Photo by Matt OttoSUBLIME TRIBUTE CD RELEASE PARTY
VAULT 350, LONG BEACH
MONDAY, JUNE 20
You'd think that the names of those being honored on five-inch pieces of plastic (sure, Sublime, but really Brad Nowell) would have been invoked more often this night, especially when they're playing under the title "Look at All the Love We Found." Yeah, people bought tickets and musicians showed up to play their respects, but the whole thing felt weirdly detached from the band and the band's nearly-10-years-gone singer: really, it was almost as if Sublime barely ever existed.
Performers rarely spoke Sublime or Nowell's name, almost as if doing so would have been sinful, like Orthodox Jews who fear to spell God's name in full. Yet the music ranged from good to great, even if we had to endure major hiccups like one of the Shapeshifters belching out "C'mon, put your hands up, don't be a faggot!" to the audience (Hey! Look at all the hate we found!). Aside from that major faux pas, the Shapeshifters' six-man rhyme scheme went off well, as they skillfully tossed lines amongst themselves in a kind of verbal Hacky Sack.
There had been buzz about who the night's "very special surprise guest" was—not Jack Johnson, it turned out—so it was left to Bert Susanka of the Ziggens to do "Badfish" instead. Fine and all, but being a Ziggen, he had to play his whole set with a stupid marching band hat on his head, which reminded us why we never really liked the Ziggens anyway—too many jokes that just aren't very funny. Our photographer was also unimpressed by Susanka's other material, some of which is destined for a solo album: "I like how on that one song he keeps calling himself a boy, when he's like, 40."
Much better was Bargain Music, who've been around forever but seem only now to have found the right blend of reggaefied psychedelia that could get them noticed by people who live outside LBC. A too-brief set, of course, considering the circumstances, but their take on Sublime's "Get Out" was particularly sweet. For a final touch, they brought out a couple of guys from the old Long Beach-via-Sacramento band Filibuster to do "Get Ready" and stuck Bud Gaugh—also the evening's MC—in the drummer's chair.
Turns out the "surprise guest" was Fishbone, though we could've sworn they had been announced. The show really took off with the 'Bone, as they zipped through a smattering of hits like "Party at Ground Zero," "The Suffering" and "Freddie's Dead" before whipping out their tribute track, "Date Rape" (ironic, because back when that song first made the radio, we recall how much it sounded like Fishbone, and how disappointed we were when we found out it wasn't). The crowd, naturally, went apeshit, as if they had been waiting for that one moment all night.
Los Lobos also did a short mix of hits before dropping their trib cut, "Pawn Shop," and throwing in "Santeria" once Bargain Music's Josh Fischel could be rounded up (they really didn't need Fischel, though, since the crowd started singing it anyway). After that, the show ended, and everyone who hadn't yet claimed their free-with-paid-admission copy of the trib CD—a very cool thing, even if everybody just winds up ripping the thing to their hard drive and selling it afterwards—snagged one on the way out.