Concert review: Badfish keeps the sounds of Sublime alive at State Theatre (with pics and video)

Part of the Badfish credo, which is printed on shirts and other merch for the tribute band is, “Keep Sublime Alive.” A relevant request of fans, by a musical group that makes its living off playing shows celebrating the band of all things Long Beach, Long boards and Lou-dog.

Rockin’ out and climbing all over the stage of the State Theater Thursday night, Badfish held up their end of the bargain, jamming out tunes like “Waiting for my Ruca,” “40oz to Freedom,” and “Don’t Push” for hundreds of loyal Sublime devotees - myself included.

I’ll spare the rant on why I think the nineties, reggae-punk rock outfit is one of the most eclectic and innovative bands to ever exist. However, I will say that as a teenager, growing up in an east-coast beach town, Brad Nowell and Co. was my Kurt Cobain and Co. It was the background music of every party and “Doin’ Time” was the summertime staple for cruising the strip. Sublime’s sound and lyrics are genuine, and in songs like “April 29, 1992,” the socially charged messages of Sublime’s music permeate the sound. I often wonder what Bradley Nowell would have said, through his music, about the current state of things. In conclusion (of what turned out to be a rant), I think Nowell put it best, when he described his band by saying,

“The bottom line is I love good music and I try to shy away from all these labels that people think are so necessary to slap on music. It seems like people get afraid of a certain music if they can't pigeonhole it to their satisfaction. They will be up all night trying to slap a label on Sublime. Good music is good music, and that should be enough for anybody."

Which is why, I give Badfish mad credit – they do a superb job of reproducing the hodgepodge of musical diversity that creates the Sublime stylee. Badfish hits each song, note for note and effectively emits the rocksteady Sublime vibe needed to pull off the sound. Also, lead vocalist, Pat Downes, belts out every “whoooaaaOhaaaOhaaaOh yea,” and all the other random musical bursts, which are part of Bradley’s signature front man style.

I was in pure bliss as I listened to Thursday’s show, however short-lived (which I will address in a moment). Singing the Garden Grove refrain, which starts “It’s you/ It’s that shit stuck under my shoe,” and ends “Saying I'm happy when I'm not/Finding roaches in the pot/Ohhh all these things I do/They're waiting for you,” with hundreds of other fans, was surreal and a little bittersweet. Also, I could not help but feel a rock-release when the venue full of concert goers sang “April 29, 1992,” erupting at the pinnacle point of the song, “But if you look at the streets it wasn’t about Rodney King/ It’s about this fucked up situation and these fucked up police/ It’s about coming up and staying on top/ And screamin’ one-eight-seven on a mutha fuckin’ cop.” It is rare when Sublime-heads like myself, get to come together and collectively sing the music we all love and Badfish provides this.

However, my one issue with the show was this: The band - Pat Downes (vocals and guitar), Scott Begin (drums), Joel Hanks (bass) and Dorian Duffy (guitar and keys) - spent almost equal time playing original songs, opening the set as their alter-ego Scotty Don’t (or is Badfish the alter-ego? I dunno). Personally, I was not floored at having been exposed to this music and would have preferred less of it. Granted, there were plenty of people around me singing along to the unimpressive attempts at mimicking the sound they already recreate through Badfish.

Badfish, I mean – err – Scotty Don’t, took the State Theater’s stage at about 10:15pm, with Downes declaring, “It’s a little different than Jannus, but it’s still pretty fuckin’ cool.” However, it was at least 11p.m. by the time the band ripped into the music I came for – the funky fresh lyrics and bass sound of Sublime.

The show was over a little after midnight, so this is a problem for me. When you spend almost the same amount of time playing your own stuff at what is supposed to be a “tribute” show, it starts to feel like you are taking advantage of riding the Sublime wave.

I’m just saying, let Scotty Don’t headline its own shows, and/ or play less of it and stick to what Badfish does best – keeping sublime alive.