Monday, August 29, 2011

Unity Tour – 311 + Sublime With Rome @ Marymoor Park – August 26, 2011 (Backbeat Seattle)

The planets aligned, the meaning of life was revealed and, in the immortal words of comedian Bill Hicks, my third eye was squeegeed quite cleanly. That was just from the contact high. In all honesty, of the countless shows I have been to over the years I have never seen and smelled as many people light up as I did at the final 311 Unity Tour stop at Marymoor Park. With Sublime With Rome in tow the “smoke free” venue was bathed in the distinct smelling haze of marijuana cigarettes most of the evening. 311 has some of the best crowds of any band I know. The Sublime fans were pretty mellow as well.

The show, scheduled to start at 6, actually kicked off earlier. By the time I showed up, 6 on the dot, the opener Del Mar had already left the stage. Sublime With Rome took the stage and kicked off with “Wrong Way.” It took me a few songs to warm up to the fact that obviously Rome was not Bradley Nowell. I have to admit, he did a great job and in front of so many die-hard Sublime fans, there’s no way it was an easy task. The new songs, especially “Take It Or Leave It,” sounded great and versions of the old songs were at the very least listenable and enjoyable. The crowd sang along to old favorites “What I Got,” “Santeria,” “Badfish” and “Smoke Two Joints.” Some of the highlights included a psychedelic cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias,” the reggae beat of “Don’t Push” and the energetic, set closing “Date Rape.” This is Sublime: The Next Generation. Bottom line is: they were better than I thought they would be and think they’ll stand well on their own.

While the quality of 311′s studio output has slowly declined over their last few albums, their live show is still unbeatable. I think 311 knows their recent material isn’t their strongest. Their set reflected this by shying away from all recent albums besides their newest release. Universal Pulse, their new album, clocks in with 8 songs and is under 30 minutes long, feeling more like an EP than an LP. Their setlist and Unity Tour closing show at Marymoor was one for the ages.

They kicked off with “Beautiful Disaster” and “From Chaos” before launching into “Sunset In July” right as the sun was descending towards the horizon. They followed this up with the old school 311 of “All Mixed Up” and the funkiness of their first single “Do You Right.” They threw in some songs for the dedicated fans, deep cuts they don’t play as often live. “Starshines” is a funky rap-rock mash-up from their excellent Transistor album. As a huge 311 fan the only song I used to loathe in the 311 cannon was “Brodels.” The song live isn’t half bad and is a tribute to their friends and crew. I might have to go back and re-evaluate that one.

Halfway through they kicked into “Applied Science” and broke out the now obligatory communal drumming interlude to accompany Chad Sexton’s amazing drum solo. No matter what you think of 311′s music there’s no denying they are immensely talented musicians. P-Nut’s bass solo later in the set was a highlight as were guitarist Tim Mahoney’s solos interspersed throughout the show. Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez were vocally spot on all night and I stood in awe that S.A. could still spit out rhymes with the same energy he had 15 years ago.

Out of all the other new songs “Trouble” shows the most promise as a hit, the most connection with the fans. They closed out the show with the live favorite “Who’s Got the Herb?” (apparently about ¾ of the crowd at Marymoor) and a high energy “Down,” dedicated to all the old school 311 fans in the house. Live, 311 has still got it. I hope the day will come again when their new studio music returns to the same high quality level of their live shows.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

311 - Chad Sexton (Pearl)

For most, 311’s Summer Unity Tour means exactly what the title suggests; the coming together of fans from all different backgrounds to celebrate the summer, and the love of music, all throughout the country. This year’s Summer Unity Tour proved, once again, to be the epitome of the perfect summer night, with 311 continuing where they left off during last year’s trek, making an unforgettable night for all. This year, 311’s annual summer tour seemed especially magical, with the band touring the states for the first time in support of their latest studio album, Universal Pulse, which hit the shelves just last month. Universal Pulse includes the hit song, “Sunset in July”, which instantly climbed to the top of the charts and became the song of the season for the millions of 311 fans around the world. This album, along with the 9 previous albums, have molded 311 into one of the biggest bands of today, in part to their endless series of hits, multi-platinum selling albums, and their unbelievable live concerts.

Pearl artist, Chad Sexton, is revered and idolized greatly in the drumming world. Having stormed onto the drumming scene with 311 over 20 years ago, Chad has continued to build up his reputation as one of the world’s finest drummers through his rock-solid playing and beautiful use of his well-versed rudiments. Chad’s clean and tasteful playing continue to be a major factor in the band’s success, with Chad always concentrating on the overall outcome of the song, putting the right drum parts to the right sections, and only displaying his chops when the musical piece allows enough space for it. This style of patient playing has become Chad’s signature technique, and has influenced thousands upon thousands of drummers who have grown alongside with 311’s remarkable career.

With the new, hot album, chart climbing single, and the quintessential summer tour on the docket, Chad unveiled his gorgeous new Pearl Reference Series kit, to keep up with 311’s theme of new and amazing. Chad’s new Reference Series kit has already made a big splash and stirred up a huge amount of interest, and compliments, throughout the drumming world, and for a very good reason. The custom finish, which was designed by Chad and perfected in Pearl’s Factory, serves as the perfect centerpiece to 311’s stage, with the stunning teal and white burst capturing the audience’s attention and adding a whole new visual factor to the band’s performance. The specs on Chad’s new kit are as follow:

Reference Series: Custom teal/white burst

6x6- rack tom
8x7- rack tom
10x8- rack tom
12x9- rack tom
13x10- rack tom
14x14- floor tom
16x16- floor tom
20x14- gong drum
22x18- kick drum
14x5- Free Floating Snare Drum (maple)

Along with the noted special order drums, like the 6x6 rack tom and the 20x14 gong drum, Chad also uses a set of Pearl Rocket Toms, which serve as a major part to 311’s signature drum solo, and also throughout various sections of the band’s set. Both the Rocket Toms and the Gong drums were custom painted to match the rest of the kit. For his snare, Chad went back to his old ways with a 14x5 maple Free Floating Snare Drum, which has been his go-to snare drum throughout his lengthy career. Between the free floating maple shell, and his technique, Chad is able to pull a varied amount of full-bodied tones and a large amount of crack from the shallow snare, along with, and including, the high-pitched ringing tone that he is often recognized by.

The Pearl name is proudly displayed throughout the aforementioned drum solo, which serves as the highlight to any and every 311 concert. Composed and designed by Chad himself, this year’s solo included a set of Surdo drums, from Pearl’s Brazilian Percussion line, along with multiple 12x5 Firecracker snare drums, and a gorgeous 36x16 PBE Concert Bass Drum.

Although 311’s Summer Unity Tour is sadly coming to a close, the band will be back in a big way soon, with plans for their second Caribbean Cruise in the works, along with their biyearly 311 Day, which will be held in Las Vegas. For more information on 311 and Chad Sexton, please be sure to visit the band’s website at Also be sure to pick up a copy of 311’s new album, Universal Pulse, which is available wherever music is sold.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

311 w/ Sublime with Rome @ Verizon Wireless Amp – Review (YouTellConcerts)

Prior to attending this mini-Reggae fest, Sublime with Rome and 311, I will not lie…I was not looking forward to seeing Sublime with Rome. For one, I am not to fond of Sublime’s new song, and two, I felt like it was wrong seeing Sublime with Rome. They are not the genuine Sublime band that I grew up listening to.

To my surprise, however, Rome’s voice almost identically matched the beloved and legendary Bradely Nowell’s vocals. If you were to close your eyes and just listen to the music, it was almost as if you heard Bradley’s voice through the new frontman. Rome continues to sing out and play those guitar riffs in remembrance of Brad. So, although it was not the original band member up there, it was still amazing to hear someone sound so close to the original Sublime “sound.” I greatly enjoyed listening and singing along to the old Sublime tunes that I once loved.

Photo by Jorge Meza

Sublime started off the night with “Smoke Two Joints,” and that was exactly what the crowd did. Everyone pulled out their rolled joints and started lighting up; but pipes and joints were not the only things that were being lit up.

Up in the meadows, which was the furthest “pit” overlooking the stage and whole arena, the fans went wild. You found crazy hardcore fans burning cups, their clothes, and whatever one was able to find or willing to burn. They created their very own homemade bonfire in a knocked over trash bin. As flames burned from the grass, the security guards could only stand there as they watched those unstoppable fans tumble over, mosh around and run over this fire pit while Sublime with Rome continued on with their performance. This attitude and behavior reminded me of the 90′s, when Grunge, Ska and a mixture of Punk Rock were put together to create an “eff the world, eff the norm” mentality and mannerism; I felt like we were back in the 90′s.

All together, the whole crowd’s vibe was in tune. As you stood there singing and dancing to the all-time classic songs “Wrong Way,” “Santeria,” and “Summertime,” you felt everyone’s energy in sync with the old Sublime fans and even the new Sublime with Rome fans. As the favorite jam, “What I Got,” was performed, Rome pointed the mic out to the audience inviting every fan out there to sing aloud the well-known ending lyrics repeatedly, “Lov-in’… is What I GOT. I said Remember That.”

As Sublime with Rome stated that they were about to play their last song for the night, the crowd “Boo”ed as they screamed “We love you!” “Date Rape” started up and the crowd lost it. Thousands of fans screamed along to the song as their fingers and hands waved in the air. The song came to a close, and the band thanked the fans for all their love and support as they exited the stage. The crowd called for an encore, but sadly they did not return.

Fresh off of their first 311 Pow Wow festival, 311 rolled into Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and delivered on the promise of their new album, “Universal Pulse,” and put on a perfect summer show.

Photo by Jorge Meza

They stormed out with a fan favorite, “Beautiful Disaster,” to get the crowd going and never let up. 311 played many of their older tunes and mixed in “Sunset in July” and “Wild Nights” from their new album as well. The extremely loyal following that 311 have developed was in full force singing their hearts out through most of the set. 311 bypassed some of their more popular slow jams such as “Love Song” to keep the energy going. The pinnacle of the show was their famous drum solo. There are few better concert experiences than watching Chad Sexton rip into his drum solo in the middle of “Applied Science” with the other members of the band joining in on their own individual drums. By the time they break back into the end of the song, the whole crowd is jumping up and down to the beat. 311 brought the show to an end with their cover of Bad Brain’s “Who’s Got the Herb” coupled with “And A Ways To Go;” finishing up with “Creatures For Awhile.”

