Originally a kind of nu-metal outfit with funk/rap undertones, California’s Incubus, which first appeared on the scene in ’95, gradually developed a unique identity that included heavy elements of synth-laden progressive rock and psychedelia. The group also amassed a huge following, largely due to dreamboat vocalist Brandon Boyd’s charisma and sex appeal. In 2004 Incubus issued its fifth album, Crow Left of the Murder, and made the promotional rounds of various radio and video outlets early in the year. One stop was the popular European show filmed in Italy, “MTV Supersonic”; the first half of this bootleg features that performance, done before a small studio audience. The setlist is drawn mainly from Crow but also dipping back for a few fan faves (an overhauled version of “Drive,” “Nowhere Fast,” “Are You In” and “Warning”). It’s a broadcast and the sound quality is just about perfect.
The second portion of the disc is a superb, in-your-face audience recording of the group’s “unplugged” performance (primarily – it does have drums and bass and a hint of keyboards) at Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit. The acts for that year's show were Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Willie Nelson, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Wilco, Dashboard Confessional, The Indigo Girls and Incubus – quite a diverse collection of talent, with Incubus and Dashboard clearly chosen for their ability to tap the youth market, ticket-wise. As this was before the Crow album had been released, the song “A Crow Left of the Murder” received its first public airing, and one unexpected highlight was a cover of Massive Attack’s lovely “Teardrop.” The band also performed the next night, but that’s not included on this disc; the setlist was Pardon Me / Wish You Were Here / Talkshows On Mute / Are You In? / Make Yourself / Drive.
The 4-page booklet and 2-sided tray panel features yellow/red/black/white artwork derived from the actual Crow album and is very tastefully designed.
It’s interesting that the Pablo label has been issuing on factory-pressed discs a lot of so-called “new-rock” artists of late rather than sticking with the old standbys (Dylan, Beatles, Stones, etc.) like most bootleg labels do. There’s some speculation that the era of file-swapping makes trendy bands such as Incubus a risky proposition, sales-wise, and that Pablo will be left warehousing a lot of CDs similar to how some of the European labels were left with excessive stock in the mid ‘90s of marginally collectible alterna-rock outfits (Babes In Toyland, Alanis Morissette, etc.). Only time will tell – get these records while you can, collectors. -- OSWALD