Incubus Live in Manila 2011

What’s the best way of reliving this year’s grandest concert?  Blog about it exactly one month after it had happened, of course! Haha!  I know, I know, it’s long overdue, but it’s better late than never right?

This is officially the “starter entry” of this new blog, by the way.  All the entries posted before this one are from my previous site.  Those are some of my favorite entries and I’ve included them here because I feel that this new blog of mine would be incomplete with them.  Officially starting this wordpress blog with an Incubus entry is also quite fitting as they are the reason why I have named my site as such in the first place.

If you are hoping to find tons of pictures of the concert, you won’t.  I did not have the best seat in the house and some of the shots I had taken did not even turn out quite clearly.  I have scoured the internet for great photos of that night but the best ones I have seen were taken by a photographer named Andrew Apuya.  Compared to most of the other pictures I have seen, his have great moods in them.  Very impressive!  So check out his site here.  You can check out the photos of the front act, Franco, on the other hand, in here.

So without further ado, here’s my 3rd Incubus experience here in Manila.  Just a warning though:  this is going to be a bit of a novella as my “fan mode” is switched on.

i heart these guys!

“Out of sight, out of mind”

“Out of sight, out of mind,” sings Brandon Boyd in Incubus’ first single off their latest studio effort, “If Not Now, When?”  But the same thing cannot be said about them, for although they might have been “out of sight” for three years (their last Manila concert was in March 2008), at least for many of their Filipino fans, they have never been “out of mind.”  (Naks!)

“Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah!”

When I first learned sometime in March that they were going to visit Manila again, I made a promise that I would be there no matter what.  It did not matter to me whether I had work on that day and even the following day; I said to myself that I would not miss it for the world.  I had already blocked the date and made sure that no other commitments would be made on July 28 – almost four months into  the future.  I also said that I would make it a point to get, if possible, front row seats, no matter what the cost (literally).  I also said that I would do whatever it takes to join any M&G opportunities and find a ways to kidnap the boys and make them my musical slaves for life. But plans are plans and they don’t always work out the way one wants it to be.  The Vines could not have said it any better in their song Ms. Jackson:  “you can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather.”  Things did not go exactly as I had hoped them to be.  There were far more important things that had to be prioritized and sadly, I had to relegate them in the priority list.  Despite some unexpected events and unavoidable circumstances though, I still vowed to witness their performance, by hook or by crook!

“She called out a warning – don’t ever let life pass you by!”

Although there were some things that got in the way, I was still able to make it on the concert day itself.  Since I was not able to grab the seats that I wanted (a.k.a. reserved tickets) I had no choice but to be in the concert venue as early as 4 in the afternoon even though the main show would start at around 9pm.  It was a Thursday and I had work so I had no choice but to leave work earlier (reason: I had to attend an important family affair!)

By then, there were already dozens of people lined up at the gates of the Coliseum.  I still had to wait for my sister that night so I couldn’t join the early birds.  It would take more than an hour for her to arrive.  When we returned to the gate, it was already packed with people and queues had reached the Gateway footbridge.  The rain poured that night but the people, armed with coats, umbrellas, and love, remained unfazed.  It was already past 6 when the gates finally opened.

It was surreal to be there again.  Had it been 3 years already since their last visit?  I remember I even went to their press con on the day they arrived.  My sister who was part of the press invited me to tag along.  Unfortunately, since I was not part of any media outfit, I had to remain outside the conference area. I stayed in this café / lounge near the room.  I was there sipping my not so delicious and ridiculously priced carrot juice when the boys arrived.  There was a group of people who happily greeted the band as they were ushered in hurriedly into the pressroom. I assumed they were part of the street team.  It was amusing to watch the whole thing unfold before me.  I no longer bothered to get up ‘cause I knew I would not have the decent chance to meet them anyway.  I remained in my seat, satisfied to have seen them that close.

Fast forward to 2011, there we were again at the Araneta.  We waited patiently for the precious moment when music would once again take control of our senses.

“Yeah, it’s just a phase.  It will be over soon.”

minutes before the show started

It was a little past 8 when the concert was opened by the superband, Franco.  As soon as the light dimmed and the commercials on the video wall stopped playing, the crowd started to scream.   They went up the stage and “Tetrahydrochloridedub” started to fill the air, as well smoke, for added dramatic effect!  The energy that had long been contained was now being slowly released and the venue was filled with excitement.

