“It seems like people get afraid of a certain music if they can’t pigeonhole it to their satisfaction…good music is good music, and that should be enough for anybody.” Those words were spoken by the immortal sun-soaked, two joint-smoking, forever-shirtless, OG “Badfish” himself, the legendary Bradley Nowell. Bradley helped to start a phenomenon when his energetic, original and uniquely diverse band, Sublime, undeniably took over the punk-ska-reggae scene in the mid-90s, giving you exactly whatever good music they determined needed to be thrown at you in that moment. But, like most of the “James Dean’s” before him, Nowell’s star burned bright and died young.
The band’s journey was ultimately cut short due to the tragic and untimely overdose of Bradley Nowell in 1996.
However, nearly three decades later, their catalog of LBC-inspired jams, as well as overall fashion, form and nouveau punk-style ‘sophistication’, still continue to influence young people and elevate music, clothing and art of all forms, breaking down walls between genres and mashing up trends in ways once only dreamed of. One group of musicians, who have decided to keep the spirit of Bradley Nowell alive and well, made their way through to The Pageant in St Louis, MO on February 19th, and that band happened to be the one and only Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime.
Opening up the evening was a band from D.C., a band that seemed hell-bent on creating a fresh rock-reggae groove, meant to flow out of the nation’s capital and smack you right on the ass… in a good way, of course. That band is a band called Dale and the ZDubs. These guys let loose a very unmistakable reggae dominance wreathed with hard-hitting, rock principles. DZD tells a story onstage, with a raw and ridiculously high-energy live show that features killer vocals, blended with skilled harmonies and dense, fat guitar riffs that powerfully drive the whole performance. The guys do a pretty decent job of covering some Chili Peppers, too.
Hitting the stage next came Orlando’s very own Kash’d Out, making their long-awaited return to St. Louis. Rocking out on the drums was Marshal Hearne, whose birthday it was, nonetheless! These dudes brought big birthday vibes and came to party! You can tell that with how much time this band has spent working on their craft, it has only done them favors; it’s so plain to see how tight of a unit they have become onstage and why they have been causing asses to hop out of seats faster and faster, well outside of the Sunshine State. Halfway through the set, the band paused to give a brief birthday shoutout to Mr. Hearne before continuing to jam out with a solid mix of classic faves, as well as new singles off their latest couple albums — Undercover and the acoustic recording of Casual Encounters.
It all set things up perfectly for what was to follow.
Embodying the spirit long associated with the music of Sublime is always going to be too big of a task for anyone, so Badfish did the next best thing and chose to channel the original band’s energy and alter it until it became its own brand new fixed point within the cosmos. Birthed from the essence and fury of Bud Gaugh’s drums, Eric Wilson’s basslines and Bradley’s lyrics came the Badfish we know today: a band that, for over 20 years, has dedicated itself to continuing Sublime’s legacy, all the while reminding us of the truly unique soul its frontman once was. This band has worked effortlessly, perpetually gaining followers everywhere they go and crafting a solid base of fans all across the country. Undoubtedly, they left the Show Me State with a good amount of more fans after playing at The Pageant, hitting all the classics — the “Smoke Two Joints”, the “Garden Grove”, the “Santeria” and the “What I Got”.
The kickers were having Dale from DZD join for a Ron Jeremy-approved performance of “Caress Me Down” and, of course, a Badfish show wouldn’t be complete without the namesake song itself! Greg Shields of Kash’d Out joined onstage and took care of that one for the crowd. Overall, it was a super fun show with enough vibes and energy to, for sure, make Bradley proud wherever he is, whichever wave he is riding in on. Be sure to catch Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime as they continue their nationwide tour throughout the Spring and Summer.
Photography by Thomas Semonco