One of the funkiest bands to burst onto the alternative rock scene during the 1990’s was Nebraskans 311. Integrating rock, metal, reggae, hip hop, jazz, and funk, the five-piece band has released eleven studio albums and built a well respected following worldwide. Recently releasing their newest album Stereolithic on March 11th, 311 is back on the road again in 2014 playing festivals including Carolina Rebellion in the spring and are now in the midst of a headlining tour across North America. On a beautiful Friday evening on July 18th, the band consisting of Nick Hexum (vocals/guitar) Doug “SA” Martinez (vocals, turntables), Tim Mahoney (lead guitar), Aaron “P-Nut” Wills (bass), and Chad Sexton (drums) brought their new grooves along with supporting band Passafire to The Stony Pony Summerstage.
Out of Savannah, Georgia, Passafire was a fitting start to the evening with their twist on reggae, funk rock. Formed back in 2003 the band has crafted four studio records including their most recent Vines (2013). Comprised of musicians Ted Bowne (guitars/vocals), Mike DeGuzman (keyboards), Will Kubley (bass/vocals), and Nick Kubley (drums) the band took the stage ready to go. Wasting no time their stage presence was felt immediately with sensationally good feelings all around. Armed with lush instrumentation that went from metal riffs to funk rhythms and evoked a party-like atmosphere, the band had everyone in the audience cheering. Each member exuded great excitement as they jammed through the set and showcased a variety of their tunes. With the setting sun as a backdrop, Passafire captured the cool relaxed atmosphere and the universal feeling around the crowd was summer at the beach. Keeping their set lively they even swapped instruments at one point, seamlessly performing and proving they are all highly skilled musicians. Passafire will be on tour again this summer so check them out and see what they have to offer.
With the mood set and the positive vibes overwhelming The Stone Pony, this capacity size crowd was ready to be taken away by 311. For many this was one of multiple occasions seeing the band live over the years and anyone who has followed the band will tell you the setting plays a massive role in the experience of a 311 show. Fortunately this was the perfect time of season and venue to get lost in the music. With colorful bright stage lights dressed behind them each member came out to a roar of the crowd and they kicked off with “Do You Right”. Blaring out the distorted guitars of Hexum and Mahoney along with the jolting stick work of Sexton the sound was crisp and clear. Appearing rejuvenated with some great new material under their belt they shuffled through “Five of Everything”, “Sick Tight” and crowd mover “Showdown”. Hexum’s chill singing approach was as tight as ever.
Playing for a little over two hours 311 offered up some set list mainstays along with a few surprises including “How Long Has It Been” from the 2009 album Uplifter. Rocking out each tune with enthusiasm the fun kept coming with favorites “All Mixed Up” and “Transistor”. It was a trip down memory lane when everything seemed simpler, but more than just a nostalgic trip each song sounded fresh and had everyone up and dancing non-stop. The band did not let go of those sensational emotions as they moved into their beloved cover of The Cure classic “Lovesong” followed by “Beautiful Disaster” and “Friday Afternoon”. Doing their best to convey their love and appreciation for 311 the audience cheered consistently and loud song after song. Judging by the smiles on the band’s face, it appears they certainly do reciprocate their fans warm gratitude.
Moving right along a unbelievable bass solo by P Nut had all eyes focused on him. Blazing through with earth-shattering tone P Nut’s finger work definitely lit up the night. That bled right into the popular song “Amber”. With ambient illumination behind them, keeping the moment relaxed, Hexum, animated and theatrical, gave into the groove with his hands in the air reaching for the sky as many sang along. That was followed by another great new track titled “Existential Hero” which fuses the best of 311 all together in one song. The extensive set concluded with “Creatures (For A While)” . After a brief break 311 launched into a killer encore with “Tranquility” and the adrenaline pumping “Down”.
Having been together as long as they have 311 have had many great moments as a band over the years. One can argue with the interjection of Stereolithic to their discography this tour is perhaps one of the band’s best in years. Combining a long balanced set with the new and old pieces and passion for their performance this show was nothing less than spectacular. 311 is the ultimate summertime band and this is a show no one should miss.