From the Pit to the Crowd: 311 and The Movement

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When 311 announced they would be going on tour in 2017 and Orlando was one of the stops, the show sold out quick. It’s not surprising as I feel Orlando has one of the biggest fan bases for 311. One of our local radio personalities, LT, from WJRR 101.1 is a huge fan. So there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to photograph and review this show.

Monday, February 27th, 311 was performing at House of Blues Orlando. I arrived at 7 PM to pick up my photo credentials and ticket. I ran into my friend Jennifer outside the box office who was also picking up her photo credentials. We headed through security and made our way inside towards the photo pit. We were early, but it gives up plenty of time to last minute check our gear and prep for the show. My friend Kara, who was also photographing, joined us a few minutes later. All of us were excited and the House of Blues was filling up fast. By 7:30 PM it was shoulder to shoulder everywhere in the venue. The lights dimmed and we made our way into the pit for the opener.

The Movement, who consist of Joshua Swain (Guitar, Vocals), Jason “Smiles” Schmidt (Bass), Gary Jackson (Drums), and Ross Bogan (Keys), opened up with “Siren”. The song had quintessential reggae sound and immediately had the crowd bouncing and grooving. Jason bounced around on stage while playing the bass. The band was enjoying playing to a full house and the crowd was loving The Movement. They followed up with “Fair Warning” from their album titled Golden from 2016. This song also had the reggae sound, though a little bit slower, with some nice keyboard work from Ross. 

The lighting given to the band mixed around from reds and yellows, to nice dark blues, and even some greens. The lighting made it perfect to photograph them during their set. The band primarily stayed in their spots except for Jason who moved all over the stage. He grooved and danced while he played and liked to flip his dreadlocks around.

The band followed up with “Golden” the title track from their most recent album. This had a sound I’d almost call techno reggae. The song was heavy in keyboards generating some techno-like sounds. It was also a much faster pace than the first two songs. The crowd was enjoying it. Joshua has a voice made for reggae with not only easily keeping the pace, but enunciating in proper reggae style. Gary is quite talented on drums effortlessly playing through their set.

After their three songs were done Kara and I made our way through the crowd and upstairs to get some shots of the band from the balcony. Even though it was quite busy, House of Blues staff were very kind in allowing us into the balcony area to take some quick pictures. Afterwards we went back downstairs to listen to The Movement finish their set. The band wrapped up their set with “Loud Enough”, “Summertime”, “Side By Side”, and “Dancehall”. The crowd erupted into applause and cheers when they finished. It was obvious how much they enjoyed this band. And though I am not a reggae fan, I really enjoyed their set too. The Movement’s music was fun and lively and I would happily see them again.

As we waited for 311 to get on the stage, we started to notice more photographers were gathering around the pit. When we were in there for The Movement there was about 8 of us. And now, there were about 12. And then we noticed five security guards also going into the pit. So 17 of us for 3 songs. This was going to be interesting. I assumed they put that many guards in case people were body surfing so they could easily grab multiple people. Security allowed us in the pit early. I decided to go all the way to the far right so I could make my way from right to left taking pictures.

And suddenly the lights went down, the crowd screaming in delight, and 311 made their way onto the stage. The band consisting of Nick Hexum (vocals, guitar), SA Martinez (vocals, DJ), Tim Mahoney (lead guitar), P-Nut (bass), and Chad Sexton (drums) all settled in before the lights came on and the band ripped into “Freeze Time” from their Soundsystem album. Nick was front and center with small platform center stage. SA Martinez was in the back at a turntable and made his way up front during his vocals dancing and grooving. The band sounded perfect not missing a beat or a note. They continued on with “Hive”.

Whoever was running the lights for 311 deserves a medal. Every song had the right mood lighting for their songs. We had mixes of reds and yellows, dark blues, purples, and some greens. Spotlights were used to focus on Nick and SA as well. I did notice that Tim and P-Nut primarily stayed off to the sides. Photographing 311 is no easy feat. Nick and SA move all over the stage. And though Tim and P-Nut primarily stay in their area they move around a bit too. But, they make it fun with their movement and facial expressions, especially P-Nut who likes to stick his tongue out at the crowd.

They continued on with “All Mixed Up” a song that really got the crowd jumping and dancing. I’ve always enjoyed this song and it appeared the band did too. And if there performance wasn’t enough, Nick took off his long shirt, much to the appreciation of the women in the audience. After they finished, Kara and I headed upstairs to the balcony once again to get some more shots of the band. After taking a couple of quick pictures, I headed back downstairs to enjoy the rest of the show. And it was very enjoyable.

The band setlist included “Rub a Dub”, “8:16 A.M.”, “Ebb and Flow”, “Amber”, “Come Original”, and “Applied Science”. P-Nut also performed a bass solo. Chad provided us a stellar drum solo that then included all the band members providing a percussion performance on roll away drum sets. It was amazing. The band closed out their set with “Beautiful Disaster”, “Feels So Good”, and the ever popular and well known “Down”. The band walked off stage to eventually come back and perform “Random” and “Creatures (For a While)”. They walked off to astounding applause and cheers.

311 provided Orlando with a very memorable performance and left the crowd with anticipation for their return.