Badfish concert a good catch
Hundreds of fans were huddling outside the Pearl Street Ballroom on Saturday night, soggy and shivering under the pale light of street lamps coming through the fog. The crowd surged forward as the doors opened, clothing drenched through to the skin, desperate to get inside. The throng of high school and college-aged students poured in, peeling off dripping layers. Once the music started, though, the discomfort was forgotten.
“Thanks for comin’ out in the rain,” said Howie Feibusch, lead singer and guitarist of the University of Massachusetts’ own Orange Television. The crowd answered with a roar as they exploded into their second song of the opening set, “Slaves with Neon Blood.” Heads banged to the rhythm of the paint-splattered bass drum, as if nodding approvingly at the new sound. If no one knew who they were before the show, there was no question OTV made some new fans by their finish.
Feibusch’s unique vocals kept flow with the rest of the band, making it hard to believe that the trio has only been playing together since February. Myles Heffernan’s fingers plucked effortlessly on bass, and Alex Lombardi kept a flawless beat despite picking up a pair of drumsticks for the first time just 10 months ago. Citing influences from classic rock, funk, grunge, hip-hop, and jazz, their diverse sound was well received. As for how they got a gig with the rock veterans of Badfish, “By the hand of God,” Feibusch said, laughing.
After getting warmed up by OTV, the masses were ready for the punk inspired reggae vibes of Danny Pease and the Regulators. The South Hadley seven piece took over with vigor and brought the energy in the room to the next level with old school ska riffs and spirited vocals from Verbal Kenn and Phaze. Joe Grenier added a distinct percussion section, alternating from the bongos to the tambourine and maracas.
Animated guitarist Pease kept the crowd on their feet, jumping around the stage with Kenn and Phaze. Their set had an unmistakable sense of unity and pure fun, reminiscent of Operation Ivy. Fans sang along to covered reggae verses and gave an appreciative ovation as DPR handed it off to Scotty Don’t.
“While Badfish is busy gettin’ drunk, we’re gonna play some songs in the meantime,” said singer and guitarist Patrick Downes with a smirk.
Badfish’s alter egos took over with intensity and a host of original songs. The raw instrumental talent was complimented by Downes’ impressive vocals, the hard fast riffs giving the feel of a 90’s punk rock show. Bassist Joel Hanks had a perpetual smile on his face while drummer Scott Begin sang along with Downes. A few lucky fans caught the CDs that were tossed out, clutching them in their swaying hands and joining in while Scotty Don’t closed it out with the chorus of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”
While taking a few minutes to catch their breath after playing for over a half hour as Scotty Don’t, the crowd collectively sang along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which the band is known for having on the speakers between sets. When the guys came back out for the main event, the kids went nuts.
A distinct smell filled the air as Badfish started it off with Sublime fan favorite “Smoke Two Joints,” and everyone was quickly reminded by the management of the no smoking policy. The reprimands did not seem to kill anyone’s buzz though, and soon Badfish was off and running, nailing cover after sweet cover. Downes’ voice was barely audible as the audience took over during “Wrong Way.”
As they played the songs they had so many times before, it was clear that, regardless of the repetition, the group performed with true emotion; particularly during “Badfish” and “Santeria.” Its unique way of putting its own spin on the familiar sounds of Sublime added to the energy of the set. After over 20 covers, Badfish left the stage for only a few moments before answering the chanting crowd.
“I f*ing love Pearl Street,” said Downes, adding, “Sublime’s cool too.” The satisfying three-song encore started off with “Caress Me Down.” “Doin’ Time” came next, and before going into “What I Got,” Downes asked the audience sincerely: “Keep Sublime alive, alright?” The answer was clear from the fans, as they sang every word.
Emily Jenkins can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.