February 29th, 2012, 3:39 pm · · posted by DAVID HALL, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Returning to Southern California for the kickoff of its annual Spring tour (leading up to 311 Day 2012, slated for March 10-11 in Las Vegas), 311 performed to a formidably full house on Tuesday night at City National Grove of Anaheim.
As usual, the Nebraska-based outfit rocked, rapped, danced and jammed through a set of hits spanning its 20-plus-year career. “Full Ride,” “Freeze Time” and “All Mixed Up” served as invigorating openers for the throngs of old-school fans that likewise bolstered the show’s launch by unabashedly belting out every lyric.
The newer tracks that cropped up mid-set – including “Timebomb,” “Wild Nights” and “Something Out of Nothing” – were less impressive. The bulk of their riffs and vocal harmonies, performed by vocalists Nick Hexum and SA Martinez, resounded like unremarkable rehashes of the group’s early sound.
Yet it wasn’t just the repetitive nature of those tunes that proved problematic. For whatever reason, Hexum and Martinez sounded uncomfortably off-key when they harmonized, killing momentum in otherwise powerhouse picks (“Uncalm” and “Beautiful Disaster”), and similarly marring the fluidity of typically entrancing tunes (“Prisoner” and “Amber”).
There were, however, a fair amount of saving graces: Hexum and lead axeman Tim Mahoney’s razor-sharp guitar duels on “Hostile Apostle” and “Beautiful Disaster”; drummer Chad Sexton’s brain-rattling solo (completed, as is customary, with a front-stage drum line featuring the other three members) during “Applied Science”; P-Nut’s extravagant, Les-Claypool-meets-Rodrigo-y-Gabriela bass solo; and – for the main-set finale – a spirited run-through of a song that seemingly never diminishes in impact: “Down.”
All of these antics I’ve witnessed before, so I won’t lie and say my jaw dropped or anything along those lines. But I gotta hand to ‘em, more than two decades on, 311 can still pack a punch with the utmost positivity.
Set list: 311 at the Grove of Anaheim, Feb. 28, 2012
Main set: Full Ride / Freeze Time / All Mixed Up / Rock On / Plain / Champagne / T & P Combo / Come Original / Time Bomb / Applied Science / Wild Nights / Prisoner / Hostile Apostle / Something Out of Nothing / Amber / P-Nut bass solo / Uncalm / Beautiful Disaster / Jackpot / Down. Encore: A Ways To Go / Creatures (For Awhile)
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