Dia de los Deftones is a ‘mixtape’ of a music festival


Deftones, the Grammy-winning metal act from Sacramento, has pushed musical boundaries since first signing to Madonna’s Maverick Records in 1993.

So it’s no surprise that the veteran quintet’s namesake festival looks to do the same thing.

On Saturday, the band headlines the second annual Dia de los Deftones at Petco Park. And much like the 2018 fest, which featured a varied musical lineup, this year’s edition looks to shake things up all over again.

Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches, chart-topping Texas rapper Megan Thee Stallion, French thrashers Gojira, underground Maryland rap sensation JPEGMAFIA, L.A. electro-punk duo Youth Code, Belgian post-hardcore trio Brutus, and vet Chicago alt-rockers Hum are all set to take the stage this weekend as part of another sonically and geographically diverse bill.

Or as Deftones frontman Chino Moreno puts it, a “live mixtape.”

“In general,” he said from his Portland, Ore. home, “I think people like a variety of different stuff. If you take the time, you can always find something to like in any genre. People are far more open minded than they get credit for. You give them some room, and people will sit and enjoy a little something from everybody.”

The inaugural Dia de los Deftones was meant to start at Petco Park and then become a nomadic gathering moving forward. Yet Moreno and festival organizers liked the Park at the Park location so much, they decided stay put.

But does that mean the eclectic event has found a permanent home? Or did San Diego just get an encore performance while the festival works out how to take the show on the road?

“That’s actually still up in the air,” said Moreno. “Last year just worked out so well. The grounds are perfect and it has a real festival vibe to it. It doesn’t feel sterile or in any way like an arena or sports complex show. It was a no-brainer to stay San Diego for another year.”

Regardless of where it ends up on 2020, Moreno and his team continue to work on refining and expanding the experience as a whole.

Last year’s concert also featured an ofrenda - a Dia de los Muertos ritual display of pictures and objects meant to honor loved ones who have died. In addition to longtime Deftones bassist Chi Cheng (who died in 2013) and Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington (who died in 2017 and was represented by 2018 Dia de los Deftones performer/former band mate Mike Shinoda), the festival’s ofrenda honored fallen friends and family of the performers and crew.

This year, however, fans are being asked to participate by bringing their own photos to add to the ofrenda.

There are no guarantees as to what shape the public pictures will be returned in (if at all), but Moreno believes opening it up to fans should still make for a highly personal connection to the all-day event.

“We did one last time,” he said. “It just wasn’t open to the public. So we thought, ‘why wouldn’t we open it up for everybody this year?’ The festival kind of revolves around Dia de los Muertos, so why not give everyone who comes the ability to share in it? I think it’s a good idea.”

And Moreno is never short on ideas. He’s already working with event organizers on plans for the next festival. And then there’s the question of when Deftones will be releasing its highly anticipated ninth studio album – originally scheduled for sometime this year.

“It’s still in the works,” said Moreno. “We’ve got most of the music done and recorded. Our idea is to release it next year - hopefully earlier rather than later. But I’m in that mindset of ‘it’ll be done when it’s done.’ The main objective is to just make sure that it’s great.”

For now, Moreno is content to finish the new album’s vocals when he has the time, and is far more concerned with making sure to infuse that “just make sure it’s great” vibe into his band’s fledgling festival.

“We’re still newbies at this,” he said. “But we’re learning. And at the end of the day, it’s actually a lot of fun. And not just for me as a performer, but as a curator, someone every single day on the phone working out details - where the low riders are going to be set up, what color is the flower wall going to be, what kind of music plays between bands, what kind of food we’re going to have. It’s a lot, but it’s also incredibly awesome to see it all come to fruition.”

Dia de los Deftones: 3:30 to 11p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2. Petco Park’s Park at the Park, 840 K St., downtown. $75;