Ten years ago, I saw Incubus at Radio City Music Hall. It was also 10 years after my favorite album of theirs, Make Yourself, came out. Though I first fell in love with the band back in high school, we’d grown apart since, and we rekindled our romance that summer, one-sided as it was. I’d been going through an existential crisis of sorts and found meaning in tracks like “Make Yourself” and “The Warmth,” where the band’s spirituality and wisdom shine through infectious intros and intensely dark lines. On this album, frontman Brandon Boyd sings about resisting capitalism and conformity, becoming the pilot of your own life, and staying optimistic amid a world that’s “fucked up and cold.” Taken together, the songs made me feel connected to something greater, something transcendental yet wholly my own — and, of course, to the band itself.
Last week, 10 years after that pivotal concert and 20 years about Make Yourself’s release, I returned to Radio City for a show celebrating this two-decade anniversary. It opened with a montage of footage of the band’s members discussing the album’s significance, explaining that it marked the point when Incubus found their unique style and broadcast it to the world — where they made themselves, one might even say. Then, the band took the stage with the same contagious electricity they emitted 10 years prior, the kind that makes you want to jump up and down and bob your head until your hair bounces along with Boyd’s.
The set opened with “Privilege,” the metal-influenced album opener with forceful guitar riffs and cutting lyrics like “Isn’t it strange that a gift could be an enemy? / Isn’t it weird that a privilege could feel like a chore?” They stayed true to the album tracklist, playing Make Yourself beginning to end, with Boyd ad-libbing a few lines from The Cars’ “Drive” to the Incubus hit of the same name, with turntablist and keyboardist Chris Kilmore mixing the music on a DJ board. The band also opted to take a new route with “Pardon Me,” starting the angry anthem slow and acoustic.
One of Incubus’s unique talents is selecting the perfect imagery to accompany its songs — unsurprising given that Brandon Boyd is also an artist — and this show was no exception. As the band performed, biological imagery on multiple scales, from cells to oceans to planets, floated across the screen behind them, the shapes morphing and colors bleeding into one another. “The Warmth” was accompanied by a design resembling the inside of a brain, illustrating the themes of appreciating human potential and taking control of your reality through your dominion over your own mind.
The enthusiastic crowd spanned all genders and age groups, singing along to famous lines like “And if I fuck me / I’ll fuck me in my own way” and “whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes.” After completing Make Yourself with “Out From Under,” the band moved on to newer songs like “Into the Summer” and “Are You In.” An Incubus concert would not be complete without Brandon Boyd’s bare torso, and he delivered on that as well, eliciting squeals from the audience as always.
When the set closed, it was still gnawing at me that they hadn’t yet played “Wish You Were Here.” As if reading my mind, they came back for an encore, closing the evening with the dreamy, ambient single from 2001’s Morning View, bidding farewell to the crowd with the line, “Wish you were here.” I was glad I was. May they solve existential crises with screamed swear words and head-bangs for years to come.
The Make Yourself & Beyond tour continues tonight in Philly. See all remaining tour dates below.
10/7 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia
10/8 – Boston, MA @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
10/9 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
10/11 – Mashantucket, CT @ The Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino
10/12 – Washington, DC @ Warner Theatre
10/13 – Washington, DC @ Warner Theatre
10/15 – Toronto, ON @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
10/16 – Detroit, MI @ Fox Theatre
10/18 – Chicago, IL @ Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom
10/19 – Omaha, NE @ Orpheum Theatre