If you’re from Southern California then there is a perfectly good chance you know the words to at least three Sublime songs.
You know it’s true, if KROQ is on and “Wrong Way” or “Santeria” come on the radio waves you’re probably going to be singing along, which is only a testament to the indelible mark the band had on SoCal culture.
The seminal Long Beach band weaved punk, ska, and reggae into our collective DNA, despite the tragic 1998 passing of the groups frontman Bradley Nowell, the band plays on and the group, with a two decades and running, continues to have one of the most ardent fanbases out there, especially here in California.
While Sublime With Rome is the promising continuation of the outfit, a remarkably talented group of musicians are keeping the spirit of Nowell-era Sublime alive, and they’re not even from California. Yeah, that’s right, the Rhode Island-based quartet Badfish are the original incarnation’s best tribute and I had the pleasure of seeing them perform for AXS TV’s The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands this past Wednesday at the Sunset Strip music bastion, the Whisky-A-Go-Go.
If you haven’t caught the program yet, it’s a hour long broadcast of tribute bands powering through their source material’s greatest cuts. Katie Daryl, the show’s producer, talent scout and host culls the best tributes she can find and has them perform electrifying, reverent and nostalgic sets to make fans enjoy the tribute experience at home.
Making their debut on the show, Badfish absolutely killed it, not only with the music, but everything about their performance. The long running tribute (14 years and counting), consisting of original members Pat Downes, Scott Begin and Joel Hanks, capture everything we love about the band: the sun baked riffs, the unbridled punk energy and Nowell’s tongue-in-cheek meets stark musings Downes sings with the same passion and howl you would expect from Bradley himself.
This group performed the 90’s catalog of Sublime, imbued with the same onstage unpredictability that was trademark the band, playing through the venerable SoCal anthems “Santeria” “Wrong Way” and “What I Got” and some true fan favorites like the propulsive “Seed,” a Gwen Stefani-less but still remarkable “Saw Red” and the eponymous track they use for their stage name.
There were mosh-it-up moments, skanking passages and some burn it up moments (“Smoke Two Joints,” obviously).
There is a reason why Badfish is one of the most popular tributes out there, they encapsulate everything that made Sublime great, both in music and aesthetic, so much so that even Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh himself has performed with the group.
How they carried themselves on stage, how they dressed (their synth, second guitarist looks exactly like what a true SoCal skate punk would look) and how they gingerly make an effort to capture every silly little nuance in each track makes their set feel almost like some form of reverie that you were watching the original incarnation of the band performing.
Even though they powered through an hour set of classic tracks for the broadcast, they continued after the end of the taping, to play older Sublime greats for the hardcore fans who were in attendance at the Whisky.
This was an awesome move to give the true believers an added treat on top of an already excellent performance. Katie Daryl makes sure to get the best damn tributes out there for her show on AXS and Badfish certainly didn’t disappoint.
Tonight (4/20) you can catch Pink Floyd tribute Which One’s Pink performing Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety on The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands on AXS TV at 7pm (Pacific).