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A Magical Night in Absury Park With Incubus

Veritable concert karma found me on an August Tuesday when an early morning email manifested the opportunity to review Incubus, one of my all-time favorite bands. A perfect summer show to take on Asbury Park’s illustrious Stony Pony Summer Stage – a generously efficient trip down the Parkway, a parking spot that opened mere blocks from the venue entrance, and a pit-stop-like experience at will-call – just set the stars to align for a wonderful night.

Leading up to showtime the sky was dark and dreary, but by the time the music began the sweetness of cotton candy skies captivated a jovial crowd full of 30-and-40-somethings, away from work and daily responsibilities, ready to escape into the abyss of an Incubus performance. 

An album-like intro of “Magic Medicine” set the tone with a subtle acknowledgment to the many OG fans in the crowd, as it harkens back to their second album, S.C.I.E.N.C.E, which, if you can believe, came out in 1997 [Where were you?!]. That opener served as an instant reminder of just how many amazing years we’ve celebrated with this beautiful band. 

Then came the hot and heavy track “Privilege” – a personal favorite to belt out. Taste this delightful summer cocktail: Strong hits of each instrument blended beautifully with Brandon Boyd’s boisterous vocals and a booming bass line courtesy of stand-in bassist Nicole Row (formerly of Panic! at the Disco). Row did us all proud, as earlier this year Incubus bassist Ben Kenney revealed he’d undergo brain surgery and sit out the band’s remaining shows on this tour. 

The sky dimmed into sherbet-like orange and pinks for a delicious backdrop to classics “Anna Molly” and “Just a Phase,” then we crooned and swayed along together during the heavy-hitting “Nice to Know You”. As the night sky darkened the ground view of flip-flops and Birkenstocks began to fade, but the electric energy felt more palpable with each song. 

Incubus is one of those bands that release an uplifting, intense energy at every show, even all these years later. The dynamic duo of Boyd and guitarist Michael Eizenger showed once again that their seasoned musicianship is the basis of the beauty and comfort of their longtime collaboration. They always incorporate intimate play into their shows, demonstrating their deep friendship and respect in band brotherhood.

This whole band is inspiring, purely artistic, and stylish. DJ Kilmore’s hair was done up in a Dr. Seuss character-like bow (perfectly tied, per usual). Drummer Jose Pasillas smiled in between his hard hits as he showed just how much he loves to play these songs with his band. 

The intimacy of the Summer Stage made for the cozy dwelling for a gathering of hits including “Absolution Calling,” “Karma, Come Back,” and, of course, the classic :“Make Yourself.” But it was the immediate metaphoric impact of “The Warmth” – when Brandon poured his hands into the crowd  – that motioned for us to dance all together. We swayed along belting, “Don’t let the world bring you down! Not everyone here is that fucked up and cold! Remember why you came and while you’re alive, experience the warmth before you grow old.” 

Just when it seemed like the unity dial was turned to maximum capacity, the band rolled in with a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” as everybody shouted the lyrics in glee. Maybe it was the hard aroma of patchouli and weed or the purple lights and smoke, but the effects were intense. It was as if the lyrics took us through the show in a linear love story, especially as “Echo” crept in and “Reminded me twice that I was alive… reminded me that you’re so worth the fight.”

At that moment it felt personal. An Incubus show, for me, is medicinal, and a soulful reminder that this band offers a familial community that’s carried me through all sorts of experiences throughout the decades of my life. 

The band kept the party going with “Are You In?” then rolled into a modified homage to The Doors with “Riders in the Storm.” For a moment it felt like Jim Morrison was channeled into the summer night. 

The pensive setlist was brought home by the best to chant: “Pardon Me,” while “Stellar” transported me to my own adolescence, when the newly released Make Yourself record was one of my only comforts. 

The sweet stench of cherry Jell-O shots and more weed permeated through the summer air as it got even more personal when the jittery opening riff of “Dig” started in. At that moment my friend pulled me in close, because IYKYK. (We all have someone that digs at us.) Brandon hugged the microphone and put his love into the universe, the way he always does, just how we all need. 

A fitting follow up of “Wish You Were Here” blended into a sweet homage to the moniker track by Pink Floyd. The group said their pseudo goodbyes before returning for the encore of “Vitamin” and “Drive.” The closing reminder that “Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there… with open arms and open eyes” presented a fitting close to a beautifully vibrant evening near the beach, where the warmth was felt and we were reminded that we were, and are, alive.