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Review: 311 at The National

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Last night there were murmurs throughout the crowd at the 311 show, suggesting that this show was a test run for "3-11 Day," the annual utopia for die-hard fans. This year's event will be held in New Orleans on -- you guessed it -- March 11. Last night's show was filmed for a documentary of the band, tentatively titled "Untitled." The film will follow the band's stops along the road before their 2008, 3-11 Day concert. The question lingers: Who will make the trek to New Orleans?

Walking through the doors of The National for the March 4 show was like exiting a time machine. This isn't due to the ornate molding or the historical architecture of the building -- no, this time-warp was born of the 311 t-shirts draped over bodies, all anticipating a band that hasn't garnered much serious attention in years. These are the fans fastened to the core of 311 who will populate 3-11 Day.

In the early- to mid-1990s, 311 made a serious imprint on pop music, blending rap, metal and funk, and bringing this fusion into the mainstream. Their palpable mix has carried them on many international tours, and accrued a dedicated fan base -- the band positioned as one of the most prominent pop acts of the 1990s. Since establishing their seat amongst rock icons, 311 has stayed busy, continually captivating fans. The band is working on a new album -- yet untitled -- to follow their most recent 2005 release, "Don't Tread on Me."

Primo Gomez opened the show, his spanglish rap backed by a funky live band. The language-defying lyricist sounds similar to a more poppy version of Atmosphere, mixed with, well, 311.

311's staple high-wire energy was more than present at the sold-out show. Hopping between old hits, newer, less-recognizable songs, and a full-band drum-a-thon (admittedly reminiscent of The Blue Man Group), the crowd was kept jumping -- literally -- for the entirety of their performance.

"All Mixed Up," 311's chart-topping hit, was extended, blended at the edges into spaced-out psychedelic moments. SA Martinez whirled back and forth across the stage, taking up the turn-tables in his moments away from vocal duties.

Another classic, "Amber," was a highlight of last night's show, featuring the dub style of bassist P-Nut, and nicely complimented by the thumping sound system of the venue.

311 summed up their performance with the classic "Beautiful Disaster." Ladies curled with lust over front-man Nick Hexum's dreamy vocals, the gents yelled themselves hoarse, mixing head-bangs with waving fists.

Though 311 may be finished with making hits, they haven't lost their throne quite yet. As the attendants of last night's show rove on towards New Orleans, it is clear that the band has risen from the pool of 90's alt-rock acts as something that keeps well when chilled.

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