A Night to Remember with 311
I'm not what most people would consider a big time concert goer. I do love me some live music, but I just don't seek out many concerts to go see. That said, there is always one concert each year that I make damn sure to make...and that would be 311 in Houston.
311 has been around for 27 years now (all original members no less) but they still know how to bring the noise live. However, this year, I wanted to try and do a little something for the band to show my appreciation for all the years of music I've enjoyed. About a month before the show I emailed the manager asking if I could get a pass to shoot the band, in return I would provide them with all the free images I got from the show. I explained to him that I had never shot any concerts before but Peter, the tour manager, was very cool about it and set me up with the pass. Officially I was listed on 311's guest list...which, you know, no big deal.
Day of the concert rolls around and my buddy Jim (even bigger fan than me) meets me at my place so we can ride downtown together. Revention Music Center has a few restaurants and bars built into the complex and our usual routine is to stop at the Blue Fish Grill for a few beers before heading into line. And because this is tradition that is exactly what we did. This time though, I recognized a familiar face sitting at a table in the back of the restaurant as we walked to the bar.
Sitting with his parents was Nick Hexum, aka lead singer for 311! Instantly I felt the rush young girls feel when getting within shouting distance of Justin Bieber or whatever teenie bopper is famous now. Jim was really getting amped though so my attention shifted to keeping us calm, cool and collect in the presence of a rock idol. We killed a few beers while contemplating what we were going to say to him when he walked past us on the way out of the restaurant but nothing sounding too good so we decided to just wing it.
About 45 minutes into it all (and 6 servings of sushi - dude can put them away), they finally got up to leave. Show time. I wish I could say I had a classic intro that I could brag to you all about but I really don't remember what I said. I do know that I mentioned I was the guy from Houston he chats with about drones (totally unrelated story but we have gone back and forth on Twitter through direct messages for the last few years - again, no big deal :). He didn't miss a beat though and just said "Yeah, I thought you looked familiar!" Since none of you guys were there to witness it, I can confirm he was being very sincere and he recognized me as soon as I recognized him.
So that was awesome and a total geek out moment for Jim and I but the reason we came was for the concert and that didn't disappoint either. The two opening acts were both really entertaining for different reasons...Full Service - an Austin, Texas funk/reggae band, has a member who plays like 4 different things that I'm not sure can be classified as instruments all while rocking plaid shorts, a suit vest and 3' long blonde dreads. The second band, New Politics, has a lead singer that breakdances and backflips his way around the stage for the whole set. He even did some crowd surfing just because.
All the backflips and head spins ended without incident so I began to make my way up to the photographers area so I could get led into the pit when the time came. I was fortunate to make some quick friends there who were huge nerds of photography and 311 like me just in time for us all to hit the frontline. Walking out between the stage and the barricaded crowd was a surreal experience. I just felt all this pent up energy and excitement oozing to the stage where the band was just about to come out.
The band walked to their instruments in darkness to the chorus of "3-11, 3, 3, 11!!" from the crowd as is customary at a 311 show. As soon as the first note came off Tim Mahoney's guitar, Revention erupted. An explosion of energy came rushing to the stage, the same stage I was leaning on, camera up, ready to go. I had the biggest grin on my face as I started firing my first shots... Wedged between a raging crowd of thousands and a stage with my favorite musicians all while doing the thing I love most - working the camera. Immediately I appreciated the addicting rush of adrenaline rock stars must feel on a nightly basis.
As an unofficial band photographer I only had the privilege of being there for the first three songs so I tried to make the most of that precious time. I fired off as many shots as I could as I worked around the wires trying not to trip and fall on my face...It's not that easy in the dark and with about 24" of room to work with!
Needless to say the 3 songs flew by and before I knew it my time in the pit was over. I left with around 400 pictures to edit, possibly blown ear drums but most importantly an experience I won't soon forget. I went back and found my other friends that had joined Jim and I inside the venue and rocked out the rest of the night as another face in the crowd. Couldn't think of a better way to watch a rock show. Hope you enjoy these pictures just a fraction of how much I enjoyed that concert...I'll definitely be back in the pit again someday for another round! (MORE PHOTOS BELOW)