311 – Manchester Apollo Theatre

By paul

It’s always hard for a group when they are opening up for a band that are hugely popular and not one fan in the audience has heard of you. So you’ve got to feel more than a little sorry for LA’s crossover crew 311, who are warming up a partizan Incubus crowd on a cold January night.

Having seen 311 before at the Extreme festival in Nottingham last year, I was intrigued as to what I would see. The band have sold millions of records Stateside, yet have not made any kind of impression this side of the pond. And to be honest their Extreme performance way back in August personified this. That day they looked lost on such a big stage, and their blend of rap, rock, ska and reggae seemed to float way above everyone’s heads and into the open fields.

So I was kind of surprised to see that once again, 311 sucked. In a very big way. With a terrible muddied up sound and all of the band members looking forlorn, they may as well have not bothered. Bassist P-Nut, famed for his athletic dancing, basically stood still and Nick Hexum, a definite star in the making, looked anything but the frontman of one of America’s hottest properties. Their blend of genres sounded generic and dull and neither vocalist could be heard over the thudding puddle of mud that eminated from the speakers.

On CD tracks like ‘From Chaos’, ‘All Mixed Up’ and ‘Champagne’ are imaginitive slices of music, but live they simply don’t work. If you put in a half-arsed performance then you get half-arsed results. No exuberance, no energy, nothing. Not one person moshed, skanked or crowdsurfed during the entire set. Even the Incubus soundman got a bigger round of applause. And his fat waddle from one end of the stage to the other had more grace and stage presence than a so-called platinum selling act.

It is hard playing to a crowd who have no interest in watching you, but 311 just didn’t seem that bothered in convincing the fans to get involved. They were plain and simply boring. My bag of chocolate M&M’s was infinitely more interesting. Even the usually excellent ‘You Wouldn’t Believe’ couldn’t wake the crowd from their slumbers.

Maybe I’ve just seen 311 on a bad day twice. But I’m not totally convinced that is the case. The word ‘dull’ really doesn’t do this band justice, on the basis of what I’ve seen. And on a completely different, yet completely corporate note, how the band can justify charging ΒΆΕ“40 for a hoodie is absolutely disgusting. Needless to say, they weren’t exactly selling like hotcakes…