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Pop Music Review

High-Energy 311 Lets the Good Times Roll in Universal Show

November 02, 2001|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The music of 311 isn't just about individual songs. There are memorable hits in the band's repertoire, but at its best 311 mines layers of funk, punk, reggae and hip-hop in search of a consistent, good-time groove. The result is muscular though never macho, intense but never mean-spirited.

That was the atmosphere created during much of 311's concert Wednesday at the Universal Amphitheatre, where the Los Angeles-based, Omaha-bred quintet delivered a dependably high-energy show for a capacity crowd. The band's slippery hybrid has lost none of the energy fit first showed on the '90s club circuit.

Singer Nicholas Hexum offered the smooth reggae of "I'll Be There Awhile" as a message of "staying positive in times of crisis."

The early hit "Down" was hook-filled, hard and funky, balancing metal-sized guitars with SA's rapping and Hexum's almost dreamy vocals.

If the band's newest album, "From Chaos," for the first time fails to offer any new twists on the established 311 sound, the band could still find inspiration in unexpected places.

A lengthy percussion jam led by drummer Chad Sexton was surprisingly worthwhile, and included members of support act Alien Ant Farm, whose metal-leaning sound reflects a similar interest in good times amid hefty riffs and beats.

Despite the upbeat sounds and messages, 311's 100-minute concert sometimes bogged down with a handful of unfocused songs. That feeling of sameness could have been avoided with a shorter set. But little else interrupted 311's genuine flair for spreading euphoria.

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