INsite Magazine

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Badfish at the Venue

Last night (11/11) Badfish returned to Gainesville, bringing along its highly popular reggae-infused set of Sublime cover songs to The Venue. Like (just about) everybody else, I am familiar with the Sublime story and classic songs like “What I Got,” “Santeria,” and “Wrong Way.” As the band’s history goes, Sublime releases two albums, 40 Oz. to Freedom and Robbin’ the Hood, which went mostly under the radar everywhere but the West Coast. Shortly before the release of the self-titled third album which became a huge hit, chief songwriter Bradley Nowell dies of a heroin overdose in 1996; the band attains legendary status and immediately breaks up following the loss of its lead singer.

This year at the Cypress Hill Smokeout Festival, the group reunited for the first time, with a new 21-year-old lead singer, Rome Ramirez. The fate and future of Sublime is yet to be announced, as a lawsuit rages whether the two surviving members can continue to play under the same band name.

Filling in the gap for the popular ska-punk band, Badfish, named after a song on 40 Oz. to Freedom, emerged as a Sublime tribute band that has played on to beat the test of time. Since 2001, it is now going on eight years strong. Last night the band played a nice set of Sublime songs including the hits, and some lesser radio-featured songs. But Badfish didn’t just recant faithful album versions; it added a jam-band element by stretching out the songs. There was a pungent smell of appreciation in the air as fans offered up plenty of dancing and some crowd-surfing in support of the band.

The two opening bands were also reggae-infused and added to the party atmosphere at The Venue. The floor became increasingly crowded as the show progressed, and the anticipation and excitement increased.

Ballyhoo from Aberdeen, Maryland featured the traditional bass/guitar/drum sound and included a DJ to add some extra sonic elements, such as scratching, to the music. Some of the songs were for the women and some were more for the guys (something like a cross between Slightly Stoopid and Pepper).

The second band, Hours Eastly from Atlantic Beach, also offered a reggae/punk sound, but more in the Police vein (albeit with a dub singer). The sound was similar enough to Sublime that the fans were appreciative of them. The Hours Eastly guys frequently play the Gainesville music circuit, and I recommend you keep an eye out for their next appearance.

--Story and photos by John Davisson

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