It was 1994 again…sort of. For 60$ you had the chance to see Sublime with their new Bradley Nowell replacement, Rome Ramirez. Did the hardcore fans still want to see Sublime even without the incredibly talented Brad (RIP)? Yes. They definitely delivered. And Rome deteriorated my bias about the new singer perfectly.
London, England’s The Skints came on shortly after I arrived. I was a little thrown off at first because I have never heard these dudes (and dudette!) before, so I didn’t know what to expect. They seemed to have some dedicated fans in the crowd, because I noticed some of the audience singing along to their songs.
I ended up finding myself bobbing my head along to the deep reggae beats with some “Wow’s!” and “Whoa!”s expressed here and there. “How are you doing Montreal! See that? That is who we are!” said guitarist Josh Waters Rudge with his strong, beautiful Londoner accent while pointing to their sign behind them. He seemed very excited, as it was their first time playing Canada. Rudge was super impressive with his high energy, moving all over stage while he swayed his guitar around while playing and dancing around. He was the multitasking king. Then we had multitasking queen Marcia Richards on keys, sax, flute, melodica, samples AND vocals jamming along to him! This woman never ceased to deliver! The duets between herself and drummer Jamie Kyriakides were gorgeous. I really hope these guys come back to our city. I loved them so much I got their limited edition FM vinyl.
My nerves were settling while we prepared to see Sublime play with Rome Ramirez. A lot of buds joked afterwards with me, asking how the “sublime cover band” was. Considering there is only one original member left, Eric Wilson on bass, I can understand the mockery. However, by the end of their set I accepted Rome. He definitely fills Bradley’s shoes really well, and really does have a beautiful voice.
They opened with “Date Rape” to get the crowd going, and we totally did. I was so excited as we danced and sang along. It just kept getting better and better. They continued with “Smoke Two Joints,” “Wrong Way,” and “Pawn Shop” – the classics did not stop. By this time the venue was completely full. The crowd was happy, singing along and dancing. I think it was safe to say they were satisfied by this point.
The band’s set-up was a carpet on the far left for Rome with the DJ right behind, and another carpet on the far right for Wilson and drummer Josh Freese. There was not much movement or chemistry between the band members – the spotlight seemed to have been only on Rome. Understandably so, I guess. He was indeed adorable. He kept giving props to The Skints during his small interactions with the crowd. He even went and stood close to the crowd to get some high fives. He felt the music well and you could feel Brad’s spirit with us.
My only complaint technicality wise was that the DJ was so loud I could barely hear Rome singing. This basically happened throughout the set whenever the DJ went on. When he wasn’t playing, Rome’s voice definitely stood out.
These guys played Rockfest in 2015, so a lot of fans had the chance to catch ’em then, but this was my first time (sadly) ever seeing Sublime. I can certainly mark them off my Bucketlist now, even if it wasn’t the “real” Sublime. They are heading out west shortly, then will be in Australia for the rest of their tour. Catch them if you can!
“It seems like people get afraid of a certain music if they can’t pigeonhole it to their satisfaction… Good music is good music, and that should be enough for anybody.” – Bradley Nowell
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson