Badfish at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo on Friday, February 15th

I was so excited when I heard that the well known Sublime cover band, BadFish was coming to Buffalo. This band is known to put on a great, high energy show. We got to the Town Ballroom just in time to catch the second of the two opening acts. Tropidelic hit the stage with a horn section, keys, guitar, drums, percussion, bass and a lead vocalist. It was like a zoo onstage, but these guys made it work, capturing the audiences attention and creating a new-age ska style that any Sublime fan could appreciate. With the people packing in, Tropidelic seemed to take it to the next level showing off why this Ohio based band will be sharing the bill with Badfish again for another night in the future.

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After the set ended and the stage was rearranged, the lights went out. Out from the speakers came Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to which the entire crowd lit lighters and sang along. At the last chorus of the song, the members of Badfish came out and helped sing the final few parts. It was showtime! Another recording came over the system, from the opening segment of “Smoke 2 Joints” and the crowd went crazy, with an already foggy and green smelling room, the place literally lit up! Originally written by The Toyes and released in 1983, it became a hit among the Sublime crowd in which Bradley Nowell made his own. Next up was a Sublime original “Greatest Hits,” which pays tribute to the band The Ziggens. “Santeria” was started and the crowd took control singing the lead for the first verse of this one. The crowd response did not stop there as Badfish’s key player Dorian Duffy came out and started up some samples of “Garden Grove,” another Sublime original that is a staple tune among fans. Taking structure next was Sublime’s cover of Bad Religion’s “We’re Only Gonna Die,” which Sublime changed to “We’re Only Gonna Die From Our Own Arrogance,” released on their 40 oz to Freedom album in 1992.

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The guys then broke into “Doin’ Time,” a take on George Gershwin’s “Summertime,” which Bradley wrote his own lyrics for. Singer Pat Downes had really proved to the audience in his range and way to captivate a crowd just like Bradley had back in the actual days of Sublime. “Slow Ride” was next, originally off the Demo Jah Won’t Pay The Bills, later found on Second Hand Smoke, and took flight into a great version of “Hong Kong Fooey,” written for the cartoon show of the same name. Although Sublime did not write this one, a version they did was produced  by Ralph Sall and put onto A Tribute To Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits in 1995. Following this mashup, the band started “89 Vision,” a studio song that was never released until 2007 on the box set Everything Under The Sun. Joel Hanks, bass player of Badfish, started up the opening licks for “Caress Me Down,” to which the crowd erupted, spitting out their best Spanglish to sing along with Downes. “Don’t Push” came next, with great lyrics that play on a part of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier,” while talking about Marley himself as well as some other quite famous people. A great version of “Saw Red” led into the original “And with it Rain.” This song fit seamlessly with the Sublime music, showing the diversity of how this band can react with their own compilations, throwing in a quick cover of Bob Marley’s “One Love” in the middle of the song as well.

We all then went for a comfortable ride to the “Pawn Shop” as the guys took the song out for a really nice jam that led into a wonderful acoustic segment. Pat Downes took the reigns and stood center stage to perform The Melodians hit “Rivers of Babylon”, made famous on 40 oz. to Freedom. With Scott Begin back on the drums and Downes still on acoustic guitar, they started another Marley classic, “Redemption Song.” The audience gladly sang along to a newer style rendition to this tune, that had great pauses and powerful breaks to help captivate the moment. As the rest of the members came back, the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias” started and the Buffalo crowd ate it up, consuming the lyrics of the Bradley Nowell rap segment that describes a girl that has taken control over him, enough to sell off his belongings and to purchase a microbus that they sell drugs out of while on tour. With perfect timing the band broke into “What Happened,” a tune about not remembering the last night of partying, in which I think most of the crowd would be understanding the next morning themselves. The Toots and Maytals song “54-46” was started and led into “Ball and Chain,” after which we were all transformed into Badfish ourselves, with the guys breaking into the song that they named themselves after, complete with members of the audience making the Nowell’s signature “BEEEWWWWWW”sound. Afterwards we were treated to another original “Scotty Don’t”, Badfish’s original name. Although “Wrong Way” was next, there really didn’t seem to be a wrong way to groove out to this band. With this monstrous set rolling to a conclusion, Badfish finished off the set with originals “Same in the End,” and “Date Rape.” The band had a standing ovation and left the stage for a brief moment, before returning for a four song encore.

