I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and overall I was pleasantly surprised with this night of music.
First Opener: Common Kings
I’ll start this by saying that I am not a reggae aficionado or expert, by any means. I have always appreciated the genre in small doses, but rarely seek it out or devote much time to it. As far as I can tell, Common Kings are pretty much the run of the mill reggae group. They were fine, and got us moving some, but there was quite a bit of cliché arm waving, marijuana references, and the requisite Bob Marley cover (“Could You Be Loved”).
Second Opener: SOJA
These guys have a lot more going for them both musically and lyrically. An eight-piece band from the DC/Virginia area, with a lead singer born in Africa to American diplomats (Jacob Hemphill-yes, his last name has hemp in it, hardy har har), they really blew me away. Their bass player danced around madly throughout and provided tons of energy, and when he provided vocals, his voice was incredible – the dude just sounds freaking reggae.
Trevor Young plays lead guitar and Jacob gave him plenty of love, telling the story that as the band got more established he realized that he needed someone to carry the weight on guitar. He told Trevor, who was his guitar tech at the time, that he needed somebody who knew all of the songs and could handle the duties every night. As Trevor was thinking it over, Jacob told him that he meant that he should take over – and the rest is history. By the way, Trevor is badass on the guitar – that was a great decision.
Headliner: Sublime with Rome
The crowd continued to filter in as the openers played, but by the time the headliners took the stage, there were only about 1,000 people in the amphitheater. While it was the smallest crowd I have seen at this venue, it was actually pretty nice to have plenty of room and easily getting up close at the last minute.
After singer and guitarist Brad Nowell passed away in 1996, the band dissolved, only to resurrect about ten years ago under a different name. You see, the Nowell estate didn’t take kindly to Rome Ramirez, original drummer Bud Gaugh, and bassist Eric Wilson performing under the Sublime moniker so the lawyers came up with the ultra-clever Sublime with Rome. Bud left the band in 2011 after the first SWR album was released, and so Carlos Verdugo has been on the drum kit since. Eric Wilson, now the last original member of Sublime, handled bass duties (as well as some keys) on this night as he has been doing for nearly 30 years.
I was unsure how this would go – SWR have three albums of their own, but surely they HAD to play some Sublime hits, right? That question was answered early, as the first three tracks were “Smoke Two Joints”, “Wrong Way” and “Date Rape”. The crowd went wild, myself included. All told, we heard 13 Sublime songs and 5 SWR tunes. Rome sounds good and his guitar playing was spot on- having never gotten to see Bradley, this was the next best thing and all that I had hoped for.
There were a few a few funny moments thanks to Rome: he called out to “Montana” before realizing his mistake and correcting himself with “Idaho”, and gave this comment that sums up the band pretty well: “thanks for this great job we have. We’re one month in on this tour, with one month to go… I used to work at Staples man. Thank you.” To which someone in the beered-up crowd yelled “fuck Staples” and another dude hollered out “I’ll suck your dick”, both of which drew lots of laughs. Ah, good times in Nampa, good times indeed.
Smoke Two Joints
Take it or Leave It
April 26, 1992 (Miami)
40oz. to Freedom
Garden Grove (w/ Common Kings)
We’re Only Gonna Die for Our Arrogance
Let’s Go Get Stoned
What I Got
Spotify setlist playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4pLCzDV0rRCbRHoOBYTGMq?si=mRH3W2KKQv6cjLi_hdoadQ