A visit to the live music capital of the world always ensures a great show, but seeing 311 and The Wailers this past Sunday in Austin is definitely included in my top five best concert experiences. The rain fell down but everything came together because of the already extremely talented headliners, to make for a truly awesome show.
The Backyard is gracefully set in the hills of Central Texas and offers panoramic views of Austin. While significantly smaller than 311’s previous venue, the Woodlands Pavilion in Houston, it provides much more intimacy, which allows it to cater to the diverse Austin crowd. The opening band, Pepper, caught my ear because they were very reminiscent of Sublime. They hail from Kailua Kona, Hawaii, and I strongly encourage checking them out if you dig the west coast sound.
Unfortunately, due to the current drought in the area it didn’t just rain, it poured. The venue’s ground flooded, causing a few pranksters to jump around in the mud like it was Woodstock. Even though we were cold and wet and the rain had no sign of stopping, we were prepared to wait it out. The much-needed rain did not dampen our spirits though; if anything, it energized the crowd even more.
While the concert officials deliberated on stage about the weather and the roadies made sure the equipment was protected from the water, the crowd started chanting “Rain or Shine,” spelled out explicitly on our tickets.
It was obvious that no one was leaving without seeing the show, and after it pounded us for 30 minutes, the rain let up to a light drizzle that continued for the rest of the night.
Finally, The Wailers took the stage and lead singer Junior Marvin said without hesitation, “We can’t live without the rain.” With that the crowd roared into a frenzy and everyone forgot about how miserable they were. They opened with “Jammin” and the burning odor of smoke replaced the smell of rain. The Wailers performed many of their hits. However, due to the rain delay they had to cut their set short and close with “One Love.”
By this time most of the crowd was thoroughly inebriated and ready for more. 311 answered their cheers by bursting onto the blue-lit stage with “You Wouldn’t Believe” followed by “Beautiful Disaster.” Next was an entrancing rendition of “Amber” followed by their current hit and track-title on their new album, “Don’t Tread On Me.”
The Omaha, Nebraska natives began playing together in 1991 and soon after relocated to Los Angeles where they released their first album Music in 1993. Since then, they have produced 9 albums including “Grassroots” and the self-titled “311” album, both of which are arguably considered their best works. 311 consists of vocalist and guitarist Nick Hexum, guitarist Tim Mahoney, P-Nut on bass, drummer Chad Sexton, and vocalist SA Martinez on the turn tables. During “Applied Science” the band exited the stage leaving only the drummer, Chad Sexton, to perform an amazing solo. Then the members came back on stage with their own snare drum and symbol to join Chad in a drum line formation that stole the show.
311 continued to perform songs off their new album and their classics like “All Mixed Up” and “Six.” They closed with “Creatures” off the “Evolver” album, but the crowd hadn’t had enough. After a couple of minutes of cheering by the crowd, the reggae influenced rock band came back out for the inevitable encore. They played “Who’s Got The Herb” and “Down.” It was an awesome end to an awesome show.
My only disappointment was that they did not perform my favorite song, “I’ll Be Here A While”, however, the concert was a blast despite the weather. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I would not have changed a thing about the show, not even the rain.
It was a beautiful disaster.