Every other year, 311 plays a massive concert called 311 Day. The tradition started in New Orleans in 2000, moved to Memphis when Hurricane Katrina hit and this year is being displaced to Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas because of a surgeon's convention that is taking over the Big Easy. The 311 Day show is noteworthy because the band is known to play five-hour sets of around 60 songs.
Reno's show on Monday night was a modest two hours and featured songs they don't normally play at the live shows, according to my girlfriend, the hardcore 311 fan who served as my guide for the evening. She said the setlist didn't have as much material that excited her as an "old school" 311 fan.
The group kicked off the show with three songs from the mid-1990s: "Omaha Stylee," a shout out to their hometown, followed up with one of their bigger hits, "All Mixed Up," and then "Homebrew."
Then they shot into current material with the song "India Ink," off their latest album, 2009's "Uplifter," before plunging back into songs from the 1990s with "Come Original" and "8:16 AM."
Again deferring to my girlfriend, who says this was her 26th 311 show, she said she would have like to have heard songs like "Frolic Room," "Beyond the Gray Sky," "Do You Right" and "Creatures (For a While)" -- all songs that she says are fun to hear live and that they usually play. She also was hoping to hear the radio hit "Hey You" off the new album but it was not on the list for the evening. Instead, the group opted for songs like "From Chaos," "Visit," "Let the Cards Fall," the hit "Beautiful Disaster" and "You Wouldn't Believe." Overall, she said the show was good but "interesting" in some of the selections.
From the perspective of one who doesn't follow 311, the show was energetic and entertaining. It is often easier to tell the quality of a show by the reactions of the fans, and they were jumping for much of the night. Singers Nick Hexum and SA Martinez were bouncing all over the stage as they took turns with the lyrics while bassist P-Nut and guitarist Tim Mahoney held their places on the right and left of the stage respectively. Perhaps the most fun part of the performance, however, was smack in the middle when the aforementioned performers were issued drum paraphernalia to accompany drummer Chad Sexton on "Applied Science," a staple song for 311's live shows. The four men pounded away in time with each other, down on the drum head, up on the underside of the cymbal and back down again in a three- or four-minute rambunctious percussion parade. That really got the audience going, particularly the woman who cleans my teeth (she and her husband were accompanying their 16-year-old daughter and her boyfriend to their first concert; boy, does she play a mean air drum!).
The end of the show featured the song I am most familiar with, "Amber," and I was a little disappointed not to hear "Love Song," 311's Bob Marley-esque remake of The Cure song. It was a good show nonetheless, but I am glad to have seen the shortened northern Nevada version of 311 instead of the elongated one that will hit Vegas in a few days.