by Jeff Niesel
When 311 emerged out of Omaha, Nebraska in 1985, the whole rap-rock thing was still in its early stages. Even though the band could hardly be classified as metal, 311, which sounded more like the Red Hot Chili Peppers than Korn, was still considered a forerunner, even though it initially didn’t have the same notoriety as many of its musical peers. That all changed in 1995 when 311 became a hit and the band was pushed into bigger venues. While rap-rock has gone out of fashion and 311 hasn’t really evolved or changed its musical approach, it has somehow continued to play mid-sized venues and fill them with young, rabid fans.
That was certainly the case last night at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, where the group played a 90-minute set to a packed house. While opening number “Down” sounded flat, singer Nick Hexum seemed to take his own advice, which was “let’s get loose and have some fun.” The group settled into a groove for the trippy “Sunset in July” and then turned up the volume for “Come Original,” which featured Hexum and rapper/singer Doug “SA” Martinez exchanging rapid-fire vocals. The band was again on target with the catchy “All Mixed Up” and the beautiful reggae-tinged ballad “Amber,” which Hexum said the band played for the first time ever ten years ago on the Jacobs Pavilion stage. Too bad it had to follow the tune with a tedious bass solo and then deliver a so-so version of “Don’t Stay Home.” The band showed just how heavy it could get in the encore as it closed the set with Hexum wailing on a Flying V guitar that he hoisted high in the air at the song’s conclusion.
The Aggrolites started the whole show off with a roots reggae set and San Diego’s Slightly Stoopied followed with a Sublime-inspired set of punk and reggae. While the guys clearly cultivate a stoner surfer look, the musicianship was solid and the three-piece horn section anchored by vet Karl Denson sounded particularly sharp, especially as the group turned in a reggae-fied cover of “Express Yourself” at the end of its 60-minute set.