Recorded at the Palace in Hollywood, California, 3-Ring Circus captures Sublime during a pretty interesting point in their career. In just under seven months, the band would finish the recording of their multi-platinum-selling, self-titled album, and shortly afterwards frontman Bradley Nowell would pass away from a heroin overdose. On this night, though, blissfully unaware of the triumphs and tragedies awaiting them, Sublime delivered a set that perfectly encompassed the carefree and somewhat ramshackle sound that made their debut, 40oz. to Freedom, such an amazingly associative blend of reggae, punk, and hip-hop. As the band strolls through jammers like "54-46 Was My Number" and "Garden Grove," the picture painted isn't necessarily one of a band coming into the height of their power, but of a backyard party band throwing down in front of a sold-out crowd of their closest friends as good times and good vibes are in abundance on track after track. While Sublime had previously released an album of live material, Stand by Your Van, which featured "Caress Me Down" from this performance, 3-Ring Circus is the first live album from the band to feature an entire performance, making it an essential artifact that fans of the band will want to get their hands on. More importantly, however, the live album serves as a bittersweet reminder of what all the fans who arrived late to the Sublime party missed, and gives those fans hip to the band after they'd been cut down the chance to finally see what they missed.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney