Upon hearing the announcement of Incubus staging the fifth show in Manila, my initial thoughts were attendance, curious if the fans would shell out their hard-earned cash for a ticket.
It didn’t take long to discover on Feb. 17 at the jam-packed Smart Araneta Coliseum that the massive crowd would indeed. The electrified atmosphere of the venue had the multigenerational fanbase on the edge of their seats or on their feet of the standing room only main floor, fist-pumping in unison while bobbing up and down like an incoming tsunami.
Incubus has been around for a while with a 1995 debut album called “Fungus Amongus,” now on tour promoting their eighth studio album simply titled “8”, consequently, they have developed a strongly dedicated fanbase.
With their experience, the ability to create an outstanding performance on a consistent basis should not be a surprise to anyone. And that, in of itself is a skill which takes years to master, however, there was more to it here than just a repeat performance. Remarkably, the show had a one-of-a-kind feel to it, an intimate and emotionally charged output being created just for you by your all-time favorite rock band. Incubus is currently composed of Brandon Boyd on vocals and percussion, Mike Einziger on guitar, Jose Pasillas on drums, Chris Kilmore on turntables, keyboards, and synths with Ben Kenney on bass and vocals.
I was lucky enough to catch two of the previous concerts, which proved to be something more than just your average events also managing to stage an authentic show that impressed the entire arena.
No different this time, the response of the enthusiastic crowd was like they were watching the concert for the first time in the Philippines. For the various age demographics in attendance, age didn’t matter. And double that for the band, as it was almost immediately evident that Boyd has not lost his spark. His birthday of 42 years ago, fell upon a couple of days before this event but that didn’t stop the knowledgeable fans from singing an impromptu version of “Happy Birthday” to the front man.
Moving about in a fluid fashion while exuding a casual hippy-like mannerism, the seasoned performer commanded the stage with ease. Placing emphasis on his movements which perfectly matched the mood of each song. Which spanned from a touching flowing motion, during a ballad type track, then to fully animated explosive actions with hair-flipping in all directions, seemingly right out of the rock&roll handbook.
And the music itself, although certainly rock, convened their uniqueness which incorporates various styles. They’ve managed to infuse elements of funk, jazz, rock, and hip-hop into a sound that doesn’t really fall into a specific category, rather touches many bases. Even an internet search has a tough time pinning down a specific genre or sub-genre to describe their music; rock, alternative rock, alternative metal, art rock, funk rock, heavy metal, electro-funk, funk metal, hip hop, trip hop, jazz, post-grunge, and techno are all on the radar.
Banter in-between songs were virtually non-existent, besides a short humble comment of appreciation every now and then, like Boyd saying “Y’all so sweet.” or “Thank-you,” before ripping right into the next track. Which keeps the music rolling along, however, I would’ve loved to hear a story or two mixed in there or at least a brief commentary on the band’s visits to Manila. Moving graciously through a 23-song setlist in a no-nonsense fashion with a well-balanced mixture of their new songs like “Nimble Bastard”, “Glitterbomb” and “Make No Sound in the Digital Forest”, while not ignoring the classic crowd favorites like “Megalomaniac”, “Warning”, “Nice to Know You”, “Drive” and “Anna Molly.”
I was pleasantly surprised to hear their version of “Wish You Were Here”, as they transitioned their song into a cover version of Pink Floyd’s 1975 classic of the same name. They also performed a cover track from another of my favorite bands, “Need You Tonight” by INXS, in which Incubus’s rendition emitted a funky tinged taste that I’m nearly certain would have made the late great Michael Hutchins proud. That song also included some ripping guitar work by Mike Einziger, whose skills on the instrument outshines many.
From behind a massive array of pedal effects nearly surrounding him on the floor, he often elicited an uproar of approval from the crowd with his wailing guitar riffs that blew the roof off the joint. As the night continued and things warmed up, Boyd removed layers of clothing so by the last few songs, to the delight of many he performed in shirtless fashion.
Incubus showed why they are where they are today, still able to draw a sizable crowd show after show. After you’ve experienced multiple concerts by this band, it’s not hard to understand why folks will dish out the cash over and over to experience them again. They change it up enough with intermixing new material and varying the visual presentations to keep it interesting basically a masters class in conducting a touring live show.
The charismatic Boyd performs with true emotion and a touch of angst, at times seemingly in an almost trance-like state while belting out the lyrics without missing beat. Incubus is one of those bands you don’t tire of catching live, they bring quality content to the table along with a solid catalog of timeless classics that many recognize just by hearing the first few notes.
If they return to Manila for a 6th show, don’t miss this high-octane concert that’ll be sure to please even the average fan, regardless how shallow or deep your pockets are.