Monday, September 12, 2011

A love letter to Incubus

I remember standing in the record store with my precious babysitting money clasped tightly in one hand, and a copy of Morning View in the other. I was pretty sure I would like the album, but at 14 years old, I was just barely starting to develop a taste in music other than the Backstreet Boys, and to be honest, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t like the album enough to justify spending the only cash in my possession. Little did I know that almost ten years later, I would still consider the album one of my top five favorites of all-time. That’s more than I can say for Millenium, anyway.

I was lucky enough to attend two Incubus concerts recently – September 3rd at Jones Beach in NY, and September 9th in Mansfield, MA. These shows were incredible. Both were outdoors on comfortably cool evenings. The wind was weaving through my hair, as I sang along with hundreds and hundreds of other fans. One of my favorite parts was in Mansfield, during “Drive,” when Brandon stepped back from the mic and the band stopped playing to listen to the crowd shout back the lyrics. I never get tired of those moments, when everyone is connected by a single song. That’s my kind of religious experience. These were the type of shows that reminded me not just why I love Incubus, but why I love music in general.

Someone else's surprisingly good quality video of "Drive" from the Mansfield show

When I first started writing this post, it was just supposed to be a review of those shows. But as I put words onto paper (yes, I handwrote a rough draft because I’m old school like that), I quickly realized that a brief summary was not enough to describe how emotional of an experience seeing Incubus is for me. In fact, there are a lot of artists that I love dearly, but none have changed my life the way Incubus has. I actually realized I’d like to go into journalism after reading an article about the band many years ago. I was so jealous of the reporter who got to talk with the band, and then it dawned on me that I could interview brilliant and fascinating people some day too.

It was actually this issue of YM, which wasn’t exactly the high standard of journalism I’m shooting for, but hey, at least it gave me the idea.
Aside from setting me on my actual career path, Incubus is entwined throughout hundreds of my memories from the last decade. Important memories, like the second concert I ever went to. It was at the Worcester Centrum, and I went with my friend Sammi. To this day, when I hear the opening riff to “A Certain Shade of Green,” I am instantly 15 again, shuddering and thinking “OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO DIE” as a bunch of bros break out moshing all around us. For the record, we did get crushed, the crowd broke down the barricade a few minutes into the set, and as I recall, Sammi lost her shoe for a while, but we ultimately had the time of our lives.

Then there are the less vital memories that make up my every day life, like the high school German exchange student presenting me with her Incubus poster because it wouldn’t fit in her suitcase home. She promised me if I didn’t take care of Brandon’s picture, she’d “come back and kick my ass.” (Don’t worry Minh, it still hangs on my wall even now, and it is in great condition. Although I have occasionally considered taping a picture of Ben Kenney over Dirk Lance). I remember sitting in my friend Veronika's basement, not caring about the dude in Final Destination 2 trapped in his burning apartment because “Vitamin” was playing in the background. (If you have to die like that, at least be glad you’re dying while good music is playing, amirite?) I remember listening to Light Grenades over and over during my first year of college. The list goes on for pages. And now I can look back on the past couple nights spent with my pal Ali, obsessing over the music and eventually suffering through the inevitable post-show depression together. These songs are my souvenirs of amazing times with friends and hours spent screaming myself hoarse at concerts. I realize now that I grew up with Incubus, and as a result, when I look back on my life thus far, I see the band at every step.

"Wish You Were Here" live is just perfection.

I don’t know that I will ever be able to fully express how much this one band means to me in words. I hope some day I can thank the members in person. Until that day, this little love letter will have to do. Thanks for some great shows, guys. Now hurry up and come back soon before I waste away from withdrawal.


  1. This post makes me even madder at myself for missing my date on the tour uuuuuugh

  2. This is perfect.

    You know (and I know you know), I feel like I kind of lost my way regarding new music for a while, but the overwhelming resurgence of love I've felt for Incubus (and a few other favorites) over the past year has changed everything for me (once again). I, too, have tons of memories associated with this band and I feel I've been partially shaped by them. It's a strange, subtle kind of influence (and one that continues to grow and take on different forms) and I'm glad I've never had a reason to give up on them.

    What's really special is the way in which they continue to influence my life. While I've never thought of my relationship with Incubus as over by any stretch of the imagination, I figured music in general would eventually stop 'changing my life' the way it did when I was 14, 15, 16, etc. And while it's certainly a different kind of affect, music (really good, honest music) is something that continues to mean a great deal to me. If Not Now, When? is the kind of album I need at this point in my life, probably as much as the band itself needed to make it.  There are infinite moments in my past that can be perfectly summed up in an Incubus song; be it in a chord progression or percussion, a lyric or general mood. Music is powerful.

    There's something really wonderful about falling in love with a band over and over again because, cheesy as it sounds, there's a certain kind of magic to it. Incubus is just one of those bands that I don't think I'll ever grow out of because there's no way I could've grown up, whole, without them.

    I should probably stop here since this makes no sense and I'm rambling. but I know that you totally get it and that makes it even better

  3. Exactly. This makes perfect sense to me - and it is probably the most eloquent comment this blog has ever received, so well done!  So glad you're here to experience all this with me.