It’s a rare occasion that I find myself willing to push through the crowds of tourists in Times Square on a Friday night. It’s also a rare occasion I get the privilege to travel back in time to see the music performed of one of my favorite bands that I grew up listening to. Badfish, a tribute to Sublime, was headlining an evening at the historic B.B. King’s Night Club. The club was filled to the brim with 90’s music lovers, all primarily too young to have seen lead singer Bradley Nowell throw down an epic Sublime filled evening, and Badfish was not about to disappoint.
Badfish took the stage shortly after 9pm and kicked off the hour and a half set with “Jailhouse”. Lead singer and guitarist, Pat Downes, was filled with energy and sounds surprisingly like Bradley; to the point that if you closed your eyes, you might not know the difference. Downes took no time dropping a few classics on the crowd, segueing into the song “Badfish” that the tribute band is named after. Sublime is one of those artists that had countless hits, and Badfish made sure we heard all of them. The crowd ate it all up. We danced and sang along to songs: the songs that used to play constantly through our Walkmans. A mosh pit first started about a third of the way through the show, as Downes and company rocked out a high intensity version of “We’re Only Gonna Die For Our Arrogance”. I wasn’t sure if the band deliberately played “Don’t Push” next to break up the mosh pit, or because the songs pair so well on the album 40oz To Freedom, but the mosh pit ironically ceased.
Downes took a quick breather in between “Seed” and “KRS-One” to tell us that their equipment kept breaking and that they weren’t able to travel with all their gear. That didn’t stop them for long though, dropping into what I found to be the highlight of my night. Downes laid out three heavy reggae songs in a row: “Rivers Of Babylon,” into the rarer uptown dub version of “Doin’ Time,” to be capped off by the remixed version of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias.” Badfish kept rocking until 10:45pm, ending the set with sing along classics “Caress Me Down,” “Date Rape,” and of course “Santeria.” After a quick break, the boys played a high energy encore with a quick saxophone solo followed by the popular “Smoke Two Joints.” It was a beautiful version of STP, which was one of the only tracks not played off of the two most popular Sublime albums: the self-titled Sublime and 40oz To Freedom. Downes thanked the crowd and asked the ladies of the audience to join him and the Badfish crew on stage to end the night with “What I Got.”
Overall, it was a great evening. At points the sound was quite bass heavy, and the vocals along with the other instruments were drowned out. This could easily be attributed to the fact that the band didn’t have all of their gear, or maybe it was the venue. Regardless, Badfish is one of those tribute bands that can truly perform time travel, and they definitely didn’t disappoint an anxious New York crowd. There aren’t many tribute bands that do this as successfully as Badfish does, and the B.B. King’s throw down was no exception.