DENVER — The good people of Utah have been warned.
At the close of Incubus' performance inside the palatial Fillmore Auditorium on Thursday night, lead singer Brandon Boyd invited the sold-out mass of more than 2,000 to join the band on the road as it finished a current headlining tour of North America.
"Come on, come to Salt Lake with us," Boyd said from the stage, which was bathed in the white-noise glow of a flashing strobe light. "We've got our bus out back. You guys have been great. Just come on and come with us."
Judging by the response the band had received from the sweaty, standing-room-only crowd, it was an offer that many fans would have been anxious to take up. The 90-minute set was an alternately bombastic and melodic romp through the bulk of Incubus' material, with equal stage time devoted to the band's double-platinum Make Yourself and its fluid new release, Morning View.
While young ladies in tank tops braved a rowdy pit in order to obtain a better view of the notoriously comely Boyd, the singer demonstrated that he's got more to offer than just a pretty face: Friendly and interactive with warm, elastic pipes, he came off more like a party host than a rock star. He thanked the crowd repeatedly for showing up and often stood on tall monitors to get a better look at them. At one point, that effort was rewarded by a flying pair of sequined panties, which nearly hit him in the face.
Boyd also made a lot of jokes. "I think the Bee Gees wrote this one. Actually, I think it was Peter, Paul & Mary," he said, introducing an acoustic version of "Drive." It was the second acoustic offering of the evening, following a tastefully spare reading of "Mexico," a song so sweet and sad it made audience members pair up and cling to each other.
With the rest of the band offstage, a shirtless Boyd sang and thumped on a waist-hoisted bongo drum while guitarist Mike Einziger strummed the songs' plaintive melodies. Though the quieter numbers momentarily mellowed the leather-clad audience, crowdsurfers continued to gently glide over fellow fans' heads like low-flying planes. Against a watery, lava-lamp stage backdrop, Boyd held his microphone out to the audience as it sang in unison, rounding out the final chorus as an oddly harmonic teenage choir.
"Did you hear that?" Boyd asked when "Drive" ended. "The Scooby-Doo Mystery Guitar was all there."
When Incubus launched their next song, the industrially tinged "New Skin" — one of the band's first salvos from its 1997 release, S.C.I.E.N.C.E. — minimalism disappeared and controlled chaos returned as the rest of the band returned to the stage. Lights flashed in time to the song's frenetic rhythms; the song was aswirl in unusual sounds. Here Incubus proved they could translate the eclecticism of their studio recordings to a live setting.
While the band's stage show didn't include the string section that appears on Morning View, it did touch on everything from trip-hop to worldbeat to the cut-to-the-core grind of hard rock. Standing in back on a tall riser, DJ Kilmore scratched on the turntables with an almost surgical precision, adding atmospheric beds that alternated from low-key and groove-laden to hyperactive and hip-hop-inflected.
When Incubus finally closed the show with an appropriately raucous three-song encore that included "Wish You Were Here" from Morning View, Boyd paused to applaud the crowd, shake hands and throw out some fresh flowers. It was a moment of quiet gratitude at the end of an evening that seemingly left players and fans alike physically exhausted from enjoyment. Of course, they could always use the long drive to Salt Lake to recover.
For a feature interview with Incubus, check out [article id="1450389"]"Incubus: The View From Here."[/article]