With 20 years behind them, the only negative to a 311 show is that you leave wanting more. All you hear around you while exiting is people in the crowd talking about what they wanted to hear. I scratched that itch by hitting up a local karaoke bar in Irvine and helped some friends belt out a few more 311 jams.

311 and Sublime With Rome (Hollywood Jesus)

Marking Santa Barbara Bowl’s 75th anniversary, this summer’s lineup has already been an incredible one, and isn’t letting up anytime soon. The Bowl has already played host to big names like Katy Perry and Incubus this past month, and upcoming highlights include Ray LaMontagne, Fleet Foxes, Journey, and Death Cab For Cutie. As always, incredible acts keep flocking to this gorgeous venue, and any trip there makes it easy to see why.

On their sixth annual Summer Unity Tour, 311 once again returned to sunny Santa Barbara, this time with the newly (re) formed Sublime With Rome along for the ride. Fans, young and old, packed out the Bowl on a beautiful August afternoon last weekend, to hear both bands, and to experience a whole heap of what summer has to offer.

After a short set by Del Mar, a female-fronted surf rock band, which also feature’s Sublime’s drummer Bud Gaugh, Sublime With Rome took the stage and the crowd officially went nuts. After the untimely death of Sublime’s lead singer, Bradley Nowell in 1996, Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson let the band die off as well, and pursued other side projects throughout the years. Not until 2009, when they met a young Rome Ramirez, did they decide to put the band back together, so to speak, not to try to replace Nowell, but to play on in his honor.

The old familiar sounds of 40oz. to Freedom all rushed back, as the band opened with the same sound clips and samples that peppered their 1992 debut album, and crashed into a non-stop mashup of Sublime’s old hits. It’s incredible how much Ramirez can sound like Nowell when he’s trying, and his youthful energy and punk-rock spirit seemed to uplift Gaugh and Wilson, while breathing new life into the music.

The crowd sang along, moshed in time with, and generally took a trip down memory lane, as the trio, backed by a DJ and a saxophonist, rocked their way through familiar tracks like “Badfish” and “Santeria,” as well as lesser known gems like “Right Back” and their cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias.” It’s amazing what an impact Sublime still has to this day, and it’s a huge credit to Nowell’s impressive legacy to see that many fans singing along to just about every song.

Also mixed into the session were a few of the new tracks off of Sublime with Rome’s first official album, Yours Truly. Tunes like “Panic” and “Murdera” held up pretty well against some of the older songs, but you could tell that the classics were what the fans really wanted to hear. SWR returned the favor and closed with an inspired version of “What I Got,” as well as Sublime’s first hit, and subsequent crowd favorite, “Date Rape.” While I can’t say I ever had the privilege of seeing Sublime live in person, I’m pretty sure this is as close as I’ll ever get, and it was a great show.

SWR could have been the headliners, and it still would have been a stellar concert, but thankfully, 311, one of the best live bands out there, still had a few hours left to jam and close out the evening. Boasting the same lineup for almost twenty years now, Nick Hexum (vocals/guitar), Doug “SA” Martinez (backup vocals/programming), Tim Mahoney (lead guitar), P-Nut (bass), and Chad Sexton (Drums) are all incredible masters of their instruments, and have really perfected the art of the live stage show. While they may not be putting out as many hits on the radio as they used to, their fan following has remained enormous, and their concert experience is one of the best out there today.

The minute Mahoney’s guitar started crunching out the intro power chords to “Beautiful Disaster,” the Bowl erupted. The quintet bounced around stage, displayed their musical prowess, and the resulting energy in the crowd was so positive and vibrant. With a style definitely all their own, the best way to describe the band comes off the lyrics from their 1999 hit “Come Original,” where Hexum sings “Funk slap bass mixed with the dance hall, and hip hop beats and punk guitar, and deadly on the mic is the one SA, the name is 311 and you know it ain’t easy.”

Hexum and Martinez traded lyrical licks like some sort of rap leapfrog game, while the rest of the band cranked through hits like “Prisoner” and “All Mixed Up,” and it was hard to ignore the talents of both P-Nut and Sexton. P-Nut got his own chance to shine, as the audience roared in awe of his bass solo, as there are few out there who can “slap da bass” like him, and then the highlight of the evening was when Sexton got his own drum solo. Playing some of the fastest and most ridiculous beats on one of the biggest drum kits I’ve ever seen, everyone was up on their feet cheering him on, for over five minutes. That then led into a 311 concert standard, where the entire band gets on a drum, and bangs along in time impressively, like some kind of crazy Vegas show act.

With ten albums to their names, and such a huge catalog of hits, it was really cool to hear them go deeper into the vaults with live versions of tracks like “Large in the Margin,” “1,2,3,” and “Do You Right.” They truly own their entire collection, and the energy never let up or took a break. Fans even seemed to be digging the new songs off of last month’s release Universal Pulse, especially their new unofficial Unity Tour anthem, “Sunset in July.” As the musical harbingers of the summertime, their lyrics “Sunset in July, rockers by my side, and time is flying by. Watching you dancing and having the time of your life, and it’s getting me high” rang true throughout the Bowl that evening.

I’m pretty sure everyone in the crowd sang along with lighters up to the mellowed out hit “Amber,” but by the time they closed the show with “Down” they were all back on their feet again in happy little mosh pits, and the inevitable encore brought on a few more past hits, including one of my favorites, “Creatures (For A While).” Another incredible showing by the five guys from Omaha, Nebraska, and over twenty years since the band’s birth, they showed absolutely no signs of slowing down.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

311 Comes Home (Westside Wired)

311 proudly took the stage Tuesday, July 19, in their hometown of Omaha in the RedSky Music Festival. With 7,300 fans welcoming their performance at TD Ameritrade Park, the band felt right at home. The concert was a mixture of all their classic songs but also a number of new singles from their newest album, Universal Pulse, which was released the Tuesday of the festival.

The excitement of performing in their hometown and promoting their brand new album certainly had 311 feeling much excitement. However, 311 weren’t the only ones excited. No amount of heat or sweat could have kept all the screaming fans away.

Opening earlier for 311 was another famous and classic band, Sublime. Sublime started off the day full of music. With their upbeat alternative music, fans were already jumping around and singing along early afternoon. Fans all over the stadium were feeling the great atmosphere the outdoor venue had to offer.

Throughout the afternoon, a large water hose poured over a section of the stadium allowing energetic fans to cool off the summer heat while showing off their dance moves. With all the dancing either in the water or the moshpits between the 7,000 fans, all who attended showed how they were enjoying the return of 311.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Eclectic Bands Team Up At Shoreline (KTVU)

Founded in Omaha, Nebraska, during the early '90s, alternative rock quintet 311 has built up a loyal fan base since appearing on the national scene with their debut recording, 'Music,' in 1993. Touching on the Red Hot Chili Peppers funky punk while adding elements of hard rock, hip hop and reggae, the group has maintained it popularity through over two decades of existence since being founded by lead singer/guitarist Nick Hexum with relentlessly touring, a positive message and a high-energy stage show.

311 has maintained its popularity despite being unable to match the chart success of their mid-1990s hits "Down" and "All Mixed Up," selling out their annual "311 Day" marathon concerts (held each year on March 11th) and embarking on their well-attended Summer Unity Tours teamed with such acts as Ziggy Marley, The Expendables, Snoop Dog, Offspring and Matisyahu. This year, the group partners with equally eclectic reunited '90s band Sublime with Rome.

The Long Beach-based punk/ska band was on the cusp of a mainstream breakthrough in 1996 when singer and principle songwriter Bradley Nowell died of a drug overdose in San Francisco while on tour. Having already built up a strong regional following as part of Southern California's early 1990s ska revival alongside the likes of No Doubt, Sublime's mix of ska, reggae, punk, surf rock, and hip hop on its self-released debut '40 Oz. to Freedom' scored the group its first hit with "Date Rape." The group eventually scored a deal with MCA, but was dealt a tragic blow with Nowell's death just months before their eponymous third album came out to wide acclaim and huge sales fueled by alt-rock radio hits "What I Got," "Wrong Way" and "Doin' Time" (a creative, sample-driven version of George Gershwin's "Summertime").

While surviving members Bud Gaugh (drums) and Eric Wilson (bass guitar) initially disbanded the group to work under the Long Beach All-Stars moniker along with other projects, two years the pair brought on Bay Area singer/songwriter Rome Ramirez. The partnership, forced by legal reasons to work as Sublime with Rome, has been largely embraced by fans and recently issued its first album 'Yours Truly.'

311 and Sublime with Rome
Tuesday, August 23, 6:30 p.m. $15-$70
Shoreline Amphitheatre

Sublime with Rome and 311 Headline Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (Neon Tommy)

Long Beach, California natives, Sublime with Rome lit up Saturday night’s clear sky at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater as they split the stage with 311. The two 90s and 2000s modern rock artists, while very distinct from one another, brought together a magical blend of rock, ska, and reggae in the amphitheater.

While many devoted Southern California fans, with a median age around the mid 20s, showed up to hear their favorite bands perform back to back, Sublime’s new front man, Rome, still had to prove himself to some very loyal original Sublime (with deceased guitarist and vocalist Bradley Nowell) enthusiasts.

Sublime and 311 represent more than music; they represent an attitude, a culture, and a lifestyle – often associated with (whether deserved or not) marijuana.

Just as the exit off the 405 towards the amphitheatre started to no longer back-up and spill onto the freeway, Sublime with Rome, whose genre-blending style incorporates dub, reggae, punk rock, rockabilly and several, other genres, took the stage as the sun was going down.

While drummer, Bud Gaugh, and bassist, Eric Wilson played well live, as presumed, controversial guitarist and vocalist, Rome, needed to perform even better to please the eager crowd.

For this writer’s ears, Rome disappointed from time to time in his vocalist capabilities, but still managed help put on a fantastic set overall, playing many Sublime favorites amidst songs such as ‘Panic’ and the light an catchy, ‘PCH,’ off their early July 2011 album, Yours Truly.

Still, ‘Santeria’ was perhaps the biggest crowd-pleaser based on the amount of audience members singing along. Even though a man twirling fire in the grassy terrace section of the amphitheater stole a few minutes of attention away from the stage, Sublime with Rome’s closing song of the night – ‘Date Rape’ – tasted like sweet perfection, peace, and love.

