So last night thanks to Cleveland.com I got to attend the 311 show at the Time Warner Amphitheater VIP style. I was not planning on going at all but last week I “re-tweeted” a Twitter post that Cleveland.com put up for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Unity Tour 2010 and I thought to myself “why not?”
A day later I got a message saying I won the tickets. I was stoked. I mean why wouldn’t I be? Free is good these days plus I got to rendezvous with an old musical friend of mine.
311 and I go way back. I am not trying to sound like one of those music trendy scraps out there who just say random things to impress others. 311 and I have been down (no pun intended) since I was in high school. I have seen them many times live, owned countless overpriced bootlegs, was a member of their fan club before the internet existed, and even was knocked out at once of their shows at the Cleveland Agora.
I vaguely remember what happened but will always remember the incident. I know I was in the pit of that show when a size 12 combat boot slammed into my head knocking me the hell out. The next thing I remembered was my pal Philippe asking me if I was ok. I think I said yes but I was more confused over anything trying to figure out why I was not in the pit anymore. Apparently Philippe dragged the knocked out me from the pit and into an alley through some emergency doors. He told me that I looked at him, smiled, and ran back into the pit. And I wonder why my body hurts so much these days… (Additional note: I bought a 311 work shirt at that show and I still wear it to this day)
High school ragers were not only fueled by cheaply processed beer but also Grassroots and Music. I remember when their self titled album came out in 95 my friends and I freaked out and basically listened to the album on repeat until the cassette wore out. Yes, cassette.
We wore 311 apparel, did our best to emulate Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez (sounds terrible when thinking about it these days), and might have stolen room number signs from various secret locations that said, you guessed it, 311.
In 96 Enlarged To Show Detail was released on VHS and we had competitions on who could watch it the most in a three month period. I made it to 278 if I am not mistaken and my pal Brent surpassed 301 times. We were addicted.
By 1999 though most of us friends were growing up, attending college, or maybe even raising babies. 311’s music style was growing up too and to be perfectly honest I lost interest in them. I stopped wearing the shirts, the CDs collected dust, and I moved on to other things. I never stopped liking what they had done in the past but I just could not get into their material after Transistor (minus the cover of The Cure song of course). 311 kept putting out albums and touring obviously but I just did not care, that is, until those tickets I won reached my hands.
***Time Out – As I am typing this I can not help but grab my copy of 311’s self-titled record (yes, record) and throw it on the turntable…
It was a unseasonably chill night in Cleveland as I arrived to the venue. Parking the car and walking the lot all I saw was kids who were either in college or never lost the college mentality pre-game it with beer pong games and jello shots. Not into that anymore I walked past them and aimed towards the VIP entrance.
For the record, VIP is not that much better. There is a little bar to the side that still charges you $42 for a beer as well as a private bathroom that some other VIP drunk ass will most likely vomit all over in (it happened later in the night).
After making it through a terrible set from a shirtless, shoeless, surfer boy band called Pepper I found out that the Offspring were not even playing the Cleveland stop of the 2010 Unity Tour. I was bummed out as they were another band I used to really like in the 90’s but that is a whole other story.
While waiting for the headliner to take the stage I glanced at my ticket stub and realized I had box sets. VIP and box seats? That was a pretty good prize if you ask me… I took my place in the box sets, which are not that good at all if you ask me, and took in a 311 show.
The boys, who are all almost 40 with the exception of P-Nut (36), took the stage just as the sun was saying goodbye to the day. They all looked very youthful as they did 15 years ago and almost the same except this time there was no bleach blond hair. More importantly they sounded amazing and I am not just saying that as well as were genuinely excited to be on stage. They were on point for all of their songs regardless if I knew them or not and were all about the crowd.
It was not until 5 songs in when the band dished out “Taiyed” that I started feeling like I actually belonged there. Immediately after they dropped into “Plain” followed by their first chart breaking hit “Down”. During those songs I started having non-drug induced flashbacks of the times I previously mentioned.
Shortly after all the members of the band minus Chad Sexton left the stage so he could beat on the skins for a while. He put on an amazing drum solo that lasted at least 15 minutes and to make the little segment cause for more applaud, the rest of the band came back out and joined in on a synchronized drum circle of sorts. Kind of jam band if you ask me, but it sounded great and all the fans loved it.
The remainder of the night again consisted of a good blend of older and newer material. I do not think at any time did I not see movement in the huge crowd. Song after song people were jumping around having a good old time just enjoying themselves. The band really pushed forth a solid set and delivered just as good of a show as when I saw them almost 15 years ago live.
During that show all these juvenile memories of my friends and our love for 311 hit me. I could not help but shoot a few texts to a couple of the guys who I remain in touch with letting them know where I was that night. It was a good night indeed thanks to a one time unknown Omaha act that has been rocking out since 1988.
Mix It Up
All Mixed Up
Livin’ & Rockin’
Never Ending Summer
Off Beat Bare Ass
Creatures (For a While)
F*ck the Bullshit