In the 1980’s, Fishbone was a band perched on the verge of popular success, but that never quite fully broke through. Their mixture of punk, funk, ska and reggae was, apparently, too weirdly eclectic for most mainstream tastes, and the fact that their music did not neatly fit into easily delineated music genres probably contributed to their relative obscurity. Nonetheless, it was precisely their strangeness, their goofiness and their manic energy that made them so unique and exciting.
A bunch of us went to see Fishbone when they played recently at the Independent in San Francisco. Now middle-aged men, the band members have grown older along with the rest of us, but they still exhibit the profane nuttiness that endeared me to them in the 1980’s. These rude boys are still great fun!
The band played a three hour set, which I didn’t realize until I glanced at my phone at one point during the performance. It was 2am by the time most of them left the stage. Even then, the lead singer, Angelo Moore, lingered about, yucking it up and haranguing those who still were hanging around. His foul-mouthed rants against ISIS, Donald Trump, and unenthusiastic audience members had me in stitches the entire night.
My only complaint is that Fishbone didn’t play the song Ugly, which is one of my favorites. Otherwise, they performed a good mixture of new and old music. I especially enjoyed hearing Date Rape, Skank ‘N Go Nutts, and Party at Ground Zero. As one of my friends commented, they played until they drained all of the funk out of their instruments!
A documentary, titled Everyday Sunshine, about the history of Fishbone was released in 2010. The film details some of the struggles that the band has experienced over the years, including an episode in which some of the members were charged with kidnapping when they tried to liberate Angelo from a cult in Novato, CA!