Reggae-rock powerhouse 311 and veteran rockers The Offspring rolled into Phoenix this week, once again proving that you can indeed turn up on a Tuesday.
Things started early with the return of former Fueled by Ramen staple Gym Class Heroes. Fans were still slowly arriving as the band jumped right into “Stereo Hearts,” their biggest radio hit. Lead vocalist Travie McCoy is as weird as ever, making silly faces at the audience, outstretched arms nearly touching the front row. The audience sang along to “Cupid’s Chokehold,” looking almost surprised that they remembered the words. Things got loud for “Billionaire” and the band closed their set with “Ass Back Home” which McCoy dedicated to his girlfriend.
The sun was just setting over the pavilion as The Offspring bounded onstage. Jumping to fame over 30 years ago, the band still parties like it’s 1999.
“I see the curvature of the earth and there’s people beyond that!” lead guitarist Noodles shouted halfway through the set. The zany musician raised many a glass to his audience, tossing full cups into the pit.
The band played an extensive set, including songs from every era of The Offspring. The crowd ate it up, dancing, waving their arms and moshing to all the hits from “Come Out and Play” to “Staring at the Sun.” Singer Dexter Holland tended to stay in place at center stage, but mixed things up with a candlelit piano version of “Gone Away.”
They wasted no time in restarting the party, flying through the next few songs and plenty of banter between Noodles and Holland. In standard Arizona-concert tradition, every band playfully complained about the suffocating heat, but none as hilariously as Noodles.
“It may be a dry heat but you people are making me moist!” he yelled, drawing delighted screams across the venue.
The Offspring closed out this huge house party with the classic “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and “Self Esteem.”
Not to be outdone, 311 leaped into action shortly after. Backed by a huge video screen cycling through psychedelic colors and images, the funk rock superstars never stopped moving. Vocalist Nick Hexum could have been mistaken for a member of the Backstreet Boys in his immaculate white ensemble, but the similarities to the iconic boy band ended there.
The crowd’s dancing only intensified from the previous set as 311’s euphoric energy took over Ak-Chin Pavilion. The air was thick with the smell of sweat, beer and Arizona’s finest herb. We were all transported to a place of good vibes and positivity; from an outsider’s perspective, you’d never know this was an average weekday night in the Arizona heat.
311 is celebrating 20 years of making music together and their setlist was the perfect soundtrack. The coolest moment came towards the end with “Applied Science” and drummer Chad Sexton’s epic extended drum solo-turned-drumline with the rest of the band joining in with perfect synchronicity. Shortly after, fans got a taste of the band’s new music with the heavy-rocking “Too Late” off their 12th studio album. Of course, the band also played the classic “Amber,” bathing their fans in warm yellow lights and closed the night with “Creatures (For a While)” and an encore performance of “Down.”
Being at a show with such timeless and endlessly-loved musicians was such a unique experience and one that anyone should be eager to repeat. For those who missed out, there will undoubtedly be another chance to join The Offspring and 311 on their island of positivity and boundless good vibes.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel