Words by Jenifer Lopes
Asbury Park, NJ — As I walked through the dismal and deserted Stone Pony and out into the even more gloomy-weathered outdoor stage, the energy of the audience seemed to instantaneously clear it all away. Maybe it was the combination of the tie-dyed shirts, the bright pseudo-Ray Ban’s, and the $5 Jim Beam specials. Or, maybe it was hackey sack pits that spotted the cement field of pow-wow’s and sporadic dancing to songs like “My Boy Lollipop” that did it for me. The clouds that decorated the sky in 14 shades of grey appeared to exist only outside the bubble shell that enclosed the Stone Pony Summer Stage.
Walking around and taking in my surroundings, I noticed everything that should encompass a stereotyped Sublime show. There was the stand selling glass pieces, kids and adults with dreadlocks, the red, yellow, and green colored…everything, the Bob Marley shirts, the bandana’s holding back long, dirty hair, the unnecessary sunglasses that were probably hiding blood shot eyes, and let’s not forget the aroma of marijuana that seeped out of the crowd’s pores.
I know that I was young when Sublime was in their prime, but to me, they are one of those legendary bands that everyone can familiarize themselves with. Whether it be “Date Rape,” or “Santeria,” or “What I Got,” you will always be able to find someone singing along to them. It was weird to think that I was going to see Sublime without Bradley Nowell though. It’s kind of like seeing the new Alice In Chains without Layne Staley.
As I surfed through the crowd, I spoke with a few people to see what they thought and their expectations of the new singer, Rome Ramirez. Anthony Scillieri of LBI said, “I saw Sublime back in ’93 at Warped Tour when Brad was still alive. “ His friend Sara Haitken added that she had seen Sublime with Rome on Jimmy Kimmel and stated, “he’s a good match.” One of the others, AJ Marchitto agreed that, “he’s pretty good” and “molds in with the band well.” Chit chattering in the background from others included an indifference and an uneasiness that, “this is the closest we’re going to get to Brad.” Overall, I started to feel a little nervous for the kid who is as old as me and close to half the age of his other band members.
Finally, The Dirty Heads swaggered their way on stage after being told they were going on almost two hours prior (normal concert procedure). I wasn’t quite familiar with their sound, but with more than half of them having longer hair than me, I expected some sort of reggae hip-hop mesh of sounds. Of course I was on the ball, and the crowd totally bounced, swayed, and danced with every upstroke the guitarist strummed. They were completely into it! I didn’t hear one person chant for Sublime or leave their spot in on the asphalt. There were a few occasions where Bradley’s infamous “bow bow’s” erupted from the audience, but that was the only Sublime reference I caught. The attention was all on them.
I watched as everyone around me flowed the words to “Insomnia” and then to “Lay Me Down.” The Dirty Heads also threw in a cover of “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones which was extremely pleasing to hear in reggae form. During their set, they had Sublime’s saxophone player, Todd Forman, along with new singer Rome on stage jamming out with them.
Then the moment everyone had been waiting for came along with the ultimate judgment of the 22-year old singer replacing Bradley Nowell. Sublime moseyed on stage and kicked it off with one of their more popular songs, “Date Rape.” The crowd went absolutely insane as an electric static intensity connected the whole crowd with the band. I’m pretty sure there were more people dancing and skanking in the pits than there were watching the actual performance. The crowd was just that into it, or just that high that closing your eyes and dancing was equally gratifying.
During one of their songs fireworks went off in the distance and Rome pointed out,” There’s Jesus Christ’s tears in the sky!” I swear that the fireworks went along with the beat of the song straight through to the finale. And the band played everything. There was, “Smoke 2 Joints,” “40 oz. to Freedom,” “Scarlett Begonias,” “Wrong Way,” “Garden Grove,” “Summertime,” “Under My Voodoo,” just to name a few of the popular hits. As I wandered deeper and deeper into the smoke filled pit, I felt grappled into the aesthetics of the concert and felt high myself. This was Sublime with Rome’s first time playing in Jersey and they certainly left their mark in the souls of every person in or around the Stone Pony.
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