Incubus, one of very few bands that can comfort you in times of sorrow, celebrate with you in times of triumph, and help you explain emotion in audible form. You can put on a particular Incubus song, and play it to someone who is asking how you are, and three to four minutes later, they will have a pretty good idea.
It was a warm August night in the Pacific Northwest. Traffic was light in this venue known for really backed up traffic, likely due to the fact that everyone was planning and travelling for the “eclipse of 2017” – Oregon/South Washington is in the path of totality. I sat through Jimmy Eats World, who I’m pretty unfamiliar with except for one song, and tapped my feat nervously, waiting for them to end. Not that they were bad, mind you…I was just really excited to see Incubus. The crowd was mostly over 30, and equally women who came with other women, men who came with other men, and couples. I saw very few children in the crowd, likely because incubus is such a personal band, not one necessarily of fun rock and roll, like say…AC/DC, or one where you’d want your child to experience it, like Guns N Roses, for instance. Incubus is a personal band, and one you likely cannot fully appreciate until you’ve had some significant life experiences.
Incubus comforted me after my 15-year marriage ended, with the release of “Make Yourself,” helped me find myself with “Morning View,” “and assisted me in knowing I was going to be OK after another attempt at marriage failed, with “Light Grenades.” In between my path of heartache, “Fungus Among Us,” “Science,” “A Crow Left of Murder,” and “If Not Now, When,” were constant companions.
On this magical night, the weather was perfect and the stage was massive. A giant “8” lit up Incubus’ stage, reminding us that after a six-year wait, Incubus had something to say to us in their newest release (cleverly named “8,” their eighth release.)
The lights went dim, as a giant eclipse-esque circle illuminated the stage and Brandon Boyd and his incredibly talented band began the show with “Love in a Time of Surveillance,” off of April 21, 2017’s release.
Through the 20-song set, eight songs would be from “8,” and twelve would come from previous releases. While the newer songs were less familiar to both me and the crowd, we reacted with enthusiasm. The new songs played on this date were: “Love in a Time of Surveillance,” “Nimble Bastard,” “Glitterbomb,” “State of the Art,” “Undefeated,” “Loneliest,” “No Fun,” and “Make No Sound in the Digital Forest.” However, the peppering of older songs in-between the new music caused the amphitheater to explode. “Warning,” was the first of the older songs, followed by “Anna Molly,” “Megalomaniac,” “The Warmth,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Pardon Me,” “Drive,” “Dig,” “Pantomime,” “Sick, Sad Little World,” “Stellar,” and “Nice to Know You.”
Boyd, with his ridiculously good looks, tall/thin stature, and sultry reggae moves, captivated the audience. Often dancing around the stage, lost in the music and in his own head, he provided a feel of casualness and serenity that is not often experienced at a live show. Looking happy with his band, Boyd’s voice was sharp and strong. Even though a few of the chosen songs were some of the most difficult vocal-wise, Boyd successfully conquered them.
Sunlight Amphitheater is an efficient and sprawling venue. Thorough in their enforcement of rules, somehow, once Incubus started, the smell of weed permeated through the crowd. There was no moshing, no stage diving, no fighting, no drama. Just 10,000-15,000 friends hanging out, listening to the exquisite music of Incubus. The enormous stage at times felt like a small, intimate Buddhist gathering. It was such a pleasure to see them. I smiled, sang, danced, and I’ll admit…I cried just a bit when they played “The Warmth.”