311 and Zebrahead at Bogart's

By Jason Koerner

It was a freezing cold night in Cincinnati when reggae-rock icons 311 came to town to warm things up with Zebrahead. It was a great night for live music, and the whole town seemed brave enough to handle the cold for a show like this Thursday night event. So what happened? Here's what you missed if you stayed on our side of the river…

I walked in as Zebrahead was already in progress. Between getting lost - pardon me, we weren't lost - taking the scenic route, stopping to get gas and therefore actually making it to Ohio, and the usual quest for a spot to park in which my truck would not get "borrowed" by the friendly local towing service; we were late. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Zebrahead was mid-set, because I thought at one point in the night they would be mopping the floors by the time we arrived. I was very impressed with their performance, not so much for its musical value, but more for the entertainment aspect of it. They were a FUN band to watch. They actually talked to the crowd- what a concept, right? At one point they poked fun at their own material (I think it was their material) and played several songs that used the same chords. It was hilarious! Another highlight of their humorous set was when they took ANY request from the audience. The milestone of this series of 30-second blips had to be "Smells Like Teen Spirit," due to the comment "I thought it was a requirement to know how to play this song in order to be a musician." You may know the band for their more popular tune "Playmate of the Year" which, of course, was played that night.

Three-eleven had a killer performance lined up, but their interaction with the crowd left a little to be desired. Zebrahead really cut a huge path in public relations before 311 came out, so it was a difficult act to follow in that respect. However, this lack of people skills was further illustrated later on that night as the band failed to show up for their own "after show party" and in turn ticked off 25-30 fans with worthless passes. Not the greatest way to keep your fans loyal, eh?

Anyway, what the group lacked in PR skills, they made up for musically. Their music was trademark-tight, featuring the off-beat rhythms and blend of modern rock and reggae sounds that have pushed them to the top of their game, though they still a mainstream flavor, at least enough to get sufficient radio play. They opened not with an introduction or ‘hello,' but "Down." They continued to pump out tunes to make the crowd move all night long. Great music to dance to, but just don't expect to meet and greet them afterwards.