Sublime then gladly introduced their friends – 1995 mainstream alternative rock breakthroughs – 311.

311 is composed of Nick Hexum, Doug "SA" Martinez, Tim Mahoney, Aaron "P-Nut" Wills and Chad Sexton. Hexum and Martinez were a superb vocal collaboration; the effortless bouncing between Hexum’s deep and strong voice and Martinez’s higher and whinier pitch was as smooth as melted butter on toast.

While Sexton pumped out a strong performance on the drums throughout the entire show, towards the middle of the set, he went into a long, heart-pounding, drum solo praised and applauded by his fans.

Similar to Sublime with Rome, 311 played many old favorites, like ‘All Mixed Up’ and ‘Loco’ – a song inspired by mushrooms – mixed with more recently written songs off of there newly released (July 19) album, Universal Pulse.

The set jumped between heavier, more metal and rap infused songs to pump up the crowd and light, relaxing melodies to reflect the audience’s generally mellow state.

Yes, there was (to my reluctance) audience arm-swaying, yes, there was lots of genre bending, and yes, it was, as Hexum declared, “a big positive celebration” that was a hell-of-a (notice the dashes Northern Californians) good show.

Live Review: 311 & Sublime with Rome at Santa Barbra (

Last night, 311 and Sublime with Rome lit up the Santa Barbara Bowl to a packed house of devoted fans and followers.

The whole evening had a celebratory vibe, from the pre-show music courtesy of DJ Soulman to the familiar sounds of both bands.

Taking the stage and going right into Smoke Two Joints, Sublime with Rome had the crowd up on its feet throughout their hour-long set.

Original Sublime band members Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh slammed through the songs that put the Long Beach band on the map in the mid-1990s, while new vocalist/guitarist Rome Ramirez did an impressive job channeling the spirit of former front man Bradley Nowell.

The band mixed between classic Sublime tracks like Santeria, What I Got, Wrong Way, April 29 1992, Badfish, Date Rape, and Scarlet Begonias (a Grateful Dead cover) and tunes from the band's new album Yours Truly (such as Murdera and Panic). In all, their set was a lively trip down memory lane for many of the fans in attendance, and hearing some classic Sublime songs live was a pretty enjoyable and fun way to get warmed up for 311.

Hitting the stage amid a great light display and fevered anticipation, 311 launched right into mega-hit Beautiful Disaster, from the band's 1997 album Transistor. Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Nick Hexum, rapper/DJ Doug "S.A." Martinez, bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills, guitarist Tim Mahoney and drummer Chad Sexton reciprocated the crowd's energy throughout the set, which touched on songs from all throughout the band's career.

The band delighted hardcore fans with rarely-played songs such as Stealing Happy Hours, Large in the Margin, Purpose, 1,2,3, Six, Eons, and From Chaos, while also appealing to fans of the band's more well-known tunes like Come Original, All Mixed Up, Down, Flowing, Amber, and Creatures (For Awhile), which ended the encore.

In all, 311's set demonstrated the band's ability to entertain a devoted audience with a diverse, crowd-pleasing set list of songs. In addition to reaching back deep in their catalog, the band showcased some new jams from the recently-released Universal Pulse, including Sunset in July, Rock On, Count Me In, and Time Bomb, and each had the typically crisp 311 live sound to them already. It's clear the band enjoys playing the new songs just as much as the classics, and it comes across in the quality of their live show.

By the time the show ended around 10 pm, everyone left satisfied. 311 puts on one of the best live shows around, and considering the band is nearing its 20th year with the same lineup, that's really saying something.

This show came at the tail end of the band's 2011 Unity Tour. After this, 311 will rest up a bit before hitting the road again in the spring, culminating in another 311 Day event in Las Vegas. A 2-day concert this time, the weekend will be a festive celebration of the band by fans who will gather in Sin City for an unforgettable event. For more information about 311 Day 2012 and also the band's recently-announced Cruise, visit their official website.

311 and Sublime with Rome at the Santa Barbara Bowl (Santa Barbra Independant)

If I had to make one overarching generalization about human behavior based solely on the recent Sublime with Rome and 311 show at the Santa Barbara Bowl, it would look something like this: people prefer the familiar, give them a tune they know versus something they’ve never heard and chances are they will go bonkers for the former.

Lucky for the near-capacity and generally quite enthused Sunday evening crowd, both Sublime with Rome and 311 are quite adept at delivering both familiar and beloved jams. As the Bradley Nowell-less Sublime rocketed through a set list comprised almost entirely of the genre-bending, hyper-brilliant catalog penned by their late frontman, the audience—an all-ages blend with a definitive affinity for tasteful arm tattoos and hipster fedoras—ate them up joyously in big cloud of cannabis smoke. Songs like “Santeria,” “Wrong Way,” “Summer Time” (the saxophone of which was certainly something worth remarking), “What I Got,” and “Date Rape” all caused full on, Bowl-wide sing-alongs, and even the occasional mosh pit. However, when the tunes took a turn toward the new—specifically Sublime’s singles off their new studio album—folks were not nearly as impressed. “Take It or Leave It” and “She’s a Murderer,” though not entirely bad, sounded pedestrian when stacked up next to the old school Sublime hits.

Paul Wellman
The headliners provided no exception to my hypothesis. Anything but a stranger to the Bowl, the boys from 311—who seem to have played here virtually every year since our little sandstone amphitheater first opened—put on a show Sunday night as energetic and inspired as perhaps they have ever done before for the Santa Babylon crowd. From “Beautiful Disaster” to “Amber” to “Come Original,” 311 was all bounce and energy, injecting just enough edge in their staple hits to inspire a whole new generation of teenage fans to go out and get a speeding ticket while driving their parent’s car.

Paul Wellman
Though they didn’t elicit quite to the same “Wow, this really misses the mark” reactions as Sublime’s new songs, 311’s cuts from their recently released Uplifter (“Time Bomb,” “Sunset in July”) seemed to fall a bit short for the crowd. Heads were bobbing and beer was being spilled, but not many seemed motivated to aim their cameras and press “record.” All of this was quickly forgotten though as bassist P-Nut embarked on a truly epic solo, and the ganja smoke rose once again into the flashing blue lights of the stage. The audience, now grooving on something they knew by heart, took a collective step back into the bliss, screaming with pleasure and raising their phones in the now universal sign of concert-going approval.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fans party up with 311, Sublime with Rome (OC Register)

As soon as the lights went out, screaming ensued and the band kicked into “Beautiful Disaster” -- but there was nothing disastrous about the beautiful show 311 put on Saturday night in Irvine. The Omaha band that for decades has blended cool rock, rap and reggae into the catchiest of songs returned this weekend to a familiar O.C. stomping ground, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, for the second of three Southern California stops on its annual Unity Tour, this year also featuring Sublime with Rome.
There was plenty of head-bobbing, moshing, jumping and everything in between Saturday night, thanks to lead vocalist Nick Hexum’s energy, SA Martinez’s rapping (though it was nice to get a break from that during the likes of “Amber” and “Beautiful Disaster”) and the rest of the band’s talents, all showcased throughout the set, including via an entertaining solo from drummer Chad Sexton.

“What we have here is a whole positive celebration!” Hexum said to cheers while dedicating “Down” to “all the old-school 311 fans in the house.”
There were plenty on hand, from moshers in the pit to devotees squeezed onto the lawn, and they took in a show packed with favorites. Among the more hardcore of songs was “Jackpot,” which brought out the intensity of the crowd, many of whom threw their hands up while screaming the title.
Not hearing “I’ll Be Here Awhile” or “Don’t Tread on Me” in the mix was a disappointment, but 311 outdid itself when the band joined Sexton in a brief but awesome drum session, banging large tom-toms in sync before Hexum tossed his sticks to two lucky fans and launched into “Come Original,” causing hands to go up in the air. Their set lasted nearly two hours, and while some made their way to the exits early (beating typically bad traffic out of Verizon), most stayed behind until the stage's bright green, purple and at times red lights went dim.

This also was a homecoming (of sorts) for Sublime with Rome after touring the states for some two months. “I f***in' love this sh**, man. We’re home, we’re playing for you m*****f******,” said 23-year-old replacement vocalist and guitarist Rome Ramirez - although, Fremont native that he is, he wore a Giants cap for this visit. (Drummer Bud Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson are the ones from Long Beach.)

A mix of Sublime staples and a few (like standouts “Panic” and “PCH”) from the band’s July debut with Ramirez, Yours Truly, kept this T-shirt-reppin’ crowd (most of whom smoked more than two joints) in a nonstop frenzy. It was a sight to see, a Sublime fan base that pulled from both corners of the spectrum, from older fans who remember the late Bradley Nowell like it was yesterday (and possibly wanted to check out his vocal doppelganger) to a new generation of youth, some young enough to sit on their parents’ shoulders, who were too young to have seen the real thing.
The consensus was clear, if the two fans behind me were any indication: “He’s cool,” said the energetic blond about Ramirez. “I know,” replied the older gentleman next to her.
Far from a tribute band, Sublime with Rome proved they have a growing, well-deserved following for both their revival and new material. It was easy to see why Saturday night as soon as Ramirez opened his mouth, given his uniquely beautiful voice and the distinctive falsetto he often places at the ends of verses. (His rendition of “Rehab,” inspired by Amy Winehouse’s passing last month, really shows off his skill. Too bad he didn’t perform it here.)

Comparing him to Nowell doesn’t do either singer any justice: Ramirez should be praised for his chops as much as Nowell should be remembered for his mercurial talent.
The new Sublime got through as many classics as they could in the 90-some minutes they had, managing to include “Doin’ Time,” “Wrong Way” and “Badfish” (my all-time fave), all of which had the ska lovers in attendance joining in and grooving to the beats, with bodies swaying and hands flailing. I almost chuckled when Rome asked who knew “Santeria” to help sing it -- as if any self-respecting Sublime fan wouldn't. (I’m sure he deliberately mentioned that for the reaction it evoked.)
During one of Ramirez's finer guitar solos, some concert-goers were temporarily distracted by a guy burning a fire (using who-knows-what) in the lawn area, as has happened at so many Weenie Roasts in the past. Kinda cool, but I couldn't help but wonder: Where was security?

