Back in my college days, 311 was right up my alley. A mix of rock and bad rap by a bunch of country boys from Omaha who moved to LA to get some street cred. Their music was perfect party music, a little reggae mixed in, a few dancy ditties mixed in with the heavier ones. I remember being too late at a house party and insisting that this one track be played repeatedly, the DJ complied, if only to laugh at me and my friends trying to dance.
Back in 95/96 i managed to see them a few times, the most memorable time was when me and some friend made our way down to Boston to see them play at a small club called Axis. It was just as their 2nd album was dropping and just before they couldn’t play places that small anymore. I thankfully got into the show with the help of some record industry folk who catered to us college radio music directors. I can’t remember if any of my friends made it in or not, but I know most of them didn’t and went on to get a little crazy in Boston for a night. I got a little crazy in that club.
That 311 show at the Axis is still one of my favorite shows. If I went today, it would all seem pretty played out, but at the time, I had a blast. There by myself, I had few inhibitions and jumped right into the pit and went crazy dancing and pushing my way through the show a few feet from the stage and the band. Their sound fit so perfectly in that small room, it was a blast. I had so much fun, I did something I had never done before or since, I took my shirt off. I was one of THOSE guys. I didn’t care, it seemed like the right thing to do. At the end of the show, I randomly ran into my cousin, he probably thought it was something I always did. And that I was a crazy idiot.
I talk mostly about that Axis show vs. the show from the ticket stub above – Great Woods in ’96 – that nothing could have compared to that Axis show. I think I even saw them one other time at the Avalon, a larger club. The Great Woods show was a big stadium show, outside. The band started the show behind a giant curtain that dropped with the lead singer raising his fist in the air when behind it. This was their BIG tour and they had arrived, supporting one of their bigger albums – Transistor. But no show could have compared to that tiny and intimate club show just before they blowed up.
Here’s the set list from the Great Wood show – http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/311/1997/great-woods-amphitheater-mansfield-ma-5bd0af38.html