Our hometown heroes 311 made a stop in Lincoln at the Pinewood Bowl Wednesday (September 8) and the fans showed up in full force!
When I got the approval to shoot this show I was beyond stoked. Being part of the 311 community has been a huge highlight of my musical journey. It's hard to keep track, but I think this was my 29th show overall and my third time shooting photos. Typically a 311 show involves a drive to Kansas City, but this year we were lucky enough to get a date in our home state, cue the air guitar!
I had never been to the Pinewood Bowl theater before Wednesday, but I would definitely recommend checking it out if you get the chance. The scenery was just gorgeous. Coming in off the highway you pass by a pristine lake with lots of surrounding greenery. The stage and seating are nestled in between mature trees providing plenty of shade. Just think red rocks but replace stoic mountains with trees.
Before 311 there were two opening acts Iya Terra and Iration. Iya Terra kicked things off with some island grooves to get the party started. I've never really delved too heavily into the reggae genre but they sounded good to me. It was fun bobbing along to the uplifting tunes.
Iration, coming all the way from Hawaii kicked things up a notch! They were also heavily reggae tinged, but they had a full band with a small horn section and back up vocals which really brought some extra flavor. These guys have been playing together for a while. Lead singer Micah mentioned that they had played Lincoln a long time ago at Knickerbockers which has been closed for some time now. The Lincoln crowd roared at the name drop. Micah said "I'm glad I got the name right, I still have some brain cells!" Iration played a good hour pumping out mostly reggae and pop tunes but at one point they did a dub flavored cover of "Seven Nation Army" which was pretty awesome. Iration kept the party bumping and had the fans ready for some 311 action!
As I waited with anticipation a countdown timer displayed at the back of the stage. Finally the numbers dropped, 3, 2, 1... fog filled the stage and our hometown boys were on! The bass kicked in the classic sound of the "Omaha Stylee" intro. "311! What's up? The people! What's up?" Being in their home state "Omaha Stylee" was clearly a winning opener. The crowd came on strong singing every word
Omaha Stylee did not think there was one
Where you know the radio's weak and the shows are more fun
But you know we effed up the dance hall since 1988
Many did not think when they hear we come from this state
Still we're down like that, still we're down like that
Still we're down like that, kickin' the funk that smells of skunk
I know a lot of people like to hate on 311 and still perpetuate the rumor that they claim to be "from California", but they always give it up in their home state. From guitarist Tim Mahoney wearing a La Casa pizza shirt to Nick screaming "Husker Power" there were a lot of Nebraska references throughout the set.
With the band touring into their 31st year you would think they've slowed down a step or two but 311's energy level was still rocking! During the song "Days of 88" S.A. and Nick did a little two-step dance that had me smiling. It looked like they were having a blast up there.
It was after this song that Nick mentioned they hadn't played Pinewood Bowl for 27 years. Back in 1994 the band's friend Curt Grubb of Grasshopper Takeover fame had organized a festival there. Nick said "I was watching some footage of that festival and all I could think about was how baggy our pants were, very, very baggy". Nick may have ditched the baggy pants but his trademark white tank top was still around. For a guy going into his 50s he still looks amazing. I know he prides himself on working out and staying fit. With how great the band sounded you can tell it makes a difference.
I really appreciated the diverse set list for this show. The last tour before the pandemic had a bit of a greatest hits feel, but for Lincoln 311 really stuck to some of the older tracks. They pulled stuff from all over their musical history including Music, Grassroots, Self-titled (the blue album), Transistor, and Soundsystem. Don't get me wrong, 311's newest album Voyager is amazing but they only played one song from it "Stainless". I actually wish they would've thrown a few more new songs in there but I totally get playing to their old school die-hard fans. The highlight for me was "Use of Time" from Transistor. I think I've only heard it live one other time at 311 Day when they pull out all the deep cuts. So this was a real treat to have it in the regular set. The guitar solos are super wicked, showcasing the face melting abilities of the master Tim Mahoney.
Funk maestro P-Nut put on a clinic for how to slap the bass during his solo set, even covering "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd. The band has been working this into the set over the last several years and I'm sure drummer Chad Sexton appreciates the break that it gives him. On the way home I was pondering just how Chad made it through all those previous shows without a break! During the breakdown of "Applied Science" Chad does a giant drum solo (giving the rest of the band a break) and then extra drums are brought out and everyone joins in on the giant drum circle. Before the days of the P-Nut bass solo Chad just played right on through! Chad, you da real MVP.
As the night was winding down Nick thanked everyone for coming out and having all their friends and family in attendance. Of course the last song was dedicated to all the "old school 311 fans in the house" as the band broke into arguably one of their biggest hits "Down" from the self-titled (blue album). As I made my way to the car I was so proud of our hometown boys and the massive crowd they were able to draw. Nick mentioned that after such a long break they were happy to be doing what they love, spreading positivity and bringing people together through music. With how many people showed up in Lincoln (close to 4,000) I have no doubt 311 can keep going for many more years should they choose. And for someone hoping to get that 30th 311 show I really hope they do.
Sunset in July
Do You Right
Days of '88
Use of Time
Don't Stay Home
Beyond the Gray Sky
All Mixed Up
Creatures (For a While)
Thanks to 104.1 The Blaze for brining the show and to 311 Management for photo access.
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