I think I knew every song played during the 311 and Matisyahu show at the Bowl last week. Before you go calling bullshit on that claim, let me explain: First and foremost, I have known and loved 311 since the release of their first independent albums-they were the soundtrack for everything in my life from pre-dawn surf missions and run-ins with the police, to high school keg parties and botched first dates. Similarly, I have appreciated Matisyahu’s infectious and one-of-a-kind Hasidic reggae since first hearing a bootleg of his breakthrough Bonaroo set in ’05.Given my longstanding fandom, I had seen both bands perform live long before Wednesday night’s gig and-though it was far from a disappointment-the latest performance regrettably sounded exactly like the 311 and Matisyahu concerts of my past. In short, it was enjoyably familiar, though decidedly lacking in artistic growth. And it is for this reason that I knew every song. This is not to say that I could sing them all word for word, but I had definitely met them before and-in the years since our first introductions-it seems they haven’t changed a bit.
That being said, I am sure good times were had by all in attendance. From the stiff-legged jive jumps of Matisyahu to the bouncy hip-hop, punk, and reggae attack of 311, the show’s energy prompted the first real mosh pits of the ’07 season. And then there was the bliss of the aforementioned familiarity. As bad as a re-run can be, it can also work as the ultimate user-friendly tool in your quest for party pleasure. In that vein, when 311 took the stage and the first chords of “Down” filled the night, I was grinning despite myself, my hands-both holding full keg cups-high in the air, my spirits high, feeling completely content to be exactly where I was-some 13 years and 3,000 miles removed from the first time that very song made me wave my beer around on a warm summer night.