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311, Sublime With Rome Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 12, 2011
Aftermath could smell the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion before we even crossed the street for Friday night's 311/Sublime With Rome concert. The whole place was like a giant white-rasta vaporizer. In fact, we probably had a contact high by the time we'd walked in the gate as SWR played "Wrong Way."
We're still not sure what to think of Sublime With Rome. Technically speaking, they're not a cover band; they have two-thirds of Sublime's initial lineup and just released an album of original songs called Yours Truly this past July. The venue was still filling up as the band played a few of their recent tracks; the crowd that was already there didn't seem into it.
Everyone was probably just waiting for "Santeria" or "What I Got." Toward the end of the dragging set, Rome brought a guitarist named "Cheese" onstage, who asked if we all wanted to hear "Freebird." After most of the audience screamed back in approval, he played the acoustic riff to "What I Got," the "Freebird" of Sublime.
Everyone sang together and danced very awkwardly, it was like a Journey karaoke singalong. At the end of the song, Ramirez screamed, "Rest in peace, Bradley!!" Rome Ramirez just turned 23 in June; Nowell passed away when the singer was just eight years old.
We're not going to say anything, except that we kind of understand why the band is so controversial, especially to Sublime "purists." Whoa, did we really just use that phrase? Anyways, it's always best to end your set with the songs everyone came early to hear. "Under My Voodoo", "Santeria" and the set closer/stoner classic, "Date Rape" ended the SWR set around 9 p.m.
After an hourlong DJ set of standard Beastie Boys and Dr. Dre "hype" songs, 311 came to the stage without much of an introduction, opening the set with "Freak Out" from their 1993 debut album, Music. Not much has changed with the lineup in the past 19 years; lead singer Nick Hexum is still yoga-skinny sexy. DJ and vocalist SA Martinez still has the same high-pitched voice and pop-lock energy. The two still have their dual harmony on lock.
The next song in the set, "Beautiful Disaster," caused some loud clamor from the older people surrounding us. The man standing in front of us had his arms raised up high in the air, with a corndog in one hand and a beer in the other.
311 also played their latest single, "Sunset In July," from their most recent album, Universal Pulse. "Weightless" was probably our favorite track they played from the new eight-song LP, although it's incomparable to '90s 311 and sounds a little too overproduced for our taste.
It's impossible to play the same kind of music for 19 years without tweaking some things and exploring with different sounds and even new audiences. Fun fact about the record: Hexum plays the guitar on every song. Evidently the album before Pulse, Uplifter (2009), wasn't very well-received by longtime 311 fans. One of the biggest diehards we know informed us that it seemed like the band was completely ignoring the album. They didn't play a single song from it until the encore.
At this point, only four or five songs into the set, a girl in the row in front of us started puking. Rookie... we remember our first 311 concert. Initially, we laughed at her, but the joke was on us.
Suddenly Aftermath missed the previously unsettling smell of weed and corn dogs. We had to take a break during the drum solo to get a refreshment.
When we came back, Hexum had taken off his shirt. The young lady next to us asked, "Isn't he hot?" We replied, "His eyebrows are at least four inches from his eyes..." She bragged with some fan facts, "Well, he's married and has kids."
We tuned her out when they started playing "Wouldn't Believe." Bassist "P-Nut" took the stage by himself for an extensive bass solo that included a variety of techniques: fingering, slapping, double hand-tapping, and flamenco strumming. (Insert sexual innuendoes here or in comment box at bottom of page.)
311 seemed to be speeding through their; set, maybe they were tired. Houston was only their second stop since a huge festival they played in Florida a few weeks back. "Come Original" was followed by "Creatures (For a While)" which ended the 90-minute main set.
They came back for a three-song encore: "Jackpot", "And a Ways To Go" and "Down."
Personal Bias: Dug the pre-millennium 311, didn't dig SWR. There was a lot of fake patois, weed, and Jamaica-themed clothing. It reminded us of this.
The Crowd: Hawaiian shirts and cargos in the front, Bob Marley shirts on the lawn.
Overheard in The Crowd: "Let me stop here for a minute so I can get my chronic out of my sock."
Random Notebook Dump: We found out that someone we know used 311 lyrics as their senior quote for the school yearbook.
311 SET LIST
Freak Out All Mixed Up Beautiful Disaster Sunset In July Large In the Margin Weightless Plain Purpose Hive Applied Science Wild Nights Stealing Happy Hours Other Side of Things* You Wouldn't Believe Bass Solo Rock On Come Original Amber Freeze Time What Was I Thinking? Creatures (For a While)
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Jackpot And a Ways To Go Down