On a Friday night, Lupo’s is packed with eager concertgoers. At 8 PM, Take It to the Bridge, a high-energy, funk-rock cover band based in Southern Rhode Island, kick off the night. They mix up their set with songs ranging from classics to modern hits. The highlight was definitely their rendition of The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which they sang with a little help from the fans.
Next up was The Cornerstone, a seven-piece Boston-based reggae-rock band, and they dive right into their set. They too cite Sublime as one of their key influences. The horns and the drums offer a unique sound, which of course, stays true to the roots of reggae. The band pumps out catchy melodies in “Sweet Love” and “Wind On My Back.”
By the time the star of the night is ready to take the stage, the crowd was partying and dancing shoulder to shoulder. Some brave souls even crowd surfed over the audience. Badfish, named after a track on Sublime’s 1992 album 40 oz. to Freedom, was founded in 2001 when the members were computer science majors at the University of Rhode Island, and their career has been a wild ride since. It seems that every time they come back to Providence, they are bolder and more excited. As is their audience!
It wasn’t until 10:30 that Badfish finally brought out what the crowd was waiting for—the entirety of Sublime’s self-titled album, from cover to cover. “Wrong Way,” a radio hit fits into a punk rock genre. The band follows up with grungier songs, “Seed” and “40 oz to Freedom.” As a true fan, the lead singer and guitarist Pat Downes captures the essence of Bradley James Nowell to the tee. Badfish’s performance is precise. They strike a careful balance between punk and reggae, and Downes’ voice varied between raspy and melodic. The band doesn’t feature any horns, so at one point in their set, they substituted a trumpet solo for a scat vocalization.
Coincidentally, the show took place 24 years after a six-day, violent Los Angeles riot that inspired the socially charged messages in the song “April 29, 1992 (Miami).” The lyrics even refer to the band’s involvement in the civil unrest. The venue erupts together at the pinnacle of the song, which still holds incredible relevance today about police brutality and our crippled judicial system. “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.”
Overall, Badfish brought an undeniable energy to the show, and they did just what they set out to do—“Keep Sublime Alive.” They commemorate all things Sublime—the 90s nostalgia and Long Beach and Lou Dog. They recreated the melting pot of musical diversity that made Sublime’s style so unforgettable.
Perhaps Nowell said it best–“Good music is good music, and that should be enough for anybody.”