Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime
When tribute bands come to mind, it’s usually in the memory of classic rock bands like The Beatles, The Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd, bands who have long ago broken up or whose original members are deceased. But since singer Bradley Nowell’s death in 1996, Sublime has been added to that list with multiple tribute bands popping up across the country. On March 4, Revolution was graced with the presence of the most popular incarnation —Badfish. Fans also got a taste of the opening bands Scotty Don’t (Badfish’s musical project) and the rock quartet out of Savannah, Georgia, Passafire.
Passafire opened the show and kept it grooving with chill vocals and a twangy, Southern-influenced brand of reggae. Their skankin’ beats kept the crowd bouncing and swaying in time. Though highly energetic, Passafire slowed things down during their set and demanded the audience put up their lighters. Singer Ted Bowne and keyboardist Adam Willis gleefully exchanged some pothead humor, pointing out that “South Florida’s weed is good and the women are pretty.” Cheers of agreement resounded from the crowd as pungently sweet smoke began to drift by, inhibitions becoming relaxed just in time for Scotty Don’t.
Scotty Don’t is the musical project of Badfish. After touring the country playing Sublime songs, Badfish wanted to unleash their own music: Scotty Don’t is the result. Melodic dub-punk rock defines Scotty’s sound. Composed of memorable choruses and dreamy bridges, their songs are catchy enough to gain airplay on the radio, but considering the amount of garbage being played today, it’s better that they haven’t quite reached that point. Singer Pat Downes’ lyrics often touch on staying carefree and positive despite your problems, but with more insight than a simple “Hakuna Matata.” Scotty Don’t just came out with their first album this past December, which was generously thrown into the audience. The majority of the songs from the CD were played including the opener “A Little Time,” which features country hungry guitar and Sublime inspired vocals.
It was one massive Sublime sing-along as Downes slowed things down with “Boss D.J.” and “Rivers of Babylon” and then kicked it up again in “Garden Grove” by beatboxing the song’s turntable parts.
After they finished “Pawn Shop,” drummer Scott Begin tore up a beat-tastic drum solo before continuing to play tunes off Robbin’ the Hood. During “My Ruca,” the crowd was more than eager to shout out the words, “You’re not the only one/ but you’re the best, Bradley,” as their own personal tribute to Bradley Nowell. It was one massive Sublime sing-along as Downes slowed things down with “Boss D.J.” and “Rivers of Babylon” and then kicked it up again in “Garden Grove” by beatboxing the song’s turntable parts. During “Don’t Push,” the lights on stage splashed Jamaican colors on the band members as Bowne sang about Bob Marley and reggae while playing slide guitar with a beer bottle.
To everyone’s surprise they played “Saw Red,” which originally featured vocals by Gwen Stefani but both parts were sang by Bowne. Because everyone knew the words and were practically drowning out the band, Revolution turned the lights on the crowd through “Santeria,” “Caress Me Down,” “Date Rape” and “What I Got.” When they finally came back onstage for an encore, the crowd was besides themselves with joy as the band played “Summertime” and then blew everyone away by covering Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn” out of nowhere, inciting a huge circle pit as everyone lost their minds with euphoria.
Badfish may be the closest to seeing Sublime, although it was recently announced the two surviving members of the band have hired a new singer, Rome, and may be planning a reunion. Judging from the response to Badfish, I have no doubt they will be welcome with open arms as long as they return that fresh Sublime flavor.
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Review and photos by: Liana Minassian