July 1, 2004

311 Brings MMW and the Roots to Chicago

By Randy J. Klodz

Though the Omaha, Nebraska-native 311 is no stranger to Chicago shows, the band brought a diverse line-up this time around that included jamsters Medeski Martin & Wood and legendary hip-hop rock-funksters the Roots for a July 1 performance at Tweeter Center in Tinley Park.

The instrumental trio Medeski Martin & Wood—John Medeski (keys), Billy Martin (drums, percussion) and Chris Wood (bass)—opened the show making as much musical noise as ten musicians, with the first eighteen rows of seating from the center section removed to create an “pit” area.

The band's 40-minute set of noises, ranging anywhere from turntable scratches that sound like soloing guitars, to piano verses sounding like the theme song from the “Snoopy” cartoons, to robotic noises to the high pitch of Rosey, the robotic maid from “The Jetson’s.” It’s a shame the stellar set was witnessed by one-tenth of the late-arriving pavilion. Medeski Martin & Wood is set to release “End of the World Party (Just in Case)” on Sept. 7. For more information on Medeski Martin & Wood log on to www.mmw.net.

The Roots drew a steady stream of fans with the band’s 55-minute set that mixed elements of rock, rap, funk and jazz, a similar blend of music to that of 311, though 311 is less rap, more rock. The Roots is scheduled to release yet another album “The Tipping Point” on July 13. For more information on the Roots log on to www.theroots.com.

Rockers 311—Nick Hexum (vocals, guitar), S.A. Martinez (vocals, turntables), Tim Mahoney (guitar), P-Nut (bass) and Chad Sexton (drums)—stole the show with the packed Tweeter Center pavilion grooving to each second of the band’s 105-minute set that covered pieces from the band’s extensive catalog.

Still on tour behind 2003’s “Evolver,” the band also released “Greatest Hits 93-03,” which hit stores on June 8 and features the hit single “Love Song,” a hit cover song, originally recorded by the Cure. The song is also featured on the soundtrack to the movie “50 First Dates.” Also featured on “Greatest Hits 93-03” are “How Do You Feel?” and “First Straw,” two previously unreleased tracks.

311 varies each show’s set-list giving its extensive fan base something new to cheer for each night, and July 1 gave the packed pavilion much to be excited about. Along with the previously mentioned “Love Song” (which Hexum dedicated to the looming full-moon that appeared just above the pavilion’s empty lawn section) and “First Straw,” the band added a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “D’yer Maker” to the mix. And no 311 show would be complete without a full-band drum solo, as nine songs into the set, the band played “Applied Science” and mid-song each of the band’s members simultaneously played drums that were placed at the stage’s front, with Martinez ending the routine in a robotic monkey fashion.

Other 311 favorites “Freak Out,” “All Remixed Up (a varied version of the hit “All Mixed Up”), “Beautiful Disaster,” “Down” “Come Original” and “Homebrew” were played among rarities “My Stoney Baby,” “Visit” and “Sweet” among others. The dedicated 311 fans were sure to head north to Milwaukee’s Summerfest on July 3 to see the band play yet again. For more information on 311 log on to www.311.com.

Medeski Martin & Wood Photo: Shore Fire Media
Nick Hexum of 311 Photo: Randy J. Klodz