Sepultura was the only Brazilian act to mainstage at Rock in Rio, but lead singer Derrick Green also represented the festival’s new home in Las Vegas by wearing a Double Down Saloon T-shirt. There were no Ass Juice caipirinhas, but the second day of “Rock Weekend” had an abundance of fist-pumping, foot-stomping and black T-shirts.
Rise Against blasted through a set of their alternative radio hits that had the kids singing along, while guitarist Steve Vai joined Sepultura onstage to add some shred to their bombastic death metal. Linkin Park … well, I spent their set at Slots A Fun and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I first saw the Deftones about 15 years ago, and they remain one of the finest live bands going. Chino Moreno is possessed of one of the best voices in rock, encompassing guttural hardcore rage, anthemic stadium-ready belting and the sort of dreamy liquidity required for Cure covers. The Deftones went hard for their set, going from the “Rocket Skates” opener (“Guns! Razors! Knives!”) to the one-two punch of the epic longing of “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” and the pummeling “My Own Summer (Shove It).” “Passenger” was greeted with a particularly loud roar—on disc, the song features Maynard Keenan of Tool, and the audience was anticipating a special guest; Tim McIlrath of Rise Against charged onto the stage and the two shrieked and soared for an increasingly ecstatic crowd. The closer was a thrashing rendition of “Head Up” that whirled the audience into mosh pits and fortunately left them too exhausted to get angry about the lack of encore.
Metallica undoubtedly had the best backdrop: about 100 Metallica fans rocking out throughout the set. (Although that part where the giant screen showed James Hetfield shredding away while two guys texted behind him was a little off-putting: We know you’re stoked but tweet later, bro.) The band went on a bit tardy but appeased the crowd with a version of “Fuel” that tore out at about 200 MPH, followed by “Master of Puppets” and “King Nothing,” in a triumvirate of classics that erased any thoughts of “late” or “cold.” If people still used lighters, they would have held them up for “The Unforgiven,” and “Enter Sandman” must have been one of the largest gatherings of air guitarists on one place. Still, when the fans on the stage and the fans in the crowd bang their heads in unison, magical things happen. ★★★★✩
Photos by Erik Kabik