311 Live at the Greek Theatre
of Los Angeles

with opening acts: The Wailers and Pepper


Check the Technique 311 in LA!!!

J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

I'm 32 years old and seeing 311 for the 2nd time!!! Hmmm... much less of an impact saying it that way... moving on! Nigh six months hath passed since Three Eleven said "What's Up Amigos?" in Anaheim, California to the delight of my wife, daughter and self. But said daughter, a 311 fanatic until the end of the mission, can scarcely get enough, especially after a Summer Vacation on the great Asian archipelago known as Nihon. So, September 8, 2006, it was back to 311 we went, by way of Area Code 323. Yes, Los Angeles! The Greek Theatre! It's like a Parthenon of Bowl Shows. After all, nothing says Gyro like the City of Angels, right?

Perhaps, perhaps not, but nothing says "311 in LA" quite like KROQ! Huzzah! So KROQ + 311 = Greek Bliss, yes? Greek Bliss? No, that's a whole other site, and you'll need a major credit card and proof of age to access its content! But this show... was spicy nonetheless.

Spicy, as in the band Pepper. Pepper (from my vantage point) was three shirtless white dudes on three instruments... guitar, bass and drums (not to mention shared vocals) playing around with a certain Ska/ Punk hybrid, which we've pretty well heard before. One of the drawbacks to the show was the fact that the mix wasn't quite as pristine as one might hope for. The board seemed to take advantage of their heavily bassed-out sound, accordingly rattling every seat in the house. Isn't this a good thing? Perhaps for many of the female guests, yes, but it didn't do a whole lot for their sound quality. Further, the sound mix wasn't up for both the reggae-infused laid-back surfer styles and the thrashy punk sounds they alternated between. All in all, they managed some interesting experiments, primarily with their voices, and pleased what parts of the crowd had showed up already (their set began at 6:30 PM, amigos). These guys have the potential to produce some great songs... let's keep an ear out just in case. YY1/2

I'll never quite understand the concept of really hot women with incredibly mediocre (or worse) men. Somehow the Greek that night featured a veritable cornucopia of mismatched pairs. Supermodels with Dobie Gillis, Beaver Cleaver and Charlie Brown. I even saw the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man with a hottie that night. The real ant in my diaper came from this one skinny douche bag with no redeeming qualities in a faded concert shirt, the approximate muscle tone of "Screech" and an incredibly beautiful blonde with large breasts under a tight, open sweater and a barely legal denim mini-skirt. At one point she sexily eased her way over his lap, kissed him and walked away, only to return with ONE beer for him. Dude, you're MAN OF THE YEAR! Does she mow your lawn too? I guess the Axe effect isn't just a marketing ploy.

From the days when I was just a mediocre-looking goof (well, I am again, but I mean the first time), I've been a fan of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Unfortunately, St. Robert is no longer with us, though the Wailers still are. Led by Bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Guitarist Al Anderson and organist Earl "Wya" Lindo, The Wailers certainly capture the spirit of Bob Marley and the Wailers, if not quite the voice. But how were the Wailers, taken for all with all? Quite good actually. Though they suffered from some of the same audio difficulties as Pepper, the sound was excellent through such numbers as "No Woman, No Cry", "Stir it Up", "I Shot the Sherriff" and "Jamming". Part of this is due to the fact that this incarnation of The Wailers is large to the point of near-orchestral size. From their ubiquitous and vivacious female backing singers ("The Wailers Sisters") to their excellent lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Junior Marvin, the band filled out and sounded out wonderfully. Drummie Zeb on SKINS and Keith Sterling on keyboards didn't hurt anything either. Naturally, there was something in the air that night. A certain electricity, a certain lust for music... hah! Nah! It was POT! The contact high alone pretty well disqualifies me from ever working for the government. My daughter was flying in a blue dream by the time the first shout of "JAH!" echoed through the seats. My wife rolled her hair into dreadlocks, dude! Very uncomfortable! Very! Peace, Love, and flaming blunt! Great show, any way you burn it though. Great show. I just miss Bob. YYYY

I was musing over how to parlay my recent weight loss into full on physical fitness. I figured, hey, maybe I'll just lay off of Beer for a while. Or, like, forever. I want to segway back into babe-hood with a sexy vengeance. Somewhere in the middle of all that, the hot chick to my right (my hot wife was to my left) asked me to save her place while she went to get beers with her sugar mama girlfriend. I agreed, spread out and thought about not drinking, exercising and using certain sugars only as food fight material. Then, to thank me for saving their seats, the hotties handed me a beer for a gift. There goes that plan. Hell, what was I going to say, "No"? Of course not. I don't have the relative ability to decline a beer that Norm Peterson does... or... did.

