Aug. 2, 2003

311 Returns to Chicago With New “Evolver”

By Randy J. Klodz

The Omaha, Nebraska-bred rock-pop-reggae outfit 311 released “Evolver” on July 22 and what better way to celebrate the release of the band’s seventh studio album than tour the States with the “Unity Tour” that wound its way through Chicago on Aug. 2 at the UIC Pavilion.

311 first made national waves with its 1995 self-titled blue album, which spawned such hits as “Down” and “All Mixed Up.” But 311—which consists of Nick Hexum on vocals and guitar, S.A. Martinez on vocals and turntables, Tim Mahoney on guitars, P-Nut on bass and Chad Sexton on drums—had a strong following with previous releases “Music” and “Grassroots.”

With a whole slew of album tracks, B-sides and other rare fan favorites, 311 kept the three-quarter full UIC Pavilion crowd on its toes with early tracks “Unity,” “Homebrew,” and “Gap,” while playing a handful of tracks from “Evolver,” which included the live premier of “Give Me a Call.”

The calm and sexy intro to the new track “Beyond the Gray Sky” seemed to put fans in the mood for some new tunes as the whirling lights lit the way for Hexum’s soft vocals, as Martinez joined in giving fans a welcomed break from the typically faster paced songs of the night. Other new tracks that 311 gave fans a taste of were, “Crack the Code,” “Reconsider Everything,” “Don’t Dwell” and the hit single “Creatures (For a While).”

During “Applied Science” stagehands brought four standing drums to the center stage as Sexton held beat during his drum solo. Hexum, Martinez, Mahoney and P-Nut then each beat a drum in sync and created a 5-person drumming unit that brought the crowd to a rise. 311 closed the show with a stirring rendition of “Who’s Got the Herb” and “Down,” the later which Hexum dedicated to “all the old-school 311 fans that have stood with us.”

Fans that arrived early were treated to the punk-rock sounds of Something Corporate and funk-groovesters G. Love & the Special Sauce. 311’s current “Unity Tour” is scheduled to run through Sept. 5 when the band plays County Bowl in Santa Monica, Calif. For more information on 311 view www.311music.com.

Nick Hexum of 311 Photo: Randy J. Klodz