311 and company bring good vibes to the Pavilion

311 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion | Woodlands Monocle

311 and company’s journey to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Sunday night happened to be unlike anything I have ever attended there before, and having lived here for more than ten years, I have seen many great shows.

 

The one inescapable aspect of the show was the heat.  I’m convinced the sun is mad at us this summer and after the recent flooding, we are experiencing some extreme humidity. I’m pretty sure every conversation I overheard last night included the words “sticky” and “ridiculous” in regards to the heat. But let us not forget that this is Texas.  I was fully aware of the temperatures ahead so I spent my day drinking a gallon of water in preparation.My old self may have spent the day eating pot brownies to prepare but I am certain that would fall under the list of things that can now kill me.

The crowd yesterday stuck it out and turned out in great numbers early on in the day.  That is no surprise to me though because just two months ago the Pavilion was voted the number one venue in the country for ticket sales.  That statistic says all I need to know about the music community as a whole here. Every time I attend a show at the Pavilion I see friends that I have known dating back to grade school and it just seems to brighten these shows a bit more each time I go.

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One main reason this show felt different than most is because five bands took the stage last night with rapid change out times of just twenty minutes.  All of the bands are bass-heavy acts so they were able to share what looked like nearly thirty extra speakers as part of their tour and that number is not exaggerated.

Tribal Seeds took the stage first and they had 1,000 to 2,000 people there during their opening set.  I am not familiar with their music but I took a liking to the wholesome sound early on.  They have two guitars and two keyboards that bring out a massive sound live. These guys have their obvious reggae, ska, Latin influences in their music but what stuck out the most was the fast driving punk undertone.

Tribal Seeds seemed to be more of natural reggae band by their music and their attitudes. The end of their set included a drum circle between band members. Immediately following their set the keyboard player was wandering throughout the front section of the seats handing out CDs and signing autographs while the guys behind me argued about the birthplace of reggae.  Was it St. Lucia? Or was it Trinidad and Tobago? We may never know.

I was able to recognize the keyboard player in the crowd because he was the only guy with dreads down to his feet! Also, I have never seen a band member come out to the crowd directly after playing and give CDs and sign autographs like that.  It was a kind gesture and it definitely got them some new fans.

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Second on the bill was Matisyahu. This guy manages to confuse the entire crowd every time I see him live.  Most of the people there were asking who he was because he came out with his newly shaved face drinking coconut water and spent the first ten minutes beatboxing into the microphone.  Personally, I loved It but I can understand people new to his music being confused.  He is known for his beatboxing and it came as no surprise to me.  The guy in front of me asked who he was and ended up taking a picture of my phone because he had no signal.

Matisyahu is an established name in the reggae and hip-hop community. In 2005 his single “King Without a Crown” was a top 40 hit in the United States.  Last night, though, he spent most of his set standing in the corner making noises and jumping around.  The real Matisyahu came out several other times with the bands following him.

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Matisyahu (Photo by Brittany Teel)

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Matisyahu (Photo by Brittany Teel)

Next up was the Dirty Heads. These guys are a Reggae band out Huntington Beach, California.  Their newest album came out just last month. Once they took the stage it was the first time you saw the majority of the crowd get on their feet and wake up.  Although I am not aware of the song title, Matisyahu came out during the Dirty Seeds second song.  If I were to choose the most “popular” band in regards to “radio play” from last night’s lineup it would definitely be the Dirty Heads.

This band has a unique startup that originated in 1996.  The band was founded by Jared “Dirty J” Watson and vocalist/guitarist Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell in Orange County, California, where there was some reggae and ska influence.  Bushnell was in a punk band throughout high school which led to their collaborative reggae/punk style. There is always something to be said about bands that date back to grade school.


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Dirty Heads (Photo by Brittany Teel)

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Dirty Heads with Matisyahu (Photo by Brittany Teel)

After the Dirty Heads, it was time for 311 to take the stage.  It seemed to be the talk of the crowd that 311 should be the headliner on this tour but to me I find no big deal in the argument. All the bands had fans there and the five-band lineup provided more of a festival feel than anything. I’m sure if you asked any of the 311 band members about it, they would most likely tell you that they don’t care.

311 broke into their set with their hit song “Beautiful Disaster”.  As many times as I have heard this song, it sounded heavier or on the grungy side which was nice to hear. The guitarist seemed to have a bit more crunch behind that amplifier last night and they had the crowd jumping and banging their heads instantly. I’m sure it was nothing like the Cro-Mags show downtown at Walter’s but the crowd was having fun.

One of the most interesting parts of this band is the 1992 addition of Doug “SA” Martinez.  Martinez is a vocalist and now provides turntables and awkward dance moves for the band.  I’m positive Martinez did a version of the robot last night for 15 minutes straight.  The guy bounces around every single night for a living and you can’t blame him for having as much fun as possible.

Halfway through their set they mentioned to the crowd that they have been a band for 26 years now which to put in perspective, I’m 27.   Also, to put it further into perspective, the “holiness” of Matisyahu in the reggae world made one last appearance with 311 during their song “Love Song”.  At this moment it was evident that all of these bands share a similar respect and love for the guy.  After that, the band broke into a group drum circle with giant gongs and cymbals and stuck true to the reggae/beach lifestyle of group drumming. The crowd in Houston really loves 311 and it would be easy to argue that they were the crowd favorite last night.

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311 (Photo by Brittany Teel)

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311 (Photo by Brittany Teel)


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311 (Photo by Brittany Teel)

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311 (Photo by Brittany Teel)

Last but not least we had the headliner which was Sublime with Rome.  For those unfamiliar with the story, the lead singer and founder of Sublime, Bradley Nowell, died of a heroin overdose in San Francisco, California shortly before the bands self-titled major label debut. It wasn’t until 2009 when Gaugh and Wilson teamed up with Rome Ramirez, who was a friend of Bradley’s, to form Sublime with Rome.

They tour yearly and play all of Sublimes songs besides “Caress Me Down,” out of respect to Bradley. This passion they have for their fallen friend shows in their performances. I’ve seen them enough and have been playing music enough to know that you’re going to have a bad show, which has been known of Sublime with Rome, but for one reason or another, it will happen.

Last night, however, I found nothing negative to say about their set.  In true Rome Ramirez fashion, he ripped into a guitar solo in their opening song “Date Rape.”  Yes, I know it’s not the most pleasing title to the ears but the second follow-up to that was the hit song “Smoke Two Joints.”  At that moment I was positive the surrounding areas could smell the pavilion from miles away.  The Tribal Seeds keyboard player made a quick appearance with what appeared to be a Hohner 32 or 37B Melodica which I like to call a mouth piano.  This was the same guy that was walking the crowd and handing out CDs earlier in the day.

 

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Sublime with Rome (Photo by Brittany Teel)

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Sublime with Rome (Photo by Brittany Teel)

It was obvious these bands have a love for one another and enjoy touring together.  That’s really what it’s about at the end of the day.  Most of us spend a lot of time now arguing or fighting over numerous issues plaguing our nation’s growth all while witnessing one of the more controversial presidential elections in history and yet when we all meet up at a local concert… there seem to be no issues in the world.  It’s crazy how that happens.

Yesterday everyone fought the heat and looked to be releasing some much-needed tension and this tour seemed to come through at the perfect time. These bands came and literally put all their sweat on that stage and made the show worth all the existential factors surrounding it.  Today, I received a text asking if I enjoyed the show last night and all I could reply with was, “ya mon!”

Article written by Darr Nieuwoudt

 

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