By Aaron Vlasnik
July 3, 2017
Just one week after the release of their 12th studio album, Mosaic, 311 stopped by their home state to play a street party in Nebraska’s capitol city. With the first installment of 2017’s Lincoln On The Streets Concert Series, the Omaha natives brought along with them Danish rock band New Politics as well as London’s The Skints. The three bands kicked off 311’s annual Summer Unity Tour on June 22nd in Cleveland, Ohio, with stops in Montebello, Detroit, Columbus and St. Louis before coming to Lincoln on Friday night. The band will finish the tour on September 1 in Virginia Beach, Va., but not before totaling 40 shows in just over two months.
Set up in view of the State Capitol in downtown Lincoln, The Skints started things off with their blend of reggae, pop and punk. Fronted by guitarist and vocalist Josh Waters Rudge and Marcia Richards, who did most of the vocals as well as showcasing multiple instruments throughout the show, including a saxophone solo, flute, melodica, as well as samples, keyboards and singing. The multi-talented artist captivated the early entrants, got the crowd dancing, and gave everyone reassurance for coming to the concert early.
Danish rockers New Politics came loaded with energy and familiar hits from their three albums. Songs like “Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens)” and “Harlem” got the crowd into the performance. The band’s latest single, “One of Us”, was a highlight. Even though the band has dozens of songs in their library, they decided to use a good portion of their set doing a cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” with a portion of it transitioning into The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. Regardless of what was played, the band produced a high-energy set that the crowd really ate up.
As the sun started to set on the final day of June, the people really started to file in and 311 took the stage to a crowd of nearly 6,000. Starting their set with a track off their latest album, Mosaic, “Perfect Mistake” immediately got the crowd rocking and definitely set the tone for the next two hours.
311, consisting of Chad Sexton, Nick Hexum, P-Nut, SA Martinez, and Tim Mahoney, clearly gave a home-state salute to the crowd within their 23-song set list, including longtime favorites like “Homebrew”, “Do You Right”, “Don’t Stay Home”, as well as including local anthem “Omaha Stylee” in their encore. The band covered much of their coveted 27-year career with playing at least one song from eight of their 12 albums, including the singles “Down”, “All Mixed Up”, “Amber”, and “Beautiful Disaster”.
The band always includes an extended bass solo for P-Nut at every show, where the other members exit the stage, allowing him to showcase his talent with his signature five-string Warwick bass. He included the theme song for the hit show Stranger Things as well as playing some of Twenty One Pilots’ song “Heathens” during the 5 minute plus solo.
The band also allows drummer Chad Sexton to get a solo in the middle of the Grassroots track “Applied Science.” The drum solo gives Chad a few minutes to get a fun solo going before the rest of the band joins him onstage with their own percussion line. The rest of the band gets their own floor tom and crash symbol to create a drum solo that truly is one of a kind and is a highlight of the entire set.
The set list was filled with new tracks from their new album, Mosaic. The band’s latest single, ‘Too Much To Think”, was just one of 9 tracks played from the 17 track album, other songs also played were rockers “Wildfire,” “Hey Yo,” “Too Late” and the sing-a-long “On A Roll” among others.
The new album has been receiving very positive reviews, so there’s no coincidence that the band dedicated nearly half of their set to it. The album was made to be played live, with catchy choruses, rockin’ hooks, and sing-a-long jams. Mosaic is easily one of their strongest releases in the past 15 years and is the perfect mix of old and new 311.
With severe storms hammering Lincoln Thursday night, Mother Nature was kind enough to give us a beautiful Friday evening. Perfect weather for an outdoor concert.
“So we’re out here on a summer tour celebrating 27 years as a band,” Nick Hexum announced to the Lincoln crowd. “We found out we are the fourth-longest-running original-member band in rock ‘n roll today.”
Only behind U2, Radiohead, and De La Soul. Pretty good company to be in.
The stage wasn’t the only popular site to attend, as the merchandise line was at least a dozen people deep consistently throughout the entire evening. With Lincoln show-exclusive posters and t-shirts, the merch line was the place to be.
“Busiest night we’ve had on the tour so far,” 311 merchandise associate Jeff Seipel said after the show.
Throughout the performance, Hexum and Martinez made references to “Big Red country” and “Go Big Red” and were very appreciative of the large Nebraska crowd at the end of the show.
“We want to thank you guys for coming out,” Hexum said. “You’ve been…awesome. Husker nation in the house.”
The Lincoln on the Streets concert series is a joint venture between SMG, Mammoth and the Bourbon Theatre, with support from KZUM. According to The Bourbon Theatre’s Jeremiah Moore, the series is intended to provide Lincoln with a quality big city concert experience.
“The idea is to bring this series back each summer hitting multiple genres and providing a multi-faceted look at the musical experience we can all have in our home town,” Moore said. “Our next event is yet to be announced, but we can tell you its a perfect fit for the diversity of Lincoln’s affection for music.”
Aaron Vlasnik is the host of KZUM’s “Alt Night Long,” spinning two hours of modern and classic alternative music every Tuesday from 9 to 11 p.m. on KZUM.