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311, Pepper at The Lawn, June 28



311 is a well oiled machine, going strong after 20 years and 14 albums with zero lineup changes. One assumes that they know each other very well, and each member has definitely surpassed the 10,000 hours needed to become a master at his craft.

It's unfortunate that their routine has become so routine, and that the band has not significantly evolved in all that time. Songs sound just as they do on the record, and the show is not all that different from the 311 show I saw more than ten years ago. Perhaps that consistency answers to why this band is still around, and still able to pack The Lawn without a recent hit. Their rabid fan-base showed up in force, and 311 thanked them from the very first song, their biggest single, "Down."

Occasional bouts of noodling notwithstanding, the band put on an energetic, lengthy show that drew heavily from their earliest albums. Good pacing and a mix between uptempo and slower songs balanced out the set (and kept the mosh pit under control).

The show's highlight came towards the end of a drum solo by Chad Sexton. As the spotlight on Sexton gave way to fully-lit stage, we found that the other four members of the band had surrounded the riser, each member equipped with a floor tom and some auxiliary percussion. They then launched into a tightly choreographed five-minute sequence that was a cross between an African drum break and a marching band performance, from which they naturally transitioned back into the song proper with all members back on their assigned instruments.

Openers Pepper sounded full despite having only three members, especially when utilizing vocal harmonies. Their stage set was surf-themed, complete with surfboard and lifeguard chair, and the band wore only swim trunks, sunglasses and a little sunscreen on the nose. Pepper's sound suggested that they had graduated from the Sublime school of surf-rock, and their stage presence had just enough measured cockiness to pull off the theme.


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