Sublime was just as much about a time and place as it was about the music. Bradley, Bud and Eric defined Southern California is the mid-90s. This was a time when Offspring and Green Day ruled the radio with Smash and Dookie. It was a time when punk was making a comeback in a pop sense. It was when the kids were growing out of their Eazy-E and Too $hort tapes (or Iron Maiden and Metallica, depending on your scene) into something that hit home in the beach cities of San Diego, Long Beach and all the little towns in between. These Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph bands might have pissed off the old school punks, but it also opened our eyes to their scene. Not only were NOFX and Lagwagon killing it in all age venues like Soma….but they were introducing us to Bad Religion, Descendants, Operation Ivy, Black Flag, Gorilla Biscuits and Minor Threat. A new age of punk was born (Blink, Unwritten Law, Rancid, CIV) while metal and gangsta rap were dying a little each day.
Bradley and crew took elements of this new punk and mixed it with the old school hardcore, ska and even hip-hop of days past. 40 Oz. to Freedom and Robbin’ The Hood were genius in the fact that they took everything we loved and mashed them together in what could almost be considered mix-tapes.
I moved to San Diego in 1994…right at the peak of this. 40 Oz. To Freedom was the first tape I was introduced to. I was addicted from the start. I had never heard anything like this before, yet I had heard it all before. It was like hearing everything I knew through a kaleidoscope. I was 17 years old the first time I saw Sublime perform live at World Beat Center and Brad had already stopped playing Date Rape live. In fact, you never quite knew what you were going to get from him live. It all depended on how fucked up he was at the time. In the 20 or so times I saw them live, it was always a different show. Sometimes it wasn’t a show at all.
By the time the album Sublime came out in 1996 it was already over. Brad was dead. He OD’d in San Francisco 7 days after getting married and only a couple weeks after the last time I spoke to him. It was sad, it was heartbreaking and it was such a waste. The world was introduced to his form of reggae/ska/punk too late. Sublime became a huge band after his death. By the time the world caught on, it was too late. And I’m sorry to say, I think Brad would have prevented them from becoming this big. Based on my interaction with him, I can assume he would have been almost like Kurt Cobain and shone the limelight. He just liked making music (and getting high and surfing)…he wasn’t into the fame.
His death not only left his wife , his son and his fans behind, but it also left the surviving members of Sublime behind. Bud and Eric tried to continue under the name Long Beach Dub All Stars, but that didn’t last very long. It just wasn’t the same without Brad. And that’s where I figured this story would end.
But now, 15 years later, Sublime is on tour. Dubbing themselves Sublime with Rome, Bud and Eric are hitting the stage with Sublime material from all 3 albums. I was very skeptical at first. I wasn’t even going to go. But I have friends who never saw them back in the day that were going and I decided it would be worth checking out. Bud and Eric were honest in saying that this was not the same band and that it’d never be the same, but that they were just out having some fun. And hell, they deserve this!
The Fillmore was filled with kids. I would say the average age was 21 (the same age as Rome, the new singer) which would make them 7 when Brad died. At first I was irritated with this young crowd, but then I realized they were much older than I was the last time I was the band. I was 19. As I realized this, I also realized how cool it was that the youth of today are into a band like Sublime. A band that can sell out The Fillmore in 2010…when they couldn’t even fill the Soma in 1995. Amazing.
So how were they? They were great. Rome sounds just like Brad. If you shut your eyes you would swear it was a ghost up there. The only difference is, Rome held himself together like Brad never could. He was more than likely sober, something Brad never was. Bud and Eric have aged a bit, like we all have, but other than that they haven’t changed a bit. Pounding away on drums and bass and keeping out of the spotlight. The spotlight was on Rome the whole time, just like it was on Brad.
What impressed me most was the set list. They did not just rehash Sublime and move on. They did just as much from 40 oz. and even a couple from Robbin’ the Hood. The first set lasted about an hour and then they came back for a 20 min encore. The encore started with Date Rape, which was the first time I’ve seen that song live. The whole show really brought me back to a time and place that I miss though. And when Rome yelled out ‘This is for Bradley’ I really felt he meant it. R.I.P. Brad. Hopefully you approve of this and are stoked that your music lives on!
April 29th, 1992
Smoke 2 Joints
40 Oz. To Freedom
Under My Voodoo
Let’s Go Get Stoned
The Ballad of Johnny Butt
What I Got