311 released a new album in March. To answer your question: Yes, they're still doing that. They played a concert last night at South Side Ballroom. To answer your second question: Yes, people actually still go see them play. In fact, many, many people were in line at South Side anxiously waiting to see 311. They were in their 311 shirts, having their 311 conversations, grabbing their 311 girlfriend's butt and smoking their 311 e-cigs.
And they were all so exceedingly happy and nice. There has never been a happier, nicer crowd at a concert. Ever, ever in the whole history of shows.
The happiness caught me off guard. The hard core 311 fans of my youth were not this smiley. The guy who would wear 311 shirts to school was most certainly not the same guy who would be seen in show choir. But this crowd was 100% show-choir happy.
Maybe people were so nice because half the crowd was 30-something Dads who were just ecstatic to be getting a beer night away from their toddlers. Maybe everyone was so happy because there's just something about a buncha white dudes singing in harmony and hopping on stage to reggae that cannot not make you happy. Or, maybe the nice fellow in the Snapple-knock-off-logo-ed shirt that read "Snatch" had the right explanation for me: "It's the drugs."[jump]
Here are the top 5 things people said to me about 311:
1) "No, I will absolutely not go to the 311 concert with you."
2) "They're still doing that?"
3) "I've never heard of this three-one-one group."
4) Some dude: (at the concert) "I can't wait to hear All Mixed Up." Me: "Have you heard the album they just released in March?" Some dude: "Wait--They're still doing that?"
5) Another dude: (at the concert) "So, do you come see them every year?" Me: "No, this is my first time seeing them in concert." Dude: (GASP, takes drag from glow-in-the-dark e-cig, turns on pink-neon-light-flashing sunglasses) "Have you ever even been to Austin?"
The opening band, Full Service, did some rapsinging about black tube socks (shout out to the dude in the group who was playing the shit out of that tambourine) just before 311 took the stage. A man with a deep voice told us to get ready for a great show, "with tons of singing and dancing!" (Crowd screams off face. Men in crowd happily fist bump the sky. I have never seen men this genuinely happy.) Dancing? Really?
I'm starting to think all the e-cigs in this room are filled with something super organic. Like maybe The Weed Drug.
Pot waft flashback: I remember learning the lyrics to All Mixed Up during chemistry in high school. My lab partner was high when she wrote all the lyrics down for me on the back of our classwork. I put a 311 sticker on my car the day after I knew all the lyrics to that song-- because I was officially cool.
There is much more camo here than I had expected. Camo hats. Camo shirts. Camo pants. Also, all the girls are wearing those doily shorts. You've seen them-- they look like they're lingerie, but people are pretending they're clothing in much the same way that in winter, they pretend that leggings are pants. I am shocked by the clash of hipster beards wearing summer scarves + extremely clean cut SMU-y guys here + blonde-people-with-dreads. Will they all sing Amber together, in a warm side-hug-cuddle embrace? Yep. They will.
311 takes the stage. "Dallas, how ya feelin'!!!" Apparently, we are feeling super "woo." Extremely loud, high-pitched woo. 311 is happy that we are feeling so woo. When they begin to play Come Original, everyone goes into Extreme Woo Mode. It is time for the aforementioned dancing. Nick Hexum, the lead singer of 311, commands the audience to jump. The audience jumps like they've never jumped before. They fuckin' Jordan this shit. Hexum yells, "What we have here is a positive celebration!"
SA Martinez, AKA the rapping and harmonizing guy, is my favorite part of the entire show. Most times, he looks a little out of place next to Hexum's blindingly-white-teeth-plus-sleeveless-muscle-shirt. Martinez is more, "Is that someone's dad up there?" And it's glorious. He was mime-dancing at one point. High fives for that. And additional high fives for holding down the harmonies during the entire show. Dude's been a third above Hexum for 30 years. Every time it's his turn to rap, I wonder if the sound is being messed with-- his voice has a quality to it that can only be described as bad-ass munchkin. He is the most entertaining, most smile-inducing part of this show.
The whole scene makes me feel like I'm witnessing the end of a Disney movie. It's so joyous and gleeful. If you told me 311 was a wholesome Christian band, I might believe you-- until they sing "mother fucker" in perfect two-part harmony. As Hexum holds his arms to the sky, in a dramatic pose not unlike Scott Stapp or Hulk Hogan, the crowd screams the lyrics to All Mixed Up, and he has won. Whatever you have to say about 311, it doesn't matter. This packed concert full of smiling people gives no shits about what kind of crap you'll talk about this band. This show is fucking fun.