Monday, September 10, 2012

Linkin Park, Incubus concert review: Los Angeles

photo by Kelly Swift
A version of my review originally appeared at

Southern California alt-rock titans Linkin Park and Incubus have crossed paths amid successful decade-plus careers, but never hit the road together until recently.

Saturday night in Carson, the combination resulted in a supercharged show during the penultimate stop on the 11th edition of the Honda Civic Tour.

Teenagers and young adults dominated the crowd. With top tickets running $101, it was a surprise to see Home Depot Center so full. Even more eye-opening: concert t-shirts averaged $40. Not long ago, basic souvenirs were relatively inexpensive and corporate sponsorship actually helped lower prices.

Between set changeovers, a loop of Linkin Park band interviews, music videos and Honda Civic Tour-related contests were shown on the projection screens. Chats with LP’s Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington (pictured above) about the charities they support were especially interesting.

“Living Things,” Linkin Park’s latest album with producer Rick Rubin, debuted at No. 1 this past July and moved more than 200,000 copies (an astounding feat as overall sales continue to plunge). First single “Burn it Down” also topped the chart.

Last month, Incubus put out “HQ Live.” The great CD+DVD collection documents a series of free fan club shows (and art installation) done to preview 2011’s organic, highly underrated studio effort, “If Not Now, When.”

The band is no stranger to the Honda Civic Tour, having headlined the second one in ‘02 (front man Brandon Boyd -- seen below -- used to own one of the vehicles). Just days ago, they cancelled a Canadian gig because the singer contracted bronchitis. Yet Boyd’s vocals, when audible, were fine here.

Although a murky mix obscured much of Incubus’ sound (I wonder what people watching the proceedings at home via cable TV/internet simulcast heard), the group overcame that obstacle with a spirited 90-minute performance.

photo by Kelly Swift
Launching with “Privilege,” the quintet raged hard during “Megalomaniac” as Mike Einziger pummeled his guitar and political images were displayed on the screens.

Several songs boasted extended intros (“Nice to Know You,” “Pardon Me”). Boyd used a bullet microphone and continually thanked the audience in Spanish. His impassioned vocal during an atmospheric “If Not Now, When” and the organ-led, prog rock-styled ballad “In the Company of Wolves” were highlights.

Einziger’s aggressive guitar maelstrom on “Made For TV Movie” abruptly downshifted into a snatch of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” The hard-hitting “A Kiss to Send Us Off” saw a shirtless Boyd shaking his long hair around.

Switching to a candlelit piano, Einziger and Boyd poured themselves some wine and toasted each other prior to the low key, but dramatic “Promises Promises.” Elsewhere, Incubus pulled out all the stops for the beefy “Sick Sad Little World,” complete with Einziger’s machine gun guitar riffage/solo and Boyd’s added percussion.

Taking the stage to a pair of classic Beastie Boys tunes – and only a slightly better mix - Linkin Park got its 95-minute set off to a high octane start with “Faint.” Brad Delson’s staccato guitar work, Rob Bourdon’s pummeling rhythms and vocalist Bennington’s primal screams made “Given Up” the equivalent to a sonic kick in the head (many more aural blows would follow).

Rapper/multi-instrumentalist Shinoda delivered tight, measured rhymes throughout the show. Bennington was like a man possessed as he screamed (“Victimized” was especially intense) and the two men continually crossed paths on each side of the stage.

Fans packed into a general admission section, comprising half the floor area, pogoed like mad amid the NuMetal strains of “Points of Authority.” It was among five selections culled from Linkin Park’s 2000 debut CD “[Hybrid Theory]” – only the 20th album to reach 10 million sales since 1991.

Bennington, looking over the large crowd in awe, said playing the show was “the second best thing” to watching his children being born. Proving he is equally adept at quieter numbers, the singer sat down and played piano solo on “Leave Out All the Rest.” It was part of a medley that included Delson’s chiming U2-ish effects on “Shadow of the Day” and “Iridescent.” Everyone in the band sang along, fans held lighted cell phones aloft and the moment bordered on transcendent.

Both the ominous “Breaking the Habit” and electro-tinged “The Catalyst” (with its group chant of “God bless us everyone”) were equally compelling doses of drama. Prominent turntable squeals by Joe Hahn were at the crux of a riveting “With You.”

Linkin Park totally ratcheted up the intensity level in the home stretch, complete with fire plumes and various pyro effects. Modern rock radio chart toppers “Numb” and “One Step Closer” prompted loud fan singalongs. Finally the rapid-fire vocal delivery of closer “Bleed it Out” was appended with a verse of the Beasties’ “Sabotage.”

New Orleans band Mutemath opened with an impressive 25-minute set of alt-rock music, including three songs from current album “Odd Soul.” Among the standouts: a lurching, late ‘60s vibe on the bluesy title track and infectious, upbeat groove on “Prytania.” Finishing with the eight-minute percussive instrumental “Reset,” where drummer Darren King stood atop a piano to play, was an audacious move.

Next up: Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista, 6:30 p.m. today, Sept. 10, $32.50-$146. 

Honda Civic Tour 2012, Home Depot Center, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Carson, Sept. 8, 2012

Linkin Park
Setlist: Faint/Papercut/Given Up/With You/Somewhere I Belong/In My Remains/New Divide/Victimized/Points of Authority/Lies Greed Misery/Waiting for the End/Breaking the Habit/Leave Out All the Rest>Shadow of the Day>Iridescent/The Catalyst/Lost in the Echo/Numb/What I’ve Done/One Step Closer
Encore: Burn it Down/In the End/Bleed it Out>Sabotage 

Setlist: Privilege/Wish You Were Here/Megalomaniac/The Warmth/Adolescents/Nice to Know You/If Not Now, When?/Made for TV Movie>Hello/Anna Molly/A Kiss to Send Us Off/Promises Promises/Drive/In the Company of Wolves/Pardon Me/Sick Sad Little World/Tomorrow’s Food


Robert Kinsler said...

Nice review! I really need to see Incubus one of these days.

Robert Kinsler said...
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newwavegeo said...