Promise Keepers

311. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Saturday, September 9.

Reviewed by Levi Michael

311.jpgWhen vocalist Doug “SA” Martinez told
The Independent that 311’s show at the Bowl would be one for the
history books, it may have seemed like a bold statement, but let it
be known across the land that the Omaha, Nebraska quintet does not

With a résumé boasting nine full-length albums, 17 singles, and
18 years, 311’s live shows have become a powerhouse of diversity
that revolve around their deadliest weapon: the set list. Even the
few bands who can match the depth of their discography often fail
to display the same diversity in their live shows, making 311 a
constant fascination even to the fans who have been following them
since the beginning. With more than 80 songs in rotation for their
Unity tour, the set list offered by the boys last Saturday was the
best I’ve heard at the Bowl in years.

Following a kinetic jumpstart by Pepper, the day began with a
historic footnote as the Wailers returned to the Bowl for the first
time in 27 years. Though the absence of Tuff Gong was noticeable,
the reggae ensemble presented a concrete performance, checking off
the hits one by one until they were joined by Pepper for a closing
performance of “One Love.”

311’s lengthy set maintained a gymnastic balance among all of
their albums, beginning with the mellow grooves of “Welcome.” Of
course the necessities were present, including “Beautiful
Disaster,” “All Mixed Up,” “Come Original,” and “Down,” but what
really sent the show over the edge were the tracks normally
forgotten in the live circuit. Much to the delight of old-school
fans, 311 played a plethora of old jams, including “Prisoner,”
“From Chaos,” “You Wouldn’t Believe,” “I’ll Be Here a While,” and
“What Was I Thinking?”

An eclectic encore put the finishing touches on the night as 311
returned to stage with the Wailers, joining forces to jam out to
the classic Bob Marley song “Exodus.” The 11-piece ensemble
transformed back into five rockers, who finished off the night with


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