Article and Photos by: Jason Robey
Phoenix, AZ — The desert was alive with the sounds of the ’90s, as alternative rock veterans 311 and The Offspring brought their “Never-Ending Summer” tour to the Phoenix valley Tuesday night, to an enthusiastic crowd of sweat-drenched fans. The night kicked off with a short set by Gym Class Heroes, who managed to show the audience their skills in hip-hop, reggae, rock, and funk, all in the span of only 30 minutes.
After a short break, the lights went down, the venue rumbled with the thunderous drum intro of “Americana,” as the legends of generation-Y punk, The Offspring, tore onto the stage. The 30 and over portion of the crowd was undoubtedly taken back to playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the PlayStation 2 in their basement, as the band ripped through crowd favorites like “Come Out and Play,” “All I Want,” and “Gotta Get Away.” Though the band played all the mandatory hits, their set wasn’t without a few surprises, such a cover of the AC/DC classic, “Whole Lotta Rosie,” and a heartfelt performance of “Gone Away,” featuring vocalist Dexter Holland playing mostly solo on a piano, surrounded by candles.
The band picked the pace right back up for the rest of their set, reminding much of the crowd just how many songs the band is known for — “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy),” “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” and “Why Don’t You Get a Job” got everyone in the outdoor, 100°+ venue up on their feet, dancing and singing along to every word. Holland, along with guitarist, Noodles, and bassist, Greg K, have been with the band since their first album in 1989; only drummer Pete Parada joined mid-career, replacing Atom Willard in 2007, who had, in turn, replaced Ron Welty three years prior. The band ended their hour-long set with a energetic take on their 1994 hit “Self Esteem,” from their top 10 album, Smash.
The crowd got little chance to cool down, before the lights went down again, as smoke filled the sky and the Omaha-bred quintet 311 took the stage with their smash hit, “Come Original” from their 1999 album, Soundsystem. Vocalist / guitarist, Nick Hexum barely took a break to say “hello, Phoenix,” before they moved into an extended version of their 1995 breakthrough, “All Mixed Up,” and quickly back to Soundsystem, as guitarist Tim Mahoney crunched into the opening riff of “Freeze Time.” The group then took a turn to their latest album, 2017’s Mosaic, with “Perfect Mistake,” highlighting energetic vocalist S.A. Martinez through most of the song. With smiles on their faces, the band wasted no time showing first-timers why fans keep coming back to see them again and again, as each of the five members moved about the stage in their own trademark ways, surrounded by a dazzling light show and graphics on an enormous screen lining the back of the stage.
With 12 studio albums to their name, and the band’s long time habit of changing the set list up every night, even fans who have seen the group multiple times have no idea what’s coming next at any moment, keeping the night full of surprises. One of the few songs they always work in is “Applied Science,” from their 1994 sophomore album, Grassroots. The live performance features a drum solo by Chad Sexton, that has evolved over the years, to include crew members bringing drum sets out for the whole band, for a mesmerizing tribal jam, that had a large portion of the audience pulling out their phones to record.
The list tonight pulled from several of their albums, all the way back to their 1993 debut, Music, with long-time fan favorite “Do You Right” and covered their career up to their latest record, 2017’s Mosaic, with “Too Late” and “Face in the Wind.” They favored the period between 1995 and 2001, as the audience sang and bounced along to rare treats like “Don’t Stay Home” and “Purpose,” from their self-titled 1995 album, and a pair of songs from 2001’s From Chaos, “You Wouldn’t Believe” and “Amber.” The pavilion went wild as they launched into their 2003 hit, “Creatures (for a while),” before briefly stepping off the stage, before returning with another 1995 hit, “Down,” for their encore.
Catch 311 and The Offspring with guests Gym Class Heroes on the Never-Ending Summer tour September.