Any concertgoer would agree-it was an evening of veritable rock and reggae perfection on Friday night at the Bowl. The Summer Unity Tour kickoff show was awash with cliches-the full moon came out, the clouds were ominous, and the overall tone of the night rang something like, “peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll.” At the crux of it all was 311 and their ever-so-eclectic lineup-this year, the hip-hop-funk-rock-reggae band decided to bring Rasta master Ziggy Marley along on their annual coast-to-coast ride. And the audience, beer cup in one hand and el diablo sign in the other, could not have been more stoked.
Ziggy Marley, along with his band and their instruments, were a vision in red, green, and gold as they took the stage at sunset. With his hands on his waist and three-foot-long dreads swaying, Marley commanded the platform where his father recorded his final performance back in 1979. Unable to resist Marley’s alluring feel-good presence, fans bobbed their heads and clapped their hands to the dub beat as Marley sang songs about crying for justice and staying true to oneself (“Justice,” “True to Myself”). Marley (who is believed to sound most like his late, great dad) also got the crowd on its feet with his almost-as-good renditions of “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Is This Love.” Before clearing the stage to make way for the evening’s headliner, Marley made sure to throw out his closing pleas for peace, one love, and pronouncing love was his religion during “Love Is My Religion.”
At around 8:30 p.m., 311 frontman Nick Hexum emerged from backstage in an all-white ensemble. Steadfast fans filed into each seat of the Bowl and crevice of the pit and were delivered, as promised, a show that was one of the band’s best in years, proving the veteran rockers’ endurance both in showmanship and musicianship. This time around, 311 primarily offered up tracks from Uplifter, their first album in more than three years (and their ninth one to date), which they noted was about how music saved their lives. Playing a no-fail setlist brimming with billboard hits (“Beautiful Disaster,” “Come Original,” “Amber”), Hexum and company carried out a nonstop performance until their 10 p.m. curfew. At one point, all but drummer Chad Sexton ditched their respective instruments and grabbed their own drums, performing a five-minute percussion set that impressed even the most critical spectator in the crowd. Despite being together for more than two decades and touring what seems like every year, the alternative rock band have still got it. Their sound may be all too familiar, but their shows still manage to mix it up, pleasing die-hard enthusiasts time and time again.