Reggae-infused alt rockers 311 and L.A. shoegazers Teenage Wrist performed at Knitting Factory on Sunday evening, and a diverse group of dedicated alternative rock fans in Spokane was treated to a variety of sonic grooves and high-energy tunes.
The evening opened with Teenage Wrist. Pioneered by My Bloody Valentine, shoegaze is a subgenre of alternative rock that rose to popularity in London in the early 1990s. Influenced by Robert Smith of the Cure, it uses the rock formula as a canvas, over which it layers swirling vocals and highly processed guitars.
Teenage Wrist performed a short set of tracks from their seven-year career, including a new track that has only been played a handful of times, “Stoned, Alone” off their 2018 Epitaph release “Chrome Neon Jesus” and “The Earth Is a Black Hole” off their 2021 album of the same name.
Perhaps the only notable reggae outfit from Omaha, 311 rose to notoriety in the mid 1990s. Blending elements of reggae, funk and alternative rock, the nu-metal-adjacent band received major radio play with songs like the summertime anthem “Amber” and hard-rocking “Down.”
In 2004, they returned to the airways with their massively successful, reggae-reified reimagining of the Cure’s “Love Song.” Seasoned performers for nearly 30 years, 311 performed hits and fan favorites alike to an enthusiastic crowd. In addition to performing their aforementioned singles, they played older tracks like “Applied Science” off 1994’s “Grassroots.”
Known to mix things up from night to night in terms of a setlist, they also had moments to showcase the talents of their rhythm section, with solos from bass player Aaron Wills and drummer Chad Sexton. 311 was significantly heavier live than one would expect from their radio singles, which was a treat.
As much as both bands’ performances provided a fun evening of alternative rock, it also stood as a sort of testament to the wide-ranging and enduring influence of the Cure and early post-punk as a whole.
Post-punk, which was originally punk rock infused with dub reggae-inspired bass lines by way of the Clash, played a part in opening the door for 1990s groove-based genres like rap rock and nu metal.
When the Cure took this formula and began experimenting with darker atmospheres and heavily modulated guitars, they also inspired shoegaze. Originally an insular, London-based genre, shoegaze has gone on to evolve and cross-pollinate with genres ranging from pop to black metal, making a massive force in contemporary music.
311’s rare performance in Spokane was a delight for longtime 311 fans, as well as fans of alternative music as a whole.
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