“You’re not even topless and you all look beautiful!” Pepper always knows how to greet a crowd. Everyone, topless or not, was feeling fine for JBL Live as the sun hit the pier and the smoke hit the sky. Fans were turned up way sooner than is socially acceptable, because Pepper is f**king Pepper, Rebelution is beyond dope, and there’s no better way to pump up for Sublime.
All muscles, tans, and shades, Pepper melted some serious good vibes into their carnal stage presence. Frontmen/Hawaiian studs Kaleo Wassman and Brett Bollinger were in perfect synch with drummer Yesod Williams, not to mention every fan on the water. Stopping whenever they felt like it to flex and flirt, they rocked their reggae set with “Love Affair,” “F**k Around (All Night)” “Stone Love,” “Give It Up,” “No Control,” “Like Your Style,” “Nice Time,” “Vacation,” “Stormtrooper,” “Crazy Love,” and “Ashes,” eventually ripping their clothes off (no complaints here). But it was candid interjections like “the sun’s out, GOD’S WATCHING” and “is this a f**king brojito?” as they each slugged a solo cup that reminded us why a Pepper intro is a Sublime with Rome staple.
Rebelution came armed not only with sax, guitar, and trumpet, but brushes and canvas too. Live-painting onstage were artists Ania Amador and Christopher Morphis of Anamorphosis Art, who splattered and sketched a psychedelic scene to the beat of the ska. Explosive solos from Khris Royal on sax and Zach Meyerowitz on trumpet were beautifully tied together with Eric Rachmany’s soothing calypso vocals. In a cloud of smoke and paint, Rebelution took the mood even higher with songs like “Good Vibes,” “Sky is the Limit,” “Safe and Sound” “Attention Span,” “Outta Control,” “Bright Side of Life,” and “De-Stress.”
When the audience heard those 7 big hits that can only be “Date Rape,” they collectively flipped for Sublime. With 5,000 people screaming “she lies, that little slut!” you could already tell the show was going to be insane. Another clue was their drum head, which featured a still from The Love Boat in place of a logo – don’t ask me why.
Sublime with Rome seduced the crowd with a bold, crisp sound as they jammed through a massive setlist, starting with “Date Rape,” “Smoke Two Joints,” and a quick mix of “Don’t Push,” “Garden Grove,” “Right Back,” “New Thrash,” and “Paddle Out.” You could actually hear the whole crowd inhale for a collective hit before “Skankin” (their take on Fishbone’s “Skankin’ to the Beat”), followed by “Wrong Way” and their classic cover of Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias.” They kept the momentum going with “40 Oz. to Freedom,” “Sirens,” “Doin’ Time,” “Ebin,” “Panic,” “Badfish,” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” the last of which they mashed up with Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On.”
Original bassist Eric Wilson, who is one of the most understated badasses ever, even took to the turntable for some authentic scratching on “April 29, 1992 (Miami)” at the start of their encore. By now the audience was a total mess – moshing, fighting, crowd surfing, and making out to the music. Sublime With Rome finished off with “Wherever You Go,” “What I Got,” and of course, “Santeria.”
No one could ever replace original lead singer Bradley Nowell, who passed away in 1996, but Rome Ramirez does an amazing job of paying him tribute. He’s an extremely strong musician who performs with a humble attitude, showing the utmost respect for the legacy Nowell left behind. When he eased into “let the loving, let the loving come back to me…” on “What I Got,” he paused to say “God bless you, Bradley James Nowell,” which made everyone erupt into cheers.
When it was all over, Eric and Rome took the time to throw handfuls of mementos into the crowd, even snapping off guitar strings when they ran out of picks. If they had kept going any longer, they probably would have given them the clothes off their backs. That’s just how they are, and how Sublime has always been.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley