by Bryan Holland
The Paramount in Huntington is one of the greatest Long Island venues to see a show. Not too big, not too small, it has a personal feel with great sound and it’s nestled in a nice downtown area. I recently caught Sublime with Rome there and it was a hit filled marathon on a Monday night.
Opening act The Skints, hailing from London, England, impressed everyone from the get go. The Skints are a four-piece group that have a dub heavy reggae sound. Extremely charismatic, you receive vocals from 3 of the 4 members which leads to great harmonies. They are all very talented musicians as you’re getting vocals from a drummer mid beat, a guitarist who sings and rhymes in the classic reggaetón style while rallying the crowd, a bassist whose low-end grooves keep everyone moving and a keyboardist that sings and plays around 5 instruments if my count was correct. She literally picked up a saxophone in one song, a flute in another, played a melodica, had a drum machine for added percussion and samples on top of playing the keys. A band to keep an eye on. They had fans cheering loudly from their music and even louder when they told everyone to meet them at the pizza place across the street after the show to hang out because “we’re all friends now”.
Sublime with Rome was next and came out of the gate, blazing. They played old, original Sublime hits to get everyone in the right mood for the first few songs. Classics that brought most of the crowd back to high school days cutting class and riding over to the beach. “Date Rape” was followed by “Smoke Two Joints”. “Wrong Way” was followed by “40 Ounces to Freedom”. 4 huge songs from the epic catalogue of original Sublime tunes they choose from.
For those that don’t know, this has been one of the many incarnations of this band since the passing of original singer/songwriter Bradley Nowell in 1996. After the remaining members played in a few different bands, most notably the Long Beach Dub Allstars, they decided to reform Sublime with Rome Ramirez in 2009. After some legal issues over the name with the Nowell estate, they became Sublime with Rome officially in 2010. 5 months after their first release, original drummer Bud Gaugh left and so Eric Wilson is the only remaining original member, although the sound is still very familiar as they play a mix of new originals and old classics.
After some more early Sublime songs such as “Pawn Shop” and “April 25th, 1992”, the latter being about the riots in Los Angeles, they moved into some new originals. “You Better Listen” was one for the newer fans as it’s Rome getting to try his hand at writing. It stays in the vein of the older material, but definitely has a fresh feel to it as well, an upbeat song with an infectious chorus. The crowd was singing along to every song that was played and the hits continued to come. You don’t realize how many songs of theirs are extremely popular until you look around and realize every single one of them is practically a giant sing along.
The crowd was a majority of late 20s and 30 somethings all dancing to songs, filling them with nostalgia. Sublime in the late 90s was something totally different. Tones of punk rock mixed with reggae, dub and ska. It just reeked of California, surf and smoky jam music. They often covered other groups songs, some of which nobody ever knew wasn’t actually a Sublime original because of the way they would make it their own. Take “Scarlet Begonias” for example, originally a Grateful Dead song. Many people have no idea it wasn’t original. They did skillful renditions of songs by Bad Religion, The Descendents, Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley, The Wailers and many more.
I ain’t got no crystal ball, but after seeing what they had played to that point, closing with “Santeria” seemed the clear and obvious choice. It’s evident that they aren’t slowing down any time soon, which is a nice sight to see considering a few years ago, catching Sublime songs live were only possible through covers and cover bands. Even if it’s only Eric remaining from the original lineup, the spirit of Sublime lives on.