There’s nothing particularly superlative about seeing four 311 shows in five days. There are fans that follow bands to every tour stop. And I know of one 311 fan who has been to hundreds of shows. I’ve been to a lot of 311 shows over the years, but seeing them four times in five days is noteworthy for me.
This opportunity came to me more by circumstance than a dedicated effort on my part. Early in 2016, 311 announced a two-show Fourth of July weekend event in Las Vegas. At that point, I wasn’t sure if 311 would add Salt Lake City as a tour stop this summer, so I bought tickets to the Las Vegas shows as soon as they they went on sale. A few weeks later, 311 announced more summer tour dates, including two shows at The Depot—a small club-style venue in Salt Lake City—immediately before the Las Vegas show dates (with a travel day in-between). Thus, four shows in five days became a reality.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Depot is a small venue (1,200 capacity). There are maybe only two or three other venues where I’ve seen 311 perform that are smaller than The Depot.
This show was the first of 311’s 2016 summer tour. The band’s performance was excellent. The crowd had good energy. It was also the first show in about ten years that I watched from the pit. My last show in the pit was the 2006 show at USANA Amphitheatre. Since then, I’ve typically opted for seats.
It was great being in the pit again. I missed actively participating in the shows—jumping with the crowd, feeling the energy, and getting an up-close view of the band. I do also enjoy hanging back and just watching the show from seats or from the fringes, but watching from the pit is still a superior experience (if the crowd is good).
The setlist they played this show was the best of the four. Galaxy, a song I had never seen performed live before, is as good live as I had expected. It’s a hard-rocking rap song featuring SA Martinez on vocals. The song has a lot of energy and the band’s performance was perfect. I don’t understand why they don’t play that song live more often.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (The Depot) — This show was also very good. Last night’s setlist was a little better, but tonight, notably, 311 played five songs that feature guitar solos: Taiyed, Amber, Rock On, Use of Time, and Stealing Happy Hours. They typically play only one or two songs with guitar solos per show.
Saturday, July 2, 2016
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Mandalay Bay Beach) — I had been to three shows at this venue before this one. I’ve had a good time at all of the shows, but the crowds at at this venue lacked the energy and engagement of the crowds in Salt Lake City for whatever reason (a notable exception is the July 4, 2015, show).
The stage at this venue is a peninsula high above the Mandalay Bay pool, which is surrounded by a “beach.” At each of these shows, I have opted to stand on a ledge that surrounds the pool because it gives me a perfect view above everyone in the pool. While the concept for the venue is cool, the setup is not great.
The show was good, but the setlist lacked flow. I’d say that both Salt Lake City shows were better than this one.
Being that it was Fourth of July weekend, fireworks immediately followed both shows at Mandalay Bay.
Sunday, July 3, 2016
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Mandalay Bay Beach) — The setlist was a few songs longer, but not as good as the prior night. Although they played Tribute (my favorite 311 song), this show was not better than any of the previous three. But I still had a great time.
- Total songs: 90
- Unique songs: 62
- Duplicate songs: 28
- Songs I had never before seen performed live: 1 (Galaxy)
- Song with the longest gap between shows: 5,961 days (I last saw Strong All Along performed on March 5, 2000)
Favorite Song Performances
In order of preference:
- Galaxy (show 1)
- Freak Out (1)
- Stealing Happy Hours (2)
- T & P Combo (1)
- Use of Time (2)
- Jackpot (4)
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Never Ending Summer (1, 3); Brodels (2); Homebrew (3); Freeze Time (1); Get Down (1); Large in the Margin (4); Tribute (4); Sun Come Through (4); Omaha Stylee (1, 4); Sick Tight (2)
Memorable Moments (Besides the Shows)
- Nick’s errant guitar toss – After the second night’s show in Salt Lake City, Nick Hexum (the band’s lead singer) errantly tossed his Gibson Les Paul guitar to his guitar tech, which prompted him to tweet this after the show: “After the terrible toss of my Les Paul to @EricVanHIllman tonight it’s time to retire it and sell it for charity.”
- Driving through lightning in Nevada – After driving through the Virgin River Canyon stretch of I-15 on Friday night, Nevada greeted me with beautiful lightning in the distance. That distant lightning, however, eventually became way-too-close-for-comfort lightning.
- Shake Shack – My favorite fast food restaurant chain, by far, is Shake Shack, which has a location at the New York–New York Hotel and Casino. There are no Shake Shacks in Salt Lake City, so I ate there several times this weekend.
- Mike Goes to White Castle – After the second show in Las Vegas, I dropped everything and walked two miles down the strip to White Castle to experience the legendary franchise for the “first” time. (I did stop to eat a White Castle slider once on a cross-country drive, but I couldn’t even remember if I liked it or not.). My experience getting to White Castle was not unlike the adventures Harold and Kumar experienced. I was starving because I had skipped dinner before the show. I had been standing for about five hours with literally no rest, so my legs and feet were sore before I even started walking. It was a struggle dodging the crowds on The Strip on my way to White Castle. Once I arrived, I was greeted with a long line to order and a long wait to get my food. An hour later, I inhaled my Double Cheese Sliders combo. The little burgers were … interesting. They were tasty, but also very odd. I’m not sure they would’ve been so enjoyable had I not been as hungry as I was that night. But I was glad I made the effort to give White Castle a try.