Concert Review: Sublime with Rome

311's Nick Hexum, along with a sick light show, pumping up the crowd

311’s Nick Hexum, along with a sick light show, pumping up the crowd.

By: Juan Barragan
Sublime with Rome, 311, Cypress Hill, and Pennywise
Sleep Train Amphitheatre
August 3, 2013

It was another day filled with live music at Sleep Train Amphitheatre. This time, there were a number of bands that took the stage so doors opened early in the afternoon and people flooded the gates, eager to break a sweat in the pit or in the grass area, and excited to sing along to their favorite songs.

The first big act of the day was the Hermosa Beach punk rock band, Pennywise. Their set was packed with energy as the band tried to get the crowd going. The pit moshed for a couple of songs but ultimately failed to satisfy the fury the members of the band were looking for. The band called the pit out on this and teased them by saying that the people in the grass area had more energy than they did. The problem was probably not in the energy of the crowd, but in the proportion of the crowd present for Pennywise’s set in comparison to the size of the venue. Pennywise took the stage at 6:00 P.M., a time in which the majority of attendees were still in the parking lot preparing themselves for a long night. Nonetheless, the venue started to get packed by the end of the set. The pit ultimately got a chance to redeem themselves when Pennywise played their Land of the Free? album hit, “F*ck Authority.” The pit’s energetic activity got the members of the band excited, so they decided to thrill the crowd with a Nirvana cover song by the name of “Territorial Pissings.” The entire audience by this point was giving Pennywise all the energy the band had previously asked for; people were throwing their fists in the air, or moshing in the pit. Pennywise ended their set with their infamous song, “Bro Hymn.” This is the song the band always ends with as a tribute for their deceased band member Jason Thirsk who passed away in 1996. The crowd roared out the memorable chorus line as loud as they could in honor and remembrance of the late musician. With the end of that song came the opportunity for the crowd to regain their strength and energy for the next act that would take the stage.

Shortly after Pennywise abandoned the stage, a famous Californian hip-hop group took the stage. The group was Cypress Hill, and they took the stage full of energy as they opened with, “Ain’t Going Out Like That.” In an effort to pump the crowd up even more, they followed that song with their hit song from the album Black Sunday, titled, “When the Sh*t Goes Down.” Cypress Hill’s set, much like their rappers’ nature, turned out to be full of debaucheries; acts were committed on stage that were illegal in the state of California, yet legal in the state of Colorado. The crowd did not frown upon these acts, however, and instead chose to cheer them on after every song. Cypress Hill was a good group for the crowd to get prepared to before the other bands took the stage. Cypress Hill ended their set with a song about their own career entitled, “Rock Superstar,” off of their album, Skull and Bones. This finale was just what the crowd needed before having to take another break to recharge for the next band, 311.

It was safe to consider 311 a co-headliner for the evening. The band came out playing “Beautiful Disaster.” The crowd, already pumped from the previous two artists, did not need to be asked to sing along. This occurred during every song, as the die-hard 311 fans were treated to a set of the band’s greatest hits. This set was very special because 311 gave it their all for every song. In a matter of minutes, both vocalists were drenched in sweat, a feat that seemed hard to achieve given the somewhat chilly temperature that engulfed the venue by the time 311 took the stage. It is this type of energy that 311 came with that makes the band’s career so successful and their fans so loyal. Also impressive was the well orchestrated light show that accompanied every song. 311’s set was so enjoyable that time seemed to pass a lot faster and before the crowd knew it, the band’s lead singer, Nick Hexum, proposed to the crowd, “Before we go, let’s just be creatures for awhile!” The audience accepted and 311 ended their set with the song, “Creatures (For a While).”

Just when the crowd thought the night could not get any better, the moment they were all waiting for finally arrived. Sublime with Rome took to the stage shortly before 10 P.M. and opened with the song that first made the original Sublime famous, “Date Rape.” This band has been interesting to see live over the years due to the fact that a new vocalist is singing the songs that made the original Sublime famous. This new vocalist is Rome Ramirez, and his voice is said to sound very similar to Bradley Nowell’s voice, Sublime’s original front man. The band’s sound that night was right on point for every song; however, something, or rather, someone, seemed to be missing. Anyone who has closely followed Sublime with Rome knows that the rhythm section of the band when Sublime first made their comeback in 2010 was comprised of bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh. These two would be enough to hold the trio together in order to re-live the band’s glory days. Unfortunately for the band, Bud Gaugh called it quits in late 2011 and ever since then, their new replacement, Josh Freese, although on time with every beat of every song, has seemed out of place. Also worth noting is the lack of horns that came with the band when Bud Gaugh was still present. The horn section was replaced by a DJ on turntables, and although the sound is interesting, it cannot recreate the catchy horn sections in songs like “Date Rape,” or “Wrong Way.” Nevertheless, the fact that the band is still touring seemed to give fans reason to ignore the fact that Bud Gaugh was not there. After all, since most of the members of the audience were in their teens and early twenties, this would be the only opportunity they got to hear their favorite Sublime songs, since these young fans were probably still in diapers when the original Sublime was around. The crowd heard all of the Sublime’s hit songs, and at this point, it was really hard to tell which one of the original Sublime songs was not a hit. Luckily for a few people, the band decided to play, “Burritos,” an obscure yet catchy song off of Sublime’s 1996 self-titled album. The true Sublime veterans were ecstatic at the opportunity to sing along to a song that very few people knew. Altogether, Sublime with Rome played very few songs from their one and only album, Yours Truly. To those who liked the material off of that album, they got a chance to hear “Panic,” as one of the songs for the encore. The other two songs that followed this one were the ones the crowd knew every single word to, as these classic tunes still get regular airplay on the radio. The songs were, “What I Got,” and “Santeria,” and they were the climax of the show. Hopefully Sublime with Rome can reconsider their sound and invite Bud Gaugh to play with them again in an effort to truly be as close to Sublime as possible, with horns and all.

At the end of the night, fans of good music were treated to a lot of timeless bands and artists for a very inexpensive price. The crowd seemed very well pleased with this, and exhaustedly stumbled back to their cars in order to continue the party on what was a clear Saturday night.