311 Bring Unity to Atlanta With a Little Help From Their Friends
One band that I’ve been interested in seeing for a couple years now is 311. And I finally got that chance when I purchased tickets to this show with my own money. I’m fairly positive that this is the sixth installment of 311’s Unity Tour, although I could be wrong. I know that last year’s Unity Tour featured Sublime w/ Rome And Lambert which I missed because we were out of town for that one. But last night I was able to catch not only 311, but also Slightly Stoopid and the supremely underrated LA group The Aggrolites, whom I saw open for Social Distortion last year.
This show took place on July 21st 2012 at Aaron’s Amphitheater in Atlanta, which is a venue I’d never been to before. Located right next to a high school (not even kidding) the entrance to the venue appears without much warning and the venue itself is just sort of…. there. But parking was free and easy, it wasn’t too crowded; so far a great concert experience compared to some I’ve been to.
The doors opened at 5:30 which, conveniently enough, is the exact time we got there. We walked in and got barely frisked by the guards and procured our pit bracelets. The Aggrolites were set to play from 6:30 to 7 and we had a little bit of time to kill, during which we bought our merch and made our way to the pit to check everything out.
The pit area was small and really the whole amphitheater itself was pretty small compared to some that I’ve been to in Washington. The lawn towards the back was huge, but there were maybe a couple hundred seats and maybe a 100-200 capacity pit at the most. Fortunately, the weather was nice—although Atlanta in July isn’t exactly cold weather—for some good vibes and other reggae-based cliches.
As expected, The Aggrolites graced the stage at 6:30 sharp and opened up their set with “Free Time.” They had great energy for an opening band. Their sound isn’t exactly built for an amphitheater setting, but they certainly made it work, encouraging sing-a-longs the likes of which I’ve never seen from an opening band. They finished off their 30 minute set with a great cover of The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” during which they invited everyone to sing along to the chorus, which they did. The band sounded great, as always, and were a great warmup act for the bands we all wanted to see.
About 20 minutes after The Aggrolites’ set ended, Slightly Stoopid and all its 8 members hit the stage for an instrumental intro followed by “Till It Gets Wet.” Singers Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald traded instruments a couple times throughout the set, one usually taking bass while the other sings and plays guitar, depending on the song. They played a few of their hits like “Anywhere I Go” and “Closer To the Sun,” as well as a few songs from their upcoming album Top Of The World. They even threw in their cover of “Leaving On a Jet Plane” as well as a cover of “Express Yourself” (the Charles Wright song, not the NWA song) to end the set. I also noted how during one of the horn solos I could hear a tease of the “riff” from “Yeah” by Ludacris, which you have to play if you’re in Atlanta.
Slightly Stoopid played a very impressive set. It was about an hour long and ridiculously chill. After a 30 minute wait, the lights went down (it was pitch black in the pit) and the men of 311 hit the stage. Nick started playing what I could only assume was the intro to “Down,” because that was the first song of the set, but no sound was coming out of his guitar, nor was any coming out of Tim’s guitar. SA began rapping his verse of the song and not much sound was coming out of his mic either. Really the only elements of the show that sounded good were Nick’s mic, the bass, and the drums. Everything else was not nearly loud enough. And that didn’t really improve at all during the rest of the show.
They then broke into “Large In the Margin” from their Soundsystem album. And then, as the sun set, they played the very appropriate “Sunset In July” from last year’s stellar Universal Pulse album. 311’s setlist is ever-changing, with a revolving door of at least 40 songs that they choose from for each show of the Unity Tour. During one of their songs (I wanna say it was “From Chaos”, but that’s just a guess) drummer Chad Sexton went into an awesome drum solo, during which a few mini drum kits, two gongs, and a bass drum were rolled onto the stage for the rest of the band members to jam on. After Chad’s solo ended, all 5 members went into a drumline-esque performance, eventually going back into the chorus of the song they were playing.
