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Dia De Los Deftones 2023: A Newfound Community Staple

Sacramento's own craft a maelstrom of sound and communal culture unlike no other.

Photograph by Joshua Alvarez

Text, Photos by Joshua Alvarez (@joshua.jam3s) at

Petco Park in San Diego on November 5, 2022:

After a two year hiatus since the last Dia De Los Deftones, the one-day festival returned to Petco Park with a versatile lineup of hardcore giants TURNSTILE, Phantogram, and rapper extraordinaire Freddie Gibbs in addition to strong underground acts like Destroy Boys and Cold Gawd who have been making waves as of late. Deftones have remained consistent in curating an exquisite festival centered around the Mexican Día de los Muertos customs of paying respects to the dead. The park was adorned with marigold flowers, giant calaveras, and bright colored papel picado that transformed the setting entirely, making attendees feel as if they stepped into a traditional Day of the Dead celebration.

Customized Deftones lowriders, special guests with themed face paint, and an ofrenda, or altar, were among the sights available to all, rounding out one comprehensive experience. The ofrenda was not just for show, but intentionally placed for attendees to utilize as a tribute to loved ones as part of this grand celebration. With such a fast event sell-out followings its 2023 announcement, it's evident that the annual Deftones event is one that fans will eagerly clamor to.

Cold Gawd, who only began performing a year ago, kicked off the musical festivities on the Calavera Stage firing on all cylinders, delivering a welcomed shoegaze sound that incorporated unique R&B flourishes for a standout performance.

Photograph by Joshua Alvarez

With ethereal melody and a breezy day swaying over the Calavera Stage, the crowd was mesmerized, and rightfully so. Keep an eye on Cold Gawd because it won't be the last time you'll hear the name in the months and years to come.

Provoker, a four piece post-punk band from San Francisco, controlled with their synth heavy instrumentation and moody vocals from Christian Petty. The high rise building backdrop made for a unique visual to the performance. There was a constant flow of music between the two stages as Destroys Boys followed immediately with a modern punk flair that should not be discounted for its contemporary take on the genre. Destroy Boys have been making their mark this past year with appearances at Riot Fest in Chicago, Nothing Fest in Garden Grove, and a headlining tour with support from Scowl. Their work ethic is commendable and they commanded with high octane energy throughout their angsty performance. From start to finish. the crowd moved and sang along. It's through these acts that Deftones make it known that no matter how high their craft flies, their eyes remain to the underground for newfound inspiration.

It has been quite some time since Phantogram played a show, before the pandemic to be exact, so this was quite a big draw for a lot of fans, The best time to play an outdoor show is arguably at sunset and I couldn’t have thought of a better band to put in that time slot. They're boundless and hard to stick into any one single genre given their maelstrom of electronic rock, trip hop, and pop elements that come together cohesively at the hands of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter. From the setting sun to the thick fog with ambient lighting, there was an atmosphere that complimented Phantogram perfectly.

We then made our way back to the Calavera Stage for GRAMMY-nominated rapper Freddie Gibbs, who mixes a visceral yet smooth deliver with production work from some of the best in the game. Everyone was in for a treat as he was performing on the heels of his newly released album, Souls Sold Separately. Chants of “Freddie, Freddie“ filled the venue just prior to him taking the stage and performing through 1985 to Gang Signs. One of the stand out moments was when he went acapella on the song Thuggin' to see where his day ones were at. From the stage diver to occasional crowd moshing, Freddie had the attention of everyone through his impeccable flows and contagious beats. Even though Freddie performed on the smaller side stage, he drew a crowd that was enough for the larger stage. Wherever Freddie performs, he's always captivating and catches the attention of fans both new and old.

Immediately as Freddie Gibbs set ended, everyone rushed over to the main stage for the remaining two bands. First up were the band that needs no introduction as of late, TURNSTILE. 2021's GLOW ON has catapulted this band into new heights, bringing hardcore to the masses in a way that is palatable for all ages. The entire park was covered in a sea of people that went as far as the eyes could see, radiating a contagious energy that had the people singing, dancing, moshing, stage diving, and crowd surfing throughout a setlist containing gems from the aforementioned GLOW ON and Time & Space (2018). Ending the set with TLC was a proper sendoff as the crowd got light up with excitement. TURNSTILE are a must see act you won't get out of your head for days.

The night was about to hit its climax as Deftones were next up, accompanied by one of their most tantalizing stage productions to date, which had made its debut during their recent North American trek with Gojira.

Photograph by Joshua Alvarez

A giant diamond of LED lights alternating in colors loomed over Chino Moreno and elevated the performance to new heights. With a career spanning over three decades, the revered unit had much in the discography to choose from and they pleased everyone across their timeline. Opening with the hard hitting, My Own Summer (Shove It), the band shook off the exhaustion of the crowd and seized the attention of thousands. Chino’s distinguishable screams resonated throughout downtown San Diego, causing chills throughout. The dedication and passion of Deftones fandom was strongly present as everyone united as one as Stephen Carpenter riffed away.

Photograph by Joshua Alvarez

Songs that haven't been heard live in years like 976-Evil and Needles and Pins were a welcome surprise throughout this career spanning setlist. White Pony (2000) classics Change and Back To School put the finishing touch on this special evening. Decades past its release and one still can't help but move along to the moody yet heavy as a hammer beast that is Change. San Diego received 90 minutes of a memorable Deftones showing. From the music to the food and cultural offerings, the third installment of Dia De Los Deftones was an audiovisual spectacle that further cemented its home firmly in San Diego, setting a standard for festival organization and creating a home for audiences keen on a unique experience.

Enjoy a photo gallery of Deftones below.


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