Date: Friday, December 9th, 2011
Line up: 311 & DJ Soulman
Location: Comerica Theatre. Phoenix, AZ
There are no questions about how spectacular a 311 performance truly is. Some fans go to concerts, but 311 puts on a show, and still remains one of the greatest live acts of our generation. On the final full show of their fall tour, Phoenix received bonus music from 311 with 2-full sets of songs, reaching 30 extended live tracks and interludes.
Comerica Theatre in Downtown Phoenix was buzzing prior to doors opening, and even when DJ Soulman from Phoenix manned the turntables inside the venue, the crowd was in a frenzy. It was simple for the crowd to raise their level of excitement as Soulman played classic rock ballads and new-school alternative rock hits ranging from Ozzy Osborne, Led Zeppelin to Rage Against The Machine and plenty of others.
Once the arena was filled to the brim, 311 quickly transformed the club atmosphere into a large-scale festival that would have been ideal for Lallapalooza or Woodstock. The lighting for Phoenix’s showcase was unparalleled. The sound system was top-tier and 311 wouldn’t have it any other way for their double set of live music.
As Nick Hexum (vocals and guitar) led out the other four members of 311 the noise was deafening, with nearly unending cheers and chants of “3-11, 3-3-11…!” For a moment it appeared P-Nut (bass), Tim Mahoney (guitar) and SA Martinez (vocals and DJ) would gaze out into the crowd while absorbing the unending outpour of gratitude. But, it wasn’t long before Chad Sexton (drums) laid down the first beat for “Do You Right”.
There is one thing about 311’s extensive catalog, as a fan, one never knows what to expect from 311’s set list. Friday night followed suit in a similar style. Old Grassroots songs were featured, as well as 1993’s Music had more than a handful featured. With their constantly growing fan base, 311 tapped into every fans soul as they ran through their extensive musical collection, while not leaving out their latest highly acclaimed hit “Sunset in July”.
After releasing their accompanying video for that song over the summer, 311 could have recorded their live performance from Phoenix, and the sound would have been eerily similar. With all of 311’s touring and evolution in the studio, they are no longer performers of music; they are Doctors of the musical sound, at this stage of their careers.
As they unleashed “Come Original” on Downtown Phoenix, that sentiment was apparent throughout the theatre. The crowd was bouncing in rhythm with SA Martinez and Hexum, as nearly every lyric was echoing off the walls. It was an unblemished 311 party as “Freeze Time” and the soulful “8:16 AM” bellowed through the speakers.
For every 311 appearance, something new and unheard of always stands out from their show. On such an occasion, a double set with all the bells and whistles of the highly anticipated 311 Day were present. Bass solos by P-Nut that typically last around one minute were extended to upwards of three minutes, perhaps even three minutes and eleven seconds, but who’s counting?
Along with P-Nut reminding us of the fact that he is one of the premier bass players in the music industry today, his rhythm partner Chad Sexton nearly brought the house down with his drum solo in the second set. But before 311 highlighted their mystifying drumming, a ten-foot-tall bass drum and assorted Latin percussion sets were wheeled out to the front of the stage. The electrical instruments were put aside for a moment as 311’s range and complete mastery of their musical sound flourished. It would be easy to say the crowd cheered on end, but fans in attendance were simply exuberant, maybe even at a loss for words other than, “Oh, my god!”
311 brings a sense of comfort over the crowd, yet still manages to amplify and encourage the most rowdy of fans to bounce and mosh throughout every song. Once the fans caught their breath from the drum circus on stage, 311 seamlessly transitioned into an extended version of another old ditty, “Applied Science”. It was a blast from the past as “All Mixed Up” rang through the crowd, and everyone strapped on their dancing shoes for the timeless hit, but the excitement wasn’t even close to concluding.
After all, “Beautiful Disaster” was yet to be unleashed, and then it happened. The rugged guitar licks of the intro turned the crowd up another notch, something that appeared impossible before the song. It was the height of 311’s set as “Beautiful Disaster” led into perhaps 311’s most infamous song, “Down”.
With over 25 songs already under their belt, 311 exited the stage as pandemonium broke out in the crowd. The lights were dim for only a second, as the Omaha natives returned for another twenty minutes. For some touring acts, it might be difficult to fill three hours of music into one performance, but 311 could have played for another three hours with ease. And no one in the crowd would have left.
It was only appropriate for the last song of the night to be “Creatures (For A While)”. The atmosphere was rambunctious, yet still controlled by the sound coming from the stage. The 5,000-seat capacity theatre remained full, even after the last note was played. For a brief moment, it appeared 311 was going to return for another handful of songs, but Nick Hexum returned to the microphone to thank the fans for coming out for their final show of the tour and making it the most memorable one yet.
If Friday night in Phoenix was any indication, the upcoming 311 Day in Las Vegas, complete with three days of live music, should be absolutely astonishing!