Audience participation during “What I Got” (abetted by a guitarist Ramirez called Cheese, if my ears didn’t deceive me) was at a high level, the frontman sparking another singalong: “It’s your turn, Orange County!” he said, holding the mic toward the crowd, who then chanted the chorus.
Rowdy fans were quick to show their dismay by yelling “no!” and booing at the mention of the set coming to a close; clearly they hadn't had enough and weren’t ready to see the band go. The vocalist quickly put a stop to that, however, re-energizing the crowd for the remainder of the show. It was as if they had read the crowd’s mind in choosing to end with “Date Rape.” “Orange County, one last time, let me hear you f***in' scream!” Ramirez shouted as he rocked out, feeding off fans' energy.
Chants of “we want more” after they left the stage were in vein. Yet Sublime with Rome still left concert-goers with fun memories from a band whose original spirit is being kept alive by a strong new voice.

311, new Sublime bring positive vibes to Verizon (OC Register)

As soon as the lights went out, screaming ensued and the band kicked into “Beautiful Disaster” — but there was nothing disastrous about the beautiful show 311 put on Saturday night in Irvine. The Omaha band that for decades has blended cool rock, rap and reggae into the catchiest of songs returned this weekend to a familiar O.C. stomping ground, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, for the second of three Southern California stops on its annual Unity Tour, this year also featuring Sublime with Rome.

There was plenty of head-bobbing, moshing, jumping and everything in between Saturday night, thanks to lead vocalist Nick Hexum’s energy, SA Martinez’s rapping (though it was nice to get a break from that during the likes of “Amber” and “Beautiful Disaster”) and the rest of the band’s talents, all showcased throughout the set, including via an entertaining solo from drummer Chad Sexton.

“What we have here is a whole positive celebration!” Hexum said to cheers while dedicating “Down” to “all the old-school 311 fans in the house.”

There were plenty on hand, from moshers in the pit to devotees squeezed onto the lawn, and they took in a show packed with favorites. Among the more hardcore of songs was “Jackpot,” which brought out the intensity of the crowd, many of whom threw their hands up while screaming the title.

Not hearing “I’ll Be Here Awhile” or “Don’t Tread on Me” in the mix was a disappointment, but 311 outdid itself when the band joined Sexton in a brief but awesome drum session, banging large tom-toms in sync before Hexum tossed his sticks to two lucky fans and launched into “Come Original,” causing hands to go up in the air. Their set lasted nearly two hours, and while some made their way to the exits early (beating typically bad traffic out of Verizon), most stayed behind until the stage’s bright green, purple and at times red lights went dim.

Friday, August 19, 2011

311's Nick Hexum Loves The Beatles, The Clash, and The Smiths (Audio Ink Radio)

Over two decades have passed since 311 first got together and started dreaming up reggae-inspired alternative rock nuggets such as “Creatures (For a While)” and “All Mixed Up.” The guys are back this year with a new album, Universal Pulse (which dropped in July), and a mega tour with fellow alternative rockers Sublime with Rome.
Nick Hexum, frontman for the Omaha-based group, says bands such as the Clash and the Smiths started it all.

“The Clash… was the band that totally blew my mind,” he told Westword. “They had the energy of punk with reggae mixed in. They had this attitude that anything goes. We’ve been influenced by that. I also went through a huge Beatles phase. I listened to a lot of the Smiths, the Cure, when alternative was truly alternative…”

As for 311’s unrivaled longevity, Hexum always knew the guys had a chance to make it long-term.

“I believed it was definitely possible,” he said. “In fact, you really have to believe in yourself. You go through disappointment and rejections, and people tell you it’s not going to work, but you have to believe in yourself. I was betting everything on it. I thought we were going to be successful, but it has exceeded a lot of my expectations.”

311 will rock out on a special Caribbean Cruise from May 10 to 14, 2012, running from Miami to Half Moon Clay in the Bahamas. Tickets will go on sale in early October. Check the band’s official website for updates.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

311, the De Facto Jam Band (OC Weekly)

The more than two-decade path to stardom for Omaha rock combo 311 has taken the outfit down a circuitous path—from early grassroots fans, weed-loving frat guys, mainstream radio fodder-eaters and back to the grassroots set. For a band to survive this length of time, and keep its lineup wholly intact, is not only rare in this day and age, it may never happen again.

For better or worse, 311 are what the majority of up-and-comers should strive for. Yeah, their hipster indie cachet is probably almost as low as Good Charlotte's or whatever crap-slanger is penetrating the likes of KROQ these days, but their résumé thwarts any flash-in-the-pan argument at the door. The band started in garages, played parties, hit the road, struck radio gold and platinum multiple times, and now have a loyal following bent on hearing the old stuff and not buying the new stuff.

That's all any ambitious young outfit can hope for. In today's setting, playing the party circuit—or hell, even the garage—and slapping a catchy tune on YouTube can take a collection of unknowns directly into the public eye. Longevity is basically out of the picture. It's write a snappy tune or two—maybe—and then on to the next thing. That's just the facts of the current paradigm, under which record companies hardly make any money and just hope to rake in as much as they can while the iron is hot.

"A lot of the bands that were around when we started, even 10 years after, aren't doing it anymore," 311 mouthpiece, guitar player and general overlord Nick Hexum said. "They fizzled for a number of reasons, but I think the reason we've been able to stay around is because we've always been a band that loves playing live and connecting with people."

The human connection takes time to hone. One song can penetrate the general consciousness but it takes time on the road and proving you can write other songs to really make an impact. 311 found their connective message in a place where a lot of their contemporaries refused to go. The late '90s, the band's apex of popularity, found them doing battle on the charts with the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach and myriad other rap-metal clones preaching messages of anger and frustration. 311 set themselves apart with their message of joy, nonstop partying and fun. After a while even the surliest of bastards gets tired of being angry. But joy? And fun? That never gets old.

"Everybody seems to be able to relate to something in our songs," Hexum said. "I think that's why people enjoy watching us play live. . . . We're able to help people have a good time because they can see that we're having a good time, too."

The instrumentally astute 311 have also become a de facto jam band in the same way that Pearl Jam have—with good reason. People follow them around, year after year, on the road, because fans love dancing to their good-time music. So the band have taken their live efforts to a new level. The group headlined their very own Pow Wow Festival in early August, where they were joined by multiple other acts such as the Deftones, G. Love & Special Sauce, Ozomatli, and plenty more. The three-day affair featured four sets from the headliner including a start-to-finish performance of its 1997 platinum breakthrough, Transistor.

"I think rock & roll tourism, actually making a concert into a destination event, is what people are looking for," Hexum said. "There is so much disposable music out there, but something like this with great bands and musicians playing live is something that fans of bands that have had real careers really appreciate."

311: 'Universal Pulse' – 4.5 out of 5 stars (Maneater)

If you are a fan of 311, then Universal Pulse will not disappoint. The band continues to bring fans its familiar sound but has done it in a way that still makes it interesting.

The first three tracks on Universal Pulse display the heavier side of 311. The first song, “Time Bomb,” starts out with a slow driving riff that builds up quickly. The song becomes even more rowdy as the chorus kicks in, “ticking like a time bomb, watch me go off.”

The lead single, “Sunset In July,” creates the transition on the album from heavy to calm. The song starts out with a light, relaxing guitar line and keeps switching from a soft to heavy sound between the verses and chorus. “Sunset In July” encompasses the relaxed feeling that many people try to construct for themselves during the summer months.

The album then leads into its lighter side with the song “Trouble.” This song features more of the reggae-style rock that has attracted many people to the band, which includes playing the guitar with up-strokes and rapping during the verse. The band continues this sound into the very next song, “Count Me In.”

After the two reggae songs, the band gets heavier again on a song with the fitting title of “Rock On.” “Rock On” features another heavy riff with a slow rhythm that almost makes the listener head bang. That is until the bridge of the song, where it transitions smoothly into another soothing sound that continues during the the next two songs, “Weightless” and “And A Ways To Go.”

“Weightless” is a song that puts you in the mood to sit around and enjoy the day, or however you relax when you listen to 311. The feeling in the song is again set by the guitar line, and during the drum fills in the chorus, you may feel urged to sing along with the words, “weightless, weightless, everyone of us is weightless.”

“And A Ways To Go” rounds out the album on a high note. As it continues with the laid back feel most of the album has made, the song climaxes during a bass solo that shows why P-Nut is one of the best bass players around.

Universal Pulse shows what 311 is all about and shows that a band can continue to bring something interesting to fans while remaining to keep its same sound.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Live review: 311, Sublime with Rome @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre (Denver Post)

Welcome to 1995 in 2011. Sublime with Rome and 311 brought their Unity Tour house party jams to Red Rocks Amphitheatre for a venerable throwback night.

Sublime with Rome is still mostly playing the same material that was recorded with original singer Bradley Nowell in the early 1990s, while 311 has recorded 10 studio albums that haven’t evolved the band’s sound much further than their breakthrough self-titled album in 1995. You might even accuse these bands of being “cover” bands of their own material. Their members have grown older, but their music and stage persona is stuck in the ’90s, and they almost appear to be filling roles they created for themselves 20 years ago.

So what does that leave us with? A highly entertaining show, a wildly enthusiastic crowd and one of the more enjoyable nights at Red Rocks I’ve experienced this summer. It was about the whole experience. While the music may not be as fresh as it once was, the bands surely have a perfect “summer in Colorado” vibe.

Of course Sublime with Rome opened with “Smoke Two Joints” and set the crowd on the path for the evening. Speaking of the crowd, on my row alone was a group of middle school girls with matching braces, a group of high schoolers with their hats sideways and an unstoppable urge to dance, some mid-20 somethings that still shop at Hot Topic, all the way to balding 40+ crowd with their own kids in tow. And while it sounds like an awkward combo, it was actually pretty great to see them all united in dance under the cool Colorado sky.

While it is somewhat humorous to watch a bevy of white suburban kids enthusiastically yell, “187 on a motherfucking cop” during the chorus of “April 29, 1992,” a year in which many in attendance were born, it was clear most people were in attendance to dance, then smoke, then dance some more.

311 opened with “Beautiful Disaster” and quickly moved through a series of songs from the new album “Universal Pulse,” as well as more crowd favorites such as “All Mixed Up” and “Amber.” While new tunes such as “Sunset in July” sounded poppy to the point of boy-band status and caused notable lags in the crowd energy, ultimately the crowd danced and swayed at every opportunity to do so. And I have to say that I’m a sucker for drum solos that evolve into whole-band drum circles, no matter how pre-rehearsed.

