Incubus/Sparta
August 7, 2004 - Key Arena - Seattle, WA
review by Ashley Graham
Rarely does a band come along who has reached success on every alternative chart in the country and every top ten countdown on leading music television channels, that is still able to maintain the sensibilities of a smaller act.  For Incubus, that sense of care and interest is ever-apparent, even after countless headlining tours in arenas around the globe.

After all-too-familiar openers Sparta plow through a short set of songs you'd swear you've heard before but haven't, the stage is set for a band that can blow the crowd away. Incubus can, and does, rise to the challenge.

From a catalog that includes some of my favorite songs over the past five years, Incubus impresses.  They play nearly all of their best off of their last four studio albums, including "Vitamin," "A Certain Shade of Green," "Nice to Know You," and countless others.  They open the night with the first release off of their latest album "A Crow Left of the Murder," the politically charged "Megalomaniac."  Their set is nearly perfect from a fan's perspective.  It is fine tuned and they are knowledgeable but never bored.

In the middle of their one-time radio hit "Stellar," the band breaks into a cover of The Police's "De Doo Doo Doo De Da Da Da."  After the song's conclusion, lead singer Brandon Boyd looks over to guitarist Mike Einziger and, recognizing his t-shirt says "That's funny Mike, you having a Police shirt on. Did you plan it that way?"  And as a nervous laugh is heard through Boyd's mic, it is almost as if he has caught himself in a candid moment and is a bit uncomfortable.

But that is Incubus' charm.  On stage, though road worn superheroes of the alternative genre, they often come across as high school kids having a good time, buddies out on tour and having the time of their lives.  At one point Boyd stands alone in the spotlight with his acoustic guitar singing the theme song from Nickelodean's "Spongebob Squarepants" and remarks afterward "Yet another great song I wish I'd written" and then laughs quietly to himself.

And at a moment that could cause any band misery, Incubus turns their uber-hit "Drive" into nearly a totally different song.  They drop the guitar for almost the whole of the song and place Einziger at a keyboard, leaving the drums and bass, along with DJ Chris Kilmore's handiwork, to guide Boyd's vocals.  It is a refreshing take on a once tiresome song.  They jazz up the rest of their set with an entertaining drum competition, of sorts, between drummer Jose Pasillas, bassist Ben Kenney, playing a drum set he carries from backstage himself, and Boyd playing his characteristic bongos.  The smiles on their faces are undeniable, and infectious.

Even after three previous Incubus experiences, this one nearly topped the rest, falling just under the most amazing concert of my life, Incubus on Halloween of 2002.  Incubus has worked out their perfect show and their execution is flawless. If they don't grow tired of it after all of the touring, it will still be worth watching every time it rolls through town.
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