By Jennette Stancy and Michelle Gomes
The 11th annual Honda Civic Tour with co-headliners Linkin Park and Incubus came to the Bay Area on September 7, 2012, and it was a sold out crowd at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. Both of these bands are known for consistently evolving, surprising critics and fans alike with new and unique combinations of musical styles, instruments and technology. They were supported by Mutemath, who proved to be the perfect appetizer to wet the appetite for this eco-minded, technologically spectacular event.
Both Incubus and Linkin Park have reputations for refusing to be specifically defined by any one particular genre. Both bands are constantly changing multiple aspects of their music, how it is performed and the instruments and technology utilized in creating and presenting it. DJs with spin tables and high-tech electronic sampling mesh neatly with the strong guitar riffs and rhythms generally associated with rock. As well, both bands share a similar focus on effecting change in our world, championing charitable causes such as the Make Yourself Foundation, Music for Relief, and Power the World.
The weather was perfect for this well-planned, highly organized event; and the crowd, consisting of a well-blended mixture of the diverse population of the Bay Area, seemed ready to enjoy the night’s festivities. The show started promptly at 6:30pm with the electro-rock band Mutemath from New Orleans. The band was surrounded by many massive, draped surprises that would be unveiled as the evening progressed, but that left them only the front six feet of the stage. The crowd was sparse at first, but they seemed enthralled by the band’s infectious energy, as Mutemath delivered an upbeat tune with a jazzy vibe. Keyboardist Paul Meany also doubled as the primary vocalist. Guitarist Todd Gummerman looked like he would shred–and shred he did! Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas is a killer bassist; and Darren King is an amazing drummer, with incredible strength, personality and fire on one very small drum kit. They played a total of five songs with an incredible amount of energy and antics. They did their best to run around their small space and had a lot of fun pumping up the crowd.
Incubus is vocalist Brandon Boyd, guitarist Mike Einziger, drummer Jose Pasillas, bassist Ben Kenney, and DJ Chris Kilmore. They hit the stage as a mantra-like chant with a countdown ran on the video screens. The now rapidly filling amphitheatre roared to life as the excitement quickly spread from those closest to the stage back to those running and screaming as they rushed to find spots on the lawn.
The Incubus set included many of their biggest hits, such as “Drive,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Meglomaniac,” “Nice to Know You,” and “Pardon Me.” The crowd went wild when candles were lit and a bottle of red wine was opened for a toast to the near-end of the tour. “Two more days!” chanted the crowd. And as Brandon warbled a popular beer commercial from days gone by–”If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer”–they cheered and roared with laughter. Later, a stellar performance of the powerful ballad “Promises, Promises” sobered the crowd…until they were surprised by an unexpected partial cover of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.”When the set finished, there was an overwhelming sense of disappointment when it became clear that Incubus would not be returning to the stage for an encore. Bummer… Experiencing Incubus live is a powerful and unforgettable experience. The ever-changing audio and visual components, blended with the unique movements and incredible voice and chanting of Brandon Boyd, were mesmerizing.
In 2004, Incubus founded (and funded) the Make Yourself Foundation, an organization as unique and diverse as the music they play. It has provided over $1.3 million for over 60 organizations worldwide with money donated by the band from tours, royalties, special events and online auctions. Funds have been donated to: The Red Cross, Carbon Neutral, Operation Smile, Earth Force, Heal the Bay, Animal Rescue and Adoption Center, The Institute of Music and Neurological Function, and Sweet Relief. Sweet Relief Musicians Fund is a non-profit charity that provides financial assistance to career musicians who are struggling financially while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. This cause is now supported by many of us in the Bay Area, who are still mourning the losses of Y&T‘s Phil Kennemore, who died of lung cancer in 2011; and guitarist Ronnie Montrose, who was a great supporter of this and other organizations. Incubus’ dedication to bringing awareness to these and other great causes is truly evolutionary and awe-inspiring.
Linkin Park, the much anticipated final act of the evening, is also well-known for an abundance of charitable work. Between sets, a video was shown that highlighted Power the World, an organization dedicated to providing sustainable power sources, which is the band’s most recent endeavor. Linkin Park also founded Music for Relief, a charity that provides relief to victims of natural disasters and also serves to increase awareness of global warming.
On stage, it was time for the final transformation. The drapes had disappeared, and there were now four long ramps forming an X between three levels. The middle level housed the turn-table of DJ Joe Hahn and the drumkit of Rob Bourdon. The Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” blared through the venue, fuelingthe excited impatience of the younger fans (and also perking up their somewhat fatigued adult chaperones). The lights went down, and a slow, steady drumbeat began, growing louder and stronger as vocalist Chester Bennington, rap-vocalist Mike Shinoda, guitarist Brad Delson, and bassist Dave Farrell appeared from the darkness to join bandmates Joe and Rob. And that’s when the crowd went wild! A sea of smartphones instantly rose up, ready to upload pictures and stream videos. And Linkin Park, well-known for transforming their style and sound, did not disappoint.
They played many of their biggest hits–”Numb,” “Crawl,” “In the End,” “Points of Authority,” “Catalyst,” “New Divide,” “What I’ve Done,” “One Step Closer,” and “Breaking the Habit”–with the majority of the crowd singing along with every word. (If you don’t believe me, check it out it for yourself on YouTube!) The band incorporated live video and computer-animated images, along with high-tech lighting and pyrotechnics, to further enhance the concert experience. Their performance of their new single, “Burn It to the Ground,” featured huge columns of flames bursting up during the chorus! They also showcased another new song, “Victimized,” from their July 2012 release, Living Things. The song featured a monkish chant, some reggae vibes, rap lines, and a shredding guitar riff preceding a chorus that can most accurately be defined as “screamo.”
The big surprise of the evening came in the middle of “Bleed It Out” with a cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” when Mike Eniziger from Incubus joined Linkin Park for an amazing guitar solo and jam session! They wrapped up “Bleed It Out” and took a well-deserved, and rather lengthy break. Some members of the audience began to leave, but the house lights hadn’t come up, and the roadies hadn’t descended on the stage. Those true-believers who waited it out were eventually rewarded when Linkin Park returned with a medley of “Tinfoil,” Faint,” “Lying From You,” and “Papercut.” They concluded with “One Step Closer” and a pyro/light show extravaganza.
Throughout the entire event, the theme of evolution and change remained a constant, immersed in a celebration honoring individuality and uniqueness. In the midst of the audio and visual cornucopia that is the hallmark of the live shows of both Incubus and Linkin Park, we were also encouraged to think about our own self-evolution. Yes, it is possible to get more out of a rock concert than a buzzing in one’s ears–if you pay attention to the details. As human beings, we should all continue striving to transform ourselves for the betterment of all humanity and the world in which we live together. Help others stricken by illness or injury. Share abundances with those in need. Preserve and protect our earth…And have fun doing it!
- Linkin Park
- Honda Civic Tour
- Make Yourself Foundation
- Music for Relief
- Power the World
- Sweet Relief