“Wacky idea for Ithacappella,” said Incubus manager Steve Rennie in an e-mail to the-Ithacappella conductor Greg Harris ’07. “How would you guys like to come out to L.A. and help Incubus sing ‘Dig at the KROQ Weenie Roast and Fiesta?”
The unprecedented opportunity materialized after an Ithacappella video appeared on YouTube. The group’s cover of Incubus’s “Dig,” featuring Jon Connors ’07 and Chris Rossi ’08, was viewed over 2,000 times during its first week on the Internet. Eventually the video was reposted on Incubus Online View, a fan forum, where it came to the attention of Incubus front man Brandon Boyd and band manager Steve Rennie.
Shortly after that, Harris was contacted by Rennie, who wanted Ithacappella to fly out to Irvine, California, and perform live with Boyd and Mike Einziger of Incubus in front of 16,000 fans. Unfortunately the festival date coincided with Ithaca College’s commencement, and Harris knew that participation from their upperclassmen was crucial. “The first thing I did was call all the seniors. We needed to have at least 14 guys to go, and Jon had to be one of them.”
For Connors, who had been listening to Incubus since he was 13 years old, it wasn’t a difficult choice. “I called my dad first, and he thought it was absurd that I was even asking the question,” says Connors. “If any other group had wanted me to do it, I would have done it and been glad to, but having it come from a group that literally changed my life has just been an unbelievable gift.”
So on May 19 the 14 singers able to make the trip found themselves in their trailer, where they met Boyd and Einziger for the first time. “We didn’t know what to expect,” says Rossi. “They told us, ‘We want you to do what you guys do. We know the arrangement; we can fit ourselves in.’ Mike and Brandon put us all at ease.”
Check out this video of Ithacappella performing with Incubus:
“It was a dream come true to meet the guys,” adds Connors. “They seemed to have a very relaxed vibe.”
When it came time to perform that evening, the group stood on a circular stage that rotated around and placed them in front of the huge crowd. “We’re backstage getting ready to go and Brandon looks at us and says, ‘One piece of advice: don’t screw up!’ ” recalls Garrett Deming ’08.
Rossi was overwhelmed by the crowd’s reaction. “Once Jon started singing and they recognized the song, they started screaming. As soon as Brandon came out, I was nearly blown over. Once they realized what was going on, everyone was into it. At the end there was this huge roar of approval.”
Deming looks forward to the long-term implications of their unique performance. Because the sound check and the performance were recorded by an Incubus film crew, the group might be featured on the next Incubus DVD.
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