311 @ FirstMerit Bank Pavilion – Chicago, IL Show Review

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For as big of a venue as FirstMerit Bank Pavilion is and how huge the turnout was, the show still somehow provided an intimate ambience. The combination of flawless lighting and crystal clear sound production probably factored into this. 311 received an excellent crowd response from the moment they stepped on the stage. Assuming that most of the crowd had been listening to them since the early 90s, there was a solid number of diehard fans eagerly awaiting their arrival.

Opening with “Don’t stay Home” seemed to get every person in the pavilion up and singing along immediately. At the first break in music, vocalist Nick Hexum demanded that the crowd get bouncing, and they most certainly listened. Breaking into a ridiculously heavy riff, every member of the band was headbanging and thrashing around with an intensity that I honestly didn’t expect from a band that’s been around since 1988.

One of their most popular songs, “Come Original” got everyone moving as a whole. This song really showcased the chemistry between vocalists Nick and Doug “SA” Martinez. Their ability to swap between 2 entirely different styles as fluently as they do is nothing short of impressive.

With a nice change of pace the crowd was treated with a cover of The Cure’s “Love Song.” Not only was it flawlessly executed musically, but the emotion that was poured into the vocals resonated throughout the whole pavilion. Afterwards, Nick gestured to the crowd with appreciation and stated “This right here is a positive celebration!” Just when the fans seemed to be at the highest point they could reach, Chad Sexton broke into an impressive drum solo, showing off his veteran talents. The remaining members shifted across stage setting up cymbals and drums of their own. To top off a brilliant solo, the stage lit up and everyone began a drumline-like synchronized jam session. This tribal percussion really portrayed the versatility of the entire band.

The audience seemed to be particularly fond of the man they call P-Nut, and after witnessing his bass solo, I can understand why. Starting off with a solid finger technique display and switching to some rowdy slap and pluck style, Aaron Willis proved to be a guru on bass. He ended his solo with a heavily distorted version of “The Imperial March” from Star Wars and a traditional martial arts bow to the crowd, which everyone went crazy for. Each member had their time to shine, and they all showed a remarkable level of mastery.

The all-around vibe of the crowd seemed to mirror that of the band throughout the entire show. With intense transitions between funk, hip hop, and rock, 311 delivered a high energy performance that was sure not to disappoint even the most critical of fans.

Check out Nicci’s live photos HERE!

Nicci Allen
Nicci Allen is a photography/graphic design major who has been an active and involved member of the music scene since she was old enough to be let in local shows. Whether it was bartending concerts at The Pearl Room, being an involved member of the Girls of Metal, booking and promoting local shows and benefits, attending festivals and supporting artists of every genre, or DJing and writing her own music, Nicci has always made music a necessity in her daily life.