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As the stage was filled again, trombonist Bryan House came running out to the main mic having the crowd chant ” OLE, OLE, OLE,  OLE,” getting the already excited crowd even more amped up. Although House is a new member to the band (new in 2013), his stage presence brought an amazing vibe to the setup that caught the attention of us in the audience numerous times. My favorite Sublime song, “Waiting for my Ruca!” was played next, with Dorian Duffy hitting the midi synched bass notes that romped through the system and sent shivers up your spine. Part of the melody for “Seed” was taken from The Bel-Airs “Mr. Moto.”, with “April 26th, 1992” on deck, which had all ready to participate in some anarchy. The lyrics portray a crazy night in California history, when the L.A. riots took place. The composition on this one is really well done and can really send you back to that night without having been there. The end arrived with the expected “What I Got” to round out the night. The band had a blast doing this one, asking for help from their fans to help them sing along.

The show was over and everyone was happy with the outcome. Badfish had done what they came to do, create an atmosphere similar to that of an actual Sublime show, and in my opinion they did it with ease. These guys are a must see for any Sublime fan that was or wasn’t able to catch them while Bradley was alive.

Setlist: Smoke Two Joints, Greatest Hits, Santeria, Garden Grove, We’re Only Gonna Die, Doin’ Time, Slow Ride-> Hong Kong Fooey, 89′ Vision, Caress Me Down, Don’t Push, Saw Red, And With It Rain-> One Love-> And With It Rain, Pawn Shop, Rivers Of Babylon, Redemption Song, Scarlet Begonias, What Happened, 54-46->Ball n Chain, Badfish, Karate, Wrong Way, Same In the End, Date Rape

Encore: Waiting For My Ruca, Seed, April 26th, 1992, What I Got

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Interview with BadFish Bassist Joel Hanks, playing The Town Ballroom on Friday, February 15th

On January 30th I had the opportunity to have a chat with Joel Hanks, Bass Player for Badfish, to ask him a few questions about the band, their show at The Town Ballroom in Buffalo on February 15th and what their future holds for the band.

Jason Staniszewski:  What was the plan behind this project, and are you guys excited with how big it has gotten?

Joel Hanks: Yeah, I mean the plan was sort of, well there was no plan, it was really just, playing, yaou know like, we were just fine playing, nobody ever saw Sublime play live, because of Bradley’s death, so why not do the show that’s what happened you know? I was still in college at the time I was 21 so I wasn’t too familiar with the whole tribute act thing ya know, too much of the music scene and the touring scene or anything like that. I’ve been in bands before but not anything that became this serious obviously, I didn’t really know about tribute bands, I didn’t know it was a thing that really existed that much, you know? It was nice, I was like ‘Hey let’s play some Sublime songs, do the show and see what happens. Have fun and we will play some Sublime songs and shoot from there.’

photo via rjandc.com
photo via rjandc.com

JS: Cool that’s great man. That’s awesome. Are you guys excited with the crowds you have been getting?

JH: Yeah I mean it’s definitely something way beyond anything we thought exists.

JS: That’s awesome. Alright here’s another one: Are there any funny things you guys do on the road while you are travel, like any different out of the ordinary type deal things?

JH: Nah, I mean its become very professional now. You know we’ve done it for so long now. We try to take our bikes on the road to get exercise try to stay in shape. On different tours we try to have a game to play, like after a show, like game of Putter Golf or Corn Hole or something.

JS: Cool that’s great man, that’s exactly what I was looking for, something like that. Do you guys have any new gear for the tour, are you using any new equipment?

JH: Yeah well we’ve actually just all went wireless. This will be the first tour we will all be wireless, so that’s good, and I did personally pick up a new bass cab.

JS: Cool. That’s awesome man. What kind of bass cab are you using now?

JH: I just got a 410 an Eden cab and I added a 15 to it, now I have 2 cabs, a 15 and a 410.

JS: Awesome man. Any words of wisdom for other aspiring musicians?

