Stub Chronicles: Sublime

I never saw Sublime that night. In fact, I left about a half hour before they played. So why do I have the ticket stub for a band a never saw? Well, I did go to the show, but at the time I couldn’t drive. And since I lived in a suburb about 30 miles southeast of Denver, I had to catch a ride with my parents, who happened to be attending a holiday party in Golden. They offered to wait until 9:30 before picking me up, but I knew I was going to need more time than that. So I got them to agree to 10:30 p.m., which was probably as late as they had stayed out for at least a decade.

Anyway, we got to the Ogden at 8:30, and my parents were shocked to see the demographic that waits outside of shows. They were just punks with leather jackets, mohawks, and chains, but my folks hadn’t seen anything like that in the suburbs, and they really didn’t want to drop us off. I assured them that I had been to a couple of these shows before, and they really had nothing to worry about. And besides, we had already bought the tickets. Very reluctantly, they let us out of the van, and in we went.

Skankin’ Pickle played first. I had never seen a ska band before, and they brought an intensity and energy to the stage that I had not hitherto experienced. I’m not the kind of person that harbors any kind of macho anti-ska bullshit (in fact I wrote an article about it), so I had a lot of fun. Plus I got to see Mike Park say, “I have the flu right now, so if I puke and someone eats it, you’ll get a free t-shirt.” I didn’t know how to process that.

Guttermouth played second. As lousy as that band has aged, I can say that their singer took punk nihilism to new and explosive levels. He was all over the stage and in the crowd. He let people spit on him. He talked shit about rich fucks in Aspen who wore fur coats to their ankles. Prior to punk rock, all of my heroes were hair metal bands like Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue. As much as I can’t stand Guttermouth now, I will say they were way fucking cooler than any hair metal group — at least to the 15 year old version of me.

Towards the end of their set, I had to meet my parents in front of the venue. Like I said, I never saw the headliner, which in retrospect is fine. I mean, it would have been cool to say I saw the original Sublime, but I can’t fucking stand that band. They made punk and reggae  palatable to mall-going white suburbanites who had no business listening to either genre. And when they weren’t playing covers, they were stealing riffs. But I digress.

About six months later, I turned 16 and got my own license, which instantly and immeasurably improved my life. After that, I never missed another headliner — unless of course we were just there for the opener, which happened occasionally.