Incubus / Deftones TD Echo Beach, Toronto ON, July 29
Published Jul 30, 2015On paper, a co-headlining tour between Incubus and Deftones would seem to be a complete mismatch, given one band's ability to balance the beautiful and brutal and the other's choice to explore the lighter side of alt-rock during the height of their popularity.
The relationship between the two groups runs much deeper than sharing a home state though, with both having moved away from their nu-metal and funk-metal sounds at the turn of the new millennium; Incubus found success with Make Yourself and Morning View, while Deftones did the same with Around the Fur and White Pony. In the year 2000, it was the latter bringing the former along to fill the opening slot on a joint tour to celebrate their new recordings. With the way things went at the tour's Toronto stop on the waterfront, the two bands would have been well advised to keep it that way.
Deftones took the stage first to a chorus of cheers, getting their set off to a roaring start with a back-to-back look at "My Own Summer (Shove It)" and "Lhabia." Frontman Chino Moreno was in fine form vocally, alternating between his dulcet, nearly whispered cleans and scraping shriek with ease, impressing the crowd with the demanding vocal acrobatics of "Rocket Skates" shortly after. With the microphone cord slung around his neck, he spent the brief moments between songs bantering with his bandmates or chatting up audience members in the first few rows.
One such instance in the set resulted in an audience member getting invited onstage to join Moreno in singing "Passenger," an emotionally charged tune highlighted by a powerful chorus from Maynard James Keenan of Tool. It was a passable performance from the crowd member, at best — it's safe to say Keenan's feature spot won't be usurped anytime soon.
Showing little signs of wear and tear from the road was impressive, though some mixing issues out of the band's control left Moreno's leads in competition with bassist Sergio Vega's backing vocals and Abe Cunningham's pounding bass drum until it was fixed later on in the set. When it was remedied, the band was a force to be reckoned with, lead vocals cruising easily over Stephen Carpenter's wrecking ball riff from "Swerve City" and the incredibly atmospheric "Digital Bath."
Deftones finished the evening with a blistering version of "Engine No. 9," highlighted by Moreno leaping to the monitors at the front of the stage and demanding a circle pit be formed.
That level of energy and aggression was absent when Incubus took the stage an hour later. Kicking off a string of hits with "Nice to Know You," vocalist Brandon Boyd had issues reaching the song's higher notes, an issue that persisted through "Anna Molly" and other moments in the performance. Able to harness the vocal power exhibited on their earlier records for "Circles" and S.C.I.E.N.C.E. cut "Vitamin," Boyd's inconsistent vocals were marred at times by a weaker, nasal quality that couldn't be masked by Mike Einziger's masterful, oscillating electric guitar tones or Chris Kilmore's turntable scratching.
The audience was more than happy to raise their hands and sing along word for word with Boyd for the band's bigger hits, with "Are You In?," "Wish You Were Here," "Megalomaniac" and "Drive" being highlights, but the hits seemed to be all that most were in attendance for. The inclusion of material from this year's EP Trust Fall (Side A) and the nearly eight-minute "In the Company of Wolves" at the set's halfway mark only worked enough to get a contented head nod from most of the onlookers outside the first few rows, further resulting in a steady stream of people making their way to the back of the site.
Chalk it up to unfamiliarity with the new songs, or general lack of excitement about new Incubus material in the year 2015, but it seemed that most fans in attendance felt that Deftones have the upper hand, both in the studio and on stage, over their SoCal counterparts.