When I learned about the Sublime – Michael Franti – Common Kings show set for August 1st at Stubbs Waller Creek, I knew this was one I couldn’t miss. A true 90’s kid, Sublime were a favorite of mine growing up. Despite tragic overdoses, lineup changes and then a precipitated name change, Sublime with Rome still hold such an undeniable sense of nostalgia for so many of us. I knew it would be a packed venue and a great evening.
The evening brought fair and sunny weather but also miserable heat and humidity – as is too often the case on an August evening in Texas. But Austin music lovers are resilient and resolute, and they flocked to the venue early in the evening, grabbing a cold one on their way in. I arrived as the opening act was wrapping their last song (unfortunately), but I was in time to catch a favorite of mine, Orange County’s reggae superstars, Common Kings.
Bound together by a passion for music and an impressive musical repertoire, Common Kings consists of five guys as perfectly ethnically and culturally diverse as you could get. Their sound, while undeniably reggae, also lends from pop, rock and R&B. It’s a deliciously upbeat, catchy sound. With their Youtube video for “Alcoholic” they garnered significant social media buzz and went on to generate quite a following. Touring internationally with some big names including Justin Timberlake and Matisyahu, they’ve reached a welcome reception all over the world and built a significant fanbase. Their debut album Lost In Paradise received a Grammy nomination. Opening for legends Sublime and the legendary Michael Franti, these anything-but-common artists had the crowd moving. Despite the intense heat, it was a joyful, sweaty, uplifting set.
Michael Franti and the Spearheads followed with an hour-long set of blissfully empowering music that inspired and invigorated the already buoyant crowd. Known as a philanthropist, humanitarian and filmmaker in addition to a prodigious, high-energy musician, Michael Franti and the Spearheads elevated the evening to another level. His energy, positivity and presence engulfed the crowd. Mid-song, he jumped the barricade several times to shake hands and hug his grinning crowd members. Clad in a “Work hard & be nice to people” sleeveless tee and a “Stay Human” hat, his joyful performance was contagiously upbeat. Franti sets the bar very high for what’s possible if you truly adore the performance and respect your audience.
Sublime with Rome wrapped the evening with a nostalgic set of their biggest ska punk hits and also some newer material. Now a collaboration between ex-Sublime band member Eric Wilson and guitarist Rome Ramirez, their act is a pleasant combination of nostalgia and new. For many years, folks questioned whether this re-envisioning of the Sublime legacy would succeed. And shows like this, with such a packed, energetic crowd, are testament to their persistence, talent and ultimate success. It was a treat to catch them live on the Stubbs stage.
“If you thought that the band would never be quite what it was back in the ’90s, good. Because they aren’t. And quite frankly, they shouldn’t be.”
- Molly Given, Metro on Sublime with Rome