The Offspring and Sublime with Rome @ Abbotsford Centre 7/7/17
The city of Abbotsford had Lower Mainland concert fans showing up in big numbers and high spirits for an exciting double bill of two of the most crucial West Coast alternative rock acts of the 1990s. Skateboard loving punk rockers The Offspring and the ska/reggae/rock masters Sublime with Rome each released some of the most successful independent rock records of all time–important to millions of adolescents. The double punch of retro alternative rock on July 7th in Abbotsford made for a night of non-stop hits.
It goes without saying that Sublime has a special place in the hearts of West Coast rock fans; although the band’s songwriter and mastermind Bradley Nowell tragically overdosed in 1996, the essence of Sublime–with their memorable songwriting and mouth-watering bass-lines–has endured. The surviving members of Sublime have been active in cover projects before but none have matched the calibre of Rome Ramirez, a 29-year-old Southern California guitarist/songwriter who matches Nowell’s energy and charm with a casual reverence. Sublime with Rome rode through a set of Sublime classics, hitting many fan favourites such as “Wrong Way,” “Smoke Two Joints,” “What I Got,” and “April 29, 1992”. Each new number had the crowd pumping with excitement; Rome encouraged the swelling crowd to sing along, with a good thousand voices sardonically echoing “If it wasn’t for date rape I’d never get laid!” from the band’s breakout single. Not afraid to switch up their setlist, Sublime with Rome explored deeper, less popular cuts such as “Let’s Go Get Stoned”. After busting out the deep skater punk cut “Hope” from 40oz to Freedom, Ramirez complemented the crowd’s formidable and unexpected enthusiasm, later rewarding the audience with their excellent Grateful Dead cover “Scarlet Begonias”. Sublime with Rome’s set chartered the many different genres of the band’s catalogue. Sublime with Rome’s enthusiasm felt fluid right up to to the end of their closing number of “Santeria.” Throughout the performance, the crowd thoughtfully contributed to the stage show with a supplemental smoke effect.
The arena filled in for The Offspring, whose enduring influence had a more than substantial impact on several generations of punk rockers. Pioneers of their energetic, skater punk genre, The Offspring have written more than their fair share of truly excellent songs. Beyond a few opening numbers when the band was still warming up, The Offspring’s set consisted of tightly executed, non-stop hits. Running through a heavy helping of their iconic Americana album, Dexter Holland and company dished out radio favourites like “Why Don’t You Get A Job?”, “Want You Bad” and “Come Out and Play.” Though less dynamic than Sublime with Rome, The Offspring knocked each and every song out of the park with professional enthusiasm that was as energetic as it was casual; the band’s core has multiple decades of touring behind their belts. The Offspring look like they can play their hits in their sleep but they still look wide awake. Song styles ranged from the quirky pop hits like “Pretty Fly For A White Guy,” to the frantic angry “Bad Habit” and the heavier rockers “Americana” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright”. The night’s most heady number “Gone Away” from the often overlooked Ixnay on the Hombre reinforced the band’s particularly strong songwriting chops. And the bass is always full, almost over-brimming. The junior sized arena reasonably diffused the sound without too much distortion but one couldn’t help wishing that the concert was taking place outside in the idyllic, warm Canadian weather. Regardless, The Offspring radiated a happy, healthy energy. Closing up with their ‘90s anthem “Self Esteem,” The Offspring wrapped up a fiery sixty-minute set. The hour of fast, hard hitting, punk-rock anthems left the kids more than alright.