Up until yesterday, I had yet to be at a raucously full standing-room-only crowd in Madison. Before The Sylvee’s emergence as a venue, no place in town really had the capacity to allow for one. Yes, there are many outstanding music venues in Madison, yet typically I have no problem finding a little spot of refuge with a venue to work on my critique.
Sublime with Rome’s show changed that, as the sold-out crowd at the large venue did not allow for the layer of separation I’ve come to expect from this lively audience. I found myself right in the middle of the fray, right where one can best take in Sublime with Rome’s music. Fraught with a diverse mix of sound linked together by a common chill vibe, Sublime with Rome provided a great evening of music Saturday night at The Sylvee.
A quick word on the Sylvee is in order since there seems to be new details in the building to discover. The bathrooms have the potential to strike fear into any person attempting to use one. This is not because of cleanliness, rather the creative labeling system used. On the second floor, I debated whether I was a “Herbie” or a “Sylvee,” while the main floor’s mix of cymbals and trombones to label the entryways had me staring at the wall for a good thirty seconds trying to determine what they meant.
Additionally, between the fog regularly being pumped into the crowd and unregulated vaping in the audience, it was easy to fall into a trance-like and slightly dazed state.
Since the doors opened an hour and a half before Tropidelic, Sublime with Rome’s opener, took the stage, there was plenty of time for this confusion before the evening’s music marathon commenced. The Cleveland-based group was a fun introduction to Sublime with Rome’s music, alluding to their origin with lyrics alluding to Sandusky and I-90. A brightly colored sousaphone was a bit of a surprise when it was marched onto the stage, but wasn’t too far outside of the expectations set forth by the group after a copious mix of trombone playing, guitar riffing and speedy rapping.
With the venue filled, Sublime with Rome finally hit the stage, kicking off the evening with a cover of “Smoke Two Joints” by The Toyes. Perfectly setting the tone for the evening’s experience, lead vocalist Rome Ramirez consistently asked the crowd to confirm they were agreeing with his smoke-induced sentiments. In front of an artsy mural depicting skulls and marijuana leaves and through the green tinted lights, most in the audience agreed.
The group, composed of Ramirez, bassist Eric Wilson, drummer Carlos Verdugo and new trombonist Gabriel McNair, are gearing up for their June 2019 album Blessings with the tour. While still making new tunes, most of the evening’s music came from the original Sublime catalog.
One of these original tunes was Ramirez’s favorite song to perform that evening.
“My favorite song to perform changes pretty often,” Ramirez said. “At the moment, my favorite song to perform is ‘Burritos’ just because it has such a good guitar solo in it.”
The distinction between Sublime and Sublime with Rome, for those confused which may or may not have included a few members of the audience, lies in the lead vocalist. After original lead vocalist Bradley Newell’s passing in 1996, the group disbanded and did not return until Ramirez joined the original members in 2009.
Prior to joining the band, Ramirez was a huge fan of Sublime’s music and was elated when Wilson asked him to join the group about 10 years ago.
“It’s very surreal,” Ramirez said. “You spend so much of your formative years of your life idolizing this band … being in the band and traveling the world has changed my life for the better.”
Fans waited until the end of the night for well-known hits “What I Got” and “Santeria,” classics which were well worth the wait.
Ultimately, the euphoric and carefree vibe was a great warm feeling to have in Madison to kick off the spring semester’s slate of concerts. Sublime with Rome is set to release a new track, “Spider Web,” Jan. 25, and the full release of Blessings is scheduled for June 7.