Cali-based, Incubus, rocks Riot Fest Sunday headline spot.

No Wish Needed, I Was There with Incubus

It only took 19 years since first hearing "Drive," but this past Sunday evening I managed to see Incubus at the close of Riot Fest in Chicago's Douglas Park.

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What you'll find with the California-based band is a carefully calculated performance to sound perfection. Brandon Boyd (lead vocals) voice sounded as clear as a bell, to any studio recorded song the group produced over these last 19 years, since "Make Yourself" was released. In fact, Boyd is incredibly precise in his distance of the microphone from his mouth, as his voice permeates through the speakers to such a clear and astounding level. This was one detail I'm not sure many would pick up on, and one that deserves such recognition.

The stage had an excited and energized crowd, following the Alkaline Trio performance two stages over. It wouldn't be fair to write this without a shout out to AT for their jam-filed show. Incubus came to the scene, the crowd roared, and we were greeted with "Privilege." This song has 444 total plays, according to Setlistfm.com and it goes to no surprise, as it's an incredible opener for the band.

Fans were also delighted to the sounds of "Megalomaniac," "Pardon Me," "Love Hurts," "Nice to Know You," and two clever outros of "Are You In" with a "Gin N Juice" outro, and "Wish You Were Here" focusing on a Pink Floyd outro – which would end up being my favorite song of the evening. From the guitar portions, DJ scratching, harmonies, and LED visuals, there isn't one aspect of this show to complain about.

Let's rewind about two hours before this show, real quick. A band by the name of Clutch played on the same stage, and their sound was loud and clear. In fact, their volume was just right. Could it be my own fault for positioning myself on the stage-left side for this show? That's definitely a possibility. I'm not convinced, however. I guess that Incubus purposely did not blast their sound to drain out other integral parts of their show – guitar, drums, bass, scratching, and especially vocals. Too often today, we see bands blast the crap out of the instruments with a suffering vocal clarity. This would be the opposite, which has both pros and cons.

On the pros, you get clear sound, less distortion, and more harmonization of all musical elements. As for the cons, there's a craving for more volume, wondering if the position you're in is a shit spot, and hearing too many conversations around you over the music. Like I said, all checks and balances.

In closing, an Incubus show, especially with the debut of their newest album "Incubus 8," is everything you would hope it could be – that being you're a fan of the group. Even if you're not a super fan, there are songs to be heard that evoke those old memories of your younger years. So keeping those notes in mind, "are you in" for the next Incubus show?

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25 Helpful Tips To Survive Any General Admission Concert

The smaller the show, the better. Trust me.
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Live music is something we should all experience in our lifetimes, however, general admission shows can admittedly be a bit daunting. Whether you're a seasoned concert goer or a first timer, I'm sure some of these tips could help make your experience more enjoyable, or frankly, survivable. Let's face it, it gets a little scary in the pit sometimes....


Before the show (day of):


1. If you plan on being front row for your favorite band at a GA show, show up a few hours early to sit outside the venue.

This tactic is so much easier than having to wiggle your way to the front in a very territorial crowd. If you want front row, you're going to have to earn it, and that means sitting down on a cold patch of concrete for hours at a time. You will even meet some cool fans who are just as dedicated as you, and who knows, you may make a friend or two.


2. Always bring a printed copy of your ticket, just in case.

Most venues will accept electronic tickets from your phone, but some venues do not. It's always good to print out a copy of your ticket or check with the venue beforehand to ensure your e-ticket will suffice. Many venues have Twitter pages and will answer quickly if you wish to ask.


3. Never assume you can buy tickets at the door.

You may be able to get away with last minute ticket shopping for smaller shows, but for the most part, it's best to buy ahead as to minimize your panic on the day of the show.


4. Buy your tickets as far in advance as possible.

Most general admission shows are super cheap if you buy tickets as soon as they are released. However, if you put it off, a $20 show can easily become a $100 show. Keep up with your favorite band's tour dates and set reminders to buy tickets as soon as they go on sale to save some money. Beware of ticket resellers, as they will rip you off with zero shame and mercy.


5. Do not be afraid to attend a show by yourself if you are unable to find someone to come with you.

It's happened to all of us. Our concert buddy has to work on the day of a highly anticipated show and despite asking everyone we know, no one can tag along, so we stay home and drown our sorrows in cookie dough ice cream instead. But that is no longer okay. Attending a show by ourselves may seem daunting, unexciting, and let's face it, we don't want to be dubbed a loser. But I'm here to tell you, none of that will happen. Odds are, you're not going to be the only one riding solo at the show and no one will know if you're alone or with a pack of friends anyway. This may even be an opportunity to make new friends and branch out.


