Some of the best shows I’ve been to while living in Southern California have taken place at the Glass House in Pomona.
Last night, ††† (Crosses) made their live debut, and it was easily one of the better gigs I’ve been lucky enough to attend in quite some time.
A new project featuring Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno, Far guitarist Shaun Lopez, bassist Chuck Doom and live drummer Chris Robyn, Crosses have released two excellent, genre-bending EPs thus far, August’s EP † and the follow-up EP ††, which was just unleashed on January 24th.
Blending Moreno’s outstanding vocals, Lopez’s versatile guitars, and various types of electronic flourishes, Crosses’ music can best be described as ambient, ethereal astmopherica, if that was an actual genre (although I’m open to coining it, starting now now).
As previously stated, last night was their very first live gig, and featured extra help on a second drum kit by Dino Campanella of Dredg (who absolutely annihilated his kit all night).
Since it was their live debut, the densely-packed Glass House was filled with eager Deftones fans, many of which screamed in delight at seeing their hero in such an intimate setting.
Emerging onto a smoke-filled stage after AWOLNATION’s Sail finished playing over the PA, Crosses began their 12-song set with †hholyghos†. The small stage was illuminated by a trio of giant, pulsating crosses of varying colors: throughout the night they glowed shades of green, blue, red, and orange, creating a dreamlike backdrop to the band’s mesmerizing music.
Moreno’s no stranger to this sort of thing – his old side project Team Sleep dabbled in ambient experimental music – but Crosses seem like something truly special.
Songs like †his Is A †rick, one of their standout tracks, were simply badass live, with Chino stomping around the stage and belting the song’s refrain with his explosive pipes.
As much as Campanella was a beast behind the drum kit, Chuck Doom ought to teach bass lessons to many other bands’ four-stringers. He attacked his axe with savage fury, and since the bass was so high in the mix the entire room sizzled with each pluck.
Lopez’s subtle yet driving guitar play was enveloped by the sonic whirlwind laid out by Doom, both drummers, and Moreno, taking the band’s sound into the heavens.
This may have been their first gig, but save for a few minutes of technical difficulties and a brief bout of feedback, you wouldn’t have been able to tell. These guys are professionals, and the thought of their live show improving with more practice is frightening. They obliterated that stage.
During the encore, Annie Hardy of Giant Drag came out to sing a duet with Moreno. I wasn’t aware who she was while at the show, but some post-show research revealed why her voice was so familiar: she is responsible for the female vocals on Pink Cellphone, a track from the Deftones’ stellar Saturday Night Wrist.
In terms of a downside to the show, as with any Deftones concert there is a bevy of overexcited fans eager to just shriek “CHIIINNOOOOO” for no discernible reason, which can take away a bit from Crosses’ moody electronic-tinged explorations. But considering how freakin’ cool Chino Moreno is, I’ll allow it.
The highlight of the set has to have been either the aforementioned †his Is A †rick, a new song that was wedged in the middle of the set, or The Years, a number I hadn’t been familiar with but was included on the Batman: Arkham City soundtrack. In particular, The Years, with its 1980s-tinged synth, whispered vocals by Moreno and slow burn that builds to a crunchy finale, is definitely one of the better compositions they’ve released thus far.
By the time the gig was over, it was apparent that Crosses have as bright a future as the dudes in the band will let it have. My friend remarked that “I think I’d say this is Chino’s A Perfect Circle”, and that’s really a great way to think about this project.
They may be new, but Crosses have an incredibly solid core, their brand of rhythmic, ambient atmospherica (there it is again) placing them far, far away from your average “side project”.
If you’re anywhere near where they’re stopping on this mini-tour, get your ass out there and experience it live.
I’ll end this with a plea: Chino, Shaun, and the gang – please keep this up as long as your day jobs will allow.
Crosses Set List
2. This Is A Trick
3. Bermuda Locket
8. Unreleased Song
9. The Years
11. Pretty Little Neighbor [Giant Drag cover, with Annie Hardy)