Review: Incubus

Photo by Ron Valle

Incubus the band, not the sex-crazed spirit they’re named for, seems to thrive on contradiction and creating misconceptions. The five members from Calabasas, California led by Brandon Boyd, very much look like a grunge/punk/skater band to the core. But they’re music is far from grunge (in fact, it is not grunge at all), and the lyrics are surprisingly deep, meaningful, and thought provoking. Sometimes rock, sometimes indie/new age, sometimes metal, sometimes funk, sometimes pop, sometimes hip hop, you simply cannot classify Incubus into a certain musical genre. And that variety and originality has allowed Incubus to stand the test of time.  Having released their first album Fungus Amongus in 1995, the band released their eighth studio album earlier this year aptly titled 8. The band played last night at Riverbend on the 9th stop of the 8 tour along with openers Judah the Lion and Jimmy Eat World.

Incubus came out swinging with the hard-hitting “Love in a Time of Surveillance” off of the aforementioned 8. And check out these lyrics: “I will embrace my assailants. Kill them with kindness and patience.” Such are not the words of a band that doesn’t have a conscience. Which is why I figured that Boyd was simply being ironic when he removed his soak-drenched jacked to reveal a sleeveless white shirt with the message “eye f*ck on the first date.” After the opening song, Incubus drew huge applause by playing “Warning” off of 2001’s Morning View.

Later, after concluding “Wish You Were Here,” guitarist Mike Einziger segued into the easily recognizable chords of the Pink Floyd song of the same name to which Boyd sang the first verse and chorus. Other notable moments were “Redefine” off of Incubus’ 2nd album S.C.I.E.N.C.E., which harkened back to the days when the group sounded much more like 311 and less like the Incubus we hear today, “The Warmth” off of 1999’s Make Yourself, which features the sound of whales talking to each other in the intro (you’ll have to hear it to understand), the fast-paced “Sick Sad Little World” off of A Crow Left of the Murder with a three minute, frenetic jam session, and the completely instrumental and trippy “Make No Sound in the Digital Forest” off of their newest album.

In all, the show was a perfect mix of new tracks off of 8 (8 in all) and old classics. The band even seemed to oblige the fans who were chanting “Stel-lar, Stel-lar, Stel-lar” by playing Stellar near the end of the set. The night ended with back-to-back tracks off of Morning View: “Nice to Know You” closed the set, but was followed by an encore of one of my all-time favorites, the Eastern inspired, meditative “Aqueous Transmission” where Einziger shows off his skills on the pear-shaped, four-stringed Chinese pipa. After its conclusion, as the house lights went up, the five members gathered on the stage and took a collective bow thanking the audience. A classy move by one of the most diverse and original groups you’ll ever hear. Hopefully they won’t stop making music anytime soon.