Once thought to be a musical genre dead and buried, progressive alternative rock lives on! Case in point – Incubus’ Oct. 11, 2011 performance at Sacramento’s Raley Field was an inspired two hours of pure heart-pounding rock and roll.
Twelve years after Incubus helped helm the creation of a new progressive alt-rock genre with their debut album “Make Yourself,” the band returned to Sacramento in support of their recently released album “If Not Now, When?” A 71-degree evening welcomed those in attendance who were treated to a set-list peppered with hits from their catalogue of seven studio albums.
Incubus opened the show with the first single off of 2004’s “A Crow Left of the Murder,” a song which features lyrics that proclaim “hey megalomaniac, you’re no Jesus, yeah you’re no f***ing Elvis.” The huge LCD monitor backing the band flashed the words “Jesus Saves” – perhaps an attempt by the band to let the crowd interpret the lyrics in a couple different ways? I’ve personally never worn blue suede shoes nor have I turned water into wine. For all you megalomaniacs – it comes down to whether or what Jesus saves.
By the time many bands reach a certain point in their careers, even a smash hit like 2001’s “Wish You Were Here” can have the potential to sound old and rehearsed. Incubus’ rendition of the song sounded as fresh as it did 11 years ago when lead singer Brandon Boyd performed it live to audiences who were still spending their afternoons glued to the television watching MTV’s “Total Request Live.”
The audience chanting “I-I-I-I-I wish you were here” in unison made it perfectly clear that they were more than happy to be packed shoulder-to-shoulder standing on the baseball diamond where the Sacramento River Cats play their home games.
“It’s been a long time Sacramento – where does the time go?” questioned Boyd before launching into “Isadore” off of their latest album. “We missed you!” shouted one concertgoer – a sentiment shared by an audience who loudly begged and screamed for more each time the band ended a song and the giant LCD screen went dark.
A visually stimulating concert held at a large venue is becoming increasingly hard to execute. The minimalist black background that Sugarland employed for their Raley Field concert a month ago was a perfect example of what not to do.
Showmanship is paramount to the overall concert experience in this day and age of You Tube which provides cuts of virtually every band or artist performing live. Students are perhaps the most aware of the importance of this as parting with $50 to see their favorite artists live means exponentially more than baby boomers shelling out $300 to see Sir Paul McCartney recycle classic Beatles songs.
Boyd’s soaring vocals coupled with the powerhouse musicianship provided by the band’s guitarist Mike Einzinger, drummer Jose Passillas II, keyboardist Chris Kilmore and bassist Ben Kenney have been staples of their live shows throughout the years. The eclectic and mind-bending imagery that adorned the LCD combined with a light show you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere both enhanced the music and titillated the audience.
When you combine prodigious music that’s perfectly executed with showers of lights and a back-drop of downtown Sacramento – you have what I can best describe as a “Stellar” (perhaps the only hit they didn’t perform!) rock concert.
When Incubus performed “Warning” which contains the mantra “Don’t let life pass you by,” Boyd seemed to ironically answer his own query regarding the passage of time. To the over 6,500 people in attendance – Incubus essentially managed to transport the all-too willing back to the time when young women swooned over Boyd (a handsome Eddie Vedder) and young men sang off-key versions of “Drive” – Incubus’ biggest hit to date.
Standout songs: “Promises,” “Dig,” “Nice To Know You,” “Drive” and the evening’s encore “Pardon Me.”
My final verdict: Loved it? Loathed it? Missed the Mark? – Loved it!