Live at Petco Park
July 21, 2023 Review by Brian Ross
Slightly Stoopid dropped a summer date into their own backyard of San Diego inside the epic setting of Petco Park Stadium – home of the San Diego Padres, and a concert setting for top acts of all time.
This was likely not a huge surprise to those already Stoopified (fans of Slightly Stoopid). This trend of dropping a dream-come-true, multi-band lineup was not only cool, but all the more special for a band whose vision has always been inclusive of acts stretching the bounds of reggae, ska, punk, electronic, and hip hop into a single-show banger.
Of particular note, this show paid homage to Sublime and the underlining spirit of Bradley Nowell (original front-man of Sublime who passed in ‘96). With thanks to the tour’s co-headliner, Sublime with Rome, this concert took us back to where it all began for Slightly Stoopid – in thanks to Nowell’s push, and the larger SoCal lifestyle movement that followed Sublime and Stoopid’s popularity.
For anyone paying enough attention to historical updates in popular music, this date represented the birth of a miraculous twist of fate. The enormous significance of the lineup drove home how dreams – and dream lineups – are all associated, and that fun dream occurrences can and do happen. In this instance, giving rise to a whole subculture of something totally Stoopid.
Kicking off the show and performing with the energy of a headliner, The Movement tore into their upbeat blend of alternative roots reggae. The Movement, as their bio points out, “have been winning the hearts and minds of fans since their inception in 2003,” and on this night they won over mine. Lead vocalist and guitarist Joshua Swain kept everyone’s attention, while bassist Jason Schmidt sustained a smile that ran the length of the full stage. Drummer Gary Jackson couldn’t have been any cooler in feel and social presence, while energetically contrasted by keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Matt Goodwin ecstatically climbing and then hanging from the stage truss, offering a wave to the audience, signaling the energy this band generates.
Up next was Atmosphere. Going on a 25-year plus legacy of underground hip hop, Atmosphere knew exactly how to further escalate this surreal lineup, as well as dish out some expected profanity and philosophical might, with Slug, a showman of sincere entertainment value. Most rewarding about Atmosphere remains Slug’s persona.
His onstage character, boldness and lyrical fluency continues to kick serious butt. On top of that, the LED wall, as backdrop, gave Atmosphere a fresh, if not slightly psychotically playful look, with sterile Apple MacBooks table aligned like someone’s minimalistic laboratory décor. Fortunately, Slug’s extended middle finger pose, leading towards his final number, helped put an end to any vague notion of an unnecessary façade, university class, or presumptuous etiquette. Atmosphere kept it real.
Following that electronic, hip hop, look-in-the-mirror head spin, there was, understandably, tremendous urgency built for the pure sing-along music of Sublime. Lead singer/guitarist for Sublime with Rome, Rome Ramirez, likes to sport a concert t-shirt and casual attire (dig that) for just about every show. On this occasion, Ramirez donned a Grateful Dead, Terrapin Station tie-dye and bright orange hat, noting, “Trippy Things Happen,” perhaps not only referencing this lineup, but the greater things in life itself.
All things Stoopified, his Bay Area heart and mind joined with mine. But, here was Ramirez, jubilant and ready to further carry the torch for all things Sublime. To match the vibe, Eric Wilson (bassist and original founding member of Sublime) wore a comical, spiral hat and colorful beads to contrast his black finger nail polish.
The depth of a party band with heavy emotion was in the house. A stone-cold look on Wilson’s face represented something very serious, and spiritual about it all.
It’s also exciting to note, filling out the band was Joe Tomino on drums (formerly of Dub Trio), and the great Gabriel McNair on trombone (of course, McNair has played with No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, and Lenny Kravitz, among many others).
Sublime with Rome did not disappoint. Set opener “April 29, 1992” paid mention to our ongoing, troubled racial climate. Maintaining focus, the first three songs were all Sublime, with “Doin’ Time” and “Wrong Way” to follow. Overall, the set was the epic song selection one would have hoped, especially with “Smoke Two Joints” (The Toves cover); leading into a later string of more Sublime tracks – “Pawn Shop,” “Badfish,” “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” “What I Got” – before an unexpected surprise: the upbeat reggae/ska/Bob Marley infused cover of “Scarlet Begonias,” again a nod to The Dead. To further tease, Sublime with Rome then performed “Cool & Collected,” featuring members of Slightly Stoopid, before ending the set on a high note with “Santeria.”
Enjoying a stage break has always been a big part of this type of show, so I enjoyed the laid back, friendship / family style of this Petco Park experience at large. Stoopid concerts are “a spiritual bath of positive party energy” (as noted in the band bio and exemplified by a show) that “everyday people / everyday life” vibe was present everywhere.
Per the band’s tradition of inclusion and all things musically integrated, a parade of guest collabs was on tap. First things first though, Slightly Stoopid opened with “Tow” segueing into “Officer,” independent of walk-ups, all core members onstage. Then, meeting grand expectations, cool appearances began to trickle. Cali2na jumped the stage; around about first (he re-appeared after knocking out earlier songs with The Movement). Cali2na took to the stage like he owned Petco Park, hence, lineup enhancing. Also, included as dynamic stage guests were Joshua Swain of The Movement, Slug in a Padres jersey, and on saxophone, another hometown hero, Karl Denson (from The Rolling Stones and The Greyboy Allstars), hanging lose with Andy Geib (trumpet and trombone).
To my surprise, expanding the Stoopid show, and freeing up founding members, Kyle McDonald and Miles Doughty, to dance and jump the stage, were all members of Common Kings. Actually, Common Kings appeared to remain onstage for a larger part of the show! One could have asked, “Is this a legendary concert of enormous magnitude at Petco Park, or a house party that includes a gigantic collaboration of musicians?” By organic design, this was a Stoopid combination of both.
The low-key, chill vibe of Slightly Stoopid, with childhood friends Miles and Kyle, sporting ball caps, dressed in surfer shorts and t-shirts, grooving under dim stage lights, remained the feel and flavor of this headlining show. It was as if I could have been in downtown Ocean Beach, San Diego, drinking beer, feeling wonderfully peaced out.
This concert was absolutely socially, historically, culturally Stoopid; showcasing original music, legendary songs, spiritual roots, and without any emphasis on glam. SoCal vibes dominated.
The Journey continues as the tour heads across the rest of the country. Check this tour when it comes to your area. It is a party on wheels.
SHOW PHOTO GALLERY
by Brian Ross Photography