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November 23, 2014

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Marathon band

311 plays five-hour show at Mandalay Bay

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Leila Navidi

Nick Hexum of 311 sings during a concert at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas Thursday, March 11, 2010.

Sixty songs. Five hours of music. Four intermissions filled with acrobatics, gymnasts, and extreme Indo balance-boarding.

A short music festival? A line-up of several bands playing their latest songs off their newest album? No. This show was one band taking the time to play everything from their biggest hits to B-Sides, as well as some songs making their concert debuts.

As 311 lead singer Nick Hexum put it, "Tonight is fan appreciation night."

311 Day is much more than another concert; it's a semiannual tradition on March 11th (3/11) that brings fans from across the country on a pilgrimage to worship at the feet of their favorite band.

Aproximately 11,000 fans chanted "THREE-E-LEVEN" as they mobbed the Mandalay Bay Events Center last night and wore band-branded everything — 311 hats, Lakers jerseys, beanies, wristbands, hoodies and even shirts with the Las Vegas sign that read "Welcome to this Groove, 311 Day 2010."

The crowd of die-hard fans, many of whom had traveled to Vegas to attend the show, high-fived, posed for pictures and talked about common 311 concert experiences. In front of me, a Wisconsin couple in their 40s had heard the concert was sold out, but were determined to attend the Mandalay Bay show: "There was no way I was going to accept that I couldn't get tickets to this concert."

The band opened the marathon show with "Jackpot," a heavily distorted track with high energy and a fast-paced guitar riff off of their latest album. From there, the energy never let up.

A 360-degree stage was set in one end of the Events Center so that everyone could see the band, now in its twentieth year, perform for five solid hours. In the middle of that stage drummer Chad Sexton played at a hydraulic rotating drum set that rivaled even the great Neil Peart's rig, encasing him in a fortress of toms and bongos.

As 311 played on, they mixed fan favorites like "All Mixed Up," "Beyond the Gray Sky" and "Random" with more obscure songs like "Let the Cards Fall," "Nutsymptom" and "Slinky."

But the show wasn't simply an endless stream of album fodder. 311 played a team drum solo that included all five band members performing simultaneously on symmetrical drum kits during "Applied Science." Gradually, the band members left the drum sets one by one, grabbing their instruments and picking up the song, as the throng jumped along with Hexum's lyrics.

However, the five-hour extravaganza took its toll on the crowd, and many began sitting down at any opportunity. Looks of defeat and general fatigue were displayed on faces. Fans may have heard the concert would be long, but they couldn't believe that it was this long. But the band never let up. Even as the fans grew weary, 311 didn't seem to tire, only gaining strength as the marathon continued on. The band beat us in the stands. No contest.

That is, until the show culminated with a stage-diving Hexum on their second to last song. "We're going to do this old school," he yelled, before leaping into the raucous crowd, sending them into an even bigger uproar.

311 returned for one final song to end the night. "We've done 59, why not make it an even 60," Hexum stated defiantly.

As the show ended, groups of the exhausted, the adrenaline-fueled, and the amazed left the show together. 311 bowed to the crowd and sent them on their way with the message they've always preached: "Stay positive and love your life."

— Originally published on LasVegasWeekly.com

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