311 On A Roll At Great South Bay Music Fest

311 Great South Bay Music Festival Photo by Arien Dijkstra
311 has been rocking together for 27 years with no end in sight. (Photos by Arien Dijkstra)

The music gods smiled upon concertgoers on Friday night. Or maybe it was the weather gods. Some divine power intervened to allow The Wailers and 311 to play rain-free sets to enthusiastic fans.

Unlike day one, which featured Long Island’s own Taking Back Sunday and New Found Glory, day two of Great South Bay Music Festival was not poured on as the forecast predicted. Now in its 11th year, the four-day “American themed” cultural event draws thousands to Shorefront Park in Patchogue.

The spirit of Bob Marley was on stage with The Wailers, including original members Donald Kinsey and Junior Marvin and successors to Wailers royalty Josh Barrett and Aston Barrett Jr., children of founder Aston “Family Man” Barrett.

The legendary group played favorites “Three Little Birds/One Love” and “I Shot The Sheriff,” pulled out some new tunes like “Walk and Talk” and also played a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

After the sun set somewhere behind the gray wall of clouds surrounding the park, headliner 311 took the stage, opening with single off the new album Mosaic “Perfect Mistake.” The album was much-anticipated after a three-year gap.

“We love playing this place. You guys are awesome,” said Nick Hexum, vocalist and guitarist.

The hour-and-a-half set included seven titles from Mosaic, leaving no room for anything from Uplifter (2009), Universal Pulse (2011) or STER3OL1TH1C (2014). Conspicuously absent was “Sunset in July.” The theme song to summer was a major favorite when the band played the festival in July 2015.

Much like the set played at Hammerstein Ballroom three days prior, the set list highlighted the best of Mosaic, including “Too Much To Think,” “On A Roll” and the unusually pop-y “’Til The City’s On Fire,” which could easily fit in on Z100 among Katy Perry and Pink tunes.

The band played as many singles from past albums as could be expected, such as “All Mixed Up,” “Come Original,” the never-not-played “Amber” and “Beautiful Disaster.” Hexum introduced “Do You Right” as a “happy slam-dance song,” which the crowd was all too delighted to make reality. When Nick Hexum says “everybody jump”… everybody jumps.

The show lacked a P-Nut bass solo, which is practically unheard of at a 311 concert. However, the crowd ate up Chad Sexton’s drum solo followed by invigorating collective drum line.

With a catalog of hundreds of songs, 311 can never get to them all, not even at mega 311 Day concerts. The quantity of quality tunes ensures the band never has to play the same show twice.

311 Great South Bay Music Festival Photo by Arien Dijkstra
Nick Hexum tosses a guitar pick into the audience.

The ever-evolving hip-hop-reggae-dancehall-rap-rock-alt band could name their next album “Pixelated” after the Lite Brite-esque backdrop to the stage on this tour. The digital light show is simple, but visually stimulating—by just the right amount.

311 has as much energy on stage as they did when they started playing together 27 years ago. Word on the street is the next 311 Day will take place on Long Island, a radical change from the usual New Orleans and Las Vegas settings. If this unconfirmed rumor comes true, a lot of local fans would be very happy.

Founder and organizer Jim Faith put together another great festival filled with uplifting music, liberally flowing beer, local vendors and genuine fun. The forecast for days three and four shows bright and beautiful skies. Head to Patchogue to see Gov’t Mule on Saturday and The Zombies on Sunday.

For more information and for tickets, visit www.greatsouthbaymusicfestival.com.

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