Words by Audra Tracy | Photo by Bryan Sheffield

It was both a love-in and a smoke-out at the PNC Bank Arts Center on August 2nd as Sublime with Rome brought their traveling roadshow to the great Garden State. With Mickey Avalon, Pepper, and Rebelution in tow, the trio came to town to plug their new album, Sirens, which dropped on July 17th.

The suburban air was thick with haze as the Orange County rockers stepped into the spotlight just after 9PM, ready to lay down a summer soundtrack full of Sublime classics. It all started with “Date Rape”, and then, one after another, the hits kept on coming. Yes, everywhere you looked, sentimental stoners were having a full-on sing along as Sublime with Rome broke out oldies like “Don’t Push”, “Garden Grove”, “Right Back”, “Scarlet Begonias”, and “Badfish”.

His voice as sweet as sensimilla, lead singer Rome Ramirez led the band through a number of SWR originals too. Perhaps because he penned the tunes himself, Rome especially shined on new songs like the title track, “Sirens”, and “Wherever You Go”. The guy has certainly got some pipes, and not just the ones packed backstage.

Even if you’re a Sublime purist jaded by the mere idea of someone filling the shoes of an icon like the late Bradley Nowell, you’ve got to give Rome some serious credit. Here is a kid who joined a platinum-status band when he was just 21 years old, and he didn’t let it turn him into a total dick. Rome is as genuine as it gets – he is not trying to be Bradley, but he is leading the path for Sublime 2.0 to evolve in its own way.

Besides, Rome is the reason that, almost 20 years after Nowell’s death, an amphitheater full of fans blissfully sang “What I Got” together in perfect harmony.


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