Monday, September 18, 2006

wasted weekend

I went to the Inner Harbor today with Jon Ross to see a Dave Matthews cover band and a Sublime cover band to review for the Newtimes. I'm not really much of a Dave Matthews fan, and the Sublime band basically sucked. Here is my review:

Title: Just Plain Bad

Sunday was an ideal day to spend at Syracuse’s Inner Harbor. The sun was shining, the temperature was pleasant, and any native would recognize it as possibly the last nice day of the year. You would think it would be the perfect day to see a couple of bands covering songs by two popular and relatively summery-sounding acts.

You would be wrong.

Well, halfway wrong, that is, as the opening band, “One Sweet World,” a Dave Matthews cover band, actually wasn’t too bad. One Sweet World was extremely faithful to the original songs, and even included a saxophone player (who had four different types of sax to choose from) and a violinist.

Lead singer Anthony Iglesias did an admirable job evoking Dave Matthews’ gentle voice, but couldn’t quite reach the high-pitched plateaus Matthews manages. His voice was also a bit scratchier than Matthews, and the signature syllabic emphasis was a bit off at times, but overall it was a valiant try that mostly succeeded.

The best thing about One Sweet World was undoubtedly its violinist. Though all the musicians were clearly talented, the mere existence of the violin gave this band something extra. Because so many of the Dave Matthews Band’s songs include unique and conspicuous violin parts, it is essential that a cover band have a decent fiddler.

If you are a fan of the Dave Matthews Band, One Sweet World will not disappoint. Their set, though, was nearly two hours long, which is highly unusual for an opener. And after One Sweet World’s last song, a Dave Matthews-esque rape of Jimi Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower, it felt like the show should have simply ended.

The headliner, Sublime cover band “Badfish,” started out with Garden Grove, an appropriate start, as it’s the first track off of Sublime’s self-titled album. There were no turntables, though, so it sounded decidedly different than the original. In addition, unlike Sublime’s Brad Nowell, the vocalist didn’t enunciate enough, making it unnecessarily difficult to understand the lyrics.

The singer continued this near-slurring of words throughout most of the songs, which just worsened the slow speed at which they were played. The short, quick Same in the End wasn’t played nearly as fast and enthusiastically as the original, completely losing the frenetic, fun sound it’s supposed to have.

Perhaps the worst offense was their version of the immensely popular Wrong Way. The original includes a trombone, but Badfish instead incorporated a mediocre alto saxophone. The trombone’s speedy and lively solo was completely lost, being replaced by a sub-par saxophone attempt.

Somehow Badfish has become a nationally known group, and the audience was certainly enjoying themselves, with plenty of people dancing and singing along (though by then, it could have simply been the influence of copious beer). But to this Sublime fan, they were truly nothing special. You’d be better off popping in one of their CDs with the volume turned up.

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