Event Reviews
Sublime with Rome and Dirty Heads

Sublime with Rome and Dirty Heads

with Little Stranger

Cocoa Village Riverfront Park • Cocoa, Florida • August 11, 2023

On August 11th, people gathered in droves at the Cocoa Village Riverfront Park. The line wrapped through the playground and out into the street waiting for admittance to the sold-out show, and posters could be found all over the historic district: “SUBLIME WITH ROME, DIRTY HEADS, AND LITTLE STRANGER.”

Little Strangers Live-looping Tracks
Elise Norman
Little Strangers Live-looping Tracks

It was the biggest event held at this small beach town’s amphitheater in years, and they had turned the little recreational park into a bona fide concert venue. Merch and concession tents had been set up around the perimeter of the GA pit, and to the left of the stage was the VIP lounge. Despite the late afternoon heat, people gathered by the barricade anticipating the show, which was kicked off by Little Stranger.

Little Stranger Performing
Elise Norman
Little Stranger Performing “Red Rover”

Though there were only two of them, the musical duo filled the stage with their presence and energy. Live-looping their tracks, Little Stranger showed musical creativity that is forced when part of a performing duo. They had unfortunately had to cancel their show the night before, so they let the crowd know that they would have double the energy for this performance, and they absolutely delivered. “Coffee & a Joint” was a definite crowd favorite, but “Red Rover” stuck out the most to me. It was for this song that John got off his chair to sing and dance around the stage with Kevin.

Dirty Heads
Elise Norman
Dirty Heads

Next to take the stage was Dirty Heads. Their stage setup was the complete opposite of Little Strangers’ — they filled up the whole stage, including risers. They had a horn section as well as two percussionists. One percussionist played a standard drum kit, while the other had a less conventional percussion setup including bongos, congas, and cowbells.

The Sun Setting Behind Dirty Heads
Elise Norman
The Sun Setting Behind Dirty Heads

The band, which has amassed over 3 million monthly streams on Spotify, played classics like “Vacation” and “Oxygen,” and the whole crowd sang along. They also brought Rome out to perform their collaboration “Lay Me Down” with them, and everyone went wild. The setting sun sent rays through the tapestries they had hung along the back of the amphitheater stage, and as the night got darker, the stage lights got brighter. By the time Dirty Heads’ set was regrettably over, a summer breeze began to cool down the crowd as they anxiously awaited the headliners.

Eric Wilson of Sublime and Sublime with Rome
Elise Norman
Eric Wilson of Sublime and Sublime with Rome

Finally, the lights came up and Sublime with Rome entered the stage. I was absolutely starstruck standing right in front of Eric Wilson in his eccentric hat, capturing photos of him playing the iconic basslines I had heard so many times before. They opened with “April 29 1992 (Miami),” then segued into “Smoke Two Joints.” “Reefers!,” the whole crowd yelled.

Rome Ramirez
Elise Norman
Rome Ramirez

Rome Ramirez pays such an excellent tribute to Bradley Nowell while managing to not sound like a tribute band. He has added his own sound to the band’s original songs in a way that doesn’t erase the work the original band did, but adds on to it to keep it relevant and personal. The setlist was extremely solid, with many of the iconic original Sublime songs, and some Sublime with Rome originals in there as well. Both were met with tons of support and enthusiasm from the audience — it’s evident that Sublime with Rome is respected as its own band rather than a cover band.

Rome gave a heartfelt dedication of his performance of “Badfish” to the victims of the Maui fires. He finds his family very important and brought his children out on stage to say “hi” and sing with him at one point during the show. During “What I Got,” Mike “Cheez” Brown, the manager of Sublime with Rome and Dirty Heads, came out to play guitar, and the band brought their dog on stage to play fetch during “Santeria.” Rome told everyone how special it was to tour with Dirty Heads, because they are his best friends. The show felt like one big hangout with Rome and all his friends!

Rome Ramirez
Elise Norman
Rome Ramirez

Rome yelled out during an instrumental break, “This is my favorite f-cking place! I swear to God, I’m gonna f-cking move here one day man, I love this place!” and the Cocoa Village crowd was just as happy to have him and the band here. Rome had a way of making the show very intimate and personal, despite the fact that he was singing to hundreds of people. It was personally very bittersweet funneling out of the venue with the last note of “Santeria” still ringing in my ears, and I bet I was not the only one feeling this way.

The Wonderful Audience Admiring Sublime with Rome
Elise Norman
The Wonderful Audience Admiring Sublime with Rome

Find the full gallery for this show and more concert photos at @elisenormanphotography.


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