Badfish at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo on Friday, Feb 15th

I was so excited when I heard that the well known Sublime cover band, BadFish was coming to Buffalo. This band is known to put on a great, high energy show. We got to the Town Ballroom just in time to catch the second of the two opening acts. Tropidelic hit the stage with a horn section, keys, guitar, drums, percussion, bass and a lead vocalist. It was like a zoo onstage, but these guys made it work, capturing the audiences attention and creating a new-age ska style that any Sublime fan could appreciate. With the people packing in, Tropidelic seemed to take it to the next level showing off why this Ohio based band will be sharing the bill with Badfish again for another night in the future.

After the set ended and the stage was rearranged, the lights went out. Out from the speakers came Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to which the entire crowd lit lighters and sang along. At the last chorus of the song, the members of Badfish came out and helped sing the final few parts. It was showtime! Another recording came over the system, from the opening segment of “Smoke 2 Joints” and the crowd went crazy, with an already foggy and green smelling room, the place literally lit up! Originally written by The Toyes and released in 1983, it became a hit among the Sublime crowd in which Bradley Nowell made his own. Next up was a Sublime original “Greatest Hits,” which pays tribute to the band The Ziggens. ”Santeria” was started and the crowd took control singing the lead for the first verse of this one. The crowd response did not stop there as Badfish’s key player Dorian Duffy came out and started up some samples of “Garden Grove,” another Sublime original that is a staple tune among fans. Taking structure next was Sublime’s cover of Bad Religion’s “We’re Only Gonna Die,” which Sublime changed to “We’re Only Gonna Die From Our Own Arrogance,” released on their 40 oz to Freedom album in 1992.

The guys then broke into “Doin’ Time,” a take on George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” which Bradley wrote his own lyrics for. Singer Pat Downes had really proved to the audience in his range and way to captivate a crowd just like Bradley had back in the actual days of Sublime. “Slow Ride” was next, originally off the Demo Jah Won’t Pay The Bills, later found on Second Hand Smoke, and took flight into a great version of “Hong Kong Fooey,” written for the cartoon show of the same name. Although Sublime did not write this one, a version they did was produced  by Ralph Sall and put onto A Tribute To Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits in 1995. Following this mashup, the band started “89 Vision,” a studio song that was never released until 2007 on the box set Everything Under The Sun. Joel Hanks, bass player of Badfish, started up the opening licks for “Caress Me Down,” to which the crowd erupted, spitting out their best Spanglish to sing along with Downes. “Don’t Push” came next, with great lyrics that play on a part of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier,” while talking about Marley himself as well as some other quite famous people. A great version of “Saw Red” led into the original “And with it Rain.” This song fit seamlessly with the Sublime music, showing the diversity of how this band can react with their own compilations, throwing in a quick cover of Bob Marley’s “One Love” in the middle of the song as well.

We all then went for a comfortable ride to the “Pawn Shop” as the guys took the song out for a really nice jam that led into a wonderful acoustic segment. Pat Downes took the reigns and stood center stage to perform The Melodians hit “Rivers of Babylon”, made famous on 40 oz. to Freedom. With Scott Begin back on the drums and Downes still on acoustic guitar, they started another Marley classic, “Redemption Song.” The audience gladly sang along to a newer style rendition to this tune, that had great pauses and powerful breaks to help captivate the moment. As the rest of the members came back, the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias” started and the Buffalo crowd ate it up, consuming the lyrics of the Bradley Nowell rap segment that describes a girl that has taken control over him, enough to sell off his belongings and to purchase a microbus that they sell drugs out of while on tour. With perfect timing the band broke into “What Happened,” a tune about not remembering the last night of partying, in which I think most of the crowd would be understanding the next morning themselves. The Toots and Maytals song “54-46″ was started and led into “Ball and Chain,” after which we were all transformed into Badfish ourselves, with the guys breaking into the song that they named themselves after, complete with members of the audience making the Nowell’s signature “BEEEWWWWWW”sound. Afterwards we were treated to another original “Scotty Don’t”, Badfish’s original name. Although “Wrong Way” was next, there really didn’t seem to be a wrong way to groove out to this band. With this monstrous set rolling to a conclusion, Badfish finished off the set with originals “Same in the End,” and “Date Rape.” The band had a standing ovation and left the stage for a brief moment, before returning for a four song encore.

As the stage was filled again, trombonist Bryan House came running out to the main mic having the crowd chant ” OLE, OLE, OLE,  OLE,” getting the already excited crowd even more amped up. Although House is a new member to the band (new in 2013), his stage presence brought an amazing vibe to the setup that caught the attention of us in the audience numerous times. My favorite Sublime song, “Waiting for my Ruca!” was played next, with Dorian Duffy hitting the midi synched bass notes that romped through the system and sent shivers up your spine. Part of the melody for “Seed” was taken from The Bel-Airs “Mr. Moto.”, with “April 26th, 1992″ on deck, which had all ready to participate in some anarchy. The lyrics portray a crazy night in California history, when the L.A. riots took place. The composition on this one is really well done and can really send you back to that night without having been there. The end arrived with the expected “What I Got” to round out the night. The band had a blast doing this one, asking for help from their fans to help them sing along.

The show was over and everyone was happy with the outcome. Badfish had done what they came to do, create an atmosphere similar to that of an actual Sublime show, and in my opinion they did it with ease. These guys are a must see for any Sublime fan that was or wasn’t able to catch them while Bradley was alive.

Setlist: Smoke Two Joints, Greatest Hits, Santeria, Garden Grove, We’re Only Gonna Die, Doin’ Time, Slow Ride-> Hong Kong Fooey, 89′ Vision, Caress Me Down, Don’t Push, Saw Red, And With It Rain-> One Love-> And With It Rain, Pawn Shop, Rivers Of Babylon, Redemption Song, Scarlet Begonias, What Happened, 54-46->Ball n Chain, Badfish, Karate, Wrong Way, Same In the End, Date Rape

Encore: Waiting For My Ruca, Seed, April 26th, 1992, What I Got

Originally published on UpstateLIVE.com

Written by Jason Staniszewski

Photos by Lindsey Robinson Photography