311 played pretty equally from all their albums, even throwing in a cover of “Leaving Babylon” by Bad Brains. After they performed “Amber,” P-Nut broke into his highly anticipated bass solo. P-Nut is an astounding bass player and did a really cool slapping thing, but compared to greats like Les Claypool and Flea, he’s not the greatest.
They ended their set with “Beautiful Disaster,” which actually was the best sounding song of the night in terms of sound coming out of the instruments. They came out for an encore of “Outside,” “Hydroponic,” and “Creatures (For a While)” before leaving the stage and barely making their 10:30 end time. 311 played an impressively great show that was way better than I was expecting. It was a great concert experience too, with no moshing that I could see and no crowd-surfing whatsoever. That might be a general rule for the venue, but perhaps people decided to not suck for once.
After the show, I came to the conclusion that 311 are just like Phish. 311 have had more mainstream success, but probably not enough to keep them an amphitheater band for so many years. They have a huge cult following and don’t need praise from critics to keep them a happy and fully functional unit. And I saw a guy with a shirt after the show that said “311 Is My Religion.” I think that’s all you need to know to really understand how big this band is, regardless of lyrical quality or poor sound mixing. And that’s all that matters.
SETLIST: Down, Large In The Margin, Sunset In July, Purpose, You Wouldn’t Believe, Freeze Time, Lose, Who’s Got The Herb?, From Chaos, Applied Science, Flowing, Rock On, India Ink, Amber, Bass Solo, Nutsymtom, Rub A Dub, Crack The Code, Leaving Babylon, Jackpot, Beautiful Disaster ENCORE: Outside, Hydroponic, Creatures (For A While)
311 and Slightly Stoopid Team Up For Unity Tour 2012
Fresh off a 311 Day 2012 celebration that featured 79 songs over two days in lovely Las Vegas; 311 have announced the initial dates for this year’s Unity Tour. Joining the Omaha natives (who also recently rocked a casino on the border of Nevada and Utah) for most of the trek will be Slightly Stoopid. Special guests including Soulcrate Music and SOJA will join the groups on select dates. Highlights of the trek include a return to Las Vegas as well as multiple dates for the great states of Florida, California and Texas. 311 and Slightly Stoopid will also make an appearance at the Summerdays Festival in Bonner Springs, KS. With details still emerging we will do our best to keep all information below as current as possible. As always, check out 311’s official website for all the latest news.
Unity Tour 2012
Note: All shows with Slightly Stoopid except where noted:
It was 1997 when I first walked through the gates of Kevin Lyman’s wonderful world known as Warped Tour. While that was not the first year of the ever evolving punk rock summer camp, it’s hard to believe that the festival has now wrapped 15 successful years. Having missed all three Southern California stops on this years traveling circus show, I made sure not to miss the 15th Anniversary show (which will be turned into a major motion picture in theaters Sept 17th) held Labor Day weekend within the walls of Club Nokia at LA Live. Add in the fact the show was a benefit for Musicares, a great organization that takes care of musicians who need help and I knew I had to go. With a very unique mix of musical artists who share the common bond of being Warped veterans, how could I miss this event? So enough with the introduction, lets get down to business and give you a sneak preview of the Vans Warped Tour 15th Anniversary Party.
Hailing from Los Angeles, the “Dirty Reggae” collective kicked off the star studded event. I find myself having a lack of things to say about these guys as well it’s just not my preferred style of music. No problem at all with them, but it’s one of those things, where they play the first song and it’s good. Then they play the second song and it’s good because it was a lot like the first one. By the time the third song comes on, you realize it’s the first two songs again and by the fourth your over it. Thankfully with a 20 minute set, it never got to the point of boredom. Then again, with Fat Mike (drink in hand) watching them from the pit, that proved more entertaining than the music. They did do an outstanding job of getting the crowd ready for a long night of music, even if they were unable to motivate the crowd to dance/mosh/clap.
