After weeks of looking at the Weenie Roast lineup for this year, I still wasn’t all that excited for anyone on Saturday. Aside from not being a diehard fan of anyone performing, I’d seen all but two artists on the main stage at least once — many of them a few times — and one of the few acts I hadn’t seen is a band I love to hate: 311. It’s not the white reggae thing or even the whole rap-rock thing; there’s just something awful about them, and I’ll never forgive them for the debacle that was their cover of The Cure’s “Love Song.”
At the same time, Weenie Roast is pretty much always a great event (KROQ really knows how to throw a party), so I couldn’t pass it up.
In order to drum up some excitement for myself, I decided that I was at least mildly interested in seeing Incubus live. I’d never really been a big fan of theirs (although in eighth grade, I thought “Megalomaniac” was pretty badass), but I also never harbored a distaste for Brandon Boyd like those who felt their relationships were threatened by the frontman’s surfer charm in the ‘90s. For the last two decades, Incubus was just another one of those bands that would come on in an Old Navy or a Starbucks and I’d loosely know the choruses of their singles.
But after watching the bulk of the StubHub Center scream their heads off for Cage the Elephant and mumble along to every unclear lyric from Imagine Dragons, I began to have second thoughts. The photo in the Weenie Roast program showed just how old Incubus had gotten since I burned the singles from A Crow Left of the Murder onto a blank CD-R in middle school — and I hadn’t even heard one of their songs since Light Grenades. There was a good possibility Incubus in 2017 wasn’t the same band I’d pretended to be into any time a girl I liked fawned over Make Yourself.
When the rotating stage (aka the greatest invention in the history of music festivals) spun around and the quintet walked out to their instruments, I couldn’t help but feel a little pit in my stomach as I saw that Boyd is starting to look like an abs-toting, beachy version of Steven Tyler. But then they started to play, and there was magic pouring out of Boyd’s mouth from the moment he opened it.
Sure, I still didn’t know the words to anything that wasn’t a radio-friendly single, but over the course of Incubus’ 45-minute set, I became a fan of the band. The power and purity of Boyd’s voice overshadowed not just the day’s other singers (which included some pretty acclaimed vocalists: Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Andrew McMahon), but also just about any other rock band I’ve seen recently. By the time Cage the Elephant’s Matt Shultz came out to sing a chilling “Black Hole Sun” cover with Boyd and the rest of the band, I was already positive it was a better Chris Cornell tribute than U2 could’ve pulled off on the same night. Add in the DJ’s world-class, dreadlock-covered headbanging and a solid show by the rest of the band, and I left the evening texting my friends who hate Incubus, telling them how wrong they’ve been for all these years.
Don’t get me wrong — I can still totally understand why so many disenchanted guys view the multi-talented Boyd as a symbol of everything wrong in rock music. But he can still sing for a rock band better than nearly anyone else. I predict that some of Incubus’ haters will come around now that their legacy is cemented and they’re not strapping young lads anymore. After all, my dad hated James Taylor for decades, until they both became equally bald old men.
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