By Brian Ossip, DC Music Live
Metal was on display Tuesday night in the Nation’s Capital when System of a Down and Deftones took the stage at the Verizon Center. Those who are scared of a few mosh pits and allergic to head banging were probably best staying away on this night.
First up on was the Deftones, who despite being the opener still churned an almost hour-long set, packed with tunes spanning their entire career. The quintet from Sacramento, CA hasn’t put out a new album since 2010, but that didn’t stop them from cranking out their repertoire of ferocious metal songs and slower melodic tunes alike.
And the crowd loved every minute of it, singing along with frontman Chino Moreno’s every word. Hits like “Digital Bath” and “Change (In the House of Flies)” ripped the crowd in to a frenzy, which the band clearly enjoyed from up on stage.
Despite the lack of new music, (partly due to the hospitalization of the band’s original bassist Chi Cheng, who has been in a minimally conscious state since a car
accident in 2008), the fans jumped, swerved, moshed and danced for the entire Deftones set, which served as a great warm up for the headliners.
System of a Down recently reunited after a four-year hiatus. Despite being on top of the world and at the height of their success, the members decided that they need a break, finally reuniting back in 2010. On this night, they took the stage around 9:30pm, hidden by a huge drape covering every side of the stage with only the band’s name on display.
After letting the anticipation from the crowd build up for a minute or two, the band started the blistering first notes of “Prison Song” with the lyrics, “They’re trying to build a prison,” with intense strobe lights illuminated the band from behind.
Teasing the audience with the opening notes three or four times, the curtain finally dropped and the band kicked off what was to be an incredible 90-minute set featuring all of System of a Down’s greatest hits.
Songs like “Toxicity,” “Aerials,” and “Chop Suey” turned an already raucous crowd in to a stupor, and led to the creation of five or six gigantic mosh pits on the arena’s floor. The band has not released a new album since the 2005 double album Mezmorize/Hypnotize, but the crowd didn’t seem to care much, singing along in full force to every song.
Those who are familiar with System of a Down know just how crazy the band can be on stage, and the quartet did not disappoint. Bassist Shavo Odadjian jumped around like a man possessed in his personalized Oakland Raiders jersey, and guitarist Daron Malakian performed guitar spins throughout the night while lead singer Serj Tankian took center stage, leading the crowd like a director leading an orchestra. Drummer John Dolmayan kept the groove with incredible precision.
The fact that the band relied on older music did not matter one bit – to the fans in the crowd, it was 2005 all over again and System of a Down was back on top of the world, right where they belong.