Southern California’s Incubus is spending summer on the road with an extensive tour, which will conclude in October at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. OC Music News caught their show last week in Franklin, TN (near Nashville), and we have decided you must attend the Bowl show – or else. Not only are they phenomenal live, but in celebration of the 20th anniversary of “Make Yourself” (late thanks to COVID), on October 5th, they will release “Morning View XXIII,” a complete rerecording of the landmark album. For the Bowl show on October 6th, they will perform “Morning View” in full.
We’ve known Brandon Boyd (vocals), Mike Einziger (guitar), Ben Kenney (bass), José Pasillas (drums), and Chris Kilmore (turntables) for a couple of decades now thanks to “Pardon Me,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Drive,” “Nice to Know You,” “Stellar,” and “Warning.” OC Music News spoke with Kilmore last month and in addition to giving us an update on Kenney’s health (“He’s doing really well.”), he let us know Nicole Row (Panic! at the Disco) would cover bass duty (she was awesome), and to expect Boyd to take his shirt off (he did).
Apparently someone prayed to the weather gods because Nashville’s usual August weather of hotter than Satan’s sauna was given a brief respite for the day of the show. Located in a former rock quarry, the FirstBank Amphitheater is one of the area’s newest venues and has already become a local favorite for its gorgeous scenery and incredible sound.
Those who arrived early were treated to a performance by Paris Jackson. While it would be easy for her to sit around and be a nepo baby or promote herself on her dad’s name (Michael), she seems to be trying to achieve her dreams on her own, and I admire her for that.
Jackson’s band hit the stage and went loud right off the bat. She strolled out casually and began singing with a detached attitude, giving off a vibe that was either coolness or nerves. I admit, two songs in, I was not sure about her, but she began to relax and appeared more comfortable as she moved through her set. For song three, she picked up a guitar, looked even more confident, and sounded a little bit like Courtney Love.
After introducing her band, Jackson made a setlist into a paper airplane and tossed it to the pit crowd, who was appreciative of her set. I have to say my favorite moment of her set was her cover of Blind Melon’s “No Rain.” Jackson seemed to come alive; she was happy, energetic, moving about the stage. She also impressed me with her final song, “Something,” which she sang from her soul.
The sun had set in time for Badflower and they hopped on the summer trend Barbie train by hitting the stage to “Barbie Girl.”
Surprisingly, the pit was pretty full and jumping right off the bat. Formed in Los Angeles, the alt rock punk band is comprised of Josh Katz (vocals/guitar), Joey Morrow (guitar), Alex Espiritu (bass), and Anthony Sonetti (drums).
I must admit I did not know anything about Badflower and I was impressed. They reminded me of My Chemical Romance in sound, with songs that sound fun, yet lyrics that cover incredibly deep and difficult topics.
After starting with “Don’t Hate Me” and “Johnny Wants to Fight,” Katz told the crowd, “You know we live here. I can sleep in my own fucking bed tonight!” As they went through “Fukboi” and “Heroin,” I was super impressed with the musical abilities of all the members, but especially drummer Sonetti. Later in the set, his drum solo prompted me to record a video, which is not something I do often.
The pit was energetic the whole set, perhaps due to it being a hometown show, but maybe just the vibe Badflower was giving out. When their mega hit “Ghost” began, the crowd screamed and Katz encouraged them to sing with him.
For “Stalker,” Katz left the stage and went into the crowd, making the already excited fans even more ecstatic. As they closed with “30,” everyone in the audience was on their feet and screaming loudly in appreciation.
When it was time for the main attraction, the lights went off, phones went up, and purple lights illuminated the stage as the band walked out to “Magic Medicine.” When front-man Brandon Boyd was visible, the cheers grew even louder. As “Privilege” kicked off their set, Nicole Row’s bass was thumping, and the crowd was already dancing.
Boyd greeted us with “Howdy folks. How y’all doin’?” and from then on, whatever song was played, the crowd screamed. Seriously, it was LOUD! Despite being an outdoor venue, the excitement and appreciation for Incubus was absolutely insane.
Through “Anna Molly,” “Just a Phase,” and the absolutely bonkers crowd pleaser, “Nice to Know You,” Boyd was a magnetic leader that had the crowd mesmerized. He was constantly moving, flailing his body, hair swinging. Any lull was punctuated by screams and when he spoke – in a quiet voice that did not match his incredibly powerful singing skills – fans flipped the hell out. We were in the church of Incubus, worshipping the musical messiah than is Brandon Boyd.
It was about this time I realized the video elements, lights, and fog enhanced the show, but did not distract. Some bands go overboard with technology, but Incubus had a perfect blend of the extras that did not take away from the music.
Also worth mentioning, there were no weak links onstage. Kil’s distinctive scratching reminded me why Incubus has their own sound. Mike Einziger’s guitar work pales only to his dad jokes (hold on for that). I really noticed just how distinct José Pasillas sounds on drums now and as I listen to their music while I write this, I feel stupid at never noticing it.
When my favorite Incubus song started, the screams were deafening. Apparently “The Warmth” has a lot of fans, and we all sang our hearts out: “So don’t let the world bring you down / Not everyone here is that fucked up and cold.” Another sing-along followed with “Make Yourself,” thanks to “Pow! Fuck me in my own way!” Ok, maybe we just like bad words.
A cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” – although more along the Aerosmith version – was awesome. I was staring at Pasillas when I heard a cheer go up and quickly found out why – Boyd had removed his shirt. I know that is standard concert reaction for the singer “disrobing,” but I really want to point out just how amazing Boyd is as a singer. “More than a pretty face,” as they say. At times, he had to back off the mic by one, two feet because his voice is just that powerful. Seriously impressive stuff.
A little treat was added with “Are You In?” when The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” was blended in and I thought how Boyd seemed to have power over the audience in the same way Jim Morrison likely did. Afterwards, a flashing light lit up one of the rock walls of the quarry, and the band made jokes about UFOs coming to get us all.
Einziger said they had to stall to get ready for something, so he would share his favorite dad joke: “Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was out-standing in the field.” Boyd said that was the most he’s ever heard Einziger talk.
When they were ready – no idea if they really had to stall or not – that familiar intro of “Pardon Me” began and the sea of phones reappeared in the crowd. Once again, the sing-along was loud and the audience kept the chorus up with Boyd’s encouragement. “Stellar” got another sing-along going before “Wish You Were Here,” which had some Pink Floyd added at the end before they said goodnight.
For their encore, Incubus came back out for “Vitamin” and “Drive,” where Boyd once again encouraged the crowd to sing the chorus with him. With a final “I love you guys! Thank you so much!,” Boyd and Incubus left for real, ending a night of incredible energy I was not expecting.
Incubus will continue to travel across the US as they make their way home to SoCal for the October 6th Hollywood Bowl show. They are joined by Badflower and Paris Jackson on most dates, but the Los Angeles show features Action Bronson and Paris Jackson. Pardon me while I go replay “Make Yourself” and “Morning View” repeatedly…