July 20, 2017 Incubus Ignite At PNC Music Pavilion Charlotte, NC 7-11-17
One of the most successful Alternative Rock bands of the past twenty years, the evolution of California’s Incubus has been fascinating to witness. From the early years of Funk-like Metal on 1995’s to Fungus Amongus to the double platinum success of 1999’s Alternative Rock breakout album Make Yourself. Through it all, Incubus has experimented with style and sound, while still enduring the love and support of a dedicated following.
Remaining active touring, 2017 has been a big year for the band as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1997 major label debut S.C.I.E.N.C.E. and return with their first full-length studio album in six years. Their eighth overall studio album, hitting the public April 21st, simply entitling the album 8, Incubus has been out on the road in support of the material. A headlining run that kicked off on July 6th, on Tuesday, July 11th, the 8 Tour rolled into Charlotte, North Carolina with support from Jimmy Eat World, as well as Judah and the Lion.
Despite the uncomfortable Southern heat, this dynamic lineup of Alternative bands was prepared to deliver an equally hot set of tunes this evening. As people filed into the PNC Music Pavilion, it became clear that the night would be long, but much would be discovered and hearts would be filled with the familiar music of days past. It was clear from the beginning that many in attendance were there for the main event and headliners, Incubus, whose seductively mellow music would lure all in and create a journey through sound.
Judah and the Lion kicked things off with their Alternative Indie sounds and groovy soul. The Nashville, Tennessee sextet blend many different styles in their music, including Folk, Pop, Rock, and Hip Hop to create an interesting amalgamation of sound that is intriguing and engaging. The crowd seemed to warm up to them slowly, with some who seemed familiar with them bouncing and singing along. The band played through a relatively short set consisting of songs from their catalog, including “Going to Mars,” “Rich Kids,” and “Take It All Back.” Frontman Judah Akers has a swagger and a confidence that can only come from owning a stage and living your music.
Their latest album exemplifies the core principles of their sound, Folk Hop N’ Roll was released in 2016 and epitomizes the feel of their set on this evening. Judah and the Lion have been increasingly making waves in the music scene since the album’s release, even making Rolling Stone’s February 2017 list of “10 New Artists You Need to Know.” The magazine listed them as artists worth knowing for fans of Mumford and Sons, Imagine Dragons, and OneRepublic, which is a pretty big rep to live up to; however, if they continue on their current path they should have no problems rising to the occasion.
Mesa, Arizona’s Jimmy Eat World took to riveting the masses next and they came armed with an arsenal of songs spanning their career, reaching back to their popular Bleed American album. The band saw incredible mainstream success with Bleed American, which was their fourth studio album and first release after signing with DreamWorks Records, Vocalist Jim Adkins was all in throughout the performance, glistening with sweat in the Carolina mid-July heat and likening it to an Arizona summer. While the entire band was engaged and present on stage, Adkins’ performance was visibly visceral and he could be seen folding himself into his guitar at times with the intensity of his playing.
The energy was sparking as Jimmy Eat World rolled through a set of their hits and B-sides for fans from across their history. Performing such songs as “Bleed American,” “I Will Steal You Back,” “Get Right,” and “Sweetness,” after stirring a little more movement from the crowd, the guys closed on their 2001 breakout hit “The Middle,” which led to the entire arena singing along with them. The feel-good nature of Jimmy Eat World’s set was one of reminiscent teen angst turned into developed maturity with a rebellious spirit. Despite no longer being the young outsiders making music for angsty adolescents, Jimmy Eat World still manages to rouse the ghost from its slumber.
Finally, it was time for the men of the hour, Incubus. Opening up with “Love In A Time of Surveillance” from their latest album, 8, the music descended upon the now undulating throng of bodies in the amphitheater. Leading the charge was the enigmatic and charismatic Brandon Boyd, the man whose vocals cascaded throughout the scene like an otherworldly fog, engulfing all in its wake. His passion and fire on stage can be seen through the ferocity with which he delivers each lyric and note. The scent of marijuana made its way through the air and the bodies swayed with each harmonized note and string pluck of the guitar. There was something entrancing about watching Incubus on this night. The sticky heat had begun to subside, but there was was a coolness in the air that had less to do with temperature and everything to do with attitude. There were no strangers at this concert, only long-lost friends as fans united and embraced in the movements urged by the music.
Masterfully combining songs from their repertoire, Incubus delivered a fresh bouquet of jams that easily appeased the blissed out horde on their feet. Songs like “Warning,” “Anna Molly,” “Pardon Me,” and “Megalomaniac” brought the nostalgia from their early days along with a rendition of “Wish You Were Here” that ended with an outro cover of Pink Floyd’s similarly titled iconic track. Despite a mostly serene, and at times rousing concert experience, the band was not without self-awareness, with Boyd even joking, “This is the feel good hit of like 15 years ago,” before playing “Drive.” The visuals, graphics, and lights on the stage were exciting visual journeys through the music with flashing mandalas, bombs, and dancing girls illuminating the purpose of each track. At one point they even employed the use of stencil-like graphics as seen in the “Drive” music video, adding a special dose of nostalgia and longing to the mix.
Fast forward through a Boyd on bongos versus Drummer Jose Pasillas II drum off and Boyd removing several layers of shirt to the excitement of many women (and some men) in the amphitheatre, we come to the conclusion of the night which included “Sick Sad Little World,” “Loneliest,” and “No Fun” before the band exited the stage. As they left the stage and the world temporarily went dark, there was some speculation as to what they would return with for the encore, as they had already performed “Drive” and “Pardon Me” earlier.
To the pleasant surprise of all, Incubus returned to the stage to leave us with a rendition of “Aqueous Transmission” from their fourth studio album, Morning View, ending the show on the same familiar tranquil note it had been riding on all night. This was not a concert, but rather a meeting of the minds and melding of the spirits. On this night there was a communal joy shared amongst the attendees and performers that left both changed for the better.