EDITOR'S NOTE: Dearest End Hits Readers: We take our show-going duties very seriously here. But sometimes we like to mix things up and combine our two true loves in this world: live music and illegal gambling. That was the initial motivation behind 2009's End Hits Concert Challenge, where upon losing a bet, a blogger would be annexed at a show (of someone else's choosing). Since its inception, we've changed the rules some (no more gambling, all End Hits writers must attend a show against their will) but the concept remains the same.
If you were wondering why there was no mail delivery, your bank was closed, and your grandmother mailed you a check for $5, it's because yesterday was the greatest of all (unofficial) holidays: 311 Day. The 11th of March is designated as 311 Day by fans wishing to pay tribute to the godawful bro-tastic musical act behind "Down" and that one terrible Cure cover (plus a bunch of other songs we were all forced to listen to on alt-rock radio but probably can't name now). In a fair and just world, the musical war criminals of 311 (Even P-Nut? Especially P-Nut!) would have had their instruments confiscated years ago.
Meanwhile, Andrew's Ave. is a Portland-via-Omaha funk band that grew up in the long amber colored energy shadow (That was my attempt at a 311 lyrical joke, how did I do?) of 311 and thought that 3/11/11 (technically, 31111 day) would be a good time to cover the band's Grassroots album in its entirety at the Alberta Street Public House. I decided to take my wife to the show under the promise that I will buy her 311 drinks.
So, how'd it go? Well, make no mistake, 311 made some repulsive music. Truly, truly unlistenable. But as it turns out Grassroots isn't the album with the hits on it, so I didn't know my "Nutsymptom" from my "Offbeat Bare Ass." It all sounded the same to my ears—a needless marriage of hard funk and harder rock, with some rapping tossed in, plus enough reggae to please those with Bob Marley posters on their frat house wall. Yet none of this was the fault of Andrew's Ave., who were endearingly sweet in their affection for 311. Clearly, this was the album for them growing up, and their tribute is not all that much different than watching my friends cover songs from Pinkerton or In the Aeroplane over the Sea. It boggles the mind, but if they think Grassroots is their own personal Pet Sounds, then I'm not here to tell them it's not. While the crowd was sparse, the band was webcasting the show back home to Omaha, and even went as far as to say "Hi Mom" to the camera. That means somewhere in Nebraska, there is a mother watching her song cover a 311 song on the other side of the country. That's kind of sweet. If anything, I owe Andrew's Ave another chance, a concert not stained by the lunkheaded rap-rock of 311.
"This guy here just got back from the 311 cruise, three full days of 311." Turns out that there was a real 311 superfan in attendance (other than the musicians on stage), perched in the front row and clearly enjoying himself more than anyone else in the room. I checked, and the 311 cruise is very real. I think our next concert challenge next to take place on the high seas. [alternate joke: Finally, a ship the Somalia pirates wouldn't hijack.]
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