Franco performed, if I remember it correctly, 5 songs:  “Seasons,” “Memory Kill,” “Castaway,” “A Mass For The End of Time,” and “Song For The Suspect,” which was dedicated to all the Suspitsados in the crowd.

They did pretty well.  The energy level was very high.  Each beat traveled from the amps and speakers and bombarded my ears and pounded my heart.  I love it when that happens – the music is really inside the body.  It’s an amazing experience!  There was one thing I noticed though – the sound system was kinda off.  It was not clear.  Yes, it was loud but it was rough.  Everytime Franco said something,  sis and I were like “What did he say?”  Overall, Franco’s performance was superb.  The people loved them.  I could not think of any other band worthy to open the night.

As soon as Franco finished their last song, “Song For The Suspect,” everybody clapped loudly but everybody knew that the applause was no longer for them.  As much as we had enjoyed their performance, we were not there for them.  It was not their night.  It was Incubus’.  That last applause meant “Good job!” but moreover, it meant “Finally, you’re finished.  We can finally get the real action going!”

“Let’s go crazy.  Let’s get nuts!”

The moment everyone had waited for arrived at last!  There they were – Boyd, Einziger, Kenney, Pasillas, and Kilmore in the flesh.  Everyone just went crazy.  The people who were previously seated stood up and those near the stage, flocked nearer to it.  It is amusing to see such a scene when the audience stands up from their seat.  It is like they are giving the band a standing ovation even before they have performed their first song. From there, you already give the band respect and awe.  What such power bands have, no?

Earlier that day, someone posted the band’s setlist on facebook.  I thought it was just the person’s “wish setlist”.  How could he had known about it in the first place, right?  I did not think he was part of the management so I did not pay much attention to it.  But I was about to be proven wrong for what I had seen that day was the real setlist.  What a spoiler!  Knowing what they would perform ruined it for me (slightly) ‘cause it just erased the element of surprise, yet at the same time, it was useful because I was able to “prepare” myself for the eventual end of the concert.

The stage was simple and as what they had always done in the past, they lay rugs.  But what was different was the huge screen at the back of the stage.  As the boys opened with “Megalomaniac,” the gigantic screen flashed the song’s official video.  It had a nice effect to  it.

I don’t often take pictures during concerts, even more, videos.  Ok, so I would probably take 10 shots and that is already too many for me.  I just feel like it takes me away from the moment.  I’d rather experience everything – move, jump or scream without worrying that the pictures might get blurry or that I have to be completely still so I could have excellent video results.  I’d rather see it and be there  as it happens than get too preoccupied about something so I could view the whole event excellently later.   But there’s always an exception to the rule.  I do not know why but I felt compelled to record the concert that night.  I brought a camera and even solicited the help of my friend with regard to the video aspect of it months before.  For some strange reasons, I felt that I might not see them again.   I hope I am wrong but I do not know why, I just felt that way.  Maybe it was just me but I just sensed a different energy from them – a somber one.

Months before the concert, I had been reading posts and interviews of the band and I could not explain it but I sense tiredness from them.  And not just the physical kind.  I got the impression that they were tired of it all.  After being together for around 20 years, I felt like they were exhausted.  When I also saw some pictures from their Asian tour, they looked so harassed that even forming a smile was a chore.  Is the inevitable end near?? Heck, I am no psychic!  It’s just the feeling that I get from them.  For all I know I might be completely wrong!

Well, going back… They opened with “Megalomaniac” and they opened it with a bang! While the audience deliriously sang with the band, a minute and a half into the opening, guitarist Mike Einziger slammed his guitar on the floor, pushed a couple of amplifiers,  walked out, and came back with a new guitar.  But this I did not see ‘cause I was busy recording the song and the lens was focused on Boyd (see what I mean that recording concerts can take you out of the moment?)  I just saw the whole thing from another blogger’s video post.  Wow, I have never seen a rock star throw his guitar on stage live!  Dear Mikey was the first!  He was really pissed off, I’m telling you.  Apparently, he experienced some technical difficulties and it just messed up his opening performance.  At one point during the concert, I did notice him fixing something with the amplifiers and I just thought that he was just adjusting the sound of his guitar.  I did not know that it was that bad until I watched the entire thing.  The song continued even without him and it was hardly noticeable!  Ang galing!  He was able to fix everything just in time for his ‘solo’ part.  The band has always maintained a high level of professionalism so it was surprising to see him that way.   It was unbelievable, but nevertheless, understandable.

