Music review: Incubus rocks old and new at SPAC

Incubus still know how to rock hard, as evidenced by their performance Thursday night before a packe

Incubus still know how to rock hard, as evidenced by their performance Thursday night before a packed house at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

They just don’t seem to be interested in doing it all the time.

A large portion of the hour-and-a-half set the band played focused on their first album in five years, “If Not Now, When?”, a record that eschewed the band’s metallic roots in favor of a more mellow sound. Call it middle age — though the band has always had mellower moments.

Hearing these newer songs next to classics from the group’s earlier years was an odd juxtaposition, to say the least, but the crowd seemed to enjoy both the new and the old.

That’s not to say the new numbers were completely toothless. Single “Adolescents” moved along with much more energy than the studio version, while “In the Company of Wolves” later in the set turned into a spaced-out jam as guitarist Mike Einzinger and keyboardist Chris Kilmore wove haunting lines through the song’s rhythmic skeleton.

Perhaps most out of character was “Promises, Promises,” which was driven by piano played by Einzinger.

If the whole set had been numbers from this album, it would have gotten old very quickly (and they still played too much of it). Thankfully, the rest of the set, especially early on, drew heavily from the group’s two breakout records, 1999’s “Make Yourself” and 2001’s “Morning View.” Set opener “Pardon Me,” from the former album, sounded as majestic as ever, with vocalist Brandon Boyd stretching on the choruses.

“Morning View’s” “Nice to Know You” kept things moving, with the crowd singing along (as they ended up doing on most numbers). Other highlights included “Consequence,” with Einzinger taking an extended solo, and “Have You Ever,” with its snarling riffs and belching bass line. “Vitamin,” from the group’s 1997 major label debut, “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.,” was a reminder of the group’s early association with nu-metal, a tag they quickly outgrew.

Perhaps best of all, though, was “Drive,” still probably the band’s biggest single. Throughout the evening, the sound on Einzinger’s guitar had been a bit spotty, with solos floating in and out of the mix. Not so here — everything was just right, and the group turned in its strongest performance of the evening.

Young the Giant’s opening set stuck to the band’s modern indie rock sound, alternating between atmospheric passages and riffs that seemed to want to rock out, but never got there (quite in line with Incubus’ latest effort).

The band was pleasant if a bit undistinguished, with the exception of vocalist Sameer Gadhia, whose gruff pipes elevated the energy levels in such numbers as “Apartment” and “I Got.” Later numbers such as “Street Walker” saw the group’s members grow more comfortable with the stage and open up a bit with their playing.

By the time they launched into “My Body” to end the set, a few in the crowd were dancing and waving their arms in the air.

Categories: Entertainment

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