Review by Angela Blasi
August 25, 2010- The famous Asbury Park, home of the Stone Pony where legends have played and defined the New Jersey music scene. On this night, the Pony’s summer stage was erected for The Dirty Heads and Sublime with Rome. Words can not fully capture my excitement at the notion of actually seeing Sublime. Yes, I understand that Brad passed away and it is not quite the same without him. Yes, I also understand that for legal purposes this is NOT Sublime, but it is Sublime with Rome. That being said, I was still freakin’ excited. Now, if you’re anything like me, or around my age and younger, you probably grew up listening to the band and loving their music all the while knowing it was an axiomatic fact that you would never get to see them live if it wasn’t Badfish or Long Beach Dub All Stars. As a result, this opportunity (yes opportunity) of a show was something I knew was to be inexplicably awesome to behold.
Given that this was an earlier show due to curfews and noise ordinances, The Dirty Heads opened up the show while the sun was still at a decent height in the sky. This also meant that I was not able to catch most of their set (I have a day job too, you know). The few tracks I was able to listen to upon making my way through the crowd seemed to fit well with the night’s overall musical styling. They definitely grooved with the same type of reggae vibe I would expect at such a show. I was able to hear a well-balanced mix of reggae and hip-hop emanating from the stage. I wish I would have been able to hear more of them live because what I’ve listened to online post show, I’ve enjoyed and am actually listening to them as I write this to you, my humble readers. Moving forward.
The sun sank further in the sky and the crowd knew who was coming next. I stood among a small sea of faces- old and young, hemp necklaces, Phish T-shirts, dread locks and lots of open-toed footwear. I wouldn’t have expected anything less at this show. As it got closer to show time my curiosity peaked as I, and probably many others, wondered how well this new guy was going to do in Brad’s stead. At 8:30pm the band finally took the stage, opening with the hit “Date Rape.” An automatic crowd pleaser, every voice was instantly lifted, reciting every word faithfully. That set the tone for the entire evening. Rome proved himself a close second as I found his vocals to carry some of the same breathy, raw and aspirate sounds that characterized Brads. Just as Sublime’s music should do, the band flowed into almost each and every song of the night, going from one right into the next, with no breaks. Smoke rose into the air as the set forged forward and a distinct atmosphere had been set. I came to realize that this show was about far more than the guys on stage playing their instruments. The music of Sublime is legendary because the music itself is so real and so incredible that it takes on a life all its own, embodied by each and every true fan. In reality, the band members, though talented and tearing it up in their own rights on stage individually, interacted very little with one another during the performance. At one point they brought a friend of some type on stage to sing his own number and hype the crowd. It turned out to be a small rap about being Irish and getting drunk as hell. The guy definitely was not a musician, or really all that talented to tell you the truth, but it was definitely done in good fun. Taking requests from the audience and making as many fans happy as possible, they played each song as perfectly as I had always heard. Adorning the set were the tracks “Smoke 2 Joints,” “Wrong Way,” “What I Got,” “Garden Grove,” “Jailhouse,” “Under my Voodoo,” “40oz to Freedom,” “Get Ready,” “Seed,” “Scarlett Begonias,” “Johnny Butt,” “Greatest Hits” and “Doin’ Time”. In addition, the regular Asbury Park boardwalk summer fireworks began painting the sky with their brilliance in the middle of the set, just adding to this feeling of amazement already surging through the audience. Moreover, the guy next to me who had screamed the word, “SANTERIA!” all night, was finally satiated as they returned for their encore with that very track.
Through tragedy and hiatus, the music of Sublime now being performed with Rome Ramirez has endured and proven why it is just so amazing. Beyond any commercial hype or success, this is one show I can say was truly about the music. I had an absolute blast singing the songs that defined and shaped my youthful musical character and adult taste. A fitting moniker, the music of this band is just that- sublime.