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Pop Music Review

311 Makes Imitation Not So Flattering

September 27, 1997|SARA SCRIBNER

A quartet originally from Omaha and now living in Los Angeles, 311 finally broke ground in 1996 after years of struggle with the head-banging psychedelic hip-hop of "Down" from its third best-selling album, "311."

But the success doesn't silence some nagging criticisms of the band, which capped-off a two-month tour on Thursday night at the Greek Theatre.

The group--rapper SA Martinez, singer-guitarist Nick Hexum, drummer Chad Sexton, guitarist Tim Mahoney and bassist P-Nut--worked through a long set of its eclectic musical mix. Metal, dub reggae, rock, hip-hop and punk makes its way into the group's sound, with traces of Bob Marley, the Clash and the Beastie Boys.

Unlike more nimble cultural collage-makers like the Beastie Boys or Beck, however, 311 brought little of its own inventiveness to its swirling cornucopia of sounds.

Martinez--propelling his arms and stalking the stage--entertained with his athletic gestures and drummer Sexton showed off some skills. But guitarist-vocalist Hexum, a wiry front man with a shaved head, felt stiff and soulless imitating rap moves and slang as the group worked through songs from its latest, reggae-heavy album, "Transistor" as well as older tunes.

In the end, 311's music paled in comparison to the legendary figures the band draws from. Its set simply smacked of imitation, not innovation.

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