Picture this: A kind of “MTV Unplugged” on The Travel Channel. Then you have an idea of what to expect from “Music In High Places,” airing 10 p.m. EDT Friday on MTV.
This week’s outing offers an unusual and entertaining acoustic performance by the Deftones, a band whose ear-shattering, in-your-face music won a best metal Grammy this year.
“This is a group that really played into the philosophy of ‘Music In High Places,”‘ said the show’s executive producer, Parvene Michaels.
That philosophy was to take the Deftones out of their concert venues, unplug their electrical guitars, microphones and amplifiers and see what they could do musically on the Big Island of Hawaii with ancient sites as a backdrop.
It’s designed to give viewers the experience of traveling with the Deftones, who perform acoustically for the first time.
Their acoustic performance of “Elite” from the album “White Pony” highlights the show. Performing the song at a place known as the “City of Refuge,” where, according to ancient Hawaiian law, criminals came for forgiveness, the band taps into its musical roots.
The group chose Hawaii because they had never been there together. Most of the filming was done in remote locations, such as Waipio Lookout on the island’s eastern, rainy side.
The group also explored the Kona Mahaiula beach and the flowing lava beds of the Mauna Ulu volcano. Wearing their signature black and knit caps, the band members transform from hard-edge rockers to wide-eyed tourists.
At one point, the wind blows off one member’s hat and they scramble to rescue it from the slow-moving lava.
The show also gives viewers unfamiliar with the group a chance to hear sometimes soulful lyrics lost in the group’s usually screaming performances.
“I think we’re an adaptable band, and we’ve proven that we can take songs, strip them down and they’ll still retain the same quality,” said Deftones bassist Chi Cheng.
“It’s kind of surprising how some of our songs that were meant to rock sound acoustic,” drummer Abe Cunningham said.
Perhaps the only moment the group disappoints during the program is when they are met by a local who addresses them in his native language and blesses them with water. During the ceremony, the group makes jokes.
For Deftones fans wanting to see the group’s typical high-voltage performance, the band does plug in for one song. The episode cuts the performance back and forth with an acoustic version of the same song.
When “Music In High Places” debuted in April, it featured performances by Brian McKnight at an old slave market in Sao Luis, Brazil, and Alanis Morrisette’s journey to the Navajo Nation’s Canyon de Chelly National Monument.
Upcoming performances, including the Deftones, mark a departure for the series, which appears to be trying to tap into MTV’s core younger audience. Future performances scheduled to air include BBMak in Vietnam, Mya in Sicily, Joy Enriquez in Puerto Rico and Sugar Ray in Australia.