JH: The music business is very tough. There are a lot of scumbags everywhere and it starts with the lower level agents. Just build, get a good vibe before you really try to do anything serious. Start locally and work your way within a region of like 2-3 hours or 4-5 hours within driving range where you can focus on building a market and figure out what it takes to build one or two markets before you try to like tour the whole country.

JS: Cool, that’s great advice. It seems like you guys appreciate Upstate New York. Why do you guys like coming back up here?

JH: Well, it’s nice, it’s about the fans. If people are going to come out, we are going to try and go, you know, touch base up in Buffalo and Upstate New York in general.

JS: Do you guys have any favorite venues to play, besides the Town Ballroom?

JH: Well, Cleveland is one of our best spots in the country. We have this awesome festival a few times a year at this bar called Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, and they just really get people from a large area, Buffalo, Pennsylvania, and all parts of Ohio.

JS: Yeah, Nelson Legends is gorgeous, it’s an awesome spot.

JH: Have you played there?

JS: Yeah, I played there it’s a really good spot.

JH: What band are you in?

JS: I’ve played with a few different ones. I’m starting a new project now. I’ve played there years ago at Grateful Fest, for two years in a row. It’s a good time man. Really cool spot.

JH: Yeah amazing.

JS: Do you guys have any favorite places to eat up this way?

JH: Any places to eat? I feel like over by the Town Ballroom there isn’t a lot, so we end up eating at, I don’t know the name of it, on Main Street its right there on the right two buildings over. That’s the only thing ever open. Like that or an Applebee’s on the corner.

JS: (laughing) I know… a lot of people like the Anchor Bar for the wings and stuff. I didn’t know if you had a favorite spot, but that does make sense when you have to get something quick.

JH: We usually are pressed for time. For whatever reason Buffalo is always closed on the weekends, you know that area, everything is closed.

JS: It’s kind of like that all week, that’s how it goes man. Have you guys had the opportunity to play with any of your idols?

JH: Well I mean yeah, Bud from Sublime did a show with us years ago out in Vegas. So it was pretty amazing to meet him. He jumped in and did a couple of songs with us. It was awesome.

JS: That is awesome. What other influences do you guys have besides Sublime, I mean you personally? Is there any other music outside of that that you like?

JH: I grew up listening to a lot of Punk, Ska, Reggae, so obviously Bob Marley, and a lot of the punk bands like NOFX, Bad Religion, and some of the Punk-goth stuff like Less Than Jake, that was like a lot of the stuff that I listen to.

JS: Cool man. My last question: What does the future hold for you guys. Do you guys plan on keep touring with this, do you have other plans, or?

JH: We are kind of like, we have been talking about that. We were thinking about expanding overseas. That’s what we’ve been talking about recently.

JS: That’s great man. You guys definitely deserve it. You seem like hard working guys. I truly do appreciate you taking the time today to sit down and talk.

JH: No problem man.

JS: Well hopefully I’ll catch you in a few weeks down at the Town Ballroom. I can’t wait for a good show.

JH: Hope you can make it man.

JS: I’ll be there. We will be there definitely.

JH: Come say hello. We will be at the merch table before the show and then definitely after.

JS: Yeah Brother, thank you. Peace.

Badfish plays The Town Ballroom on February 15th. You can pick up tickets through www.townballroom.com. From there they go to Cleveland to play The House of Blues on February 16th.

Badfish website, Facebook, Twitter

Space Junk and Jimkata at DBGB’s in Buffalo, January 31st

January 31st was a cold bone chilling Thursday night in Buffalo. When most would be seeking refuge in their warm homes, there is a breed of individual who foregoes this notion. They bundle up and brave the elements like a true Buffalonian with purpose and direction. The purpose, one fantastic night of music will be happening. The direction, Dukes Bohemian Grove Bar (DBGB’s) where Eclectic Collective Entertainment presents Space Junk and Jimkata. Located in Allentown District, DBGB’s has long established themselves as a forerunner in bringing first class talent to the area in an extremely intimate setting.