According to 311′s lead singer Nick Hexum, this was the band’s 10th visit to Red Rocks, and by the large and relatively young crowd, it is probably a good bet that this won’t be the last.

This was the music of my high school years, and in the end I can say I have aged about as gracefully as the tunes in the air on this damp summer evening. That is to say not as well as I had hoped, but still fun in the right circumstances.

REVIEW: 311 and Sublime with Rome at The Backyard (The Horn)

A couple of bands that need no introduction, 311 and Sublim with Rome, played at The Backyard Sunday. Eli Watson was there to record his fond memories of the bands' sets, especially the distinct aroma of marijuana...

Reggae rock band 311 performed at The Backyard at Bee Cave on Sunday, August 14. Opening up for them was ska punk group Sublime with Rome, and DJs Trichrome and Soulman.

Do 311 really need an introduction? Rhetorical, I know. Having debuted in the late 80s, 311 is just one of those bands that have refined their sound with each new record they put out. The group is comprised of talented musicians, and they are completely malleable. You want a funk rock head-banger? Check out “Down.” You want a song you can serenade your significant other to? Check out “Amber.” These guys have a very eclectic sound, and seeing them live was an absolute honor.

As the sky turned black, a multitude of lighters broke through the darkness. People were getting in one last hit before 311 took the stage, and considering the amount of smoke I saw, they were making it count. Suddenly, blue lights flickered on, sporadically shining over vocalist/rhythm guitarist Nick Hexum as he went into “Jackpot.” The band immediately received applause as they ended “Jackpot” and went into “All Mixed Up.” Everyone was moving around and dancing as the band effortlessly went through the classic hit. After going through other songs such as, “Do You Right,” “Wild Nights,” and new songs from their latest album, Universal Pulse, the band went into “Applied Science.”

“Applied Science” melted everybody’s face. Drummer Chad Sexton took control of the song, going into a drum solo that, undeniably, would have left his influences (Buddy Rich, Ginger Baker and Bill Bruford) impressed. Sexton is not the only member of the band who likes hitting things; so does the rest of the band.

Lead guitarist Tim Mahoney was hitting pots and pans, while Hexum, vocalist S.A. Martinez and bassist P-Nut played on an assortment of drums. Throwing sticks in the air and hitting on just about anything they could, these guys could give the Blue Man Group a run for their money.

Continuing to showcase the band’s all-star roster, P-Nut blasted through a bass solo, where he was “slappin’ the bass” and then some. Throwing in some effects, finger taps and other things that made him look like a master of bass, P-Nut had the crowd going crazy. Keeping the energy high (no pun intended), the band went through fan-favorites, such as “Amber” and “Come Original,” before ending their set with “Down.” The band walked offstage for only a few minutes, before taking the stage again for an encore.

“Who’s got the herb,” asked Hexum as the band went into the identically song. People responded to Hexum’s question the best way they knew how to; by lighting up, and letting the smoke make its way to the stage, Hexum and the rest of the group in a trance-like state as the song mellowed everybody out. Luckily, that mellow only lasted momentarily as the band ended with “Creatures (For a While).” Walking offstage, the band thanked everybody for coming out, with Hexum ending the night with two final words: “stay positive.”

Those two words, I believe, resonated with everyone as we all left The Backyard. We all arrived at the venue, sweaty and hot, waiting for the moment when The Backyard would open its gates to musical happiness and take us away from the problems of a rough week. When we all left, we were smiling. Some of us were reciting 311 songs, while others were reciting Sublime with Rome songs. Regardless, we all left that show feeling good and rejuvenated, ready to face another week.

Underneath the cloud of smoke, empty beer cans and water bottles, was a very important message that Hexum never hesitated to say. “Stay positive” seemed to be the theme of the show, and considering the large collective of people there who left satisfied, blaring 311’s discography all the way back home, I think it is safe to say that Hexum is not only a man of music, but a man of wisdom.

We all have to make the best of our lives, and when we are going through hard times we deserve to treat ourselves to something that will remind us that life is not as bad as we make it out to be sometimes. 311 and the artists that played at The Backyard on Sunday were a treat to everybody that attended, and their performances will be something that will be cherished and remembered, for many years to come.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

311 frontman Nick Hexum on the Clash, being from Omaha and dealing with the haters (Denver Westword)

Hailing from Omaha long before bands like the Faint, Cursive or Bright Eyes became that city's chief exports, 311 (due tonight at Red Rocks with Sublime with Rome) was making its mark with its amalgam of rock, reggae, hip-hop and funk. Eight million records later, the outfit is still doing its thing. In advance of the act's return to Denver in support of a brand new album, Universal Pulse, we spoke with frontman Nick Hexum about growing up in Omaha, the influence of the Clash and dealing with the haters.

Westword: So it's been a long, long time since Unity. Did you ever think 311 would get so big?

Nick Hexum: I believed it was definitely possible. In fact, you really have to believe in yourself. You go through disappointment and rejections and people tell you it's not your going to work, but you have to believe in yourself. I was betting everything on it. I thought we were going to be successful, but it has exceeded a lot of my expectations.

Being from Omaha, Nebraska, what do you think of the indie rock scene that has evolved out of there over the past decade or so?

I'm proud of Omaha. I'm glad to hear that Omaha music is getting the attention it deserves. I always say Omaha is a lot cooler than people might think. When we were first coming out people were like, "Oh maybe this could be a hot spot for music." Now more bands have come out, and that's cool.

You're about to release your twelfth studio album. What keeps you inspired?

I guess it's just that we're music lovers fist. So we're fans of music, and we're always checking out new stuff -- like new styles, lyrics and sounds to be inspired by. There are whole new frontiers to be inspired by. Some people sound like old fogies and say that they won't listen to this or that, but there is something I like in every genre. I get inspired. I even like dub step.

Who were some of your musical influences as a kid?

The Clash. That was the band that totally blew my mind. They had the energy of punk with reggae mixed in. They had this attitude that anything goes. We've been influenced by that. I also went through a huge Beatles phase. I listened to a lot of the Smiths, the Cure, when alternative was truly alternative. Like R.E.M. was on the radio when I was in high school. It's interesting that there's always that one word. It's funny to me when a word has such a huge connotation. I know the word "alternative" is kind of obsolete. It's been replaced by indie rock in my opinion.

In the video for "Amber," you're wearing a Bad Brains shirt. Are you still a fan?

I'm a huge Bad Brains fan. I found the spirit, the music and the chaos of that band to be really cool.

How do you think growing up in Omaha shaped your musical style?

I feel like because the scene was kind of in the middle of America, it was a metaphor. We got the punk from L.A., the hip-hop from New York City and the reggae from Jamaica. We were always grabbing bits and pieces. I used to stand down at that music store, Drastic Plastic, to get any information I could get. It's so different with the internet now. You had to work really hard to get the music back then. We were so hungry for it that I think our work ethic is something unique. In California, kids kind of expect everything to be handed to them.

Do you think it is easier now to get signed? Does that bother you?

I don't feel any kind of bitterness. The truth is because we had to do it by word of mouth, we really developed ourselves. Some viral video will happen so quickly that they get a bunch of attention, but they aren't ready. They haven't developed enough so people lose interest. We were toiling away in the underground for so long we were ready for the attention. .

In this digital era, what is the most challenging aspect of the music business?

People really in the know of the music business say, "Okay, we're not really in the record sale business anymore; piracy killed it, so we moved the focus to the live show." That's what 311 was about anyway, so it hasn't had that much of an effect on us. In fact, we probably got more fans that haven't heard about us. You used to be have a career by staying home and just making albums, but that's not possible anymore. I wouldn't want to do that anyway.

What do they have to say to all the haters? Or is that just the quote-unquote "vocal minority" talking?

I don't even respond. There's just a world of so many opinions. You can't please everybody. No music is for everybody. Promoters do the best they can. I met a lot of artists and actors since I moved to L.A. When they get into their zone, they figure, 'Hey I'm not for everybody." There's other stuff to go listen to. I'm comfortable with it all.

What's the most important lesson you've learned about the industry over the years?

We were on Capricorn for fifteen years, five years on Jive and this is our first record on 311 records. It's a joint venture with ATO records. We just figured it's time to do it for ourselves. You have to expect to have to work and don't expect for things to come to you. We're doing remixes and art videos for a handful of songs. We're handing promotions for ourselves. You cant just write a song and hand it off to management. You have to help.

Any particular reason Universal Pulse is only 8 tracks? It's shorter than all of your previous records.

It's true. We just decided to put quality over quantity. We did four tours last year, and were on the road so much. We figured our fans would want to hear something sooner. We just picked the best songs and pursued them to the level of quality. I feel like this is our most solid album to date.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Concert Article: 311 Pow Wow Fest (The Pier)

Date:August 4th – 6th, 2011
Line up: 311, Sublime With Rome, Dirty Heads, SOJA, G. Love, Ballyhoo, The Movement, Supervillains & More
Location: Florida’s Suwannee Music Park in Northern Florida
What: 311 Pow Wow Festival

“I def left my heart at Pow Wow! I’m hooked and can’t wait to go to another!”

“Pow Wow was an experience I will be talking about in 30 years. Thanks for putting together an AMAZING weekend!”

“Words can’t describe!!! It was more than a concert – it was a community of positivity and love!”

“The only thing that could possibly top what went on there would be Pow Wow 2012.”

The above sentiments are just a small stash of the abundance of love being out-poured on Facebook and Twitter showing appreciation in the aftermath of 311’s first annual Pow Wow Festival held the weekend of August 4, 2011.

The vibe of musical-unity oozing from the enthusiasm is just a natural carryover from a concert-experience that had a chief aim of bringing people together in a celebration of melodies and lyrics.

It was revelry of song, dance and community that spread across the 500 acres of Florida’s Suwannee Music Park for three days. The Dixieland-like environment provided an ideal backdrop and honed in a picturesque “pow wow” ambiance, with its old-time scenery of cypress trees, Spanish moss and spring-fed lakes.