I was stoked when I heard these guys were going to be playing. I found them on accident at Warped 08 and quickly became a fan. Fuse DJ Steven (as in Steven’s Untitled Rock Show Steven) the evening’s MC informed us that we were not going to see them in person, but would be seeing them live via satellite or something. In a sad twist of fate, the video went out, and we got only audio for the song “Starstruck”. Hopefully they fix that before it hits the big screen. Truly bummed I missed these guys. Same exact thing happened with Blink 182, only we got to see their music video
Holy fucking shit. I knew Ice T was on the bill, and I had assumed we would get a hip hop set. However, being that Ice T was once a pimp, he knew how to get the bitches off. He brought out his classic/controversial early 90’s metal band Body Count. Body Count’s 15 minutes of fame came around the time I was getting into music. As a white kid from the burbs, his metal militia made up of individuals hailing from South Central LA truly scared the crap out of me. Seeing T on stage with a ski mask covering his face and some form of machine gun strapped to his back, make my arm hair raise with excitement. For twenty minutes, the five piece band exploded on the stage with a ferocious energy that still felt scary and dangerous. Ice T often taunted the crowd calling them pussies as many kids looked on confused as to why the dude from Law & Order was up on stage getting all kinds of angry. When not covering Slayer, the music highlight of course was the Los Angeles National Anthem – “Cop Killer”. So awesome, yet so lost on most of the crowd. I am still in shock that in 2009, I got to see Body Count.
These guys are the reason I purchased a ticket. After a little anniversary celebration of their own back in February, I just had to see these foul mouth racist drug abusing alcoholics again. I tried my best to match Fat Mike with vodka drinks and something I have a prescription for, but he was truly in fine form and light years ahead of me by the time they took the stage. Clearly it was not going to be easy for him to not talk during the short set, as he pointed out before a rather sloppy “Murder The Government”. Before playing “Linoleum” Fat Mike made sure to discuss his encounter with Katy Perry backstage. ATM, who knew? From there things got a lil racist. OK, very racist. I didn’t catch the name of the B-side that consisted of El Jefe, Melvin and Mike exchanging racist jokes between riffs. However, most if not all the crowd laughed at the highly offensive materials. Angelo Moore (dressed as Aladdin as Fat Mike pointed out) joined in on the joke sharing with a few colorful jokes of his own before lending vocals/sax to a sloppy/unrehearsed yet highly entertaining version of “Eat The Meek”. Running out of time, the band managed to close with “Fuck the Kids”, “Seeing Double at the Triple Rock”, “Fuck The Kids II into “Fuck The Kids (Revisited)”. With the rotating stage starting up, NOFX was more or less forcibly removed at the end of their twenty minutes, not that it seemed to stop them. It’s amazing how these guys simply get better/more offensive each time I see them.
The Decaydance All-Stars:
Wow, I am just going to say this. The best thing about this band is that lil Pete Wentz sodomized Ashley Simpson. Yes, when your claim to fame is sticking your small little pecker into the uglier, less talented Simpson sister’s shitter, you know I am heading back to the bar for another drink. Joining up with the two fuck tards left in Panic! At The Disco (I think, I don’t really know, I don’t listen to that shit) these ass hats quit before they had hit the stage. Having been welcomed by a well deserved round of booooo’s they struggled out the gate with a water downed and mopie version of “Damnit” by Blink 182. Knowing their time was up 3 summers ago, the four piece band decided to kick me in the dick on the way out. For those who don’t know me, I despise Journey more than I despise Hitler, George W. Bush and Charles Manson. All month, people I love have subjected me to this shit time and time again (donche!). So wouldn’t it figure that these suckers of Satan’s cock close their pathetic below bar band level set with “Don’t Stop Believing”. Looking back at it, I should have chucked that $12 monster/vodka and purchased another. Fuck I hate these tools, please God I ask that you stricken these douche bags with AIDS or late onset Autism.
