Saturday, 13 June 2015

Live Review: Incubus @ Amphi Park, Raanana [9 June 2015]

     Out of all my reviews so far, I have done a lot of local bands and a few touring bands, including the odd fairly big name like Republica and '68, but this takes the biscuit!

   Incubus have been a part of my life since around the age of 12/13 when, after hearing from an elder whose musical tastes I admired about bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit, I discovered them along with other bands on the Family Values Tour '98 album. The song New Skin was unlike any of the other rock or metal I was hearing up until then. It had djembe, it had funk elements, it had just really grabbed me. The album S.C.I.E.N.C.E, the band's second official full length release, became the soundtrack to my teens along with System Of A Down's self titled debut and more punk stuff like Lit's A Place In The Sun and even Sick Of It All's Call To Arms. As years went on, the band garnered success primarily with the album Make Yourself and later also had hits from Morning View. They may be one of those bands whose original fan base has been disappointed by later releases (myself included) but after about 16 years of never having seen them, I was excited to hear that they were coming here. The new material, that some of you may have heard on the blog already, has impressed me, so that was another reason to go.

   It's the evening of the show and I somehow confused myself about what time the show was actually starting. I tried to get to Ranaana from Tel Aviv as fast as I could but still managed to miss opening act Tatran, an Israeli fusion band (I guess). After finally finding the correct entrance and the box office to collect my ticket, I zoom down to the VIP area (not bragging, just explaining) which was right in front of the stage. The venue's layout is a bit different to what I'm used to. First of all, it's outdoors. I've been to outdoor concerts before but they didn't have separate areas with seating before. Normally in arenas, seated areas are to the side or further back and standing room is down by the front....this was the opposite. The stage practically faces a hill of which standing room was from the middle part of the hill upwards. Despite having seating there and an allocated seat on my ticket, I join a few other people who are standing in the aisle.

   Of course, there's massive screaming from the crowd at the sight of frontman Brandon Boyd alone. I'm going to admit, back in the day when I had band posters on my wall, I had a Brandon Boyd one. Does it mean I had homosexual feelings towards Brandon back then? Maybe. Do I have homosexual feelings towards him now?.... I think tonight I do! You can't ignore it; the man is pretty. After a dreamy introduction, the band starts things off with Wish You Were Here. Good choice! As the aisle I'm standing in starts to fill up, fans are singing along and there's a little bit of head movement. I can't help but feel the band are a bit static. For those who don't know, Incubus are known for their set up on stage having each member quite a distance away from one another. Not too dissimilar to other bands, especially on big stages, but the Incubus guys are like 5 corners of a pentagon (not pentagram). Apart from the odd convulsion from Brandon, there's not much else happening on stage. It is cool, however, that we see drummer José side on, as we can properly observe his beats and fills.

    As the only Incubus records I've ever owned and/or heard in full are S.C.I.E.N.C.E, Morning View and the most recent Trust Fall (Side A) EP, I really only recognised the tracks from those releases and the obvious hits. I didn't recognise second song Anna Molly from Light Grenades but the heavy riff and the beautifully sung chorus had everyone else very enthralled. Even now, I have "I picture your face in the back of my eyes.." implanted in my brain. Following two songs were Adolescents and Absolution Calling. When I first heard Adolescents (from If Not Now, When?) four years ago, I thought it was a super boring song and ignored it up until this moment. I was slightly taken in by the dreaminess of the song and the unconventional vocal pattern. Absolution Calling, in my eyes the second best track form the Trust Fall (Side A) EP, goes down well with the crowd. I even caught myself singing "I REMEMBER FEELING THE OPPOSITE OF FALLIIIING" along with Brandon. This was then followed by a song I didn't recognise at first until the chorus. It was Vitamin, the only song in the set to come from S.C.I.E.N.C.E. Now, Vitamin is a heavy song; it has a cool build up in the verses leading to a rock out chorus along with some funky drum soloing and djembe action. I start to realise that I'm one of the few people in my vicinity (and as I look back, at the concert in general) who is properly going crazy for this song. I'm guessing most people here only know and like Make Yourself onwards, right?
   To be fair, I have the opposite problem, as people in the crowd join in on songs like In The Company of Wolves, A Kiss To Send Us Off (which I particularly enjoyed tonight and seemed to be a crowd favourite), Here In My Room and Sick Sad Little World (a heavy funky number that I also enjoyed), all of which I hadn't heard before. Obviously, bigger hits Are You In? and Pardon Me were in the set; the former getting people dancing to its sexy slow jam and joining in on the "woo hoo hoo"s while the latter, right from the quiet intro, had everyone passionately singing along to Make Yourself's second most iconic track. Nice To Know You (Morning View) and Megalomaniac (A Crow Left Of Murder) help inject a little extra does of heaviness into the set while newer songs Trust Fall and Dance Like You're Dumb seem a little lost on people. Trust Fall isn't such a great song, in my opinion, whereas Dance Like You're Dumb is not only my favourite off the new EP but one of my favourites songs at the moment. How no-one else is going crazy to this, not even clapping along to the gospel-like section in the middle, is beyond me.
    As the band goes off, we all know that they're coming back and there's just screaming galore. They return and kick back off with a lovely rendition of "the big chill out hit of about 15 years ago", Drive. Bassist Ben Kenney sits himself upon an amp and the whole performance is pretty sweet as almost the entire crowd joins in on the whole song. This is then followed by two songs I am unfamiliar with, The Warmth and set closer A Crow Left Of Murder. The warmth has a bit of a 311/reggae feel leading to a breakdown ending, all which I really liked, and ..Left Of Murder just rocked out with some cool dance beats and heavy guitars. I may have made a mistake sleeping on that album..

   Overall, the setlist is pretty decent and seemed to have most people satisfied. There was one guy shouting for I Miss You who must have been disappointed. Personally, I would have liked some more from S.C.I.E.N.C.E, although Vitamin was quite an interesting and surprising choice. It's funny... when you look back over the band's career, you notice that they were once this dreadlocked Mr Bungle inspired nu-metal band who have now turned into the epitome of clean cut modern rock. I wonder if the band's demeanor is all that different now from back then. As great as the songs were, the band in general seem pretty boring on stage. We had some nice backdrops on screen throughout the set but not really enough from the band themselves. Brandon does his best to check in that we're ok and having a good time but doesn't really talk to us. Also pretty sure he shouted "Tel Aviv!" at one point. Can't really blame him, and most of us here tonight probably are from Tel Aviv, but's Raanana, dude. Guitarist Mike Eizinger just doesn't seem all that excited at all to be playing and even DJ Chris Kilmore could have been a little bit more enthusiastic.
   From where I was standing, the bass and kick were pretty overpowering throughout most of the set, but I was very near the front. I sort of wonder if I should have been humble and moved further back to see if it sounded any better. All that aside, am I glad I came?




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