This past Friday there was an amazing rock show happening at The Forum: Deftones, Death from Above 1979, and Incubus. Right off the bat, I did not understand Incubus’ placement with both Deftones and DFA 1979. It was an odd pairing. I thought that there was no way that Incubus could compare to the hard hitting Deftones or the badass duo of DFA 1979. But much to my surprise it worked.
Incubus’ sheen was kind of left behind during their prime in the early 2000’s. Now it’s just a bunch of housewives of Orange County—reliving that high school crush and wishing that lead singer Brandon Boyd would sing “Stellar” to them—that still put the band on a pedestal. For the rest of the general population that liked Incubus in their high school and early college days, they’ve moved on. It has somewhat become douchey to like Incubus. They almost carry that same stigma that haunted Nickelback, but not quite as bad. They unfortunately got shuffled in the deck of 90s bands that just aren’t “cool” anymore; but never say that to a MidWest transplant.
Incubus was the headlining act of the evening. Back in the day Morning View was the soundtrack of my forty-five minute drive to San Clemente to go surfing each weekend; it was literally on repeat for a good three months. I eventually saw Incubus live, and I was not super thrilled by their performance which led me to assume this current tour lineup would smash Incubus. However, Friday at The Forum, Incubus blew it out of the water.
Boyd was packed with so much energy and hitting every note perfectly. The band seemed to be having so much fun up there. At times you would see them look at one another and just smile. Bassist Ben Kenney and guitarist Mike Einziger would look at each another and make some hand gestures only they—I’m guessing—would know and start laughing from across the stage. Incubus played flawlessly. Except for when Boyd missed a beat a couple times while playing the drums. He seemed to laugh at his own mistakes which made it all the more better. I was pleasantly surprised by Incubus’ honest and high-octane set. They were relentless.
Deftones. What more can I say about how astounding these guys are live. Chino Moreno came out and didn’t stop. That guy was going so hard that he was sweating through his denim jeans! At one point he slowed things down a bit and played a guitar that was adorned with an image of Eazy-E on it. It was quite fitting for the current times of NWA being back in the headlines with “Straight Outta Compton.” The crowd was pretty nuts over Deftones. The only request that I would have of them is, and I hope they are reading because I am going to beg, can you please play “Bored”? I have seen them live multiple times and I have never heard this song performed live. I always go in with hope of hearing this song and I never get it. Okay, that’s enough complaining from me.
I have to be honest and say, that I have seen both Deftones and Incubus in the past, but I was most interested catching their opener, Death From Above 1979. Between their 2006 break-up, and then reforming again in 2011 where they played their first gig (which resulted in a riot) at SXSW, I somehow missed out on all of their reunion shows. I even missed out on their recent tour for their incredible 2014 release, The Physical World.
As you can imagine, I was more than thrilled to finally see DFA 1979 live. They surpassed all expectations I had of them. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people who just showed up to see Deftones and Incubus so the house was not packed. Those late-comers reliving the 90s definitely missed out. Drummer and vocalist Sebastian Grainger’s voice was impeccable. The guy has so much style and power behind that drum kit. I don’t know how he can play so ferociously while still maintaining his vocal range.
Equally stunning was bassist Jesse F. Keeler (who is also one half of MSTRKRFT) who never stopped moving and looked like a total rock star on stage. Keeler knows how to work the stage and deliver those riveting bass lines all the while holding a badass stance. Watching Death From Above 1979 tear it up on stage was chilling. These guys know ho to do it right, and they do it dam well.
I can honestly say it was an epic hat-trick of live music at The Forum. Fully engaged by all three performances, not one fan left disappointed.
Photography: Wes Marsala
Written for GrimyGoods.com, August 31, 2015