The past two nights have me questioning what year it was. I relived the 90’s with Lit on Thursday night and then last night relived the 2000’s with a band that made a ridiculously huge impact on my life. Being able to see bands like this that I never thought I’d be able to see again really sets the tone for the night. Instead of just another show in the long string of concerts that form my life, they are shows that I truly look forward to and shows where, during the band’s set, I completely lose myself in nostalgia and let go of any inhibition.
Upstate New York group Gym Class Heroes opened the show and were honestly the only reason I left my couch last night. Formed in the late 90’s, this unique band hit my stereo back in the early 2000’s and the rest is history. Their unique blend of hip-hop, rap, punk, reggae, and rock had me hooked. I must have seen them perform over a dozen times back in the day and then they just kind of disappeared. Although they disappeared from the stage, they never left my daily playlist. Being able to see them at age 29 was nothing short of a treat and I may or may not have shed a tear or two.
Their set on Friday night was short… too short. With only time for a handful of songs, it was clear they tried to pick the songs that majority of the crowd would know including the few hits that made it to the airwaves. Was I a bit annoyed that I didn’t hear their deeper cuts that my brother and I truly bonded over like their song “Taxi Driver” that has a million band names of influential acts hidden in the lyrics? Absolutely but honestly just being able to watch vocalist Travie McCoy as he stalked the stage and took me back to simpler times was more than satisfying. In between the songs that took me back, Gym Class Heroes treated the quickly growing crowd to a new song. I don’t remember the title, I don’t remember the subject matter (I was in a complete cloud of nostalgia) but I remember that it was absolutely perfect and I am so ridiculously excited for their new album to come out.
Although Gym Class Heroes was the reason I got off the couch, the other two bands were definitely the icing on the cake. Following Gym Class Heroes’ quick set was the one and only The Offspring. Having seen these guys a couple of times at festivals last year, I knew what to expect but seeing them where you live instead of in Ohio or Wisconsin (where I saw them last year) kind of changes everything. The Offspring is one of those bands where, even if you don’t think you know much from them, by the time you realize you’ve been singing along to four songs in a row, you figure out just how big this band really is. Their seventeen song set was jammed pack with hit after hit that I couldn’t help but sing along to alongside thousands of strangers doing the same thing.
The chemistry between singer Dexter Holland and guitarist “Noodles” was beyond perfect. Having been a band since the mid 1980’s and with mostly the original line-up (the current drummer joined in 2007), it was clear that we were watching seasoned professionals, not just a couple of kids in a garage. Dexter seemed stunned by the support of the crowd and about half way it seemed as if he was literally lost for words as the crowd cheered loud enough to put a pause in the set. That appreciative attitude and vibe is something that even some of the most seasoned veterans in the scene don’t have and to see these older men that have shaped some of the music we still hear today seem completely shocked by the support was heart-warming to say the least. From the first note of “Americana” and until the final note of “Self Esteem” was left hanging in the outside air, I was on my feet with a smile on my face.
Closing out the night was the almighty 311. Although I seemed to have missed the boat on this band back in the day, there’s no denying their power, amazing live show, and the connection they have with their fans. Their eighteen song set lasted late into the night and had the entire crowd on their feet for the whole set. Their blend of reggae, rock, pop and a little bit of everything in between was funky and gave a very sunshine feel in the grandstand even though it was dark out. With twelve albums that stretch back to 1993, 311 is a powerhouse of a band and that was clear to see by the way the fans reacted to each song. It didn’t matter what song the band jumped into, the crowd was there screaming and cheering them on. Am I going to start listening to 311 on the daily after seeing them last night? Probably not but their live show had me sold. They had a very California vibe about them even though they hail from Omaha.
The audience was kind and I think I made more friends last night than I have at all of the shows I’ve been at these past couple of weeks. People wanted to talk and standing alone all night made me the perfect target. Everyone I talked to (or I should say everyone that talked to me) had a story about 311. Whether it was traveling many miles to go to see them at a festival or go celebrate 311 day (on March 11th…. see what they did there? 3/11), everyone had something to share about the power this band has on them and that made me fall in love even more. Hearing about people bringing their kids or sister to their first 311 show and seeing the excitement in their eyes as they talked about it was more than enough to have me sold on 311.
Although I was clearly most excited for the opening act last night, all three bands killed it last night. With summer and beautiful weather winding down here in Minnesota, it was nice to have what could be one last chance to enjoy the outdoors at the Great Minnesota Get Together.