Sublime with Rome
Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
April 28, 2010
So many things come to mind when I think of this incredible band. More than anything else Sublime reminds me of youth, fun and summertime.
I was first introduced to them in the late nineties and it was love at first listen. I’m sure the same goes for you. You probably first heard of the band in middle or high school. You’ve probably chugged a 40 oz. and smoked two joints while listening to Sublime more times that you can remember. Maybe you drove around late at night during the summer singing about poppin’ a cap in Sancho at the top of your lungs? I’m sure in some way or another Sublime provided the soundtrack to your underage debauchery.
If for some reason you’re not familiar: Sublime is an awesome ska/punk/reggae/rock/hip hop band from California. The original line-up was Eric Wilson (bass), Bud Gaugh (drums) and Bradley Nowell (vocals). They released 40 Oz. to Freedom in 1992 and Robbin’ The Hood in1994. Two months before the release of what would be the band’s most commercially successful album, Sublime, in 1996 Bradley died of a heroin overdose. The self-titled Sublime went on to sell over 5 million copies and the band has sold over 17 million albums worldwide. Such a tragic ending to what would’ve been an amazing beginning. For me, Sublime has always that one band that I wished I could see live.
When I stumbled upon the listing for Sublime with Rome at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre, I thought to myself, “NO WAY!?”. This is when I learned that our beloved Sublime has reunited and they have a new singer 21 year old, Rome Ramirez. My first thoughts were terribly negative. A “new” Sublime? This could go really wrong. Bradley can never be replaced. Then I was reminded that Bud and Eric never got the chance to tour and perform the music that would make them loved around the world. Regardless, I had to be there to see how the evening would turn out.
The Riviera Theatre was sold out. A combination of excitement and anxiousness exuded from the crowd. The long wait for Sublime with Rome to take the stage definitely added to the anticipation. Then the lights dimmed, the bass boomed, the crowd went crazy and Eric, Bud and Rome hit the stage…
The familiar riffs sent the crowd straight into a frenzy and they opened the show with “Date Rape“. The crowd raged. Considering many of us had been waiting for that very moment for over 14 years, well, the response was appropriate. The crowd was mellowed out a bit as they rocked out “Get Ready” and “April 29, 1992 (Miami)”.
Bud and Eric looked like they were having a blast. At this point I had a chance to see Rome do his thing and I was totally and completely won over. Rome is not a fill-in or replacement for Bradley. Rome is Rome and he meshes so well with Sublime. His singing is similar enough to Brad’s that he can do the songs justice; at the same time he’s no imitator, he has his own style. Not only are vocals on par, but Rome is an extremely talented guitar player. “Seed” and “Jailhouse” were up next and at this point I was fully immersed in the music along with the rest of the crowd. It was surreal. Rome then told the crowd, “Sing along if you know this!” and they began to play “Wrong Way“, complete with horns. The crowd happily obliged and provided the resounding background vocals.
Sublime with Rome continued to work their way through all the jams including: “STP“, “Garden Grove”, “Doin’ Time”, “40 Oz. To Freedom”, “Under My Voodoo”, “Badfish” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned”. The crowd never stopped singing along and dancing. While the band performed “Don’t Push” an inflatable Dalmatian emerged from the pit and was pushed towards the stage. Rome reached out into the crowd, grabbed the makeshift Lou Dog and held him high in the air while the crowd responded with cheers. Rome then placed the dog on the stage as an homage to Lou Dog. It was a silly and touching moment.
The band left the stage before the encore and the crowd was left beaming. Anticipation quickly set in and a few minutes later Sublime with Rome was back on stage for the encore. They began with “The Ballad Of Johnny Butt” followed by another crowd favorite, “What I Got“. At this point it was like a campfire sing-a-long, I think the crowd was louder than the band. At the end of “What I Got” Rome announced, “Rest in Peace Bradley” and, again, the crowd cheered and cheered. The encore was completed by “Scarlet Begonias” and, my personal favorite, “Santeria” which made every person in the crowd sing and dance along.
To summarize the show in one word: amazing.
I spoke to some fans after the show and the consensus: if you closed your eyes, it felt like Bradley was there. Rome has been welcomed in by the fans with open arms!
Mark my words – Sublime (with Rome) is back!! Rejoice Sublime fans, this is an exciting time! Besides, I really think this is what Bradley would’ve wanted, don’t you? The band was so tight throughout the entire show and it really seemed like they were having a great time. Rome is an excellent addition to Sublime and I cannot wait to hear the new music they’re working on.
If you’re lucky you can catch Sublime with Rome on this very brief tour through May 6, 2010.
Photo Credit: John Gilhooley, Jason Rodriguez & Joe Foster