Incubus & Deftones Level Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, CO 8-24-15 w/ The Bots and Death From Above 1979

Incubus & Deftones Level Red Rocks Amphitheatre Morrison, CO 8-24-15 w/ The Bots and Death From Above 1979

Few tours in 2015 have generated the buzz of powerhouses Incubus and Deftones. In one corner there is Calabasas, California multi-platinum selling band, Incubus. While Incubus’s first record Fungus Amongus debuted in 1995, the band erupted with success in 1999 with their groundbreaking Make Yourself. Naturally, most bands today enjoy commercial success by developing a signature formula and hit repeat on it. Incubus did it by being a band which eternally evolves in both sound and presentation. In fact, one would be inclined to say that from Make Yourself to 2015’s EP Trust Fall (Side A), the band has kept their fan base at the edge of their seats as no album has been the same through the years. Regardless of which album is the listener’s favorite, Brandon Boyd (vocals), Mike Einziger (guitars), Jose Pasillas (drums), Chris Kilmore (turntables), and Ben Kenney (bass) have forged their own path, and compromise for no one.

In the other corner there is a band whose music has transcended genre specifics and defied all rules, Sacramento, California’s own Deftones. Since their release of their debut 1994 album, Adrenaline, they have garnered an astounding group of fans loyal to the end. Many would label most of their fans from the whole “skateboard” crowd, however, their music transcended far beyond that. Their melodic blends of Groove and Metal were infectious and unforgettable. It only took till their second release, 1997’s Around the Fur, to carve their way to the Billboard 200 (No.29). Though, many would say it really came full circle with 2000’s White Pony, where not only did the album feature tracks such as “Change (In the House of Flies),” but it also featured a collaboration with Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan on “Passenger.” Now ready to unleash a new album in November, Chino Moreno (vocals), Stephen Carpenter (guitar), Abe Cunningham (drums), Frank Delgado (keyboards), and Sergio Vega (bass) taking over for the late Chi Cheng, continue their exploration in sound.

Then, in April the news came down the two acts would be co-headlining with support from Death From Above 1979 and The Bots, kicking off July 22nd in the Midwest, shooting along the East Coast, and then making their way back West in late August. Among all the venues visited over the nineteen date tour, it would seem no venue in this world would be more perfect for a show of this magnitude than Colorado’s own Red Rocks Amphitheatre. On Monday August 24th, a sold out and packed to capacity crowd, in the gorgeous hills of Morrison, Colorado, were in a frenzy to witness a line up unlike any other.

First up was a fresh faced band from Los Angeles, California called The Bots. The group features brothers Mikaiah Lei (vocals/guitars) along with Anaiah Lei (drums), and while their first album Pink Palms was only released in 2014, this band is gaining steam faster than a pothead in a dispensary. From the start of their set, it was clearly evident just why they have been featured twice on the Van’s Warp Tour, festivals all over Europe, and even the prestigious Coachella Festival. Taking the stage as only a two-piece, they played tightly and with confidence on tracks like “Blinded.” Still only teenagers, The Bots are worth keep an eyes out for. They maybe one of the youngest bands out there, but like wine, they can only evolve with age.

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Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, the duo called Death From Above 1979 were up next and took Red Rocks by storm. Making a splash with their debut album You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine back in 2004, minus a long hiatus, the band returned with a bang in 2014, releasing The Physical World. From the drop of the first note of the track “Turn It Out,” despite only being a duo, the sound shook the very foundations of the amphitheater. Sebastien Grainger (drums/vocals) and Jesse Keeler (bass) may have more stories about how they formed than most have underwear, however once the music begins that is of little to no matter as they went into songs like their latest single “Virgins,” “Going Steady,” and “Trainwreck 1979,” among others. Freshly reformed and on the heels of the aforementioned The Physical World, Grainger and Keeler left Colorado with quite an impression as everyone stood and took notice. Those who missed them on this tour can check them on Monster Energy Aftershock held in Sacramento on October 24th.

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Following a brief intermission, it did not take long for Deftones to get the crowd into an utter frenzy, kicking off their set with 2010’s “Diamond Eyes.” As Moreno (vocals), along with Carpenter (guitar), Cunningham (drums), Delgado (keyboards), and Vega (bass) got their set in full motion, one was completely hooked by their entrancing grooves. The audience sat in wonder watching the band, realizing just how timelines do not really apply to Deftone’s music as it never loses its luster and belongs to no era specific trend, not to mention how much this band has survived having their friend/bassist Chi Cheng sadly pass away in 2013. The eruption from the crowd when the band started “My Own Summer (Shove It)” rivaled the greeting that even the Pope would get.

Playing on with favorites like the atmospheric “Digital Bath,” “Tempest,” and “Swerve City,” Deftones provided a balanced look at their discography, also rocking out “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”  in the night. While the band’s melodic grooves mixed with Moreno’s voice has always been a highlight, the best showing for it would be when the band kicked off their track “Passenger,” though there was a short sample of Maynard’s vocal part, Moreno held most of the song himself, giving it a perfect feel. Wrapping up the set with “Change (In the House of Flies),” “Headup,” and mixing in some Cypress Hill during “Engine No. 9,” Deftones had everyone cheering. While many had expected new material from Deftones already, the release date of their eighth album has been pushed back until November, and for most fans is well worth the wait.

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Few bands have truly lit up the crowd and venue of Red Rocks like Incubus. Having played Red Rocks before and even had it broadcast via podcasts, they are no strangers to the lack of oxygen and the immense sound the amphitheater emits. That is why it was almost ironic that the band started their set with “Wish You Were Here” as many who could not get a ticket to the sold out show sat outside listening to the show, one could really say that was a bigger tease than most dates.  Going into 2006’s “Anna Molly,” 2001’s “Circles” and new song “Absolutely Calling” early on, they showcased a balance of very familiar material.

While most bands, when reaching a status such as Incubus, forget their older material, Incubus brought it to the forefront with a track from 1997’s S.C.I.E.N.C.E entitled “Vitamin,” showing that though they are immensely talented melody writers, they can get heavy just as easy. Then there was newest single “Trust Fall” which is a welcomed new sound from the band, and seeing it live was simply awe inspiring, giving it a whole new feel. Providing an immense amount of emotional and physical energy in their performance, other hits like “Pardon Me,” “Love Hurts,” “Megalomaniac,” “Warning,” and “Drive” had everyone engaged, as well as singing along at times.

Sadly, as the band closed out their set with “A Crow Left of the Murder,” the disappointment from the crowd could be heard as the evening was ending, because it was without a doubt one of the best shows this year. With only a few more dates left on this specific tour, it cannot be stressed enough how immense and adventurous the combinations of Deftones and Incubus is. Be sure to check it out before the curtains close on this epic co-headlining experience August 30th in San Diego, California.

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Rafi Shlosman
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