A tie-dyed scene of tents, RVs, canopies and pavilions bustling with mostly-bare bodies clad in bathing suits and colored with tattoos sprawled across Suwannee’s nestled campgrounds. Over the course of the three-day festival, the feet of thousands of music lovers frolicked and danced across the winding trails and sprawling fields of the park with a common mission of letting go and letting the loving take a hold. We were there to soak up the bouncing bass lines, thrashing drums, shinning horn sections, howling harmonicas and scratching vinyl of bands and DJs like Ozmatli, The Supervillains, Dirty Heads, Streetlight Manifesto, Ballyhoo!, G. Love and the Special Saude, DJ Soulman, SOJA, Deftones, Sublime with Rome and, the host of the whole shindig, 311.

By day, concertgoers of 311’s first fest spent afternoons doing whatever they could to deal with the wrath of Florida heat at its worst, which was made possible by the perfect combination of a cloudless sky and beaming sunshine mixed with plenty of humidity. To deal, methods included posting up under the nearest shady tree, which would provide an automatic relief, escaping to vehicles pumping air conditioners, walking through brilliantly provided spray mister-fan areas, or taking a dip in the coffee-colored and cool Suwannee River.

I am super disappointed to admit that where I camped was a hike by foot to the river, so I never made it down. However, I was given various first-hand accounts from some fellow campers hailing from Pennsylvania. I was told it was a whole lotta naked guys and gals jumping from rocks and enjoying complete freedom in the great outdoors. Again, not-so-stoked I missed out on these scenes of inhibition-less, carefree fun in the name of music.

People-watching at Pow Wow organically became a pastime, with one memorable snapshot being girls in trippy tutus twirling about with hot pink, yellow and purple feather headdresses as the Dirty Heads sang what they sang and everyone just sailed away on their percussion-infused rock-rap. As the Huntington Beach bros flowed on sudsy bass lines, I watched as their smart-ass yet silly and sensitive stylee washed over the crowd. By the middle of DH’s set, everyone was dancing, up off their tapestry blankets, hula hooping, blowing bubbles and grooving to the beach-street sounds of songs like “Believe,” “Stand Tall,” “Ring the Alarm,” “Paint it Black,” “Check the Level” and more off their debut album, Any Port in a Storm (EMG, 2010).

Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome joined the guys on stage to perform their collaboration radio hit, “Lay Me Down,” with a little rendition of Bob Marley’s “Hammer” mixed in as a prelude. A natural camaraderie between Ramirez and the urban-beach boys could be felt in the musical chemistry of the song, which personified what Ramirez told The Pier in a recent interview, “Anytime I get to kick it with the Dirty Heads I’m a happy guy.”

Following the Dirty Heads on Friday night, it was Ramirez’s turn to rage the Pow Wow stage as the front guy for a little band known as Sublime. Sublime with Rome played to a slightly sauced crowd and took the audience into a nighttime vibe, with the sun setting while the resurrected band mixed in tracks from their new album, Yours Truly (Fueled by Ramen, 2011), with the classics of OG Sublime. In the same interview, Ramirez told The Pier that the new tunes off Yours Truly were blending in nicely to sets on their 2011 tour. The sentiment was backed up on Friday as Bug Gaugh thrashed the drums and Eric Wilson walked the bass, jamming out tunes like “Panic,” “Badfish,” “What I Got,” “Lovers Rock,” “Date Rape,” and “Same Old Situation” for a set that was raucous and full of verve.

Each night, when the sun was gone and evening fell upon Pow Wow there was an electricity in the air accented by glow sticks and streams of string lights illuminating pathways to music and little tent communities that were beginning to feel more and more comfortable to those inhabiting the grounds for the weekend.

SOJA played the first night, Thursday, conjuring a musical-infused buzz that hummed through the air and exuded freedom and a no-worry vibe for all those taking part. The D.C.-bred, dread-head rockers dominated the stage with go-go infused reggae blended with bombastic bass lines, vibrant horn sections and Jacob Hemphill’s passionate and prolific lyricisms.

G. Love played into the sunset on Saturday night, serving up a stellar set of classics like “Cold Beverage” and “Basketball” mixed with the jug-chuggin’, down-home tracks off his latest release Fixin’ to Die (Brushfire Records, 2011). Songs like “Milk and Sugar,” and “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” were well received in the Suwannee venue and the raw, tangy-fresh energy of G. Love was an undeniable force that got everyone moving and shaking on the Pow Wow field.

311 played stellar sets on both Friday and Saturday evenings – each approximately two to three hours long. The hosts of the show played all of Transistor (Capricorn Records, 1997), tracks off their latest release, Universal Pulse (311 Records, 2011), and many 311 classics like “Come Original” and “All Mixed Up.” On Saturday night, I was right up at the front-right of the stage and definitely lost myself in song after song, while watching Nick Hexum guide and play to the energy from the stage. Sometimes it seemed that as the audience sang and screamed with 311-love he was getting off on it all more than we were, and it was a special thing to watch the whole sonic-wave interaction between audience and rock star on the final night of a music celebration.

I’m sure a lot of amazing parts and performances of Pow Wow didn’t get mentioned in this recap, but feel free to share your stories in the comments. Ultimately, it was a weekend of musical escape from society where everyone was free to enjoy summertime when the living’s easy. I’m counting on a 2012 Pow Wow, but my only suggestion would be a different time of year, like spring or fall. It was so damn hot.

Viva la Pow Wow!

311 & Sublime With Rome at Gexa Energy Pavilion (You+Dallas)

After forty consecutive days of triple-digit heat here in Dallas, 311 and Sublime With Rome brought the cooler weather and great vibes on that Saturday night.

Doors opened at 6:30PM and shortly after Sublime With Rome surprised the audience when they walked onstage well before their scheduled set time. A lifelong Sublime fan, I was curious to see how the crowd would react to Sublime With Rome, the reconstructed version of the California band, after the death of lead singer Bradley Nowell.

Sublime With Rome blew the doors off with Sublime song “Smoke Two Joints” to the delight of the crowd. They played a couple new songs off of their new album Yours Truly with the same reggae jams that fit the expectations. There were the same characteristics of Sublime with their style, audience and two-thirds of the band members. It was an awesome concert, but for me, Sublime was way more edgy with their lyrics in comparison to Sublime With Rome.

“Wrong Way” was played five songs in and it was then that the crowd really woke up. Many knew all the words and Rome let the audience fill in a couple of verses. Jared Watson, lead singer of the Dirty Heads, joined Rome to produce a unique sound. They ended their set with two fantastic Sublime covers, “What I Got” and “Santeria”.

Then the guys I have seen over 20 times in concert took the stage. Opening with “Beautiful Disaster” the crowd was jumping and singing like it was the greatest moment of their life.

The majority of the band members are in their 40′s and they are still going super strong. They played the drum solo as usual with a combo drum for S.A. and Tim, then the same for Nick and P-Nut. From what I can recall, the reaction from the audience was much stronger than usual during Chad’s beginning solo.

Old school favorite “All Mixed Up” really had the crowd feeling the jive. “Looks like another one of those nights here in Dallas!” said Nick.

“Amber” slowed it down and the crowd sang the entire song. Then Nick introduced P-Nut who played a solo ending with his usual fist in the hand ritual. 311’s most well known song “Down” was played to perfection before the encore where the crowd was out-of-control loud.

They came back for the encore with “Omaha Stylee” and ended with “Creatures” for another perfect 311 show.

After seeing 311 twice in Las Vegas, New Jersey, Kansas City and even for “311 Day” in New Orleans, these guys just know how to put on a show.

311 consistently perfects from beginning to end each song and gives their fans the crowd experience that they anticipate each show. These guys never cease to amaze me.

311 (In This Week)

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Friday Night: 311 & Sublime With Rome At The Woodlands (Houston Press)

311, Sublime With Rome
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 12, 2011

Aftermath could smell the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion before we even crossed the street for Friday night's 311/Sublime With Rome concert. The whole place was like a giant white-rasta vaporizer. In fact, we probably had a contact high by the time we'd walked in the gate as SWR played "Wrong Way."

After an hourlong DJ set of standard Beastie Boys and Dr. Dre "hype" songs, 311 came to the stage without much of an introduction, opening the set with "Freak Out" from their 1993 debut album, Music. Not much has changed with the lineup in the past 19 years; lead singer Nick Hexum is still yoga-skinny sexy. DJ and vocalist SA Martinez still has the same high-pitched voice and pop-lock energy. The two still have their dual harmony on lock.

​The next song in the set, "Beautiful Disaster," caused some loud clamor from the older people surrounding us. The man standing in front of us had his arms raised up high in the air, with a corndog in one hand and a beer in the other.

311 also played their latest single, "Sunset In July," from their most recent album, Universal Pulse. "Weightless" was probably our favorite track they played from the new eight-song LP, although it's incomparable to '90s 311 and sounds a little too overproduced for our taste.

It's impossible to play the same kind of music for 19 years without tweaking some things and exploring with different sounds and even new audiences. Fun fact about the record: Hexum plays the guitar on every song. Evidently the album before Pulse, Uplifter (2009), wasn't very well-received by longtime 311 fans. One of the biggest diehards we know informed us that it seemed like the band was completely ignoring the album. They didn't play a single song from it.

At this point, only four or five songs into the set, a girl in the row in front of us started puking. Rookie... we remember our first 311 concert. Initially, we laughed at her, but the joke was on us.

Suddenly Aftermath missed the previously unsettling smell of weed and corn dogs. We had to take a break during the drum solo to get a refreshment.

When we came back, Hexum had taken off his shirt. The young lady next to us asked, "Isn't he hot?" We replied, "His eyebrows are at least four inches from his eyes..." She bragged with some fan facts, "Well, he's married and has kids."

​We tuned her out when they started playing "Wouldn't Believe." Bassist "P-Nut" took the stage by himself for an extensive bass solo that included a variety of techniques: fingering, slapping, double hand-tapping, and flamenco strumming. (Insert sexual innuendoes here or in comment box at bottom of page.)

311 seemed to be speeding through their; set, maybe they were tired. Houston was only their second stop since a huge festival they played in Florida a few weeks back. "Come Original" was followed by "Creatures (For a While)" which ended the 90-minute main set.

They came back for a three-song encore: "Jackpot", "And a Ways To Go" and "Down."

Personal Bias: Dug the pre-millennium 311, didn't dig SWR. There was a lot of fake patois, weed, and Jamaica-themed clothing. It reminded us of this.

