Neither the frigid temperatures nor snow could stop fans from seeing their beloved 311 front man, Nick Hexum and his new solo project, The Nick Hexum Quintet on Saturday night. The group made their way through Manhattan’s Gramercy Theatre in their 10-shows-in-eleven-days stint. The small venue quickly filled with an eclectic array of fans – the young, the old, the ones rocking their 311 tees, and of course the Nick Hexum groupies (who didn’t fail to acknowledge his good looks throughout the show).
The Nick Hexum Quintet Play Gramercy Theatre
Nick Hexum is a man who has done just about everything – he’s a singer, guitarist, writer, producer. However, he is still most recognized as the front man off 311 and its alternative, heavier rock-hip-hop styles. His newest side project, The Nick Hexum Quintet, has shown he is way more than that. While attempting to write for other artists and through collaborations with his brother, Zack, these songs quickly became the brain-child behind the Quintet. The music can be described as a mixture of jazz, funk, pop, and soft progressive rock, unified into a “jam band-esque” style.
The Nick Hexum Quintet released their debut album My Shadow Pages back in October. The Quintet features Nick’s younger brother, Zack, who plays guitar, keyboards, and saxophone, and drummer Gary Novak, bassist Andres Rebellon, and keyboardist Luke Miller.
After the guys took the stage, the crowd roared with excitement, excited to catch their favorite front man in a new environment. In true 311 style, it wasn’t long before the aroma of marijuana hit the venue and the band dove into their first song, “Somewhere in the Middle.” Even though the Quintet only had their album to play through, the transition of songs meshed perfectly and you couldn’t help but sway from side to side… as any jam band concertgoer would do.
You would think the band has been around for years the way fans were singing along, especially when they played their singles, “Blame the Sky” and “Supernatural.” There were a few pleasant surprises including a cover of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” (appropriate, right?). Also, much to the delight of fans, the Quintet did reworks of a few 311 tracks including “My Stoney Baby,” “Lose,” and “Don’t Dwell.” They also did a cover of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain.”
While some of the music can be reminiscent of 311’s earlier, slower, reggae-styled tunes, the new stuff brought on a fresh feel with more jazzy rhythms. As fans are used to seeing Nick Hexum jump around on stage hitting loud vocals and heavy guitar riffs, it was a refreshing change to see the soft vocals and backing instruments.
Throughout the night, I couldn’t help but notice the interaction between the Quintet on stage – constantly looking over at one another, smiling, laughing, and simply having fun. Watching a band like this truly engulfs the listener into the experience. The night wasn’t about an elaborate stage and colorful light display; it was about five guys playing music they love. After the show, the guys hung around and met with fans for pictures and autographs. Leaving the venue, all I could hear was the rumble of fans saying “OMG I just hugged Nick!” and “He just signed my ticket!” (note: this was both girls AND guys). I think it’s safe to say these fans have a good chance of seeing the Quintet again… I mean, how long have 311 been around? I don’t think Nick Hexum likes to stop.
However, if you didn’t get to catch The Nick Hexum Quintet this time, don’t fear… the front man will be back in action alongside 311 – with their biennial 311 day and new album Stereolithic both taking place on — you guessed it — March 11.
Article by Erika Reinsel