Article by: Jessica Bishop
Photography by: Casey Diaz of TheRippOffShow
The cool Chicago breeze whipped the hair of the 311 fans that were gathered in front of the stage Saturday night at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island. The arena was packed with tie dyed clad folks, most carrying a rather substantial beer in not one, but both hands. The air was filled with the perfume of dab smoke and colone. You know for some weed smoking hippies they actually didn’t smell too bad, which was impressive because it was hot as hell out there and everyone was also extremely sweaty. A+ for hygiene guys.
White dots circled over the stage as Matisyahu appeared, draped in a simple man bun and plain grey tee, that complemented his casual demeanor. Bassist Stu Brooks’ easy flowing rhythm vibrated my skin and made my teeth chatter. Clouds of smoke rose from the crowd and dissipated into the clouds overhead, which brings me to the highlight of their show, Bigyuki. Bigyuki just recently joined Matisyahu this year. This man is the most soul-full person on keys I have ever seen live, and is now my favorite keyboardist since Ray Manzerak. He even danced about on stage, one hand on the keys in a groove that never missed one beat. Seriously, this dude is a monster on the keys. Ok, ok, enough about my new favorite music crush.
Matisyahu’s voice carried upon the breeze as guitarist Aaron Dugan played his heart out in an earth melting guitar solo. A few tears were shed in the audience as the band played “One Day” off the album Light released in 2009. Matisyahu had a smooth, relaxed way of dancing that melted in with his music, and his voice was like a trance that hypnotized the crowd into dancing right along with him.
Kosha Dillz joined them on stage to perform “Dodging Bullets,” a new song recently released by Kosha featuring Matisyahu. (Our interview with Kosha Dillz on his new album is coming soon, so stay tuned.) Kosha’s rhyme’s were catching and his stage presence was exciting and vibrant.
Matisyahu even did a beauteous rendition of Bob Marely’s “No Woman, No Cry.” If you had looked from the stage you would have seen 5000 some all people all come together to sing the chorus of the late reggae legend’s words under a tangerine and opal sunset.
As the band left the stage the audience congregated to refill their ginormous beers and exchange this year’s 311 day stories with each other. The amount of following 311 still has after 25 years is insane. The 311 familia is some of the most dedicated and loving fans I have ever seen.
311 was formed in 1990 in Omaha, Nebraska, by singer/guitarist Nick Hexum, singer S.A. Martinez, guitarist Tim Mahoney, drummer Chad Sexton and bassist P-Nut. The band now resides in Los Angeles, California. 311 mix rock, rap,
reggae and funk into their own unique sound.
An electric blue light shone over the crowd and twinkled along the night sky when the familiar sound of “Do You Right” began to play, barely audible over the joyful screams of the audience. Hexum yelled out “everyone jump” and the ground shook as everyone of those 5000 people bounced up and down with a passionate force comparable to that of asteroid about to impact earth.
311 is one of those rare bands that sound even better live than they do on an album. I don’t know if it is just the fact that they are so experienced as a touring band or if it is just the sheer energy in the crowd that made it that more pleasing to the ears. Martinez danced robotically in contrast words that flowed polished through the microphone. Mahoney’s hair dangled over his face as he cranked out the riffs to “Large In The Margin.” The crowd went absolutely insane for my personal favorite “Come Original.” The band left the stage and bassist P-Nut came out for some of the most incredible bass playing I have ever witnessed. As a bassist myself, I have forever looked up to him as a master of the low end world and I was absolutely not disappointed.
The rest of the band joined back on stage to red and yellow starburst lights that ushered on the beginning of “Never Ending Summer,” making me wish that the summer would never end and I could spend the rest of my life shaking my ass to Matisyahu and 311 under the nighttime stars.
There were couples holding hands, children with eyes wide at their first ever concert, college kids double fisting beers and drunkenly singing along out of time, and the middle aged men and women reminiscing about the good old days. It that moment in time it didn’t matter where you came from, where you’ve been, who you were, or where you were going when you left. They were all connected through the power that is music. One heart, one soul, one love.
It’s not too late to get your tickets! Click the links below to buy tickets for a show near you!
7/15 AsburyPark,NJ-Summerstage BUY TICKETS
7/16 Brooklyn,NY-Coney Island Amphitheatre BUY TICKETS
7/17 Portland,ME-Maine State Pier BUY TICKETS
7/19 HamptonBeach,NH-Hampton Beach Casino BUY TICKETS
7/20 Boston,MA-Blue Hills Bank Pavilion BUY TICKETS
7/22 Philadelphia,PA-Penn’s Landing BUY TICKETS
7/23 Washington,DC-The Fillmore BUY TICKETS
7/26 St.Augustine,FL-St Augustine Amphitheater BUY TICKETS
7/27 BocaRaton,FL-Sunset Cove BUY TICKETS
7/29 Atlanta,GA-Tabernacle BUY TICKETS
7/30 Atlanta,GA-Tabernacle BUY TICKETS
7/31 Nashville,TN-Marathon Music Works BUY TICKETS
8/02 Birmingham,AL-Iron City BUY TICKETS
8/03 Mobile,AL-Soul Kitchen BUY TICKETS
8/05 Austin,TX-Austin360 Amphitheatre BUY TICKETS
8/06 Dallas,TX-Gexa Energy Pavilion BUY TICKETS
8/07 Houston,TX-Cynthina Woods Mitchell Pavilion BUY TICKETS
8/12 LosAngeles,CA-Hollywood Palladium BUY TICKETS
8/14 SanFrancisco,CA-Masonic BUY TICKETS