Bands react to the death of one of their members in different ways. When John Bonham died, Led Zeppelin almost immediately broke up. Bon Scott's death led AC/DC to replace him with Scott soundalike Brian Johnson. After the death of Deftones' original bassist Chi Cheng two weeks ago, fans speculated on the group's next move. But short of two brief, "This one's for Chi"s spoken by frontman Chino Moreno at last night's Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, the group played almost as if nothing had happened.
As we learned from bassist Sergio Vega earlier that day, that was by design. "Whenever you talk about anything that you've been through, chances are he's going to be a part of that," Vega told Fuse. "He's very much with us. So we don't feel compelled to do anything ritualistic in that sense. What we do is just alive in us and he's always with us."
Unlike their last show, which found the band performing Kris Kross' "Jump" after the death of Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly, last night's set was merely a 14-song, 70-minute set that drew on each of the band's seven albums dating back to 1995's Adrenaline.
The set highlighted and solidified a band that, over the course of 18 years, hasn't been afraid to transform and reinvent themselves stylistically while always retaining their hard rock and metal roots. The rap-rock of "Headup." The melodic hard rock of "Feiticeira" and "Change." The pure metal of "7 Words." There's a reason why they're still around long after nu-metal's wake.
Moreno, for his part, remains a transfixing frontman, performing atop monitors center stage, swinging mics Roger Daltrey-style, bounding all over the stage and accepting gifts from front-row fans.
So there were no big, swooping statements or tributes tonight. But there didn't have to be. That the band can continue what they're doing is tribute enough. "In everything that we do, every day, [Chi's] very present," says Vega. "It's a family and everyone's been around each other for a very long time."