Oct. 15, 2011
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine
A decade ago, when rap-rock was being made popular by the likes of Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach, Incubus came onto the scene as a band that fit the profile of “DJ plus heavy guitars” that became the it sound of the time. But Incubus didn't rock the poser-tastic posturing of Fred Durst. Incubus was deeper than that, and once the douche dust of the early 2000's settled and the riff raff rightly fell to the wayside (still looking at you, Durst), the band proved it by creating timeless music.
By sticking to the formula that made them great, without getting stale, lead singer Brandon Boyd and his band of SoCal boys have kept their loyal fan base and have become the most stunning success story of the rap-rock genre, with their bionic staying power.
That said, Saturday night's show at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine was pretty dope by any standard. For the last night of the group's If Not Now, When? tour, Incubus had its performance swagger on tight. And their sound? Pure butter, thanks to weeks touring.
Opening the show with “Privilege,” Incubus played a two-hour set that was full of positive energy from start to finish and included many fan faves such as “Pardon Me,” “Drive” and “Talk Shows on Mute.” And being that the show did not include an opening band, the group did a great job of filling its act with the arena hits it has come to amass over its nearly 20 years in the business, but with the vigor and intimacy of an up-and-coming band playing to an A&R crowd at the Roxy.
For those of us who hadn't actually seen Incubus recently (being that MTV hasn't played any music videos since Justin Bieber was known simply to his parents as, “Oh shit, the condom broke!”), the group looked great–and all grown up. Decked out in a black blazer, white T-shirt and nearly shoulder-length hair, Boyd looked and moved around the stage with a look we like to call, “Michael Stipe on drum n' bass.”
Confessing to the crowd, “This is the last show of the tour and you are making it so hard to go home! I wanna come to your house.” Boyd and the crew seemed genuinely thrilled to be spending their last night of the tour performing to a packed-to-the-nose bleeds crowd of loyal fans from their home state.
Keeping in step with the overall no-muss-no-fuss ambiance of the show, the group had a straightforward, but creative encore to end with. Returning to the stage shirtless and with his hair tied back in a short ponytail, Boyd and the band had everyone dancing as they did an instrumental on bongos and then launched into “Nice to Know You” and “Tomorrow's Food” (inspired by philosopher Ken Wilber).
Critic's Bias: Back when “Drive” first hit and Incubus got really popular, my best friend and I were instantly on Brandon Boyd's jock, so we took the liberty of changing the chorus of the song to say, “Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there with open arms and open pants, yeah”! …And 10 years later, I still sing the song that way (even in my head).
The Crowd: Hardcore, loyal Incubus fans. Largely 1990s rock and alternative buffs. A lot of OC 20-to-30something couples rocking out in unison.
Overheard in the Crowd:
– “Wow, not a single person is sitting down or taking a break”! (Me)
– “Why is she sitting down”?! (Girl behind me, after I decided to sit down for a bit.)
– “Oh God, yessssss”!! (Some dude to Brandon Boyd after he said he wanted to come home with the audience.)
Random Notebook Dump: Parking lot was heinous on the way out. It took over an hour for some people just to get out of the lot. Irvine, you must do something about this!
Wish You Were Here
A Crow Left of the Murder
Talk Shows on Mute
A Certain Shade of Green
In the Company of Wolves
Nice to Know You