311 at Bayou Music Center, 7/30/2014
311, Full Service
Photos by Francisco Montes
Bayou Music Center
July 30, 2014
Three songs into Wednesday night's show at Bayou Music Center, 311 played their hit song "Come Original." Despite what its name might imply, there was nothing original about it, and that was exactly what the crowd wanted. 311 came to Houston Wednesday night to give their rabid fan base an energy-packed dose of what they love: more of the same.
If the band 311 were a walking cliché, they would be "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Forming in Omaha Nebraska in the late '80s and gelling up their lineup and sound in the early '90s, 311 is a band composed of moderately talented guys who found a formula to make easily-digestible, audience-pleasing beach-rock, and have not wavered from this formula since.
In all earnestness, they haven't had to. The 311 fan base is not looking for that, they want more of what they already love.
311 makes music for semi-aggro dudes who still like to get their groove on. Singer SA Martinez was eager to facilitate the groove factor as he bounced onto the stage with an impressive amount of energy to kick off the show with "Sick Tight." Lead singer Nick Hexum, who possesses a natural skater-boy sexiness, is the alto contrast to Martinez's squeaky vocals. Between the music's energy and danceability and Hexum's throwback '90s hotness, it's easy to see why girls dig this band as much as the guys do.
311's music all sounds the same, like an indecipherable time capsule that is continually added to. The band boasts 11 full studio album recordings that essentially could have been released in a completely different order and no one would be the wiser. Unlike many groups that broke around the same time as 311, the band has never tried to "find their new sound" or "experiment" with their formula; instead they continue to pump out music that their fans want, and it works. Wednesday night's audience was 100 percent engaged all evening long.
It makes sense that 311 has such a large fan base. Their sound has a common "Eternal Summer" quality that appeals to lovers of rap, hip-hop, reggae, classic rock and alternative alike. And what else is common among these people? Marijuana use. Stoners past and present love this music; after all, it makes the listener feel almost as though they are on a vacation.
Composed of true fans, the crowd sang along to every song the band played -- 20 songs in the regular set alone -- with the same zeal. Diehards around me loved "Champagne," "Flowing," and "Eons" as much as they loved radio hits like "All Mixed Up." One of the band's first breakthrough songs, the group sounded just as excited to perform that one as any other song of the night, even though they've been doing it since 1995.
And why not? It sounds like something they could have released in 2005...or 2015.
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