Badfish at House of Blues: Concert Review

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Badfish, the preeminent tribute to 90s dancehall-punk legends Sublime, showed up in Cleveland last night and brought out one of the more raucous welcomes this city has coughed up so far this year. The crowd, indeed, was ecstatic throughout the night.

That much was extremely clear even before the band took the stage. Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was pumped through the speakers as the lights went dim, turning the pit up front into an unquenchable dance party. A la Wayne's World, the headbanging and pre-show celebrations were in fine, fine form.

The thing about Badfish is that they perfectly encapsulate the vision set forth by Bradley Nowell and Co. back in the day. While putting their own twist on certain songs, the band members keep the energetic spirit of Sublime alive, all while proferring the music to younger generations and new fans alike. They formed in 2001 at the University of Rhode Island and it's been a wild ride ever since. Each time they come around to the region, they seem to be bolder and more invigorated. Seven or eight years ago, they were a slimmed-down version of themselves playing smaller bars around Ohio, including a long-gone Blue Gator in Athens. A frontman change in 2007 opened up their sound and ensured that there was no slowing down for these guys.

Last night's setlist included a fairly dynamic trip through the hits and deep cuts of Sublime's three albums. Classics like "Santeria" worked well alongside "Rivers of Babylon" and "5446 That's My Number/Ball and Chain."

The Grateful Dead cover "Scarlet Begonias" was a personal highlight, played with relentless vigor and excitement.

Scotty Don't, comprising the members of Badfish doing original tunes, threw down a fantastic set to get things going before the Sublime material started up. And kicking off the night in style, Cleveland's own Tropidelic got everyone primed and screaming.

Follow Eric Sandy on Twitter @ericsandy

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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