The band continued to fire one hit after the other and a few other songs from the new album. After each song, the lights were abruptly turned off, plunging the venue in temporary total darkness.  They were not a big fan of lights that night.  Even in some songs, the stage was poorly lit.  Anyway, the songs performed were:

1. Megalomaniac 2. Wish You Were Here 3. Consequence 4. Pardon Me 5. Anna Molly 6. Love Hurts 7. Circles 8. Look Alive 9. Promises, Promises 10. The Warmth 11. Drive 12. Sick Sad Little World 13. Isadore 14. Glass 15.Talk Shows on Mute 16. Adolescents 17.A Crow
Left of the Murder Encore:  18. I Miss You (a surprise addition to the setlist I had seen earlier that day) 19. In the Company of Wolves  20. Nice To Know You

They had already performed most of the songs that night in their previous concerts; and I wished that they had played other songs instead.  I particularly hoped to hear Black Heart Inertia, Dig, Let’s Go Crazy, a few other tracks from S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (like Summer Romance or Deep Inside), Make Yourself (like Make Yourself and Out From Under) or even from the Stealth OST (like Make A Move or Admiration).  But they did not play any of those; I was however, elated to hear ACLOTM, Consequence, Glass, and most especially, Look Alive.  A lot of people got pretty ecstatic when they played I Miss You and Love Hurts, but honestly, those two are my least favorite tracks!  Talk Shows on Mute is not also a favorite of mine.

For me, the highlight of the show, was— no, not the part where Boyd finally lifted his shirt to show off his torso (an Incubus concert would be incomplete without that, huh?) – but when they performed “Adolescents.”  I was supposed to record that too but I decided to hand the cam over to my sis.  I wanted to enjoy this one.  I was blown away by it.  It had so much passion and power.  Boyd just sang it brilliantly!  Simply put, it was moving.  I just stood there, absorbed in the glory of the scene.

I didn’t have the new album at that time yet ‘cause I assumed that they might release a limited edition of some sort in the future.  I didn’t want to buy the same album twice with only a couple of songs inserted in it.   Therefore, I cannot comment on the other new tracks performed that night except the ones that they had already released which were “Promises, Promises” and “Adolescents.”

“Nice To Know You” ended the gig; it was a “fitting” goodbye.  And Boyd, as a sign of gratitude to the thousands of loyal Pinoy fans, knelt and bowed down.

It might have been an amazing concert, but here are some things that could have made the event better:

1)   SOUND SYSTEM.  SOUND SYSTEM.  SOUND SYSTEM.  The previous concert was also held at the same venue but the last one was absolutely flawless.  Boyd’s voice was so clear and crisp and each instrument was perfectly heard.   It was much more solid, unlike this time, which was rough, scattered, and had much echo.  Mike would definitely agree with me on this one. Right, Mike?  Peace.

2)  LIGHT SYSTEM.  Why were they so afraid to use lights?  It would have been more awesome too if the lights were more creatively utilized to give a more stunning visual effect.  Also, in between songs, it would have been better if they didn’t completely turn off the lights.  It just seemed too abrupt.

3)  SETLIST.  They could have performed songs that they haven’t performed before.  They could have chosen a different opening song too as they had already used Megalomaniac in 2004.  They do not get the chance to visit our shores often so might as well try to expand the sonic landscape a bit more.

4)  VIDEO SCREEN.  The humongous video screen had some benefits, but what is with the “LSD inspired graphics” put on top of the
real camera shots?!  And what is with division of the screen into 4 or 8 or even 16 insets?  Cheesy, I say.

5)  Unfortunately, the last one is something I cannot exactly pinpoint.  As much as I had enjoyed the concert, there was just something missing.  There was something different with them that sort of affected their performance.  It seemed to me, that in some parts of the concert, they were just going through the motions of it all.  That it did not have that same force and intensity I had witnessed in the previous one.  I had read another post somewhere that the first two concerts were solid waves and that this 3rd one was just a ripple.  In a way I agree with it.  I don’t know what’s missing or if there was something missing at all!  Some may probably argue that everything was flawless and it was actually full of energy, but I felt otherwise.  I just couldn’t explain it.  Ay, Never mind.

baller id's i impulsively bought at the venue. the white one glows in the dark.

“Maybe we’ll meet again further down the river, and share what we both discovered… then revel in the view.”

Boyd said in his twitter account a day after the concert that he could not wait to be back in Manila.  But that’s something most visiting artists would say! So how many years would Manila really have to wait to see them again?  Another 3 years?  4?  5?  Who knows?  We will just have to wait and see.  Hopefully, not very long.

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