By Mark Adams
Making music since 1991, alternative rockers Incubus has garnered a loyal (and eclectic) following, something that comes with two successful decades in the music business. This was evident at the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday night when the band returned to play a sold-out show at The Joint.
Opening for the night was recent breakout Young the Giant, widely known by their performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Revving the crowd up for the main event, the Orange County, Calif.,-based band played a number of tracks off their eponymous debut album.
Upbeat and energetic, their music was well received by the audience. Lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s vocals are soft and soothing, but also strong and steadfast. Paired with some great guitar work and a driving beat to propel the melodies forward, the head bobbing is almost contagious. Basically, this band grooves.
Though relatively young compared to the veteran headliners, the indie rock group definitely knows how to command a crowd -- the band was just as much fun to watch as they were to hear. Gadhia pounded on his tambourine with utmost enthusiasm as the two guitarists routinely hopped around the stage in a fashion reminiscent of the great Chuck Berry. Concertgoers were on their feet with fists in the air by the time the band closed with the Billboard Hot 100 hit “My Body.”
During the intermission, one could observe that the crowd that had gathered was extremely diverse: teenagers to 40-somethings, some dressed ready-for-the-nightclub, others in T-shirts and jeans. With more than 20 years of No. 1 singles and hit albums, it’s no shock that Incubus draws an assorted audience.
Taking the stage around 9:15 p.m., the band kicked off its set with the smash hit “Megalomaniac.” Concertgoers quickly learned that the show would be a multifaceted experience, as behind the band stood a giant projector screen -- complementing the band’s song selections throughout the night was a multimedia presentation that included graphics, pre-recorded video footage and live video footage from the concert.
The band’s seventh studio album, If Not Now, When?, was released in mid-July, and thus a number of the recent work’s tracks were played, including “Adolescents,” “Promises, Promises” and “Switchblade.” Though the band certainly didn’t neglect its earlier material, as the set list was peppered with several fan favorites, including “Nice to Know You,” “Drive” and “Love Hurts.”
Throughout the nearly two-hour-long set, song selections highlighted the wide range of musicality the band has to offer, from the guitar-heavy scream piece “A Certain Shade of Green” to the laid-back and melodious “Are You In?” Chris Kilmore’s turntable skills were routinely featured, and the set also included a few acoustic pieces, including “Defiance” from the latest album.
The set must have worked up a sweat for the band members, too. About three-quarters of the way through, frontman Brandon Boyd went shirtless, standing onstage in only a pair of skinny jeans.
After closing the set, a roar of applause ushered the band onstage again, resulting in the band performing two encore pieces. First up was “Pardon Me,” a track from their critically acclaimed sophomore album, followed by “Tomorrow’s Food,” a warm and melodic song featured on the latest release -- a great way for the band to end a night of walking the music line between mellow and melancholy.
Editor’s note: Thanks to Scott Harrison and Erik Kabik for their photo galleries of Incubus, Young the Giant and Incubus’ Ben Kenney, who performed in The Lounge at the Hard Rock after the band’s concert.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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