The bass solo is always the tenth song on the set list. The drum solo always ends with all five band members playing drums and tossing sticks back and forth. 311 fans know it’s coming and they love it. 311 know what they’re doing.
311 has been around for 27 years. Their first official show was in 1990 opening for Fugazi. The five band members have been the same since 1992. They’re an act from middle America that has made the records they’ve wanted to make for nearly three decades. That’s very impressive. That should give them all of the Pitchfork credibility any act desires. They do not have Pitchfork credibility.
Is it because they’re not too sonically adventurous? They like funk slap bass mixed with the dancehall and hip-hop beats and punk guitar so their songs have those elements. And their lyrics let you know they like funk slap bass mixed with the dancehall and hip-hop beats and punk guitar so their songs have those elements.
Is it because they don’t make political stands? During last night’s show lead singer Nick Hexum’s on stage banter consisted of asking D.C. how they’re doing (pretty well, thank you for asking!) and encouraging people to dance and smoke.
Is it because they don’t look like garbage? Hexum in 2017 looks like Justin Bieber’s dad (not his actual dad, that guy can’t hold a candle to Hexum, I just mean the genes, Hexum has amazing cheekbones and a 47-year-old hot bod). That’s a high compliment.
Is it because they’re not and have never been sad? The majority of their rock and roll peers from the mid 90s that received critical acclaim were sad and are no longer with us, either breaking up or passed away.
Is it because they’re from Omaha? Omaha rules. The Saddle Creek bands, especially Cursive, have a lot in common with 311 (both acts work in the bar industry in addition to writing songs about the rock and roll lifestyle) but those bands are definitely beloved by critics.
Is it because they’re kinda, sorta a jam band? Monday’s show featured a bass solo and a drum solo but they played 23 songs in roughly 100 minutes. They don’t exactly jam. They play well constructed rock songs without the jam band fat. Also, Ween is beloved and they’re also kinda, sorta a jam band.
I do not entirely understand why 311 is in their unique position. After seeing last night’s show, I’m even more confused.
Why does 311 have a publicist? Do they need publicity? The group has been around for 27 years, released 14 studio albums, has an annual day in New Orleans (3/11), produces a cruise and licenses their name for beer, a cannabis vapor pen and NASCAR. Who really cares about a 311 review? These guys are doing exactly what they want and have been doing so for 27 years.
I’m glad 311 has a publicist. Without a reminder about their new album and Unity Tour 2017, it would have passed me by. They would have remained as a willing and excellent participant in the Investigate 311 arc of The Eric Andre Show. After seeing Monday’s show, they’re still a willing and excellent participant in the Investigate 311 arc of The Eric Andre Show and their fans are very nice people that just want to know who’s got the herb?
Speaking of who’s got the herb?, they played “Who’s Got the Herb” for song 19 but I was incredibly second-hand high by song 2.
Back to the confusion. I’m confused that a high school band (they formed at the age of 18) is not a nostalgia act. Their new record, Mosaic, has been well received. Most of the new tracks were well received in the room too. They play with precision and joy. Their experience and musicianship was on display for the majority of the evening. The outlier was upcoming single “‘Til The City’s On Fire.” Equal parts Blink 182, Panic at the Disco and 311, it’s the only failed attempt by a band that knows its lane. It makes sense when you find out it was co-written by John Feldmann, who has also worked with Blink 182 and Panic at the Disco. Other than that, the set only featured one hit (“Come Original”) and a mixture of very new and very old tracks that would please a devoted fan base.
311 is admirable. Legitimately admirable. They’re a group of individual players with disparate influences that has stuck around longer than most marriages and still appear to enjoy playing music together. And maybe most importantly, they understand humor. Their appearance in The Eric Andre Show solidified their coolness. Sure, Pitchfork is never going to like them, but they’re smiling. And their fans are smiling too. Especially the guy I saw in the Baltimore Ravens jersey wearing number 311 with the last name Investigate.