311 (311 Records):
A wall of lights and a thunderous drum roll blared from the speakers moments before the lights went out as 311 played "Perfect Mistake" off their 2017 "Mosaic" album. "Mosaic" is the 12th studio album from the Omaha, Nebraska born band whose name is the police code for "indecent exposure". The album doesn't stray too far from the what made them famous with its surfer/reggae/rap/rock sound from the 90s.
As the lights flickered in a psychedelic pattern, an old favorite of 311 fans everywhere "All Mixed Up" got the already standing crowd jumping and singing along to the hit single from their self titled album from 1995. "Come Original" played and it was like we were listening to a greatest hits album, especially when tracks like "I'll Be Here A While" and "Amber" are on the set list!
When bassist Aaron "P-Nut" Wills got set up for his solo the lights went out again and all you could see were the light up frets on his 5 string bass. As he meticulously played snippets into his looper the crowd cheered as he worked his way up and down the neck before jumping into a rendition of "Heathens" by 21 Pilots; that blew everyone's mind! That solo was going to be pretty hard to beat...that was until drummer Chad Sexton got his turn!
He hopped on the skins and tore the stage a new one as he beat the drums into submission. Gradually getting faster and faster until it seemed as if you couldn't see his sticks moving anymore but you could feel the fury! While Chad was going to town the stealthy stage hands rolled out more drums (as I was resisting the urge to ask for "MORE COWBELL") and the entire band took a set of sticks and played along side their band mate. They tossed sticks back and forth across the stage not missing a beat....yes pun intended!
Overall 311 definitely still sounds like someone just switched on the radio. Crispy, clean vocals from Nick Hexum along with slick turn table scratches, surf-rap flows and some sweet dance moves for the ladies from Doug "SA" Martinez had EVERYONE nodding their heads, clapping their hands and stomping their feet as they kept the "high times" and good vibes rolling.
With this being the final show of the "Unity" tour, 311 wished the crowd farewell and thanked them for all the years of supporting them on their musical journeys. As the lights went out for the final time and mobs of fans made their way back to their cars you could still hear them singing all of their favorite tunes as a chaotic chorus of laughter filled the college campus. There was no doubt that 311 still has what it takes to keep the crowd coming back year after year.
New Politics (Warner Bros. Records):
As showtime neared, blue lights backlit the stage of the Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater in San Diego located on the SDSU campus. New Politics took the stage as Louis Vecchio, (the drummer) came out first and proceeded to set the tempo with an intro solo that got everyone on their feet including himself as he stood and smashed the drums like a musical mad man. Almost as if it were a mini showcase, (guitarist) Søren Hansen came out and greeted the crowd with his stark white fender strat, platinum blonde hair and fingers blazing up and down the frets furiously to let us know that we were all about to get rocked out. Then the "b-boy in black" and lead singer David Boyd hit the stage and the crowd lost it! He greeted the crowd with a big "WHATS UP SAN DIEGO!?" as they dove into their single "Everywhere I Go (Kings and Queens)."
As they covered The White Stripes and transitioned into "Sabotage" by the legendary Beastie Boys, David showed off some very impressive dance moves and brought the "grimey" with his break dancing skills ending it all off with a head spin to wow the crowd. All that was missing were the shell toed Adidas and a boom box and you would've thought you were watching a scene from "Beat Street" (an old break dancing movie for those of you that don't remember). He immediately got up and jumped off the stage to give the fans a personal taste of New Politics as he high fived his way through the crowd and stood on the sound board to sing for everyone.
The band is known for their high flying antics and exuberance on the stage and tonight during the final show of the "Unity Tour" there was no difference. David hopped on top of the drum set and stomped the cymbal in time with his feet before doing a backflip as Søren threw his guitar into the air, which caused the fans to gasp in fear and cheer loudly when he caught it and kept the music going like nothing ever happened. David then hopped on top of the piano that was wheeled out moments before and shot the lights out with his mic before Søren played their single "One of Us" from their upcoming album "Lost in Translation".
As their set ended and David, Søren, and Louis took their final bows, the crowd was back on their feet cheering so loud they could be heard from the parking lot. Everyone was left wanting more, which is what every band hopes their fans want. Well no worries New Politics...MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!