Always Stellar: Incubus in Manila (2015)

Easily one of the highlights of my year is the recent concert of Incubus, whom I have been an avid fan of since 1999. The release of their critically-acclaimed third album in 1999 “Make Yourself” was also a turning point for me. It was also the moment when I first saw the video for “Drive” and was immediately sucked into the world of Brandon Boyd, Mike Eizenger, Jose Pasillas, Ben Kenney (who replaced Dirk Lance) and DJ Chris Kilmore (who replaced DJ Lyfe).

Make Yourself Incubus

The guys were so young back then. Plus, it was still Dirk who was playing the bass.

But arguably, my favorite out of the whole album (which is saying a lot, considering most of the songs are good) are “Stellar” and “I Miss You” — first, because I am such a sappy, weird romantic and second, because the lyrics were just insanely good. These are the kind of love songs that tugs deep into your heart but are never melodramatic or sappy.

Oh yes–like a lot of girls who first met Incubus with “Drive”, I was also badly smitten with Brandon Boyd, but as I grew older I have started to go beyond the “cute vocalist” to truly loving the band and its unique brand of music as a whole. But it was 1999, as a girl formerly and hopelessly stuck in her sea of boybands, Incubus served as a much-needed beacon of light, its music–angry, profound, emo, sarcastic and everything in between–served as the automatic sound track as I get to experience this crazy thing called life.

Fifteen years later, upon hearing my favorite band is going back to Manila, I had to immediately cover my bases. The band was scheduled to play in March but I filed for leave in January. Yes, I always take a leave from work when Incubus in playing in Manila. This has been a very consistent practice since the first time I saw them in Manila back in March 2004. No matter what the task I may have, I will be away from work whenever they have a concert scheduled.

But this time, life threw me a curved ball. After filing for leave three months before the concert, I procrastinated till the last minute before I bought my tickets. F, a very good friend and a fellow Incubus fan saved me from misery when her company gave her two Suite tickets for the MOA concert and she kindly and generously offered them to me.

So, with the excited husband in tow and with my 2 good friends (F and A), we met at the SMX MOA at 5PM for early dinner and to catch up a bit before we fan girl to Incubus. At 5PM, it was obvious that their Manila fans were all excited for the visit. The restaurant where we had our dinner held groups of fans, wearing concert shirts of varying Incubus albums and art rendering. It was pretty obvious that what was about to happen is a gathering of my generation to sing and to celebrate with probably the band that defined their youth.

We came inside the concert hall and immediately found the nifty premiere suite reserved for corporate sponsors. Our view was perfect, a perfect angle to see all the action on-stage. As the guests started trickling in and the opening act, Lindsey Stirling started making magic with her violin, you can feel the excitement building up. I scanned the venue, MOA Arena was about 80% full — not bad for a band who took a hiatus to work on their personal projects and yet remained relevant as soon as they returned to the spotlight.

Incubus in Manila - picture property of Ovation Productions
Incubus in Manila – picture property of Ovation Productions
Incubus in Manila - photo property of Ovation Productions/Magic Liwanag Photography
Incubus in Manila – photo property of Ovation Productions/Magic Liwanag Photography

The concert was a good mix of old and new songs, with the Manila crowd showing its appreciation by singing to every song they knew by heart. These are the songs of our youth. When the band introduced new songs like “Absolution Calling” and “Trust Fall” — response was a bit muted but the crowd continued to sway in the mosh pit.

Stage set-up was simple and no frills: three carpet, indicating places for Ben, Brandon and Mike plus a raised drum and turn table set at the back for Jose and DJ Kilmore. Brandon Boyd did not speak as much, except for a melodious repeat of “Manila” (rhymes with Vanilla). Obviously, the band has been very familiar and warm with the audience who always welcomed them as if its the first time they are in Manila (for the record, it’s their fourth time).

Here's my view from the Balcony. It was more than enough for me.
Here’s my view from the Balcony. It was more than enough for me.
Brandon Boyd in Manila - picture property of Ovation Productions
Brandon Boyd in Manila – picture property of Ovation Productions

Like any Incubus concert, the shrieks (from the ladies) started to grow as Brandon started losing his clothes — first, it was the button-down shirt, then after a while, off comes the loose undershirt and yes, it was unanimously and unabashedly met with shrieking from the ladies. Myself included, while the hubby tried to cover his ears to salvage whatever was left of his eardrums.

It was a straight-forward yet really good set, including favorites like the opener “Wish You Were Here”, “Anna Molly”, “Vitamin”, “Dig”, “Made for TV Movie” which included snippets from Lionel Richie’s “Hello”, “Nice to Know You”, “Pardon Me”, “Megalomaniac”, among others. For the encore, they gifted the Manila crowd with three songs, “The Warmth”, “I Miss You” which made all the ladies sigh and “A Crow Left of the Murder.”

After the concert, my generation — a good mix of GenXers, GenYers and a few Millennials — staggered out of MOA a bit dazed while others, obviously satiated. Some reached to their pockets for a quick smoke, others started rambling off observations while others was smiling, milling around with friends. It was like a big communion of people who all grew with listening to the band.

Again, it was already Incubus’ fourth time in Manila. But man, it always felt like the first time–and it couldn’t be more Stellar than that.

All photos are property of Ovation Productions and Magic Liwanag photography, unless otherwise stated

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