Will You See Sublime with Rome Without Bradley Nowell?
It can't be easy being the other members of Sublime in 2013. On a cynical -- but very real -- level, you reached your peak fame and earning power in 1996, at the moment your band's lead singer died and ensured you wouldn't reach it again. On an idealistic -- but very real -- level, you reached the peak of your artistic expression in 1996, at the moment your band's lead singer died etc., etc.
Then 14 years later, it's 2010 and every other '90s band -- some of them much less successful than Sublime -- is touring on old hits and making what has to be pretty good state fair money doing it, cynically, and reconnecting with fans who want to see the artists who spoke to them one more time, idealistically.
And even bands without their old lead singers, for various reasons, have found replacements, typically spot-on guys from YouTube cover bands. For whatever reasons, then, the two founding members of Sublime formed "Sublime with Rome," where Rome is a new lead singer and the compound name followed some legal action. Is that still Sublime? Will you go see them anyway?
That's just one of the when-is-a-band-not-a-band decisions you'll find yourself making over the rest of the year in Phoenix. Next week, The Monkees will come through with three original members but without the late Davy Jones -- which is, frankly, extremely impressive after nearly 50 years. Chicago, hitting Celebrity Theatre in August, has four founding members but no Peter Cetera.
Stone Temple Pilots is coming to the Marquee in late September, with new lead singer and Phoenix native Chester Bennington in tow. (Technically, they're Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington.)
Most fans, I think, run some simple calculations for situations like this:
1. How much do I want to see this band?If the answer's "well, it'd be nice," and they've shed some important members, lots of people won't bother. But they'll also hesitate if they want to see a band too much -- if they love, say, Everclear so much that it would hurt to see a version of the band in which Art Alexakis is the only remaining founder.
The sweet spot, desire-wise, is something like a 7/10. You definitely want to hear "What I Got" and "Date Rape," but it's okay if it's a new singer, one original member of Sublime, and itinerant drummer extraordinaire Josh Freese.
Sublime does pretty well on this test -- they have a lot of hyper-devoted fans who might be turned off, which is a minus. But they were also all over the radio in the late '90s, engendering a bunch of casual fans who might go along with it if a friend makes the suggestion.
2. Is the face of the band still around?This one, obviously, is rough for Sublime.