For Incubus, shifts of tone and texture
MANSFIELD - When Incubus singer Brandon Boyd slipped verses of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm’’ into his band’s “Are You In?’’ Friday at the
But unlike original “Riders’’ singer Jim Morrison, Boyd has charisma that is more populist, born in the mosh pits from which Incubus sprung back in the early 1990s.
Since its arrival, Incubus has mutated several times over, stretching its funky metal core into smooth rock hits and contemplative ballads. In concert, the band ably displays its many sides.
Incubus began with the hard kick of “Megalomaniac,’’ displaying video images of Adolf Hitler as a means of questioning leaders. But before the air got too heavy, the band was digging its toes into the mellow sands of “Wish You Were Here.’’
Those kinds of effortless shifts among textures and tones have allowed Incubus to avoid genre pigeonholing. Guitarist Mike Eizinger is an underrated player, subtly beefing up the material with licks and leads that ran from the jazzy to the heavy. He gets a lot of freedom courtesy of the dynamic rhythm work crafted by drummer José Pasillas, bassist Ben Kenney, and DJ and keys player Chris Kilmore.
The band wove seven songs from “If Not Now, When?,’’ its first album of new material since 2006, into the set, and that material was as engaging as such Incubus fundamentals as “Anna Molly’’ and “Drive.’’
The new “In the Company of Wolves’’ was an epic centerpiece that flaunted the band’s trippier side. “Promises, Promises’’ was more lighthearted and whimsical. And “Defiance’’ allowed Boyd and Eizinger to work as a duo, with the singer wailing over hard-strummed acoustic guitar.
The rest of the set plunged deeply into other albums. The band delivered “The Warmth’’ with majestic harmony vocals and used “Have You Ever’’ as a springboard for some percussion blowouts.
Incubus’s only misstep may have been putting the B-level “Switchblade’’ into a final run of “Dig,’’ “Drive’’ and “Nice to Know You,’’ staggering the pace a bit. But Incubus can’t be accused of sticking to rock routine. Its encores featured the popular “Pardon Me’’ then the sardonic new “Tomorrow’s Food’’ (as in we’re all just worm feed in the end).
Openers Young the Giant performed a brand of impassioned rock clearly modeled on Incubus. The formula is working on “My Body,’’ but the problem is that it is too easily spotted as formula.
Scott McLennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.