All American Rejects:
Having seen a bit of these guys plan a song in the lunch room at work this summer (well, kind of), I went into their set with an open mind. As a straight heterosexual make, All American Rejects are not really my thing. Seeing frontman Tyson Ritter come out in tight white pants and only wearing glitter on his upper chest, I had to chuckle a little. While a decent amount of meatheads booed, most gals in the audience sang along while bobbing and dancing to every song. I know hearts melted with the opening number “Swing, Swing” I saw it many underage eyes. Lots of eye candy on stage if I do say so myself. The guitarist had a sweet Emo mullet, and Mr. Ritter has really nice nipples which could cut glass with the greatest of ease. My personal favorite/guilty pleasure “Move Along” kept the ladies doing just that while their boyfriends chanted for Pennywise. They closed the brief set with another smash radio hit “Give You Hell” which gave Ritter a chance to thank the ones who cheered and taunt the ones who did the opposite. For me, I was somewhat impressed with these guys. They stuck to their guns, and didn’t let the haters bring them down knowing they get way more pussy than anyone in the crowd. I get the feeling that if I had a vagina, I would have fallen in love with them.
I saw Katy Perry the third date of Warped Tour 2008. I stayed for about ½ the set on that warm Ventura afternoon before leaving to see Pennywise. I had made up my mind that despite the huge crowd ready to watch her on the tiny side stage, this girl was a hypocritical Christian with no talent or personality. I would like to admit I was wrong. Ladies and Gentleman, Katy Perry stole the show with a hard rocking set. Opening with “Hot & Cold” the twenty something pop star was in control out the gates. Bouncing in a low cut top and begging the boys to start a pit for her, the girl sang her heart out. As boos mixed with applause, Perry and her backing band dove right into “Ur So Gay”. Towards the end, Perry started singing/saying something about dick, I am not so sure, as I was more focused on the moment. It was that special moment when the crowd turned. After saying a quick hello to Fat Mike and praising NOFX, the singing sensation busted out her most recent hit “Waking Up In Vegas”. While some still had middle fingers raised, EVERYONE on that floor was rocking out and singing along. By now Perry had the crowd eating out of her hand. It is amazing how confident she is after touring non-stop for a year versus that almost terrified singer I saw last summer. Closing her set with “I Kissed A Girl” Katy Perry won the crowd over by simply kicking ass.
Perhaps if there were Christian bands like this instead of Stryper when I was a kid, things would be different for me? I have always liked what I have heard of these guys and live, wow it was intense, further increasing my respect for the six piece band. However, I would much rather talk about 5-6 of their fans, who tried to start a pit on the second level of floor Club Nokia. I am fine with pits, but when it’s 5-6 dudes who simply wanna beat the crap out of each other, I guess I miss the point. What I really hate (and this shows my old age) are the skinny vegan straight edge bastards in camo shorts who come in punching and kicking like a boxing kangaroo who as been on a 3 day meth binge. That shit is stupid, and so are you go do that shit on the 110 Freeway or something. So bothered by the pussy pit with lil bitches who kick, and three drunk dudes (who I give kudos too as they were all nice guys) trying yet failing to circle I took matters into my own hands. Where Kangaroo Jack and pals were doing their cardio routine, I sat down right in the middle of the floor. Upset/confused folks didn’t know what to do, so I did what any control freak would do. I encouraged a circle pit. A mild one got going, as my three drunk homies (who I had been helpfully shoving into Kangaroos all night) started it up. Sadly, I got attacked by Kangaroos who with there mighty meth/soy power picked my fat ass up (it did take two of them to pick me up). As I got ready to get goofy with em and sit back down, Underoath had come to an end. Perhaps a miracle, because this recovering Christian was really looking for to pushing the buttons of those inbred Kangaroo kids, and chances are I would have scalped em like Brad Pitt scalps Nazi’s.
