Sublime | 08.16.12

ingrid sqWhen it comes to reunions, they are a mixed bag of great nostalgia and awkward annoyance.





Photo: Michelle Huff

Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, St. Louis
Some things should  not make a comeback. Furby is being re-released by Hasbro. As a child during the original era, they were great, and a great tool for annoying those parents unfortunate enough to have purchased them. Is this something kids now will really care about now in the days of high-speed internet, when a 12-year-old can pull out an iPad and play Angry Birds? Who knows.
This concept also applies to bands. When it comes to reunions, they are a mixed bag of great nostalgia and awkward annoyance. Sublime with Rome fell very much into the latter category. Sure, there were a great many insanely intoxicated individuals who were far to gone to hear anything other than themselves singing. It seemed, however, that just as many who were listening decided to head to their cars early, almost offended. 
When they band originally chose to go back out under the Sublime banner, it seemed heartfelt. Drummer Bud Gaugh and bassist Eric Wilson wanted to hit the road and introduce the band’s music to a generation that never received the experience of Sublime playing to the masses. However, after a year of touring, Gaugh refused to hit the road with the band again. This left Wilson as the sole remaining member, touring with new singer Rome Ramirez. 
Gaugh appeared to have felt the same revulsion that led people to the parking lot at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Watching the band on stage, with the insanely talented Josh Freese now behind the drum kit at shows, seemed, musically, like a great idea. Carrying the Sublime banner at this point, though, strikes solely as a cash grab move on the part of Wilson, and even he looks miserable on stage. 
Of course, Rome is thrilled: He gets to carry on the mantle of a band he grew up loving, and at age 24 gets to play to thousands a night instead of a few dozen at a local Californian bar. However, he struggles to fully convey the original wit and roughness of the older tracks, instead straining his voice to a scream that induces more winces than cheers. 
On softer tracks like “Santeria,” “Bad Fish,” and “Take It or Leave It,” he truly shines as a singer, and the California vibe shines through beautifully. But when it comes down to it, Sublime brought an amount a punk, as well, and when it comes to tracks like “New Thrash” and even “April 29, 1992 (Miami),” Rome just felt like the wrong singer. 
The band also felt it necessary to throw in a cover of Nirvana’s “Drain You,” which honestly felt more faithful to the original to the original than some of the Sublime tracks. This version showed the band to be a better Nirvana cover band than Sublime cover band.
Luckily for those who did choose to leave early, openers Pepper, The Dirty Heads, and Matisyahu left many wonderful memories to a crowd much larger than any of them regularly gets to see. Pepper opened with a sense of humor, and ended with a cover of the Bad Company song “Feel Like Making Love,” which they played despite going slightly over time and “risking getting kicked off the tour on their first date.”
The Dirty Heads brought a set that was one part Beastie Boys on numbers such as “Hip-Hop Misfits,” and possibly more closer to the sound of the original Sublime than the headliners on songs like “Lay Me Down” which featured Rome, and “Your Love.” The set also featured a guest spot from Matisyahu on new single “Dance All Night,” though most of the crowd didn’t seem to realize who he was.
Photo: Bruce Matlock

Once Matisyahu hit the stage, though, there was no mistaking the mesmerizing positive spirit or many stylistic voices of the (formerly) bearded singer. Despite losing the beard and suit in exchange for a clean shave and a Miami Marlins hat, the singer draws attention like few others, and left the crowd in a trance-like state for most of his set. 
Matisyahu’s new album, Spark Seeker, has produced his most well-known song in years in single, “Sunshine,” and it holds up live as his immensely tall figure dances all over the stage like most dance in their bedrooms when no one is watching. It would be an mistake to miss the show when his headlining tour comes through St. Louis on November 14. | Bruce Matlock

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