Brandon Boyd plays up the new-age, en vogue rock star thing a bit too much for my tastes, but there’s nothing wrong with his band. Incubus is a wonderland of power chords and hip-hop beats and Boyd’s lyric astral projections, all tailored to fit the arena-size crowds their multiplatinum success has earned them.
But branding the band with the name Incubus was perhaps a mistake. My Random House unabridged dictionary says that Incubus is an imaginary demon fabled to have sexual intercourse with women in their sleep. But the Incubus band image is quite different. Their public semblance is wholesome, nice-guy vanilla. I once read a quote from Incubus’s original bass player Dirk Lance that was gratuitous and pornographic in context, and I remember thinking, “He’s not long for this group of Scouts.” I was right.
Lance’s replacement is former Roots guitarist Ben Kenney. With Incubus, Kenney’s playing is textured and aggressive, less the jazz and funk bass that Lance brought to the table. In his side-project band, the Ben Kenney sound is more metallic and stringy and compressed in a way that creates the illusion that a lot of sound is coming out of a small space. Kenney’s own music sits well within the boundaries of all modern pop rock as dictated by Linkin Park: thin lyric line, bombastic chorus, and for the most part, ditch the solos. Makes for a dynamic listen. In this case, Kenney has a solid, pleasing voice with an abrupt range.
Lest a fan think that Kenney could one day carry the whole Incubus show without the current lead singer, he writes this on his MySpace page: “Please don’t ask me to put you in touch with Brandon Boyd. Sure, he’s a great guy, but it’s rude and stalker-ish to bother me with your obsession over him.”
BEN KENNEY: House of Blues, Thursday, January 17, 7 pm. 619-299-2583. $14.