Incubus Takes a Workmanlike Approach to Performance at Blossom

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Often unfairly lumped together with nu-metal acts such as Limp Bizkit and Deftones, Incubus regularly strived to deliver something a bit more esoteric than its mid-’90s hard rock contemporaries. Sure, singer Brandon Boyd raps on occasion, and the band makes use of turntables and samples like its nu-metal peers, but Incubus always sought to do more than just rage.

While the band’s sophisticated approach might not always come across on its studio releases, including its latest effort, the hard-charging 8, the band has always preferred to show off its chops when performing live, something it did effectively last night before a crowd of about 12,000 at Blossom.

You can see a slideshow of photos from the performance here.

At the two-hour concert’s start, Boyd pumped his fist in the air as he and his bandmates made their way to the stage under the glow of deep blue LED lights. With his shoulder-length hair and scruffy facial hair, the rail-thin singer looked a bit like the late Chris Cornell. He even treated singing with a Cornell-like reverence, constantly cupping his hands around his microphone and extending it as he raised his voice.

Early in the 20-song set, Boyd effectively rapped his way through “Circles,” a tune that featured lashing guitars and some extra percussion as the scrawny singer pounded away at a single bass drum positioned at center stage. The track’s trippy bridge allowed Boyd to croon over some subtle turntable scratches.

Often positioned between four speaker monitors on the stage floor, Boyd, who wore skinny jeans and bright white high tops, slithered and squatted while delivering “Nimble Bastard,” the driving single from 8. The band accented “Wish You Were Here” with a few riffs from the Pink Floyd tune of the same name and brought the energy down a notch for “State of the Art,” a song that featured echoing vocals and simmering guitars.

The group emphasized the turntable scratches in “Pardon Me” and sounded particularly sharp on the heavy “Drive,” a song that featured howling vocals and found Boyd scatting at its conclusion. A thick bass riff gave “Nice to Know You” some heft, and Boyd sounded particularly soulful on “Stellar.”

At a time when bigger seems to better when it comes to outdoor rock concerts, Incubus deserves credit for keeping things simple. The video screen behind the band often just showed distorted images of the group performing, and the guys took a workmanlike approach that gave the performance the feel of a club show. More than 15 years into its career, the group continues to be a potent live act even if its studio efforts no longer deliver platinum plaques.

Openers Jimmy Eat World alternately recalled the Foo Fighters and Weezer in their 45-minute set that closed with the one-two punch of "Sweetness" and “The Middle,” fan favorites that featured big sing-a-long choruses and catchy guitar riffs.

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