Trust.
The goal of the show was to raise money to help cover medical expenses for Deftones bassist Chi Cheng, who survived a near-fatal car accident in 2008 that left him in a coma.
Cheng is now being treated by doctors in New Jersey who specialize in conditions like his. According to the One Love for Chi website, he is in a “minimally conscious state.”
“Chi’s progress is very slow,” drummer Abe Cunningham said. “We were through there last month, and we got a chance to stop by and see him. He’s in bed basically, so anything that needs to be done needs to be done for him. But these doctors think they can do something for him and it’s not about overnight. It’s definitely long term. I can never write him off because he’s my brother, and he’s a fuckin’ knucklehead, but he’s a stubborn bull, too. It’s all about keeping people aware and keeping love and good thoughts going his way.”
Le Butcherettes began the night’s festivities with a performance that can best be described as quirky with an edge. Lead singer Teri Gender Bender emerged on stage wearing a gingham frock with a white blood-stained apron.
While it’s tough to pin Le Butcherettes into one musical genre, their performance was a mix of indie rock, grunge and punk rock with a hint of sass. Gender Bender’s fearless attitude was a great way to warm the crowd up for the Deftones and Dillinger Escape Plan. She roamed around the venue – climbing the speakers like a deranged spider, crowd-surfing and running around the stage like she drank too much coffee – stopping short only of swinging from the rafters.
The high point of Le Butcherettes’ act was during the finale when Gender Bender whacked her head against the microphone stand and dropped into the crowd as if she were fainting.
The Dillinger Escape Plan followed Le Butcherettes’ funky performance with one fueled by pure energy. Guitarists climbed amps just to jump off of them and the lead singer’s growls and screams got the night’s first mosh pit started. The band members got so into their performance that, at one point, the drummer’s high-hat cymbal was stolen so that it could be used as a “rafter duster.”
To get their set started, Deftones singer Chino Moreno emerged on stage with his daughter to introduce a very special guest performance artist, David Garibaldi. Garibaldi began by smearing paint on a blank canvas hanging from the ceiling while lively music played. As his performance peaked, it became obvious what the subject of his painting was: a portrait of Chi Cheng. As the music transitioned into Rage Against the Machine and the crowd chanted “One love for Chi,” Garibaldi finished his work. The love for the fallen bassist was very touching as his family and friends took the stage and thanked everyone for their support.
The Deftones have gotten a new bassist and moved forward, but based on how emotional everyone was after Garibaldi finished his work, it was obvious that Cheng is still always on their minds.
“Having a man down is the hardest thing, but this is what we do and we decided to keep on going,” Cunningham said. “There’s been a lot of money raised from all across the world, so it’s quite a testament to how much he’s loved.”
By the time it was the Deftones’ turn to take the stage, Ace of Spades was packed full of rowdy fans ready to mosh, dance and rock out in honor of Cheng.
To anyone unfamiliar with the Deftones’ sound, it’s essentially good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll. There’s crashing guitar, pounding percussion and amazingly diverse vocals, ranging from high-pitched wails to guttural screams.
“It’s good-time music,” Cunningham said. “It’s loud, abrasive, sexy, dirty, clean, ugly and beautiful. It’s all those things, and we like it like that.”
The opening song was the title track off the latest album, “Diamond Eyes.” It was followed by their single, “Rocket Skates,” during which the stage was lit bright red, a fitting backdrop for a song whose chorus is a screaming, “Guns, razors, knives!”
The evening was a rough one for concert-goers. Not a single soul escaped the summer heat. With all the aggressive energy in the room, everybody was dripping sweat. Moshers emerging from the pit looked like they had gone swimming, as did the entire band.
The Deftones performed a range of songs from old to new. Fan favorites off “Around the Fur” such as “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” were crowd-pleasers. A few slower, more peaceful and melodic songs off “White Pony” like “Change (in the House of Flies)” and “Rx Queen” provided welcome breaks from the insanity.
To the audience’s surprise, they broke out “Passenger,” a song that most fans would probably never expect to hear since the tune is well known for including another very famous vocalist, Maynard James Keenan from Tool. Moreno sang the duet just as beautifully sans Keenan, bringing
Dillinger Escape Plan's vocalist back on stage to fill in for him.
Overall, the night was filled with love for Cheng and all the artists who contributed to the festivities. It was obvious that Sacramento was glad to have the Deftones back home.
“It’s always about good times and positivity, but this show is also to raise awareness for Chi,” Cunningham said. “I just hope everyone puts their seat belts on, because he didn’t. Wear your goddamn seat belt and enjoy life.”