Incubus has long been a favourite band of mine, and of many loved ones. Hits like Pardon Me, Megalomaniac, and especially Wish You Were Here has long adorned my playlists, so when it was announced that Incubus had added a South African stop on their latest tour, it didn’t take much convincing for us to make the trek to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.
Unlike most festivals, getting in was a breeze.
The dedicated drop off points behind the stage made for quick and easy entry, as did the park and ride drop offs right at the opposite end of the festival area. The staff scanning tickets on paper and cellphones were friendly and efficient, though they could’ve used more shade to combat the difficulty of scanning a shiny screen in direct Pretoria sunlight. A similar system was working after the event, but a distinct lack of Metro police or anyone in a high visibility jacket meant that the cars picking people up stopped in the middle of a very busy road and waited… Hardly advisable in the middle of the night.
Inside the venue, the familiar Amphitheater — where several international acts have graced the stage and where Park Acoustics had some of it most successful days — stood packed with excited concertgoers. A pair of large bar and beer garden areas flanked the stage, where booze was effectively doled out. A couple of meters on was a food court of contemporary food carts, dishing out delicious hipster food from wonderful hipster carts. (My favourite being Taco Kombi — an old VW Kombi that doubles as a taco stand). A Howler cashless system was used, and as with previous outings, getting money on your card was very easy, and getting it off again was worth it!
Several local acts got the nod to open the day. Hellcats, Cortina Whiplash, Dan Patlansky, BCUC, and Southern Wild are certainly not new to the local music scene. Still, it was a thrill to be chosen to represent on an international platform, at least judging from their social media leading up to the day. All the local acts shone, in spite of some of them proclaiming from stage that they “were shit scared”. The local acts certainly represented the diversity in talent that South Africa is blessed with.
Incubus, though, proved why they are still around some 27 years after formation. They played a well planned set, with a great mix of hits and new songs, performing all the fan favourites in the process. The songs certainly didn’t stay the same, with enough innovation going into the older songs that it takes a second or so before you can properly place which song the intro belongs to, or melding the end of Wish You Were Here into the intro of a distinctly un-Incubus sounding two chord vamp… the intro of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd — a mind-blowing, unexpected twist.
Being in front of a passionate crowd like that of Pretoria must have brought the best from the band, as the performance was as near to perfect as one can expect. Brandon Boyd’s unmistakable vocals hit every note, even while he was hunched over playing with Mike Einziger’s guitar pedal settings. It impresses even more, when viewed live, how hard José Pasillas and Chris Kilmore works on the drums and the turntables, respectively, while Ben Kenney binds the band’s sound together with his glue-like bass guitar.
Seeing bands as experienced and professional as Incubus is always a treat. It’s even more so when it’s in a setting as glorious and well suited as the Voortrekker Monument Amphitheater, on a gorgeous South African sunny day, with a suite of excellent local artists and at a well-organized event that goes as smoothly as We Are Live’s did.
Incubus in South Africa was, in every respect, a dream come true.
Incubus is yet to play at Green Point A Track in Cape Town on 28 February. I’ve half a mind to get tickets at http://wearelive.events/ and fly down, just to check this bucket list item all over again.