311 & Slightly Stoopid
featuring the Aggrolites
Unity Tour, Cruzan Amphitheatre
July 17, 2012
Better than: Your usual Tuesday-night digs.
"Bringing people together through music," 311 frontman Nick Hexum informed about 12,000 raging fans Tuesday night, "that's what this Unity Tour is all about!"
Party buses and caravans filled up the Cruzan Amphitheatre parking lot early in anticipation of Slightly Stoopid and 311's return to South Florida. Originally signed by the late Brad Nowell to Sublime's Skunk Records straight out of high school, Slightly Stoopid is still going strong. They brought their seven-member band out early and opened with a long instrumental set, showing off the skills of their two saxophone and trumpet players to a still-scattered crowd.
"[Slightly Stoopid] are just one hit song and a few million fans away from being the Dave Matthews Band," said one concertgoer. "Few successful bands in rock have the music ensemble that is onstage right now." One hit song? Well, maybe not, but we were impressed.
By the time SS got to its hit "Anywhere I Go," about a half-hour into the show, even those who only came to see 311 coalesced to the front boundaries of the seating area, ears perked at attention. "Hold on to the One" came up next with vocal support from the crowd, ending with a succession of guitar, keyboard, trumpet, and sax solos. The highlight of their act was their rendition of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary.
After being inspired to "smoke this place out" by frontman Miles Doughty, the crowd roared for Jamaican artist Half Pint, who sang a few songs before retreating backstage. Slightly Stoopid finally closed the hourlong set with the fitting "We Don't Want to Go," which they first performed live on the spring tour in 2011.
311 blasted off its set in the pitch-black Cruzan Amphitheatre with "Down." The band performed for nearly two hours. "This is my first time seeing 311, and I've been listening to them since I was 12," fan Ashley Ringo of Boca Raton, 25, told County Grind. She raved, "Absolutely epic!"
Hexum led the way through "You Wouldn't Believe" with the crowd going nuts at the first few guitar licks of "All Mixed Up." By 9:30 p.m., the entire amphitheater was at attention, with few concertgoers not engrossed by the band's performance. Chad Sexton got all of the crowd's attention for five minutes with his drum solo. The rest of the band quickly followed suit and returned to the stage to play a unified percussive sequence on bongos. The place exploded with energy, with people jumping up and down and screaming at the top of their lungs. 'Twas intense.
The encore included "Creatures (for a While)," and though the audience was still amped, they sort of looked exhausted just minutes later as they shuffled out of the crowded theater, hungover from a night of audio debauchery.
Personal bias: In love with the combination of punk rock, ska, reggae, and metal.
Random thought: Cruzan Amphitheatre is an absolutely perfect rock-concert venue.
Overheard in the crowd: "This [percussion sequence] is unreal!"
By the way: Warped Tour is on the way!
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