Nothing quite encapsulates the cultural zeitgeist of the year 2000 more than the surreal visual of Adam Sandler strumming acoustic guitar alongside Deftones and Incubus on MTV. Imagine the wildly popular comedic giant, with an acclaimed stint on SNL glory and a slew of box office hits under his belt, jamming with the nü-metal world’s hot tickets.
Incubus, riding high on the wave of their ambitious Make Yourself album, were tasting mainstream stardom for the first time. Not far behind, Deftones had just dropped their genre-transcendent White Pony, launching themselves into a sonic league of their own.
On the comedy front, Sandler had audiences rolling in the aisles with films like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy. His slapstick humor was bankable, regardless of the critics’ disdain, translating into solid box office returns. However, his 2000 release Little Nicky, where he plays Satan’s son, wound up being a rare box office flop.
In a bid to promote this film, MTV orchestrated a special event. Enter the acoustic version of “Shut Up And Drive (Far Away)” by Deftones, featured on the Little Nicky soundtrack, which was an alt-metal banquet with servings from Incubus, Deftones, and mainstream heavyweights like Disturbed, P.O.D., Powerman 5000, and Linkin Park.
The spectacle of Sandler; guitar in hand, sandwiched between Incubus and Deftones on a couch is something audiences hadn’t seen before. While the comic’s acoustic guitar was commonly associated with his sketches on SNL, this earnest rendition of a potent track was an entirely different beast.
Despite initial awkwardness, Sandler held his own during the performance, complementing the rhythm section with Incubus’ Mike Einziger, while Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd traded vocals.
Although Sandler seemed out of his element, he played it cool and by the end of the performance, he seemed reasonably satisfied, saying “Well that felt good. Everywhere. Great job, fellas. That was nice, that was nice.”
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, P.O.D. shows up for a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker”. And in a nutshell, that’s the enigmatic blend of comedy and nu-metal that defined the year those times.