Sublime with Rome Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 14, 2012
Fifteen minutes into their set Tuesday night at the Woodlands Pavilion, Sublime with Rome began playing a new song, one that was written after Bradley Nowell's death and Rome Ramirez's arrival.
It wasn't a bad song; in fact, it was actually a pretty good one. It was catchy, upbeat and true to the band's mantra. But as they performed it, you could feel a collaborative lull come over the crowd. It wasn't a feeling of disdain, but one of indifference.
As the song ended, the crowd cheered. Many of them stood up, having sat down during "Smoke Two Joints," "Don't Push" and "Right Back," and began applauding. But those three to four minutes made me realize that, while Rome's involvement in the band is integral, he'll never replace Nowell. Sublime will forever be Nowell's baby, and Rome is merely a placeholder for one of our generation's greatest artists, who was taken from us far too soon.
That being said, it was one hell of a show.
"Wrong Way," "April 26, 1992," "Scarlet Begonias" and "Badfish" were just a few of the more memorable songs that the group executed flawlessly. Having seen them once before at last year's Big Dance at Discovery Green, I knew that Rome was fully capable of performing all the classics I'd grown up with.
My friend, however, wasn't so sure. He had heard of Rome, but he hadn't heard his voice. He hadn't heard Rome sing "What I Got," "40 Oz. to Freedom" or "KRS-One." He didn't know what to expect, really. But he thought, "What the hell?" and came with me anyway.
His apprehension was quelled. Quickly. Thirty seconds into "Smoke Two Joints," the first song the group peformed, he looked over at me with a look that was half bewilderment and joyous astonishment. It was the kind of look you see in a kid's eyes on Christmas morning when you get him exactly what he was asking for all year long but that, deep down, he never thought he'd get. And yes, Rome's voice is that on-point.
They played a couple more new ones, but the rest of the night was primarily filled with exactly what fans came to hear: '90s-era ska-punk hits. And while the band is only two-thirds of its original lineup, (relative) newcomer Rome sang Nowell's ballads as if they were his own and drawing the crowd into a frenzy while replacing a few references to Long Beach with Houston along the way.
"You cowgirls are so fucking hot," Rome said to the crowd, about 45 minutes into their set. "God bless you."
Then, fittingly, Sublime with Rome performed "Date Rape."
He may not be Nowell, but considering the circumstances, Rome ain't exactly a poor substitute. In fact, given his stage presence and all-around buoyant attitude during the group's performance, Sublime with Rome might just have more staying power than was originally expected.
Personal Bias: It may not be the original lineup, but I'll take any excuse to sing along to the likes of "Santeria" any day of the week.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Tits and ass? Yup, you've got my attention."
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Random Notebook Dump: There were these two young women standing in front of my friend and me, who, throughout the entire show, just didn't stop moving. I mean, damn. These girls were into it. One of them was a brunette; the other, a redhead. One was wearing a black and white sundress; the other, white short-shorts and a pink tank top.
They were grinding up on one another, grabbing each other's asses and really having a ball (and giving a show to all the men behind them). And that, boys and girls, is why we looooooooove live music.