6. Make sure to pack a few water bottles for after the show, and if it's a summer show, bring a cooler.

Trust me, as soon as you leave the show, you're going to be dying for a bottle of ice cold water so make sure you have a bottle or two in the car. It will be your savior.


7. Eat a complete meal before the show.

Shows can be expend a lot of energy, so it's always a good idea to come to a show on a relatively full stomach. The last thing you want to happen is pass out a show because you didn't eat or drink beforehand.


8. Dress comfortably and forget about being cute.

Indoor general admissions shows can get a little sweaty, especially if you find yourself squished between a bunch of people. You're going to regret wearing your heeled booties after two hours of standing (trust me, i've been there, done that). You may leave the house looking cute, but odds are, you're going to look every bit of a sweaty disaster post-show.


9. If you're going to wear make-up, make sure it's waterproof.

During the show, you will have water poured on your face by security guards, you will sweat more than you ever have in your whole life, and there may even be a tear or two. Unless you want to have crazy mascara streaks and eyeliner on your nose, you should probably wear waterproof make-up. Then again, no one is going to judge you for your post-show appearance, because odds are, they're not going to be looking too hot themselves. Embrace your ugly and rock out.


10. Wear your hair up.

During the show your hair will likely be pulled, grabbed, and touched by the people in front of you. It's also super annoying to get a face-full of hair at a show, so to make everyone happy, it's a good idea to throw your hair into a high pony and call it a day.


11. Don't, I repeat, DON'T wear a a hoodie or jacket to a show.

Most venues are poorly air-conditioned, and when you throw a million lights and a room full of people into the mix, shows can get pretty hot. The hoodie may have seemed like a good idea going into the show, but five minutes in, you're going to be resenting that hoodie and every life decision you've ever made up to that point. Some venues will have coat-check, but they can get pretty expensive and why risk precious time checking in your coat when you can be rushing to the stage instead? I always try to dress as cooly as I can, despite the weather outside. You can always bring a flannel or light sweater to wrap around your waist when you get warm.


12. Bring in as little as you can to a show and leave the valuables in the car, if at possible.

If you absolutely need to bring things into the venue (phone, medication, merch/beer money, keys, etc.), it's a good idea to bring a small purse or fanny-pack (which are so in style right now) to the show. Don't haul your entire purse to the show because I guarantee you're going to regret lugging it around real quick. And to minimize lost or damaged items, it's best to keep your most beloved items locked safely in the car. Crowds can get pretty rowdy and it's not uncommon to have something broken.


13. To my fellow glasses-wearers: if at all possible, either ditch the glasses for the night or wear contacts.

It's going to rough, but if you can do it, you will not regret it. As mentioned above, crowds get super rowdy, and when you throw in all the crowd surfers who will inevitably kick you or fall on you, there are plenty of chances for your glasses to fall off or be broken. Trust me, I've had two separate pairs of prescription glasses broken beyond repair at shows, and i've seen it happen plenty of other times as well. One semi-blurry night is far better than having to pay for glasses repairs or replacements in the future. Trust me on this one, guys.


During the show:


14. Stay hydrated. Stay hydrated. Stay hydrated.

This is an important one. Whether it's an outdoor concert in the middle of summer or an indoor general admission show, it's going to get hot, you're going to sweat, and you will become dehydrated pretty quickly if you don't make an effort to stay hydrated. If you're close to the stage/barricade, you may get likely and have guards pouring water into your mouth between songs. If not, you may have to cough up five bucks for a bottle. You don't want to pass out or be the one puking into a bucket by the entrance, so drink plenty of water during any show-- especially if you plan on consuming alcohol.


15. Don't over do it and know your limit.

Being front row for a show is an incredible experience. Not only can you hear the music better, but you'll be able to see every sweat droplet on your favorite band member's forehead. However, it can take a lot out of a person. If you feel like things are getting too out of control and you need out, don't be afraid to retreat to side stage or further back where its safer. Enjoying the show is ultimately far better than being front row in the grand scheme of things.


16. If you enjoy mosh-pits, crowd-surfing and the constant push and pull of the crowd, front center stage is your friend.

This part of the show can be really exciting, but it definitely is not for everyone. Between people charging at you, arms and fists flailing, and crowd surfers slammed onto your head as they make their way to the stage, front center stage can get pretty scary and it isn't recommended for first time concert-goers. Of course, this differs from show-to-show and genre-to-genre, but generally speaking, only stand center stage if you're prepared for mass chaos. Also, the middle of the crowd can be pretty dangerous too, as you will find yourself both pushed forward by the people in front of you, and simultaneously pushed backward by the people in front of you.


