TVD Live: Incubus and Dub Trio at the Santa Barbara Bowl, 9/26

PHOTOS: JULIA LOFSTRAND | Driving an hour and half north of Los Angeles along the PCH, California’s coastline road, is a cool thing to be doing. Traveling along this infamous route to see Incubus’ 20th anniversary of the Make Yourself album at the Santa Barbara Bowl? An even cooler thing to be doing.

Openers Dub Trio, a longstanding instrumental group from Brooklyn consisting of guitarist DP Holmes, bassist Stu Brooks, and drummer Joe Tomino, took the early concertgoers on a tour of ska, punk, and metal. They’re a band that has long flown under the radar, but their members can be heard separately contributing to albums from many of hip hop and rap’s greats, such as Tupac Shakur, The Fugees, Mos Def, Common, and even Lady Gaga.

As the day turned to night, a 10-minute documentary appeared on screens highlighting Incubus’ journey from the album that dropped them into the mainstream. 1999 was at the forefront of the burgeoning electronic and rave music scene, and Incubus as an up-and-coming rock band was impacted by the new cultural milieu—a topic touched upon in the documentary. DJ Kilmore has always been an influencer within this band, fusing electronic elements with whichever genre of rock they have decided to explore over the years.

As a band they’ve morphed stylistically from one thing over the years into another. Guitarist Mike Einzinger was once quoted as saying, “We were never punk rock enough for The Warped Tour, we were never metal enough for Ozzfest, we were never quite indie rock or cool enough for Lollapalooza. We’ve carved our own path…”

So where does this band reside 20 years on from an album that gave the radio “Pardon Me” and “Drive”—songs that closed the door on a decade of a grunge? Still on top to put it mildly. Bands like Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Alice in Chains are the backdrop for many disenchanted youth of the ’90s and they are also some of Incubus’ noted influences. I’ve long been nostalgic for the rock of the ’90s/early 2000s, and for the crowd and me, it was a return to our teenage angst.

Incubus played Make Yourself from start to finish with singer Brandon Boyd maintaining total vocal clarity two decades on. It seemed like an act of defiance when they changed up the songs that they’re most known for—there was the acoustic version of “Drive,” where lead singer Boyd snuck in a lyrical tribute to the late Rick Ocasek from The Cars, and later the restrained version of “Pardon Me” that didn’t pick up until the end. Still enjoyable no less. “Clean” was a highlight. The band lashed right into it as Brandon played the djembe drum and DJ Kilmore scratched the mixer. The visuals during this show are integral and reflected the digital art from the Make Yourself album cover.

After Make Yourself was played in its entirety, they played “Into the Summer” from their forthcoming new album (with an unofficial release date) plus a few more hits. Within minutes after walking off stage and humbly returning to an audience unwilling to leave until they heard more, Incubus launched into “Anna Molly” from 2006’s Light Grenades and closed the show with Morning View’s “Wish You Were Here.”

This was one of my all-time favorite encores because not only are these some of my favorite songs, but they are also reveal the energetic dimensions of this band. If you’ve ever been an Incubus fan or want to hear a band with a soul that has impacted rock and roll history, then this show isn’t to be missed. The tour is ongoing thought the United States until December 2019.


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