- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Incubus may be getting softer, but the band still electrified its Patriot Center audience Friday night. In the few years since its 1996 debut, the quintet from Calabasas, Calif., has shown a remarkable evolution away from its rap-funk-metal origins toward a soulful, spiritual (but still edgy) approach.
Touring in support of its latest, platinum-selling album, "Morning View," the band performed a diverse blend from its repertoire, reprising four tracks from 1997's "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." and six from 1999's "Make Yourself."
The older material sounded less polished, and songs such as "Glass" and "Vitamin" gave a jarring counterpoint to the contemplative mood of Incubus' latest works. Younger members of the audience, attracted by the band's recent success and MTV exposure, were obviously nonplussed by those ancient tunes.
But the band also performed crowd-pleasing hits such as "Wish You Were Here" and "Drive," attracting the instant tribute of brandished lighters and fans' echoed lyrics reverberating around the arena.
Halfway through the set, the lights came up to reveal a set of couches and a lamp sitting on an end table. Singer Brandon Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger lounged atop them, living-room style, to present two "unplugged" songs with intimate effect.
"Mexico," a lovelorn lament, came off flawlessly, complemented by disc jockey Chris Kilmore's plangent cello samples. As bassist Dirk Lance joined them, they struck into "Pardon Me," the band's first mega-hit, and met shrieks of approval. Even in a subdued arrangement, the paean to resolving adolescent angst resonated.
The stage set was surrounded by a ramped, crescent arc that formed a kind of horseshoe around the twin risers for the DJ and drummer Jose Pasillas. A curved wall behind the ramp displayed images continually through the set that jibed with each song's theme.
Revolving planets accompanied "Stellar," for example, and hundreds of light-points created an astral effect. Video of X-rayed people driving, smoking and walking with umbrellas showed during "Make Yourself," and scenic, aerial shots of mountain ridges and beaches rolled during "Echo."
The visuals and intense light show heightened the performance. The set opened with recorded spring peepers chirping over a blood-orange sunrise that segued into "Circles." Colored beams mimicked clouds and waves of water as Mr. Boyd thrashed across the stage.
The singer seemed dressed for self-deprecation, wearing a tie over a long-sleeve T-shirt and knee-length ragged shorts. His energy dominated the stage, but he danced in David Byrne-like feints, folding into himself with mincing steps. His powerful voice was in fine form, but because a poor sound mix it initially drowned out the band.
By midset, however, the band was on top of its groove, delivering a masterful dynamic with fluid ease. Mr. Boyd drew the crowd in, extending his microphone to let the audience sing choruses. As he stalked up the ramp for "Are You In?" he struck a philosophical pose, extending his arms over images of fish to the crowd's roar.
"I believe music is communication," he said. "We're communicating right now, exchanging something positive. Every one of us is in." As far as the fans were concerned, Incubus was most definitely not out.


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