Merging off of the highway, downsizing to one lane, drivers crowding to try to sneak in front of one another may have been the first clue as to how excited people were to see Incubus on tour with Jimmy Eat World. With traffic slowing to a crawl, nearly every car exiting the highway was pulling into the Florida State Fairgrounds to go to the ampitheatre. In typical tailgate fashion, groups cluster around coolers, joking, waiting on friends, or merely downing a few refreshments before hiking into the show.
Upon entering the MidFlorida Credit Union Ampitheatre, a rainbow could be seen in the sky. The end of the rainbow seemed to land at a coal fired grill for pizza. Or was it the show at the end of the rainbow?
Local Tampa radio stations had pop up tents where audience members could register for give-aways, such as free concert tickets. One had a rock quiz for people to test their music knowledge. In the bonus round, people were asked to sing the melody for lyrics from an 80’s rock song and given a smile.
With a pass allowing access to just about any entrance ramp in the ampitheatre, one could hike up in the grass, meander the outside perimeter, or just stalk straight down to the front. Wave at the guards and march onward, trying to find a spot to watch Jimmy Eat World. Take in all the angels, and note how the different areas of the venue capture the sound of the music; outside the concrete barriers on the side of the stage, the songs can hardly be made out, but up in the grass, it echoes loud and clear.
The last time I saw Jimmy Eat World, they were playing up in Detroit with Green Day, and every time I have covered Green Day, I have gotten kicked out of the show for absolutely ridiculous reasons, as if there is some kind of Green Day curse that I cannot explain, for none of it is ever for fighting or anything remotely worth bragging about. I was able to see the Jimmy Eat World set before getting kicked out of the Palace of Auburn Hills, merely for changing tickets with my friend who was staying with me during the exile from New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, as I felt generous in giving away my better seat. What I thought was a random act of kindness, switching my exclusive press seat for a nosebleed ticket, wound up being just enough to get me kicked out of the venue that day, but at least they got to enjoy the show.
The whole set of Green Day, I slept in the car, which at least made me rested for the couple hours I had to drive back home that night. Jimmy Eat World back then put on a great set, as they always do. Comparing back then in 2005 to now is not necessarily night and day, as they stayed true to form.
What is the biggest difference is the set list, as they have continued to produce hit after hit for the radio. Back in 2005, they had a few hits, but now, they have so many hits that most people can sing along to their entire set. They are kind of no frills, not relying on the flash and trash that other performers do. However, they have always played a very clean set, and their musicality is as strong as ever today.
Teaming up with Incubus, it is another low frills band. By low or no frills, I mean there are not background dancers in scantily clad outfits, there’s not a whole lot of pyrotechnics and extensive laser light shows. There’s not an expansive background that distracts from the music being played onstage.
Okay, there is a pretty big LED screen backdrop, but it does not distract from the music with disturbing images that other bands might show. They did have some lasers, but there lighting was tastefully done, not distracting. They’re not trying to take away from their music, only enhance it with them tastefully.
The last time I saw Incubus, it was also at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan; although, thankfully, I was not kicked out of that show. Really, the only shows I have ever been kicked out of have been Green Day for some random reason. The last time, Incubus was playing with Linkin Park up in Michigan.
Back then, Incubus’ set was intimate. When I say intimate, I don’t mean small, as it a rather large venue, home of the Detroit Pistons, so actually very sizable. By intimate, I am describing their set setup.
It was as if they had plopped a living room onto the stage. Again, not a whole lot of distracting flash and trash, more about the music. The setting was intimate, and the way they played touched audience members deep inside, going for more of the low and slow, as if gingerly making love to the audience.
This time, in Tampa, Incubus was a little more upbeat than when I had seen them before. They had a different vibe of energy that still connected with the audience on an organic level, but instead of slow love making, it was more like seeing old friends, being excited to be back amongst familiar company. They had an excitement like a little kid being eager to play with old friends not seen in a while.
Of course, they have acquired so many more hits. Again, it’s one of those bands that nearly everyone in the audience can sing along to for the entire set. Just when you thought they played all their hits, it was like, oh man, I forgot about that song, and it’s just another one that you love and are excited to hear.
One ironic set choice was when Incubus played their song “Wish You Were Here,” a song that my brother always said makes him think of me, but then when he’s not with me at the concert, I can’t help but think of him. Following their song, they played a cover of Pink Floyd’s song by the same name. The two back to back songs struck a chord in me, as I couldn’t help but think of people not with me then.
Some people might just be away, while others might be deceased. Ironically, on that same night that Incubus and Jimmy Eat World was playing, on the other side of the globe in Spain, Green Day was playing, and there was a tragedy that happened at their show, as an acrobat named Pedro died at Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival. The band said they did not know about the tragedy that happened just before their set, as they were back in a compound about a half mile away from the main stage, and they were not told about the death until after their set; still, many people gave them grief for playing.
As people say, the show must go on. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were purposely not told, as continued performance draws attention away from things going wrong. Sometimes, those distractions are necessary to keep that many people in the audience calm in order to prevent more possible turmoil.
If you did not get a chance to catch the Incubus show, fear not. They have a ton more tour dates scheduled all the way into October, so chances are that you may still be able to catch a date with the band named for a demon incarnate with an insatiable lust for women. They also have a new album out, Incubus “8;” for more news, check out www.incubushq.com and www.twitter.com/incubusband.
Marisa Williams earned her Master’s in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University. She is a professor in Florida, a licensed real estate agent, and a jewelry designer. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz and www.twitter.com/booksnbling.