Once little-noticed for its positive-minded hard-rock and funk blend, the 10-year-old Calabasas-based quintet Incubus broadened its sound a couple years ago and found a winning formula for its memorable riff-heavy, hip-hop-edged songs. Sales of the group’s previous two Epic/Immortal albums have been north of the platinum mark, including the new “Morning View,” and the band closed its first major headlining U.S. tour with a pair of triumphant sold-out homecoming shows in Universal City.
With the ascension of Incubus to MTV darling has come the emergence of photogenic vocalist Brandon Boyd as sex symbol and main focus for much of the band’s audience, a role he appears most comfortable with. His lyrics speak not of an abusive childhood or the usual party pursuits but instead tell of undying love, personal spirituality and living life to the fullest.
The musicians effectively drew on a number of pop styles and influences for a warm, arena-friendly sound that’s distinctly their own, flowing from heavy guitar funk (as on the older track “Glass”), to smooth and airy ballads that evoke the seaside (like current hit single “Wish You Were Here”), to the excellent new track “Just a Phase,” which employed samples of bowed strings (courtesy of DJ Kilmore) and a nifty progression from soft opening to a powerful conclusion.
Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger sat together under spotlights for a mid-set acoustic portion that featured the broken-hearted “Mexico” and “Drive,” the band’s 2000 crossover hit of self-determination and inner resolve.
Most of the fans sang along to these and nearly all of the 19 tracks offered. The 90-minute performance ended with a two-song encore including “I Miss You,” during which Boyd played a small didgeridoo.
L.A. “nu-metal” quartet Onesidezero opened the show with a solid half-hour set of music from its Maverick debut “Is This Room Getting Smaller.” Songs like the compelling suicide warning “Instead Laugh” and the hard-hitting “Tapwater” evoked thoughts of Staind, but OSZ brings more interesting and complex musical ideas to the table than does Staind.