Having been blessed to get the last wrist band earlier in the night, I spent my time between the pit and the other lower levels of the new club (where my female friends all chose to hang back). I grabbed one more drink and went up front for Rise Against. Bless my lucky stars things got all kinds of crazy during their set I love standing in the middle of the chaos, consuming various toxins as people beat the shit out of each other around me. I know they opened with that song that’s on the radio from that record that had the song from Guitar Hero I think. Does it matter, all I wanted was a soundtrack for some serious bone crushing carnage. Bodies crashing into each other, people throwing people up in the air as if they were rag dolls proved more entertaining than Rise Against themselves. I once again apologize to the hipster couple who got covered in about 1/4th of my frosted beverage, but that Samoan kid was on the war path like a Rhino on viagra. Perhaps the highlight of the set was how pathetic Club Nokia’s security staff were. It took about 4 guards 10 minutes to pull one drunk SOB out of the crowd. Granted the guy was built like a brick shit house, 350 pounds of muscle, eyebrows and hair gel but this distraction allowed 50+ kids to hop the rail and get into the pit for the final number “The Good Left Undone”. Knowing that these guys now headline arenas, it was great to see the energetic band in such a small club. I think I expected a bit more, but perhaps I just wanted convenient radio hits? I will say that along with bands like Against Me!, these guys are keeping the punk flag alive, and it shows by the sea of destruction their rabid fans left behind.
I first heard Ozomatli on the 1998 Warped Tour (which as far as I know is the only year they played). We walked by their tent and they were just jamming and hung out for a few. The layout was strange, and my pals and I saw their set (from a distance) on a main stage and were impressed enough to seek them out after Warped. Over the years, I went on to see these guys time and time again (and sometimes more than one time in the same day) and it’s always a treat to be in their presence. While I thought they were great, it’s hard to follow the 1-2 punch of Underoath/Rise Against when you are a Latin hip hop jam funk rock band. Opening with “Saturday Night” the Los Angeles based band got those who remained up front grooving. The only other song I recognized was “City of Angels” which is a great song, but just too mellow for the drunk and rowdy crowd. Folks were respectful to Ozomatli, some even managed to bust a move or two, but most just watched with a glazed look in their eyes waiting for what was to come next.
The San Fernando Valley natives tore it up with a oh so brief 30 year history of punk rock. Opening with the first Bad Religion song I ever heard – “Do What You Want”; the band sounded tight and ready to send the audience crazy. “Social Suicide” got a huge pit going as front man Greg Graffin spit out his book smart with a dash street cred lyrics. “The New Dark Ages” kept the crowd going wild while “21stCentury Digital Boy” gave the sold out crowd a chance to sing along at the top of their lungs. The band went back in time to close the set, playing oldies such as “Generator” and “No Control”. As quick and as fierce as they hit the stage, the six piece band thanked the Warped Tour and closed with “Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell”. As always, Bad Religion did what they do best. Un-apologetic/highly intellectual punk rock that never disappoint.
Knowing that at this point in time Pennywise does not have a singer (and damn thankful I skipped out on my pals and Katy Perry last summer to see them one last time) I was curious how the band would perform. As Bad Religion left the stage, the old familiar bass line that makes up “Bro Hymn” came from the stage. Using BR members and gear, numerous performers made their way out from the side of the stage. When Fletcher hit the stage, the place went crazy as Rise Against frontman “Tim McIlrath” started in on vocals. With Ice T and others roaming the stage, the crowd can only be described as ape shit with huge circle pits swirling and drinks flying. Perhaps revenge from last February at the Fonda, things got out of control during the second verse as Fat Mike jumped on/knocked over Fletcher. Anarchy ensued as Fletcher retaliated, chucked his guitar into the crowd and then eventually chucked someone up there singing into the crowd. This is perhaps the most chaotic all star jam in the history of music, and frankly I can’t think of a better way to close out a celebration of the one and only Vans Warped Tour.
As we exited Club Nokja to rabid fans screaming the chorus of Bro Hymn in unison, I had a big ol’ grin across my face. Kevin Lyman is a genius. The reason the Warped Tour works is because it is good to artists, and it is good to fans. It’s awesome to see a band like Blink 182 or Paramore grow from side stage warm up act to headliner. There is a reason bands like Bad Religion, Pennywise and NOFX come back as often as they can. It is clearly a family vibe, and I truly hope one day I can take my kids to the 30th Anniversary show.
Warped Founder Kevin Lyman w/ Fuse VJ (and event MC) Steven
Warped Founder Kevin Lyman w/ Fuse VJ (and event MC) Steven