"Still too bright, too bright." The lights drop in Concrete as inc. take to the stage, but LA brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged would have it pitch dark if they could. inc. are a band that like to secure a certain mood, and this is lights-down-low music at its finest.
The pair look like a nineties high school teen movie clique; like a small, back of the lunchroom crowd, all dressed in black with a somewhat sullen aspect. The frontman of the two, Andrew, peeks through his curtains for a moment before the band start with the breathless pillow confessional ‘desert rose (war prayer)’, with its clean, vibrato chorus guitar and crisp hi-hat and snare drum. The crowd, it would seem, is mistaken almost for a close bedroom confidant and is often lost in the intense and intimate performance. inc. prove that this is not just some nostalgic R&B or disposable neo-soul tribute act, but the real deal. These are men of few words who take little time in between to engage the audience, however the audience needs little encouragement.
After a listen to their debut record, 'no world', you might not expect that it has so much to gain from a live performance, but the legitimate talent and musicianship of the two is an asset that is even more apparent off the record and on the stage. As seasoned session and tour musicians with more than a small score of big names under their belts, inc. now blaze a trail of their own and their material is given a warm reception.
From start to finish the band, complete with drums and keyboard accompaniment, are as tight as in the studio, but remain fluid and spontaneous. The jam is put back in slow jam and enough room is left to manoeuvre at the end of each track for Andrew to flex his guitar and Daniel to test his bass against an almost sluggish rhythm. On more than one occasion the band drop the BPM to a near standstill to tease the audience before a final flourish. To finish the set with, however, inc. break it well and truly down and push their single ‘5 days’ up to speed with a more aggressive and driven climax to snap the crowd out of its languor.
The outward modest demeanour of inc. seems almost inconsistent with a sound that is fit for Prince or D’Angelo, and with the talent to boot. Andrew and Daniel Aged might not have the same vocal or personal largesse but are still capable of an electric performance. The musical partnership and connection (never mind the resemblance) between the two of them, and a deep feel for their music, is what stands them apart.
Sensual soul and R&B is still more than game in 2013. The London crowd was left perhaps more aroused than animated, but then what can you expect?
Words by Patrick Bernard