Written by Tanya Pedersen
Aug 12, 2011 at 08:00 PM
ImageThe Unity Tour was finally here, and this HMR girl headed to the show. After an extra hour’s worth of traffic on my way to the Woodlands, I got to the security gate at the Pavilion just as Sublime with Rome went on, which means I didn’t get to nab pictures. This, compounded with the assumed “Sublime died with Bradley” attitude that I had, had me in a foul mood. I wasn’t too excited to watch what I just knew would be Sublime “light”. Let me be the first to admit that I was wrong! By the time I got to my seat the band was  several songs in. I noticed several things all at once. First was the set- It was simple, with a typical “Sublime-ish” grafitti poster as the band’s backdrop. There wasn’t a big ornate stage set up, and the guys were just up there doing their thing.   They didn’t take up a whole lot of space on stage. At the rear center of the stage was a large DJ booth, home of DJ Trichrome. Next to him was a shirtless Bud Gaugh,  the drummer who, with Eric Wilson, founded the band with the deceased Bradley Newell. Rome stood at the front, with Eric off to his side. I also quickly noticed the fact that the three had as much of their visible skin inked as was left untatted. I settled in to listen to them play, still in a pissy mood, but was immediately sucked in. These guys sounded sick!

They played several songs without really talking or anything between tunes. They weren’t dancing around the stage, and they weren’t trying to “Put on a show”. These guys came to play, and they played well. Rome did a fantastic job as the frontman. His vocals were very strong and he is a very talented musician. I actually felt bad for the people that weren’t at the concert yet, because they were missing some truly great live music. It was evident that Rome respected the deceased former frontman, and was grateful to be a part of the band. He gave a heartfelt shout-out to Bradley Newell about two thirds into the show, which was about the same time the crowd was getting heavier and the Pavillion was starting to come alive. They played their new song, “Take It or Leave It”. I will buy the cd when it comes out- It was a great song that made me want more.

I honestly could have listened to them all night. When they played the more well known songs like “What I Got”, “Wrong Way”, and “Santaria”, the Pavilion was on it’s feet and the vibe was pure happiness… although maybe in part to the contact-high most everyone was bound to have…

ImageNext up was 311. I’ve always been a fan and had been looking forward to seeing them for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially since SWR had such a simple set. I was somewhat hoping it would be as laid back as SWR, but as soon as the stage lights came on, I knew better. This was going to be a big lights, high-energy show. Chad Sexton was on drums, Tim Mahoney on guitar, and P-Nut on bass. Nick Hexum played co-frontman and guitartist, with SA Martinez also on vocals. They came out strong, SA rap-singing and Nick singing and moving all around. I had a thought that I have to share. If Dave Matthews and Chester Bennington (of Linkin Park) had a love-child, it would be SA Martinez. Also, if Mark McGrath and Adam Levine melded, you would have Nick Hexum.

I’m definitely not saying this to be mean. The Omaha boys sounded pretty good, they moved and danced all over the stage, and they definitely put on a show. It was just a completely different kind of show than SWR. This was more of a performance, and it just almost seemed like the two bands didn’t fit because they were so different. It really made me think that the “Unity” in Unity Tour meant two different kinds of bands were uniting for one concert.

311 played a couple of songs, and then did an early drum solo. It was a respectable drum solo that was followed by a percussion extravaganza in which all the members of the band participated, playing some sort of random traditional or “creative” percussion instrument.This was followed by a killer bass solo on a 10 string bass. P-Nut managed to rock out, be funky, and beautiful all at once.

ImageThe night rolled on with the crowd mostly on their feet. SA rap-sang and danced. Nick sang, danced, and played a flying V. It all sounds great right? Well it was. It was too good, actually. Unlike SWR’s raw playing and undeniable talent, 311 seemed to have so much auto-tuning going on that their songs almost sounded as though they were playing a cd for the boys to sing along to. Here’s the thing- If I’m wrong, then I will be the first to admit that I was wrong, but I really don’t think so. I mean, I’m glad they were so solid, but I came to see “live” music- not anything so canned. Don’t get me wrong- I am a fan and they sounded solid. I just think they had more help than most getting there.

It was a good night for live music in the Houston area, and fans got to see two completely different kinds of shows. If they liked it, I imagine they liked it alot. If they weren’t familiar with one of the bands, they were probably surprised at the differences in their musical styles and performances, but more than likely had a wonderful time listening to both bands.