The Crowd: Hawaiian shirts and cargos in the front, Bob Marley shirts on the lawn.

Overheard in The Crowd: "Let me stop here for a minute so I can get my chronic out of my sock."

Random Notebook Dump: We found out that someone we know used 311 lyrics as their senior quote for the school yearbook.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

311 - Sunset in July (MFIP Voice)

You probably would not find the genre of reggae that condensed in 311 new songs released this past June. Conversely, a strong impression will rock burst of melody. Yup, this is the song “Sunset In July” dubbed as the first single from their tenth album, Universal Pulse. Bob Rock produced famous for its cooperation with the band Metallica, this song is perfect to accompany you a little relaxing summer this year!
For a moment we might have thought that this song is a loud song that will not let us relax, however, wait until the vocals Nick Hexum signed until mid-song. With the tone upbeat and fun, it turns out we are given the opportunity to sit back and enjoy the music with a fairly quiet until the end – though it does not mean we can not wiggle a little weight, because this song is also quite fun to sing with the lyrics are catchy and like to tell us to enjoy life by relaxing with people we love.

311 – Sunset In July

The lyrics themselves are written on the view of “311″ to his fans. As quoted in their interviews with the media, Hexum said that they were delighted to see the audience enjoy the songs that they bring directly, which makes them inspired to make this as their chorus that goes, “Rockers by my side and time is flying by / dop dop ba da da dee-yah / Watching you dancing and having the time of your life / and it’s getting me high / time is flying by / Whoa-oh oh-oh.”

Well, whatever the reason, as the band has two more decades of working in the music scene, one might say “311″ remain consistent in a career and work also proves the existence in the international world until now, without losing their distinguishing features so far. Need proof? Surely you have heard the whole album contains only eight tracks it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

311 and Sublime With Rome at Gexa Energy Pavilion Tonight 8.13.11 (You+Dallas)

Let’s face it, It’s miserably hot outside, and the Texas Gulf in no way conjures images of vacation bliss. But this weekend, Gexa Energy Pavilion will host 311 and Sublime with Rome, who will make your weekend at least sound like the beach.

[311 Q&A Session provided by 311 management]

What can listeners expect to hear?

SA: Our fans are gonna love this album [Universal Pulse, Released July 2011]. I think it’s a return to form in many ways, yet refined. We’re all refining. Stylistically I think our old-school fans will appreciate the character of some of these songs. I guess that’s what I mean when I say a return to form. The energy is great.

How does the 311 touring machine continue to get bigger and stronger over the years?

NICK: We just do our best every night. The vibe at the shows is a co-creation of us and our fans. It’s really cool to be a part of.

P-NUT: People come to our summer shows to have fun with other positive people. We put on a physical rock show that people want to see over and over. I can’t explain why but I sure do appreciate being able to do what I love and spread the funk all over you. Hehe.

Are you excited for the upcoming Unity Tour: 311 and Sublime with Rome? What can people expect from the shows?

NICK: This is going to be a great summer for sure. We have a nice, long summer tour planned and we are stoked that Sublime with Rome will be out on the Unity Tour. And the 311 Pow Wow Festival (our first multi-day camping & music festival) will be especially amazing!

P-NUT: I am very excited about playing with Sublime with Rome. This is a dream tour for us and our fans. Everynight of everyshow anywhere in the world, there’s always a Sublime shirt or fifty in the audience. This tour will be nothing short of bliss and fascination.

Any other words to your fans?

SA: All I gotta say is you all are the bee’s knees! You make a grown man cry. Love, love you guys!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

311 outdoes themselves at Pow Wow Festival (Surf Rhythm)

311 played four sets in two days, which is approximately 6 hours of performing live in 90 plus degree heat. Sure it was evening time when they played, but still it was hot. I got tired just standing there watching, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Nick, S.A., P-Nut et al.

It was clear that despite the stellar lineup throughout the festival, most of the thousands of people enduring the heat, crowds and weird hippies were there for 311, naturally. It would take a book to cover their four sets in entirety, so I’ll get to the point. 311 played every song I wanted to hear, and I’m fairly certain most everyone there feels the same way. The one thing that everyone got wrong is guessing when they would play Transistor in its entirety.

Whether you love, like or are indifferent to 311′s music, their sets were performed with energy and conviction all the way through. They have become one of my favorite bands to see live because I know I’m going to see a top-notch show every time. I’ve never been a 311 freak, but I’ve listened to them since the beginning, and it’s refreshing to see a band harness its potential and greatness for so long; and clearly there is no stopping them any time soon. Thanks to 311 and their crew for pulling of a great festival. Here’s to hoping they do it all again next year.

311’s Pow Wow Festival In Live Oak, FL (Music Industry News Network)

Veteran rockers 311 recently held their first ever three day music festival at the Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park in Live Oak Florida. From August 4th- 6th, fans from around the country witnessed 17 bands and djs perform on two stages. In true festival spirit, the audience of 20,000 also participated in camping, hiking, swimming, and canoeing along the historic and beautiful Suwanee River. Each day was a new adventure full of highlights for 311 fans and everybody on the grounds.

Day 1: Thursday August 4th

Arriving throughout the day, ticketed fans were given access to primitive camping sites as well as RV parking and VIP tents and spent the day setting up camp, touring the campgrounds and enjoying the natural essence of the Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park. Promptly at 6 pm, DJ Trichrome began spinning classic reggae and dancehall hits on the second stage. One of the great things about the Pow Wow Festival was that every performance began promptly according to schedule. Mixing reggae greats from Buju Banton to Bob Marley, DJ Trichrome spun hits throughout the dinner hour, with many campers dancing around tents and playing a few rounds of beer pong.

As 7:30 pm rolled around, audience members made their way to the main stage to witness hip hop artist Murs take the stage. Murs began his set with a few of his hip hop pieces, but quickly changed direction as he introduced Jacksonville's Whole Wheat Bread, a punk rock trio that, together with Murs, made up the group they called The Invincibles. The foursome played punk covers for the bulk of their set, including a rocking medley of 90's dance hits like "It Takes Two," and a punk cover of "Walk Like An Egyptian," at which time Murs and the crowd displayed their best dance impressions of Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire. While Murs may have admitted to missing a verse, and guitarist Aaron Abraham may have inadvertently knocked the 1/4" inch cable out of his guitar, who cares? This was punk rock, and Murs and Whole Wheat Bread proved that punk's not dead.

Following Murs was a breathtaking performance on the main stage by Virginia-based reggae band SOJA. Playing for over an hour, SOJA captivated its audience with lead singer Jacob Hemphill's Bob Marley-like stage presence. Their set was highlighted by a twenty-something minute long medley that introduced bassist Bobby Lee's baritone vocals and knee length dreads, and crossed genres from rocksteady to ska, metal to punk. The sound engineer did an immaculate job balancing the horns, backing vocals, and guitars as they played their single "I Don't Wanna Wait." SOJA was truly a highlight of the festival, bringing an essence to the atmosphere that must have transcended from Jah.

After SOJA's performance, Sacramento's Deftones took the stage at 10:30, rounding off the night on the main stage. While lead singer Chino Moreno's vocals were way to low in the mix, it was guitarist Stephen Carpenter's lack of stage presence and typical one or two chord patterns that left this writer unimpressed. Of course, I have never been much of a fan of the Deftones, even after seeing them live approximately four to five times. Plenty of audience members were impressed, however, and that's what counts. It was apparent though, that the Deftones have become a more cohesive band recently as opposed to seeing them live several years ago.

DJ Soulman brought the night to its end as he turned the second stage into a nightclub, playing club hits that encouraged the continuation of alcohol consumption till the 2 am marker.

Day 2: Friday August 5th

The main stage sound engineer did a wonderfully sarcastic job waking up the near 20,000 attendants by playing Britney Spear's "Hit Me Baby One More Time" for a 9:30 am sound check. At one point during the sound check, Jacob Hemphill and Bobby Lee of SOJA joined Whole Wheat Bread on the second stage for an impromptu jam session in which they covered Outkast's "Rosa Parks" among others. Scheduled bands started shortly after, with The Movement at noon, followed by Full Service and Streetlight Manifesto.

The main stage started off the afternoon hosting The Dirty Heads at 4 pm, and it was during this set that fans witnessed Sublime's lead singer, Rome take the stage for the first time that day. The Dirty Heads and Rome played their current single "Lay Me Down" at the close of their set, which was well played throughout its entirety.

Reel Big Fish, the next scheduled performance, cancelled their set at Pow Wow due to lead singer/guitarist Aaron Barrett falling ill. According to, the band cancelled the Pow Wow Festival and one other tour date after doctors decided it best to hold Barrett overnight for monitoring.

To compensate for the dead time on stage, Sublime with Rome took the stage at 6:30 as opposed to 7 pm. The crowd at the main stage had grown to bountiful numbers by that time, and all in attendance joined in karaoke-style for every original sublime song the quartet played (a dj took the stage with them). The highlight of the performance occurred as Sublime with Rome played several songs from "Yours Truly," their new album. These songs, including "Take It Or Leave It" and "Lovers Rock," rival original sublime hits with their lyrical quality and add new dimensions as Rome's vocals take a slightly different direction from Bradley Nowell's. The new songs from "Yours Truly" should see radio success and plenty of spins in the near future.

As the sun went down, and Sublime with Rome wrapped up their mosh-pit and karaoke inducing set with "What I Got," the crowd centered their chi, and everyone prepared for 311's first night of double sets. 311's first set rocked the audience with solos by drummer Chad Sexton and legendary bassist P-Nut. Of course, the hoards of nearby Florida State University students initiated the Seminole warchant during the set, adding meaning to 311's already crisp and intricate performance.

The stage lighting was on point during both sets, adding an additional visionary realm to their well-rehearsed and energetic performance. The sound was crystal clear as everything from Doug Martinez's scratching to Tim Mahoney's guitar riffs were perfectly nestled in place. The crowd was on point with glow sticks and lighters as they added to the visual stimulation of the performance. After the double-set by 311, DJ Soulman again ended the night on the second stage by recreating your classic nightclub scene... except in this nightclub, everyone wore bikinis and boardshorts.

Day 3: Saturday August 6th

The sound engineer once again thought it would be hilarious to wake up all the campers with obnoxious music during sound check. This time, he played a bit of John Travolta and "Grease Lightning." Congratulations to him, he successfully pissed off everybody at once for the second day in a row.

