Last updated on October 7th, 2023 at 08:55 am
On a cloudy Sunday night, I found myself at Mystic Lake Showroom, and I was instantly impressed by the quality of the venue and architecture. The building itself was very impressive, giving me optimism for the show to come.
Concert organizers could not have picked a better opening act. Blame My Youth is an energetic, loud, and angsty quartet. While their songwriting inspired introspection, this band didn’t take themselves too seriously. Vocalist, guitarist, and frontman Sean Van Vleet came down into the crowd and gave the whole front row high fives as the rest of the band finished the last song “Fantastic.”
Towards the end of the opening set, the crowd began to fill in, and by the time 311 took the stage, the beautiful showroom was filled nearly to capacity. A tangible energy filled the room as 311 started and the majority of the audience rose from their seats, signaling what was to come. The front row of people edged up to the stage.
With no barricade, I found myself shooting photos surrounded by fans who paid for the most expensive seats in the house. However, not only were these fans fun and energetic, but they were also considerate of me and others, and obviously seasoned concertgoers.
The stage production was both psychedelic and immersive. Throughout the show, the two vocalists, Nick Hexum and Doug Martinez, traded verses back and forth. All of these verses were separated and backed by psychedelic riffs and solos from the guitar of Tim Mahoney.
After the first few initial songs, Hexum donned his guitar, and Martinez was often seen DJing on the turntables set near the drum riser.
The two vocalists, while definitely front and center, did not overshadow the rest of the band. Bassist Aaron Wills was left on stage alone for about 3 minutes to perform a solo which included a tease of “The Imperial March” – better known as Darth Vader’s theme music.
Wills was not the only member to be given this solidarity on stage, with drummer Chad Sexton also taking a solo. Sexton was backed by deep synths, creating a drumming experience I hadn’t seen the likes of before. Two drum lines and two gongs were then brought out on stage, and the rest of the band returned to join Sexton in a drumming crescendo.
At one point, Hexum announced that this year was the 30th anniversary of their first album release. This show made it blatantly obvious why this band is still successfully touring today after 30 years: not only are they talented and fun, but they put in the work. Martinez’s shirt was drenched in sweat by the end of the show.
As the band came back on stage for an encore, Hexum dedicated the final song to “all old-school 311 fans.” The band launched into “Down,” a song made up of grungy guitar riffs and hip-hop-style vocals.
As I left the showroom and walked outside, I realized it was raining, making me grateful that the venue had the foresight to start moving shows inside from the outdoor amphitheater used just last week. What a great combination of venue organization, band performance, and fans.