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Incubus Continues to Bring Complex and Exciting Music to the Stage: A Concert Review
Well I just couldn't keep away... my concert addiction continues... not that I'm really complaining. This time I caught a band I've seen a total of four times now, and will probably make an effort to catch every time they come around because they're a favorite of mine, and they always put on a great show: Incubus.
Describing the music of this band is always something of a challenge for me. There are elements of metal, alternative, psychedelia plus the obvious urban influences, but they also exhibit punk rock energy, a sense of space that is reminiscent of bands like the Police, some touches of noise and even some expansive jazz hidden in there. There's just a lot going on track to track... atmospheric effects, psychedelic sounds and textures, hard hitting riffs, trippy sound effects... a very unique blend of styles. They also have strong pop sensibilities though, and so their music is easily accessible with compelling melodies and hooks, while still being extremely complex and offering a continuously rewarding listening experience... great stuff all around.
And if all that wasn't enough... they're a great live band.
As I've said, I've seen this band 4 times now and they continue to thrill not only pulling their more difficult songs off with flying colors, but adding energy, improvisation and even more complexity than the album versions! That's the reason I keep going to see them and will continue to in the future... they don't just play their songs... they "play" them and see where they can go, or how they can feel, or what they mean to the audience.
So let's check out the set list from this show... it was a pretty good one.
2. Pardon Me
3. Nice To Know You
4. Anna Molly
7. Love Hurts
8. I Miss You (Acoustic)
9. Drive (Acoustic)
10. Make Yourself (Acoustic)
13. A Certain Shade of Green
16. A Kiss to Send Us Off
17. Wish You Were Here
18. Let's Go Crazy
- Encore -
19. Punch Drunk
20. Sick Sad Little World
As you can see a lot of the band's big songs are here including a couple more rare numbers... like that Prince cover to close out the set, which the band just ripped through with energy set to 11. I especially enjoyed the little "acoustic" set, although it wasn't really acoustic, but more like subtle lounge jazz... very cool and very spontaneous feeling.
Although there are a number of songs I wish they played, the only one that I kind of felt was missing was "Vitamin." Past Incubus shows, I've seen this band play some epic versions of that song complete with extended percussion duels and improvisation and so I was kinda hoping to see them attempt something similar. Still, a great set with plenty of subtle little improvisations that take these songs just one step further so I'm not disappointed.
I already mentioned the more jazzy interlude, but there was also a lot of more atmospheric and ethereal moments thrown in creating a dreamy calm, sometimes in the middle of hard hitting tracks. Then when the band kicked back in with a heavy riff they shattered that calm was shattered really upping the impact of those great guitar riffs.
The entire encore was one big highlight in my mind. "Punch Drunk", a b-side that appears on the second disk of the band's new release, took on an almost bluesy feel, but still builds to a massive conclusion... it's a really sweet song and live it was even better. Same is true for "Sick Sad Little Word". This track is a personal favorite of mine and I've seen them play some sweet versions before, but this one was especially cool with a very psychedelic and dreamy middle section that then erupted into a high energy explosion... like I said, very cool.
The crowd was totally into it too, rocking out the whole time. It looked like waved forming and cresting in the mosh pit and during the slow ones everyone was singing along. The band seemed to be having fun too... they always do, one of the reasons they're shows are so much fun I'm sure. This time they seemed to really be getting into the heavy stuff, but also exploring their psychedelic side as well with some noisy experimentation and progressive, jazzy flurishes.
Overall, not the best Incubus show I've seen (that title will always be reserved for the first time I saw them... it was mosh pit fun, a lengthy set and LOUD!), but definitely a great one none the less.
Although they often get grouped into the "alternative" movement, or worse yet the "urban/rap metal" movement, Incubus is not a band I like classifying as either of those things. They're artistic, innovative, hard hitting and create some truly complex music that sounds awesome in concert... and they only seem to be getting better, both in the studio and on stage.
If you're at all an Incubus fan, I think you owe it to yourself to catch them live once... or twice... or four times. They put on a good show for sure and you'll probably leave with a better appreciation of this band... there's a lot more to them than the media and casual fans will lead you to believe.
Also make sure to check out their latest release. This is technically a "best of", but the first disk does include a couple of new tracks and the second disk is all b-sides and rarities... some great stuff there. I'm not sure if the b-sides have been rerecorded or how much has been released before, but they sound amazing and really unique. There's more than a few songs on there that remind me just why this band is so good and why I'm always excited when they release new material or when I hear they're coming to town. I think this one will serve as a great introduction to the band for people who haven't been listening since their first album (like I have), but also offers enough new and rare material that die hard fans will dig it too.
By the way... there might be a single disk version of this release out there too, I'm not sure, but trust me, the second disk is totally worth it, so go for the double disk version. You can find it directly from Amazon here: Monuments & Melodies (2 CD Limited Edition)
Make sure to check out all the Incubus albums too if you haven't alreadyy. Each one is completely unique and shows a band that's always exploring and never sitting still. And for more information about the band, including news and tour dates check out: http://www.enjoyincubus.com/us/home
Oh, it's also worth mentioning that the opener was pretty cool too. They were a band called the Duke Spirit. They reminded me sort of a more "indie" version of Blondie, but mixed with a bit of the noise rock of Sonic Youth and a little shoegaze. I'm not sure how accurate that description is (It's probably not even close!) as it's hard to tell on the first listen in a live situation, but they struck me enough that I'll be checking out their stuff a bit more and you might want to do the same.
You can find their website here: http://thedukespirit.com/v2.1/
And their myspace here: http://www.myspace.com/thedukespirit
So, in conclusion, another great concert experience. Incubus always puts on a high energy, artistic and complex show, while still keeping the entire crowd engaged and enthralled. If you haven't seen them, you probably should... maybe the next time this band is in Chicago I'll run into you there, as I'm pretty sure I'll be going to see them again.