If you visit the Midwest during summer there are two things you can always expect, crazy unpredictable weather and a 311 show. I was able to experience both last Saturday (Sep 1) when I caught 311, Offspring, and Gym Class Heroes at the Hard Rock in Sioux City, IA.
My brother Stuart and I made the short trip to the show and it was everything you could want in a road trip: nerdy music talk, gas station hot dogs, and a huge black spider in the car (that made its way under the seat and has yet to resurface, yikes!)
I hate to say this was a nostalgia show because I don’t want to feel old, but Stuart and I were heavily influenced by 311 and Offspring growing up, so it did feel a bit like a trip down memory lane.
I started getting into 311 like most kids in the 90s, when the self-titled or “blue album” came out. I clearly remember turning on VH1 (does that even exist anymore?) and seeing the video for “Down”. At the time I had no idea that my new favorite band was from my hometown, that my dad’s band had played shows with them, and that I had already seen them when I was seven!
When 311 was still based in Omaha they played shows at Peony Park. My dad’s band also played there frequently, and one night 311 was sharing the stage with them. Since I was so young, I didn’t really pay too much attention to the music. All I wanted to do was play this pinball machine that spit out baseball cards. But who knows? I probably heard “slinky”, “do you right”, or even “summer of love”!
After the blue album, I continued to follow 311, buying Transistor, the live album, and pretty much every album since.
After discovering 311, I started to expand my music catalogue with similar southern California bands like No Doubt and Goldfinger. (Tragic Kingdom changed my life!) But the real twist came when my friend Nick Kenny introduced me to Offspring. I had heard “Come Out and Play” a few times, (You couldn’t walk past a radio without hearing it in 1996), but I was largely unfamiliar with the rest of their catalogue. After I heard “Ixnay On the Hombre” I was blown away! I listened to that album for probably six months straight. I got really deep into Offspring after that. I quickly purchased their previous three albums, started getting Offspring shirts, and anything else I could get my hands on.
My 311 interest peaked again in 1999 though when they released their seminal album “Soundsystem”. I loved “Strong All Along”, “Life’s Not a Race”, and “Flowing”. I started looking for opportunities to see them live every chance I got. Over the last 18 years, I’ve been to 311 Day twice and over 25 311 headline shows.
With all of these shows I’ve seen some great openers like Snoop Dogg, The Roots, and Dashboard Confessional, but I have to say, this was one of the best 311 tours in a while for me personally.
I really liked the mix of pop, pop-punk, hip-hop, and reggae that all of the bands brought. It was a really smart package that helped bring a diverse crowd. I saw a lot of different fans, from kids as young as 5, to people in their 70s all rocking out having a great time. Billed the “NeverEnding Summer” tour, they definitely did their best to keep the summer party rolling!
Walking through the crowd I spotted so many 311 tour shirts signaling these folks weren’t just there for that show. They had traveled from the show the night before and were most likely hitting the next show on the tour. 311 fans are some of the most well traveled in the game!
I talked to one fan who had seen 311 36 times, had just gone to 311 Day this year, and was going on the 311 Cruise next year! He was a true die-hard. He was waiting by the backstage entrance and I noticed he had a green 311 wristband. I inquired and he said it was the “diamond package”. He was getting ready to meet the band for the first time. I was so stoked for him! I told him I had met 311 several times and they were all really nice, especially Tim Mahoney. I later saw him on the side of the stage taking photos. I have no idea how much that experience was, but I’ll guess it was a pretty penny.
Gym Class Heroes opened the show and it was really fun. Yet another band that I forgot had hits! I remembered their two big hits, but throughout the set I kept thinking “ oh yea, this song rips!”
They had a great party sound. The bass was funky, the rap had a great flow mixed with silky smooth hooks, and the beats were bumping!
I had a lot of fun with those guys. I was able to talk to Travie after the show and told him how much I dug it. It sounded way different than anything I had previously heard on radio, much more of a hip-hop than pop sound.
After Gym Class Heroes my boys in Offspring were up! The loud drums on “Americana” kicked in followed by a screeching guitar from Noodles. Dexter stepped out in black pants, black shirt, and black shades. The fast paced punk rock I loved growing up was in full swing and I was loving every minute of it.
For some reason, the photographers were only allowed in the pit after the first two songs. After “All I want”, I was ushered in and started snapping. It was so surreal. If my 14 year old self only knew that someday I would shoot photos for my two favorite bands, wow! Offspring has put on a lot of miles over the years, but man, they still rip. They played all the good stuff too, “Want You Bad”, “Gotta Get Away”, an AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”, and even a new song “It Doesn’t Get Better”.
I caught up with Noodles after their set and told him how much “Ixnay” meant to me and that this was my seventh Offspring show. He was really nice. I gave him a business card and asked him to check out the blog. Shout out to Travie from Gym Class Heroes for taking the photo!
Finally, the time had come for the legendary 311! As I stood in the pit waiting I was overcome with pure joy knowing I’d be shooting photos for a band I had seen over 25 times!
The band kicked off the set with the crowd favorite “Come Original”. Nick slinked around slinging his cool guy vibes in white khakis, white belt, and white tank top. Tim bobbed his crazy cave man hair and ripped solos. S.A. busted so many cool robot moves he was sweaty by the second song!
Even after seeing 311 so many times I still get excited when they play my favorite songs. They delivered the goods! “Don’t Stay Home”, “Do You Right”, and “Stealing Happy Hours” were personal highlights for me.
Nick mentioned that this was the band’s 28th year touring together. “The same five friends doing what they love, bringing positivity through music”. As I looked around and saw so many people dancing and having the time of their lives, I can easily say “Mission Accomplished Gentlemen!”
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