In the summer of 2000, no band meant more to me than the Deftones. The band had branched out far beyond the down-tuned Helmet indebeted chuggery of their first two albums and their third, White Pony, found the band melding the aggression of its predecessors with the moodiness and melodicism of the Smiths, Duran Duran and the Cure. Released just nine days prior to their scheduled Summerfest appearence, White Pony served as both a commercial and artistic breakthrough for the band, setting them apart from some of their more cartoonish contemporaries. Deftones were at their peak; looking back at it now, there was truly no better time to see the band.
My favorite band was playing Summerfest, and for free at that? Clearly the only option was to get there as early as possible and wait, and that's exactly what my group of friends and I did. We got to Summerfest at 11 AM and waited in front of the then Lazer 103 Rock Stage until the band came on at 10 that evening.
Sure, sitting in the same spot for close to 12 hours wasn't exactly the ideal Summerfest experience, but it made me appreciate all the hard working locals who play the free stages earlier in the day, excited and hopeful to play for new faces. Among the many locals who took the stage that afternoon, I distinctly recall watching the Buzzhorn, the hard rock band who would eventually sign to Atlantic Records.
I was far more excited to run into Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter at the Wendy's booth than he was to run into me, but the minor upset was quickly forgotten about as Glassjaw took the stage. The Long Island post-hardcore band had just released their debut album and landed the opening spot on the Deftones tour, and while most of the audience members were seemingly indifferent towards the band's performance, my friends and I were completely hooked and more ready than ever to see our favorite band.
Deftones took the stage and launched into "Be Quiet and Drive", the fan favorite off of their Around the Fur album. The years, months, weeks, days and hours of waiting had lead up to this moment, which to this day continues to be one of the most enjoyable live musical experiences of my youth. Following it up with "My Own Summer" and a surprising but welcome cover of Depeche Mode's "To Have and to Hold", the set was packed with all the best bits of their catalog, both old and new. Outdoor acoustics aside, the band sounded as massive and tight on that stage as they did on record.
I don't think I've ever waited that long to see a band since then; chances are I never will again. Music and adolescence have such a bond-it quite literally serves as a soundtrack to our coming of age. It plays through our headphones between classes, it explodes through the speakers of our car stereos and permeates at hushed volumes while studying late at night. All of these things contributed to the greatness of that show and looking back at it now, the events and moments leading up to it were just as important as the show itself. It's a concert experience I'll never forget, and I have Summerfest to thank for that.