At Merriweather Post Pavilion on Monday, Incubus showed few clues of its rap-metal origins, often veering into jam-band terrain.
The quintet, which was founded by California high schoolers in the early 1990s, is touring behind the CD "A Crow Left of the Murder." That's the first recording to feature Ben Kenney, formerly of Philadelphia's hip-hoppy Roots, who last year was invited to replace founding bassist Dirk Lance. Frontman and chick magnet Brandon Boyd attracted most of the attention Monday and occasionally added a hippie aura to the proceedings, but the rhythm section of Kenney and drummer Jose Pasillas dictated the show's pace and direction.
Guitarist Michael Einziger and DJ Chris Kilmore had the freedom to make any sounds they wanted, and used it. Einziger's heavily flanged guitar on "Drive" gave the FM radio staple a lounge-music feel. Kilmore made spacey noises come out of his battery of equipment during "Here in My Room," a Radiohead nod. Boyd set up some bongos while Kenney sat behind his own percussion kit to join Pasillas in a drum trio segment that kept the crowd wowed despite its length. Far less successful was Boyd's brief interruption of the Nirvanaesque radio hit "Stellar" to lead his mates on a half-hearted cover of the Police's "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da."
Boyd, who was arrested at a New York airport last week with a knife in his carry-on bag, showed his kinetic side while shrieking like Johnny Rotten during "Priceless." He was just as animated on "Megalomaniac," an alleged Bush-bashing track that had the crowd screaming along. Boyd put his long hair into a ponytail before thrashing around the stage as he wailed the tune's climactic clause: "You're no Jesus!"
If developers get their way, the show, which closes out Merriweather's 2004 season, will be the last one played at the Columbia venue. The amphitheater opened in 1967 and over the years has featured shows by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Led Zeppelin -- and now Incubus.
-- Dave McKenna