When some people think of summer, their minds instantly conjure up images of beaches, beers, barbecues, buddies, and blow out concerts.
I am not ashamed to say I am one of these people, and as of yesterday evening, I experienced some of those factors as I attended a concert at PNC Bank Arts Center with a college friend.
The first opening band, Pepper, featured a very distinct “Sublime-ish” sound (mixed with a little bit of an “Operation Ivy”). Their outfits were very appropriate though; being that close to the Jersey shore, the boys sported red bathing suit trunks, sunscreen, and you could see a life guard stand right next to them. While they were the band that most people skipped out on (most likely to tailgate), I enjoyed them. They were very appreciative of the crowd and seemed to get things rolling in the right way for the rest of the evening.
Following Pepper, the next group to (“HEY HEY, COME OUT AND”) play emerged in the mid 1990’s to help bring punk rock into the mainstream. The Offspring, a band I have familiarity with but don’t follow closely, played a solid set, including some new music, and some classics, most notably “Self-Esteem,” “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy),” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” Even though the band has probably most likely hit its peak, their performance was extremely enjoyable, and it shows no signs of the band slowing down.
Then, the main event-311. This band was introduced to me by my friend who I was attending the concert with that evening. They are a band I would consider quintessential to the sounds of summer; I wouldn’t think twice about blasting 311 in my car on a hot day with the windows down. They are a difficult genre of music to classify, but it’s a healthy dose of rock, punk, pop, and reggae.
This was my second time seeing the band, and without a shadow of the doubt I must say that this concert was much better than the first time I saw them. If I can offer some advice to Joe Public (this may be an obvious point, but still), it would be that if you want to hear more of the older stuff from your favorite bands, don’t see them immediately following an album release. That kind of concert (while they will play older stuff) really just showcases all their new music. Last night I knew more songs, had more fun, and got into it way, way more. My friend agreed fully, although he complained that at PNC, there is no pit. As he said, “If PNC was really smart, they’d rip some chairs out of the front and make a pit.” It’s a sad but true statement; when I attended the 311 concert in Philadelphia last year, the pit was awesome, and it just makes sense for a concert of this nature. People want to dance, they want to mosh, they want to feel the speakers boom in their ears.
But sometimes you have to trade in a pit for a much better concert. What is also neat about 311 is that they upload their set list onto their website after every show (literally; I got home at 1 am last night and it was uploaded on their website) so I got to check out what songs they played that I wasn’t familiar with.
However, the parts of the show I was familiar with (I am a more than average 311 fan at best) were awesome, as the band launched into older territory while adding some stuff from their recent album “Uplifter.”
The band kicked it off with the get-on-your-feet anthem “Jackpot,” from “Uplifter.” Then the boys played “Homebrew” as their second song. I (honestly) said in the car ride over to the arena “If they play Homebrew, I am going to be pretty happy.” Wish granted, Logan. Following that, they played a string of older singles; “All Mixed Up,” “From Chaos,” “and “Come Original.” 311 then began their set of songs I didn’t really know (but didn’t really care), with the break being “Beautiful Disaster.” They also jammed out to one of my other personal favorite tunes, “You Wouldn’t Believe,” following that up with some other unknowns in my case, and then they got back into familiar territory with “Hey You,” the first single off their most recent album.
It is worth mentioning that the boys do a amazing drum performance that is unlike anything I’ve seen at concert before (besides last the last time I saw 311, and this performance improved upon THAT), and their bassist, P-Nut, did a jaw dropping bass solo near the end of the set.
The last three songs pre encore were a windup pitch; the band started off slow with “Amber” then broke out into the mosh pit heaven song “Creatures (for a While),” and ended by bringing down the house with “Feels So Good.” 311 definitely played their cards right to end the show, as the crowd got to its feet, danced, jumped, and just plain rocked out.
The boys came back for an encore, and I may be spoiled cause of previous concerts I went to, but they only played two songs (I was expecting three, but then again, I have to understand that the band was most likely exhausted and it was a warm night to boot). The most notable song is a 311 staple titled “Down” and if it is not played at a 311 concert, well, it would not be a true 311 concert. Whatever the case, it was surely a great way to end a great show.
311, without a doubt, is an amazing live band. They sound just like their album voices and for guys nearing/in their 40s, they still give a high energy show. While the audience interaction is lacking, and the band doesn’t really extend any of their songs with a few notable exceptions, it can be forgiven. For my first concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.