Over Chill by Kevin Spracher
Everybody knows Santa Barbara is a laid-back community, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear laid-back set lists from the bands that visit us. Incubus started off strong last Thursday at the Bowl but faded out as the night wore on, ending with some of their calmer songs. To start off things, the five band members sauntered out to the stage, illuminated by spiraling red and white lights that imitated the cover of their latest album, Light Grenades. They warmed up the crowd with “Quicksand,” the mellow first track from that album. With the audience properly thawed, the boys flowed seamlessly into the energetic “A Kiss to Send Us Off,” bringing the house to its feet.
The band was tight, well rehearsed, and sounded fantastic. Lead singer Brandon Boyd’s voice was unwavering and the musicians didn’t make a single mistake the entire night. In between songs, they wasted no time, usually just giving a quick “thank you.” The most anybody said was when Boyd told the audience they looked, sounded, and smelled great. In truth, the band seemed somewhat disinterested in what the audience had to offer. Boyd did little to engage his crowd and there wasn’t that much movement or excitement onstage, even when songs like “Anna Molly” and “Megalomaniac” seemed to require it.
I asked a friend who recently saw an Incubus show down south, and he said they had performed exactly the same at that show, except that Boyd said even less to the L.A. audience. The only other difference was that the set list was longer and much more powerful.
After playing 13 songs, Incubus left the stage at only 9:15 p.m., and of course the audience begged for more with screams of “45-minute encore!” When they finally returned, Incubus played an anticlimactic set of three songs, finishing with “Aqueous Transmission” from Morning View. The song was beautiful and created a relaxed vibe as Boyd repeated “I’m floating down a river” to the twang of an oriental string instrument called a pipa, but as a closer, it was weak and came across as a letdown.
All things considered, Incubus did exactly what they were there to do. They played a good variety of songs and musically they were flawless. There were definitely some excellent highlights, such as Boyd’s meandering around the stage with two handheld spotlights during “Oil and Water” and every ripping guitar solo that Mikey Einziger pumped out. I guess I’m more worked up about the fact that rock bands use the Bowl as an excuse to chill out. Word to the wise: Don’t let the fact that you have to finish before 10 p.m. fool you. It just means you need to rock us harder and faster
Pardon Me While I Rock by Jessica Small
Not far from the Santa Barbara Bowl lies Incubus’s old stomping ground, Calabasas High School. Now with everything from double-platinum albums to sold-out tours, the band’s humble beginnings are a distant memory. But even though Incubus’s last two albums sold well and held respectable spots on the charts, their popularity seems to have waned throughout the years, perhaps because their last two albums covered more rugged territory than the days of Make Yourself and Morning View. However, Thursday night was a loud, kick-ass reminder that they are here to stay and more stellar than ever.
Opening for a band as well known as Incubus may sound intimidating-unless you are Simon Dawes, of course. Don’t be confused; Simon Dawes is not a lonely singer/songwriter fighting for the arriving audience’s attention. This is a band of four young men desperately trying to bring back rock ‘n’ roll. They claim their name doesn’t have a specific influence, yet their music indicates otherwise. The eclectic, classic rock style of this band creates a mature and unique sound most of its peers cannot replicate. Singer, guitarist, and keyboardist Taylor Goldsmith has a modern vocal style comparable to Chris Cornell, especially when he hits those hard-to-reach notes. His vocals unite with Dawes’s 1970s jam band style, creating fresh yet nostalgic songs that please everyone from the most insatiable youngsters to the most skeptical old-timers.
As I waited for Incubus to come on, I sat as an impartial audience member. I was an older fan of Incubus who had lost interest long before Light Grenades made its debut. But during the course of the show, something happened. Between the perfectly synchronized lighting, Brandon Boyd’s dexterous vocals, and the intricate musicianship of Mike Einziger, Jose Pasillas, Chris Kilmore, and Ben Kenney, Incubus reclaimed a spot on my favorite bands list. Just like an inmate finds Jesus in prison, I found Incubus that night.
Nothing recreates faith in a band better than seeing a solid live performance, and this experience was no different. Incubus stirred up their discography and performed a diverse set list that included classics like “Wish You Were Here” and “Drive” as well as recent tracks such as “Anna Molly” and “Oil and Water.”
Not only did the band reconvert me, they also stretched their musical abilities by ignoring conventional alternative rock recipes and venturing into sci-fi like interludes, not uncommon to bands like The Mars Volta. Incubus used diverse musical instruments like the djembe drum and pipa (a Chinese lute) to keep the audience in suspense during each song. The band seemed to pick up momentum, climaxing with two encore treats that taunted the crowd’s insatiable desire for Incubus’s high-energy stage presence. And with their terrible rendition of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”-which Boyd dubbed as “pure sex”-the band proved they are steadfast in the fickle world of the music industry, and funny, too.