DJ Trichrome again started the day by spinning on the second stage, drawing a crowd of noon-time drunk partiers to enjoy the sunshine and reggae/dancehall mix. Shinobi Ninja followed with a shockingly energetic performance at 1:30 pm. A mix of rap, metal and ska, Shinobi Ninja left an impression for many audience members seeing them for the first time. The only female vocalist on the festival's bill, Baby G sounded somewhat similar to Zack de la Rocha of Rage, which helped for songs like "Blaow," and when they went into a montage of metal/rap in the middle of their set.

Ballyhoo followed with a 3 pm performance. The Baltimore quartet delivered their signature ska sound, trumping The Supervillians, who followed immediately after on the main stage. Their socially awkward pop-punk/ska sound was a bit disappointing as it didn't translate to the stage as well as one might have imagined. Ozomatli's performance was one of the highlights of the festival, as they initiated a drum-circle jam session amidst the crowd only to conclude their set with thousands howling the "Ole, Ole" soccer chant as they marched backstage.

G-Love freshened up the atmosphere, paying tribute to the land of the Suwanee with his southern blues swagger and down-south-grit harp. Breaking out covers from the Wu and others, he jazzed his way through some unusual combinations of rap, delta blues, and zydeco influences.

Doug Benson, star of the cult-classic documentary "Super High Me," took the stage with Graham Elwood, but they were too high to tell any jokes.

311 played the second night of their show, which felt like a continuation of the first night. Oddly enough, frontmen Doug Martinez and Nick Hexum were wearing the same clothes, and guitarist Tim Mahoney forgot to change his pants. It was almost as if they were planning to edit the two nights together for a 4-hour live dvd. I had honestly expected that, given the artistic freedom that comes from playing four 90 minute sets, 311 might have experimented a bit more. An acoustic set would have been amazing, or at the least a few more breakdowns and solos.

Mixmaster Mike wrapped up the 3-day event by taking over the club scene at stage two, with a superior mix of hip hop, rock and trance. His drops, scratching patterns, and heavy trance and techno grooves completed the rave vibe under-toning the entire festival. The set ended around 2 am, at which time the campers continued with their own sporadic jam sessions until the wee hours of the morning.

Throughout the festival, there seemed to be no serious problems over the three days. The park staff was friendly and inviting, the crowd was fun-loving and responsible. The sound guy was a jerk, but the resulting comedy was well worth it. 311's first attempt at hosting a three day festival was a success. The highlights for me were Murs, SOJA and Ozomatli's performances. Doug Benson still didn't tell any jokes. Overall, 311's Pow Wow festival was a good investment in time and money. But really, Doug... no jokes?

311’s Unity Tour Coming to California (OC Reloaded)

If history acts as an accurate indicator, 311 will entice California audiences when the group brings the ninth annual Unity Tour to the Golden State from Friday, August 19th to Tuesday, August 23rd. Recently 311 reached a milestone releasing their 10th studio album Universal Pulse. In a Q & A about Universal Pulse the band revealed a passion for touring. Vocalist SA Martinez commented “Everyone is good at one thing. Ours collectively is touring!” The Unity Tour will first come to California with a stop in San Diego Friday, August 19th. From there 311 travels to Irvine on Saturday, August 20th, Santa Barbara Sunday, August 21st and San Francisco Tuesday, August 23rd.

Last year OCReloaded’s very own Melissa Garcia reviewed the Unity Tour commenting “These guys know how to have fun, and crack a few jokes throughout their set.” This year Sentimentalist Magazine’s Dennis McLennand praised 311’s Chicago concert saying “311’s power as a live group is stronger now as a mature entity than it ever was and really shouldn’t go unnoticed.” During the Universal Pulse Q & A when asked about performing Martinez said “We put a ton of energy into the shows - night after bloody night. I think we're still mastering the art of showmanship but we're inching closer and closer.”

Garcia in her 2010 311 Unity Tour review wrote “They (311) looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage.” Ironically 311 shares a similar sentiment in their new hit song “Sunset in July.” 311 vocalist and rhythm guitarist Nick Hexum explains "‘Sunset in July’ is about what we love most about being in 311, playing live. (The lyrics) ‘Watching you dancing and having the time of your life.’ We get off on watching our fans as much as they do us!”

When two groups feed off each other’s delight, a joyful occasion bounds to emerge. McLennand noted this when reviewing this year’s Chicago show for Sentimentalist Magazine saying “I’ve never seen fans so quick to stop and talk with complete strangers and embrace them like long-time friends.” 311 bassist P-Nut observes this too. “People come to our summer shows to have fun with other positive people.” Hexum gives the band’s fans credit for the atmosphere saying “The vibe at the shows is a co-creation of us and our fans. It's really cool to be a part of.”

With such a receptive environment who knows what the Unity Tour could mean for you. Perhaps you will find someone to hook up with after the concert or establish a meaningful relationship with. Maybe you will meet someone as passionate about music as you leading you to start a band. Hey, it could happen. Stone Temple Pilots started because Scott Weiland and Robert DeLeo met at a Black Flag concert.

For 311 the Unity Tour this year brings some extra excitement because Sublime with Rome will join the band on the road. P-Nut exclaimed “I am very excited about playing with Sublime with Rome. This is a dream tour for us and our fans. Every night of every show anywhere in the world, there's always a Sublime shirt or fifty in the audience.” During an interview with COS’s (Consequence of Sound) Kevin Barber P-Nut expanded on this thought “You can’t go to a 311 show without seeing a Sublime shirt, and you can’t go to a Sublime show without seeing a 311 shirt. So, it’s perfect. It’s a concert that was sort of made to happen.”

Sublime with Rome, like 311, knows how to energize live audiences. Your ears will ring from others screaming joyfully around you when Sublime with Rome hits the beginning notes to “Date Rape.” While 311 performs “Love Song” you will likely find yourself waving your lighter, or perhaps more realistically your cell phone, up in the air with the many others in the crowd. Basically 311 and Sublime with Rome will create an electric thrill too powerful to let you stand or sit still.

As the summer rapidly comes to an end there seems no better way to say goodbye to the hot weather and good times than 311’s Unity Tour. The fun begins Friday, August 19th at San Diego’s Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre. The following day the Unity Tour will take over the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine. On Sunday, August 21st 311 closes out the weekend with a concert at Santa Barbara’s Santa Barbara Bowl. To finish the 2011 Unity Tour’s California swing 311 plays San Francisco’s Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View Tuesday, August 23rd. If you don’t have your Unity Tour tickets yet, you can still purchase them at

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

311's Chad Sexton (Modern Drummer)

Summertime means one thing for good-time seeking concertgoers: the return of 311 headlining amphitheaters. Since the early 2000s, 311 has bucked the corporate structure of touring solely to support a new album, and has toured every summer purely to revel in the positive communal experience they share with their devoted fans. This year’s tour happens to coincide with the release of the band’s tenth studio album, Universal Pulse. “With how we go about touring, it helps that we have a new album,” says drummer Chad Sexton, “But we look at it as the album is supporting the tour, rather than the tour supporting the album.” MD caught up with Chad to discuss the band’s longevity, recording the new album, the summer tour—and, of course, drums.

MD: What’s been the key to keeping not only the band but the same lineup intact for twenty years?

Chad: It’s about finding balance and growing together. Maintaining a reasonable attitude is important, because with five guys, you’re not going to get your way every time, but you can’t go quitting a band every time things don’t go your way. We all got into this with the idea that we really love music, making music, and playing live.

MD: Bob Rock returned to the producer’s chair for Universal Pulse. What’s it been like working with him on the past two albums, and has his presence changed how you approach your drum parts?

Chad: Bob’s helped me become a better player. When recording, you sometimes get so caught up concerning yourself with the execution and nailing the changes that you forget the basics, like just laying back on 2 and 4. Bob’s perspective is great because he never lets you forget the small stuff. He also simplified some of my fills and made the space mean more. As a band we try to find a balance between space and complexity in our grooves. He’s a great musician too, so his input overall helped the songs get to a place where they felt complete.

MD: You mixed the album as well.

Chad: Yeah. Mixing is also about finding the proper space within all the instruments, and making the mixes more enjoyable for everyone that’s listening, not just making the drums sound good. For 311, we care so much about the energy in the performances, which actually helps the mixing process because the transmissions of the band guide the mix to some degree. We believe in the healing properties of music, which is something that’s felt more than heard, and lives in the energy of our performances. It’s all a big puzzle—the sounds, the recording process, and the mixing process all culminate in a representation of energy.

MD: How long did you spend on getting drum tones?

Chad: It was fairly normal, a day or two on tones. I get to the point where I say, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” Using that method, as opposed to overanalyzing every sound, has a more organic result. At our studio, the Hive, we built out the live room, and we’re pleased with how the drums are sounding in there. I also never use triggers, and nothing is ever gridded, replaced, or sampled. It’s all natural sounds, which I love. Up until 2009, we recorded every album analog. We switched to digital on Uplifter. On Universal Pulse, we tracked everything digital, and then I dumped everything to analog for the mixing process. Some people might think this is crazy, but we’ve gotten letters from people saying how our music and the vibrations that make up our music have helped people. Music is powerful, and if you trigger and beat-replace every note, you’re taking the natural vibrations out and killing the essence.

MD: Did you go to any extremes when tracking drums, like swapping out snares for each tune?

Chad: I only used one snare, but I tuned it differently per the song. On one record, I switched out snares for each song, and in the end when I listened back I really couldn’t tell the difference between all the snares.

MD: Any changes to your setup now that you’re with Pearl?

Chad: I switched over to Pearl in 2009, but I actually had played Pearl early on. The first three albums were all recorded with Pearl. I have always used Pearl hardware too. As for my setup, it changes as I go. I have about eighteen total drums on my kit this tour. I added a 6″ mounted tom up top, which I haven’t incorporated for a while, and it’s amazing how much one drum can expand the dynamic range of the kit. There’s a great span of sounds from high to low, including some Pearl Rocket toms, five mounted toms, two floor toms, a 20″ suspended gong drum, and a 22″ kick. Soloing to amphitheater crowds, you won’t keep the audience’s attention strictly relying on chops and intricacy. I incorporate rhythms that use a range of tones, which gives the audience some good ear candy. I never put anything on my kit that I don’t play. It all gets used.