Posted by Lindsay Carolla on 07/28 at 09:50 AM
The duel-performance concert at Stage AE in Pittsburgh on Tuesday July 12, 2011 began around 7:30 to a thin crowd. Many patrons began tailgating in the parking lots of PNC Park and Heinz Field near the venue early in the afternoon. But, once partiers eager for the music heard the mellow guitar riffs from within the outdoor venue, the pit and lawn filled up quickly. Stage AE was a perfect setting for the relaxed reggae-rock genre. Though it was to capacity by the time 311 made it to the stage, the feeling was intimate, and it was fairly easy to see clearly from all angles.
Sublime with Rome played all the assumed classics including my personal favorite, Badfish, as well as Santeria, and Date Rape. I was a little unsure whether or not the band would acknowledge its successful songs from the ‘90s. After all, Sublime recently changed its name to “Sublime with Rome” officially after a heated lawsuit against the family of Bradley Nowell, the late lead singer and guitarist of the original band. Apparently Bradley Nowell owned the rights to the name and hadn’t released them in his will before his untimely death by overdose on May 25, 1996. He died only two months before the release of Sublime’s self-titled third album, which was very well received and cemented their legendary status.
The concert saw the fans rejoice with every familiar lyric, and it was clear that the performance was impervious to the legal messiness. The new lead singer and guitarist Rome Ramirez did a great job in respectfully replicating the way Nowell sang the signature songs. Ramirez was well received by the entire crowd. There wasn’t a single threat of malice or feeling of sorrow throughout the entire performance. The idea that malice was a possibility may sound hyperbolic, but trust me, it isn’t. Some fans treat the Sublime attitude as more of a religion, and Bradley Nowell was considered a god among men.
However, while comfortable in nostalgia, Sublime with Rome is trying to move forward with a new album Yours Truly that was released on the day of the concert. The songs from the new album have the same ska-rock feel as one would expect, but with the twist of flavor that Rome Ramirez adds to the dynamic. Ramirez implements a little more rock and is much less playful than Nowell, but because he is about 20 years junior of the two original members, he keeps the sound fresh and contemporary. The band previewed songs like “Panic” from the album. Though as most fans of the original band would agree that Nowell was one of a kind, there is no better choice than Ramirez as a replacement overall.
By far the worst part of the concert was my group selecting a spot in the sun. We spent more money on water than we did on tickets. Everyone else seemed to notice the heat as well. Men with bare chests and women in bikinis did their best to stay in the shade, yet they did not falter. Luckily, 311 found the stage at nightfall. They played to a completely packed arena with a rejuvenated and cooled crowd ready to receive the ‘90s legends.
311 put on a great show. Like Sublime with Rome, 311 played songs including “Timebomb” off their latest album Universal Pulse that debuted on July 19. Their performance had a higher intensity complete with an awesome light show that kept the crowd jumping. The night’s rendering of “Beautiful Disaster” from their 1997 album Transistor brought the show to its climax. The vocals were impeccable. Nick Hexum provides the pop sound and Doug “SA” Martinez brings a rhythm rap sound to the band. The two blended together live in perfect harmony. 311’s sound is so interesting and amusing to witness first hand. At once it can be pop-punk then quickly switch to lazy reggae, and in the next second explode into lyrically genius ska-rap with quick words and clever rhymes. This unique mesh of genres complete with an invigorating live show might just be what has kept 311 around since 1983. It doesn’t hurt that the lead singer is easy on the eyes either.
311 started the annual Summer Unity tour back in July of 2006, featuring the band Pepper and the Wailers as openers. After the completion of the initial tour, 311 took a brief hiatus, but was back in action in the summer months for the Unity Tour ‘07 featuring Matisyahu and The English Beat. 2009’s show saw Ziggy Marley, and 2010 welcomed The Offspring and Pepper for the second time. Though record sales for 311 have declined in recent years, the band has maintained unprecedented success with this yearly festival that tours in multiple cities including Boston, Washington DC, and their hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. It’s a clever way to preserve relevancy: be the headliner after bands of significance. For example, two members of my party came to see Sublime with Rome, but left with a new found love for 311 (as well as a purchased album).
This is the first Summer Unity Tour that I was able to attend. I have no idea why I waited so long. The Summer Unity Tour 2011 with Sublime with Rome opening for 311 is pure ‘90s rapture. But that’s not all; included with a walk down memory lane is the promise of the continuing legacy of these influential bands by introducing each band’s new respective album.
The 311/Sublime with Rome Unity Tour continues through August. To see the remaining dates, click here.
Author: Lindsay Carolla
Bio: Lindsay Carolla is a senior studying English, and Italian language and literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She is an on-air personality for the Lion 90.7fm on the Jam 91 Show. She finds pleasure in traveling, attending concerts, and literary symbolism. Lindsay has an eclectic taste in music which ranges from her favorite rap artist, Notorious B.I.G., to her favorite indie darling, Modest Mouse. But what she enjoys most is when two unlikely musical genres successfully combine to create a new aesthetic, such as can be found in the band Brokencyde.
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