Hoobastank opened their spring tour with 311 Monday with all the stage presence and salesmanship of a band bursting to ditch its warm-up act status. During their 45-minute set at the Paramount Theatre, singer Douglas Robb glad-handed the crowd at the front of the stage, hyped an upcoming show on a bill with Incubus and reminded the audience of his band’s name not once, not twice, but four times. (As if you forget a handle like Hoobastank.)
“That was lovely,” Robb declared after several songs. It was a surprisingly Martha Stewart-ish term for a band pounding out kick-to-the-head mosh music.
On “Up and Gone,” from their self-titled sophomore disc, guitarist Dan Estrin and bass player Markku Lappalainen bounced and spun in unison as if they’d just earned certificates from a Motown metal school. Robb, meanwhile, spent much of the show with his feet seemingly duct-taped to his monitor. During the pummeling opener, “Pieces,” he balanced tall above the crowd for the entire song. For the hit “Crawling in the Dark,” currently resting at #5 on Billboard’s modern rock chart, he crouched down and threw his head back during the chorus, as if he were howling at the stars.
The Emerald City certainly supplied a sympathetic audience. Though the theater floor was only half full, half of that was ready to mosh at the drop of a drum beat. The band stuck to material from Hoobastank, though they did also resurrect “Earthsick” from their little-known 1998 debut, They Sure Don’t Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To. Save for the rhinoceros charge of “Remember Me,” the show was all stomp-and-nod rhythm.
Although 311’s 90-minute headlining set touched on several songs from their recent disc, From Chaos, the band also reached back through their dozen-year history for some old fan favorites, such as “Freak Out” from their 1993 debut, Music.
Though it can be a bit jarring to see fellas from Omaha, Nebraska, toasting like they were rocking a Jamaican dance party, 311 used their reggae affection to graft good times onto rock-rap’s standard all-anger-all-the-time M.O. On “All Mixed Up,” rollicking grooving from singer/guitarist Nicholas Hexum and rapper S.A. onstage sparked loads of dancing on the floor. During “You Wouldn’t Believe,” bassist P-Nut did such an exaggerated jig you had to look at the ceiling to be sure there weren’t marionette strings attached to his ankles.
Throughout the set, seizure-inducing light spectacles kept fans’ eyes blinking and heads spinning. Bubbles blasted the front rows during “Champagne.” The effects only chilled out for the pot paeans “Hydroponic” and “Who’s Got the Herb?” (the latter a cover of a tune by Bad Brains singer H.R.). Then, with the crowd on the verge of slipping into the munchies, drummer Chad Sexton reeled them back with an intricate drum solo that climaxed with the other four band members laying heavily into the beat on their own floor toms.
Aside from brief song intros, Hexum and S.A. seemed to operate on a mum’s-the-word stage banter policy. Perhaps it was opening-night tour jitters. Or maybe they were instituting an energy conservation plan. Their high-stepping songs demanded plenty of calories to burn, particularly for S.A., who kept his rooster strut going throughout the 23-song show.