It has been 25 glorious years that I have been watching 311 perform live. I have been photographing them for 10 of those years. Even after all this time, I’m still just as excited for every show as I was when I was just 17.
Flashback to 1996 when I was a teenage girl in a silver outfit at the Fl Civic Center in Tallahassee, completely losing my mind against the railing in the front row. I went so crazy, in fact, the DJs on the radio where talking about me the very next day. Five years later, I was on the Warped Tour with my friends from NOFX. 311 was also on Warped Tour that year, and I was very lucky to really get to know them.
One night I got to stay up with SA Martinez and discuss our love for art and Salvador Dali. The 311 crew was so nice to us and they always let us stand on the side stage with our cocktails and rock out to the show. Those were some of the best days of my life, and I can attest… the guys of 311 are just as nice in person as they come across on stage.
In the here and now, I was set to cover 311 as a photo journalist for OC Music News. It was a cool and crisp Friday night at Fivepoint. It was October 15th to be exact. I have to admit, FivePoint is my new favorite venue to cover bands because the stage is so low and it is has such an intimate feel. Admittedly, I had a little bit of a hard time taking photos at this show because I couldn’t stop dancing and there was a familiar smell in the air near the photo pit. The entire venue was feeling nice and relaxed whether they wanted to or not, Irie is a good word to describe the crowd. But judging from how happy and friendly all of their fans were, and how they took great care of each other, I think everyone was doing just fine.
People were cheering with their drinks left and right while others were dancing like no one was watching and letting loose after being cooped up for the past couple years.
Iration set the bar high with their mellow Hawaiian vibes and warmed up the crowd. Their positivity was palpable and they set the tone for the evening. Most of the crowd knew the words to their songs and were singing along. Songs like “Summer Nights,” “Time Bomb,” “Turn Around,” “Seven Nation Army,” yes it was a White Stripes cover and sound really good and of course, “Back Around.”
Then it was time for 311. As the crowd cheered, the band appeared in multiple, fantastic plumes of smoke. Their lighting was stunning; absolutely picture perfect. 311 is still so tight as a band and the vocals are on point; the cohesiveness of all their instruments was flawless and electric.
The collective sonic vision of 311 was on full display with Nick Hexum behind the mic, SA Martinez (vocals and turntables), P-Nut on bass, Tim Mahoney on lead / rhythm guitar and Chad Sexton of drums. That signature sound can pierce your heart and comfort your soul from one moment to the next.
My favorite part of the show was when drummer, Chad Sexton, played his mind-blowing solo. As soon as he finished, the rest of the band joined him on stage and played their own drums with him. They even spiced it up and threw drumsticks back and forth and each other while they all played and they caught their sticks in unison.
Another amazing moment was when they played “Beyond the Grey Skies” and everyone in the amphitheater held up their phone light or lighter in remembrance of all the loved ones we have lost. It was a beautiful moment of unity and reflection.
One of my personal favorite songs is “Beautiful Disaster,” so I was very happy to hear that. They played “Amber,” and a guy in the crowd was screaming, “That song was in the movie ‘50 First Dates’” and everyone was laughed with him.
One of the most unexpected moments was when P-Nut played “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd on bass. It was so funny and everyone was singing along.
Perhaps everyone got caught in the moment, it just seemed like the time spent with 311 was over in a blink of an eye. That old saying turns out to be true, time really does fly when you’re having fun!
What a great night for music at FivePoint Amphitheatre.