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Both bands have quite the following in this area, always packing them in where ever they play. Tonight was no exception, and despite the bitter temperatures, the hearty and faithful came out to and packed DBGB’s. Space Junk, a Buffalo-based band which has been going strong for the past several years opened the show. The band has bridged the gap between the DJ and Jam scene in Western NY. With their unique sound, mixing traditional rock structure, scorching hot peaks, and complex developmental jamming, this quartet uses house influenced improvised EDM as the force to separate them from your typical solo based Jamband. The band is comprised of members Kevin Rogers (drums), Matt Fantini (guitar) and Will Thompson (bass) and most recently added keyboardist and DJ, Nick Orlando, better known as Lando Magic in the Rochester area. With this addition, the band has taken their sound to a new level and has opened more doors to improvisation.

The band does not focus on having one single person taking a solo; instead they try to really take the guitar, bass, and drums as a rhythm section and try to move as one single unit. It’s a collective thing where everybody is sharing space, making sure there’s room for each person to have equal room instrumentally. Space Junk is sure to keep your feet moving, your blood pumping, and your brain in frenzy. Close your eyes during one of their jams and you will see four analog musicians transform into an eight-armed digital beast. Fueled by Hheavy delays, face-melting guitar solos, mind bending electro jams and an ambiguous drummer/DJ/keyboardist (Yes, their drummer does all three simultaneously), Space Junk is sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming future. Their shows are like a junkie and his bad habit, you are sure to be left wanting more.

Setlist: Yesterday, Cowboys vs. Aliens > Better off Alone (Cover, Alice Deejay)> Cowboys vs. Aliens, Birds of Prey > Jewelz > Birds of Prey, Medullah >King Russell

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, Jimkata has emerged from the modern musical world to convince you otherwise. Jimkata is a nationally touring electro-rock band blending heavy beats, synthy hooks and big guitars to create music with both modern and timeless appeal. Currently, the band is out on tour in support of their new fan-funded record, Die Digital, the album is an anthemic dance-pop nugget complete with 21st century, infectious guitar hooks.

Jimkata is a band that delivers one fantastic performance after another. This night was no exception. The band started off with a nice intro that segued into “Feed” followed by “Mind Crossing”. By this point, hearts were pumping with excitement as the crowd got its groove on. While inspired by the world of improvisational and progressive music, Jimkata songs focus on structure, textures and layers with vibrant world-conscious lyrics. Combining hair-raising rock and roll with an industrial touch of synthesizers, sampling, and electronic drums pushes the sound to the edge modern lengths that this group can reach without leaving their rock roots.

Members Evan Friedell (lead vocals/guitar), Aaron Gorsch (guitar/synthesizer), Dave Rossi (bass, who was celebrating his birthday tonight) and Packy Lunn (drums) have set out to create original rock music that is both new and timeless. Bringing endless amounts of energy to every performance is a hallmark of this band. The crowd fell prey to the hypnotic sounds pulsating through the speakers, swaying en mass, some freely dancing. Their foundation of this Perpetual Groove sound was fueled big bass notes, spacey guitar rifts and powerful drumming. Jimkata combined this with unique lyrics that brought the audience along on this unique musical journey. Jimkata continued to push the envelope further as their set progressed, allowing the audience to discover the outer reaches of their improvisation and the crowd they ate it up wanting more. They concluded there set with “American Cars” and “Chainstore”, the very appreciative hot and sweaty audience responded with whistles, cheers and applause calling for one more song. Jimkata obliged, giving the audience one more for the road before the night conclude and launched into “Electronic Stone”.

Music moves people and that’s what these two bands were about, getting people moving. From the moment these bands stepped onto the stage till the end, people got their groove on at DBGBS. Young and hardworking, they continue earn their fans the old fashion way, one show at a time. There’s was a special journey that you got to go on with these groups. A crazy, fantastic musical experience and yet you hadn’t moved an inch while having the time of their life. There is no doubt that Space Junk and Jimkata are dedicated to one thing: inspiring every set of ears they can reach, leaving fans feeling powerful and alive!

Setlist: Intro, Feed> Mind Crossing, Night Shade>Chalice III>Devil’s in The Details, Die Digital> Lego Land, Concrete Beatdown>One to Ten, American Cars, Chainstore
Encore: Electronic Stone