17. But if you prefer simply enjoying the show in a calm and peaceful manner, side stage or farther back is for you.

Side stage is always a good bet, since you will still have a pretty good view, will be close to the stage, and will almost certainly avoid the chaos and crowd-surfers.


18. Look out for crowd-surfers and protect your head from stray kicks or drops.

While crowd surfers certainly make things a bit more energetic, they come at a price. Always pay attention to what is going on around you, or simply look at the guard's reactions to avoid a kick to the head or neck. Pass along the surfer when you can, or if it's too late, protect your head by ducking and covering it. Concussions are common at music festivals and general admission shows so try to prevent one at all costs. Again, majority of your crowd-surfer interactions will be center stage, so if the prospect of holding up a sweaty human does not sound very appealing to you, side stage is for you. Side note: if you're wearing heeled shows, please do your fellow concert-goers a favor and don't crowd surf. There is nothing worse than being stabbed in the head by someone's heel.


19. Talk to the people around you. Don't be shy.

Get to know the people around you before the show or between bands. You meet some pretty cool people this way and it's definitely worth engaging in small talk with them, even if it's to help make the time go by faster.


20. Always show up and listen to the opening bands.

I get it, you're here for the headliner, but don't dismiss the opening bands too soon. They're probably pretty similar in musical style to the band or artist you're there for, so the chances that you'll enjoy them are pretty high. I've been introduced to some of my favorite bands through opening acts, and there's even been shows where the opening band was better than the actual headliner. Opening bands deserve your time and attention just as much as the headliner, and just because they don't have an entire tour named after them, doesn't mean their music isn't good.


21. Take as many videos and pictures as you want, who cares what anyone has to say.

If you want to take a few videos or pictures to commemorate the night, by all means, go crazy(ish). Don't apologize for your absurdly long Snapchat story or the million pictures of your favorite band member either. Maybe not record the entire concert, but a few vids here and there are perfectly OK.


22. When a band tells you to jump, move, clap, or sing-along, YOU DO IT.

Shout out your favorite lyrics. Make the floor move beneath your feet. Dance like no is watching. Just go crazy.


23. Do not be embarrassed to let loose.

No one, absolutely no one, is judging your terrible singing or wacky dance moves so don't be afraid to go a little crazy. You're going to have a much better time this way than if you stand there, stiff as a bored, conscious of scrutiny and judgment. Trust me, everyone's focus is on the band so know is going to notice if you break out into the running man mid-song.



After the show:

24. Go crazy at the merch table.

Hopefully you brought the rest of your life savings with you, because you're going to need it. Whether you want to represent your favorite band or show them a little love, the merch table is something you should not avoid, unless you know, you're totally broke.


25. Go home, rehydrate, reminisce over the wonderful night you had and get ready for your next show.

If you're like me, you never give post-concert-depression the time to fester and develop because just as one show has ended, you're preparing for a next.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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Pharrell Williams Lights Up Napa's BottleRock

"Yezzir."

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If we want to take a pair of binoculars and zoom into one specific moment in my most recent trip to California, then the focus should stay onto BottleRock Napa. While the name itself gives away where this was located, it does not elicit the weather, food, music, and vibes – as we all know, I have a soft spot for music.

Day 2, Saturday (May 25th), included artists such as Sir Sly, Gary Clark Jr., Cypress Hill, Juanes, White Panda, and Pharrell Williams. A music festival in Napa Valley lives up to the perceived expectation – Michelin-star chefs and food vendors, wine galore, liquor, craft beers (IPA heaven), and a beautiful landscape. This is quite a difference from Chicago's Lollapalooza or Milwaukee's Summerfest, which mind you, there is no ill will for those festivals – but BottleRock poses its experience in a league of its own. Such a league includes an older age demographic of attendees, a "one-of-a-kind" location (for the US at least), and the non-festival route musicians — many of which are included above - and that was only Saturday.

As far as shows of the day, Pharrell Williams takes the cheesecake with his "mini-N.E.R.D. reunion" with Shay Haley, amongst his vocal featured classics "Gust of Wind," "Get Lucky," "Drop It Like It's Hot" and plenty more. His singing, even at age 46, came with grace and passion; start to finish, with little to no technical difficulties. The band was incredibly tight, note for note, and the all-female supporting singers and dancers added an element to this show, which I had yet ever to witness. The art and focus on a "performance" could not have been more prevalent in this show.

Pharrell's show is one that goes in the books with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Childish Gambino, The Foo Fighters, The Weeknd, J. Cole, Drake, and Disclosure. It is like the Men's Warehouse saying, "you're going to like the way you look," except Pharrell says, "you're going to like the way you feel, after my show." And that my friends, is a wrap.

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