Perfect Weather Meets Perfect Music at Perfect Vodka Amphitheater
– review of the show at Perfect Vodka Amphitheater (Wellington)
Alternative rock veterans Incubus kicked off the inaugural date of their tour supporting their latest album 8 this past Thursday with a riveting show at the Perfect Vodka Amphitheater. Supported by fellow 90’s peers Jimmy Eat World along with relative newcomers Judah and the Lion, the show brought together a diverse crowd of both younger fans and hardcore devotees that have been following the group since its inception in 1991, or at the very least since their 1999 breakout album Make Yourself. The splendid atmosphere was compounded by fantastic weather and created an ideal way to spend an evening with your friends, listening to some excellent tunes.
The festivities began with opening band Judah and the Lion taking to the stage, with a pretty sizable crowd already having formed on the lawn to watch the group perform. The group was established in 2011 and have been bringing their own concoction of alternative-folk-bluegrass to their fans for four albums, with their latest one Folk Hop N’ Roll Deluxe having been released in March of this year. They began their time on stage with the song Suit and Jacket from their new album, and proceeded to play a few more songs in support of their latest offering before breaking into a cover of The Killers Mr. Brightside. Although I haven’t heard of this band before seeing them perform today, I thoroughly enjoyed their set, and their music reminded me of a more country version of “Mumford and Sons” which the crowd really seemed to appreciate. They ended their set with the song Take it all Back as the sun began to set over the amphitheater.
After a short break in order to bring their equipment out, 90’s alternative stalwarts Jimmy Eat World appeared in front of the crowd. No stranger to large-stage productions, the group brought out a huge LED light wall on which they played interesting visuals such as smoke and bokeh effects, akin to something you would find in a visualizer in a music program but on a much larger and more polished scale. The Arizona natives began their set with the song Sweetness from 2001’s Bleed American, and the crowd began to go wild. Even though most of the assembled fans was there for the headliners, because Jimmy Eat World’s music is so prevalent in film, television and video games it seemed like most of the crowd knew the groups songs just from the various places they’ve heard them before. The band released their album Integrity Blues last year, and singer/guitarists Tom Linton and Jim Adkins led the audience in chanting along as they played the songs Sure and Certain and Pass the Baby from the latest record. After blasting through a few more hits from their extensive back catalogue, they finished off their time on stage with their hit single The Middle, and thanked the crowd before departing and letting the technicians begin to assemble the stage setup for the main event.
As impressive as Jimmy Eat World’s LED screen was, it paled in comparison to what Incubus had in store for the gathered masses. While the crew worked behind the giant curtain obscuring the stage, the sun set and made way for a mixture of cool weather and darkened background to enhance the magic that was about to take place. Named after the male counterpart of a succubus, the group was formed in 1991 and has had a steady lineup for over 14 years, releasing their eighth full-length album this year, appropriately titled 8. Like fine aged wine, time has only seemed to make the group better, as the throng of fans assembled on the lawn impatiently waiting for the show to start could testify to.
After what felt like an eternity, the tension finally broke into chaotic cheering and applause as lead singer Brandon Boyd and the rest of the group walked out onto the stage and began to play, kicking off the show with Love in a Time of Surveillance from their brand new album. The group was flanked by an enormous circular screen that projected the visage of the band members playing live, allowing people that were far away in the lawn to see details of the group they would otherwise never notice. Brandon Boyd’s sultry crooning, backed by the dexterous drumming of Jose Pasillas and the masterful stringed arrangements of guitarist Mike Einziger and bassist Ben Kenney, drove the crowd into a frenetic frenzy as they belted out every lyric to the classic songs along with him. When the group last played in West Palm in 2015, they were given a much shorter set time and devoted most of the setlist to hits and crowd pleasing favorites. This time, however, they elected to play their new album almost in its entirety, alternating playing brand new songs and older songs from their substantial repertoire. The songs Glitterbomb, Undefeated, and No Fun made their live debut, while Redefine and The Original were played live for the first time in over five years, and of course Incubus staples Anna Molly, Pardon Me, Drive, and Wish You Were Here were displayed, all while mind-bending animation juxtaposed with live video of the group performing was displayed on the colossal screen behind them. In between two songs, while the guitarist and bassist were changing equipment, Brandon Boyd performed a explosive drum solo with drummer Jose Pasillas, with the singer hopping on a pair of bongo drums and hammering out an impressive show before launching into the next song, Sick Sad Little World. After a few more new songs, the band thanked the audience before disappearing into the dimming lights. The crowd screamed and raved, chanting the name of the band over and over again until the lights on stage went up once again, and the group reappeared. Guitarist Mike Einzifer emerged wielding a pipa, an old Asian instrument resembling a lyre, and the ensemble began their encore, playing Aqueous Transmission for the first time since 2012 to a crown that could hardly contain itself. Even after the encore was over, the gathered fans were so hungry for more that they chanted for a second encore until the venue lights came on and security began to usher everyone out.
The superb music and fantastic atmosphere, coupled with amazing weather and a great venue made for an unbelievable night of music under the stars. One would be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend their Thursday night, and if you get the opportunity to see the tour when they come to your town I highly recommend it.