Luckily, 311 was on next, which is a workout to be sure. Kicking off the set with "Beautiful Disaster", I was already jumping and thrashing about, headbanging and moshing, and only on a single brewsky. Ah, to be young again. Interestingly, starting with a great and diverse melody rocker like "Beautiful Disaster" seemed to be a bit of a dubious choice. The lyrics "Nothing to see, shows over, people just move along" bring that number to a close. I figured, hey, short set, so I stood up and walked off, only to be moved back to my bench seat by the hip-hop reggae stylings of "All Mixed Up!" Turns out Nick Hexum was relying on us not taking him literally. I get it now.

One of the great things about 311 is that they are, all five, 311 fans. Now, loving the band you're in and the dudes you're in the band with, is a good thing, but it also could potentially lead to a burn-out factor, like we saw in Voyager season Three. No, actually, season Two. No... One. Anyway, to spice things up, 311 never performs the same show twice, revolving their sets incredibly. If SA Martinez had even the slightest suggestion of Burnout, it was invisible to us. The man was a bouncing sprite on the vocals and a dynamo on the scratch table. Tim Mahoney gave us an early start with the guitar-centric "Beautiful Disaster" (again, doubled in the lead by Nick, for that full, duelling guitar sound, thankfully), and kept that momentum going with fast fingers and a banging head. And then, of course, there's Chad Sexton, the drummer.

Chad is THUNDER on the kit, to be sure. The man is amazing. However, as they've done before (on their LIVE DVD, as well as the last time we saw them), his drum solo at the end of "Applied Science" did indeed begin and end as a solo, but morphed into a quintet as the four other members dropped their respective instruments for Drums of their own. It was a hell of a sound, and not something easy to do. Generally, drum solos are the most masturbatory and annoying addition to a show. That's when done by some guy who sits and beats drums. Sexton is an artist.

311 is nothing if not diverse. From the heavy "Flowing" to the Smooth, yet psychedelic "NIX HEX", they kept the audience pumped as they ran the rainbow of their musical styles. Yes the 311 version of a Power Ballad, "Amber", was played, but their popular and classy rendition of The Cure's "Lovesong" didn't make the list. Being that this is "The Summer Unity Tour", it would be virtually impossible for them not to play "Unity", which they, of course, did, followed by their set-closer of the day "Creatures (for a while)". Great rock song.

However, this isn't counting encores. The stage lights died, but the houselights stayed just as dead. When the stage lights rose again, we found 311 joined, in their entirety, by The Wailers for a killer rendition of "Exodus". Hey, I smell more pot! It was cool and classy for Nick and the gang to back up the Wailers on such a classic and killer song, and it was incredible to hear this faithful version with two sets of familiar voices and instruments. The sad thing about this is that this was their only song together. With such a Reggae background, it's striking to note that 311 didn't continue this Wailers collaboration. It was great, but left us wanting more.

If there was anything that could save the day it was a little Bass-Centric song known as "Feels So Good". Yep... it was most certainly time for P-Nut to "BEAT THAT THING". 311's resident wild man (which is saying something) is an incredible virtuoso with the funk-infused popping bass line. He made the song rock, as always, even talking to the crowd and demanding we all clap along with him. This led into one part of the evening that wasn't a complete surprise... their closer... "Down". Sure, it's probably their best known song, and exemplifies some of the best of 311's sounds, equal parts Rap and Metal, with some threads of the rest throughout. However, did they have to play it? Probably not. The great thing is that they did! I can't tell you how great it is to check the technique of "Down" while actually seeing 311 in LA! Man, we screamed that line out, probably all of us... "CHECK THE TECHNIQUE, 311 IN LA!!!" Huzzah, yes yes! Great song, great band, great night. YYYY1/2

And so the night ended, and so began the journey home to dream of a flood of beer. All told, it was a great night, fully worth the nightmare of traffic, and fully worth the (I'm not saying how much) T-Shirt purchases. Hey, the good deeds didn't end with my "Iceman" routine at this last LBBF! One of my readers asked me to pick up a shirt for his daughter, which I happily did, along with shirts for my whole family as well (it got pricey when I figured in my distant cousins, great aunts and divorced second husbands of seventh cousins once removed long passed). Then, you know what I did? I lost my freakin' credit card at the show. Stupid me. Instead of "Flowing" being a song, it was a metaphor for stolen funds from my account. Thank GOD for the long hours of the Wells Fargo Banker. ZING! Still, totally worth it, and totally worth a collective Three and One Half Stars out of Five! (Technically it was 3.66, with a repeating decimal, but the Summer of Horror is over, so I've rounded). What music should we conquer next? More Blues, baby! Stay tuned, eat your vegetables, don't forget to floss, Pray and stay LARGE IN THE MARGIN! I'll see YOU in the next reel... if I get my replacement VISA in time!

Smooth, yet psychedelic, it's called the Kneumsi Hex, DIG IT!
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311 Live at the Greek Theatre of Los Angeles (09.08.06)
Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III, a Sick Tight dude
Who will one day Freeze Time.
Till then, you'll find him Flowing
Beyond the Gray Sky!
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