As you may or may not know, I love reggae and most of its sub-genres. Be it white-guy frat reggae (ok, maybe not that kind) or older black-gentlemen reggae, it’s just fun music to listen to and get the spirits up. So one can imagine how psyched I was to see Fishbone, one of the most underrated live bands of the past century (Beethoven gets the number one spot for the past three centuries. Dude puts on a great show).
Fishbone have been touring restlessly and recklessly for well over 30 years. They formed right around the time the Reverend Justito was born!
So this past December, my family and I made the long trek from the glorious, beautiful state of Washington to the ridiculously boring redneck haven of Augusta, Georgia, just south of the South Carolina border. So the jump-start my 2012 concert season, my father and I made the two hour drive to Atlanta to catch cult-band Fishbone play a ridiculously nasty show with openers The Supervillains.
The show would take place at the hardcore and old-fashioned (but unfortunately located) Masquerade, which has three stages: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. Fishbone would be playing the Hell stage.
The minute I walked into the Masquerade, I knew the show would be something special. A milestone in my concert going career. I’ve been to many a small venue, but something about seeing an old-school funk/punk/ska band in this small a space just makes it that much more special. With just enough room in the pit for 75-100 people and room on the sides for another hundred or so, this would be an intimate gig chock full of fun memories.
We entered just as the first opening act (I have no clue what they were called) finished their set, and the second opening act (called Amul 9) were setting up. They played what sounded like a mix of 311 and Bad Brains, but it could’ve been way way better than it was. The guitarist wore a $5 mask you can buy at Michael’s the whole time, and the singer looked like a mummified Bob Marley.
After a set that made me “meh,” they broke out into Bad Brains’ “Pay to Cum,” which my dad had to mosh to. Not because he was angry, but the kids who were moshing (or slam-dancing, as some of my readers may remember fondly as) were doing it like, well, pussies. So my dad got in there and showed them what’s what. Frankly, I think he scared them a little bit.
Afterwards, Orlando-based reggae band The Supervillains hit the stage for a very cool—and very drunk—set. (By the way, that’s what a dash looks like, Jay.) They played some fan faves like St. Thomas, one about a “girl with a vagina,” and Mary Jane & Jagermeister. They also covered the first verse of Sublime’s “40 Oz. to Freedom“—when you’re in a reggae band, it’s sort of required to cover a Sublime song during a gig—and they threw in a cover of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).”
Overall, a great set from a hungover reggae band, but I was ready to get my skank on with Fishbone. At around 11:15 or so, Fishbone graced the stage with a weird poetry slam from lead singer/sax player Angelo Moore, which flowed nicely into the opening track “Bonin’ In the Boneyard.”
Next, they played “Let Dem Ho’s Fight,” a funk-metal type song with some Faith No More/Skindred type vocals and guitar. The flow kept going with their song “DUI,” followed by one that I can’t remember for some reason. But I most definitely remember what came afterwards: “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” This song reached a whole new type of fame when The Roots played it on Jimmy Fallon’s show—The Roots are the house band—as Michele Bachmann entered the stage to be interviewed by Fallon. Bassist John Norwood Fisher appropriately dedicated the song to all the politicians, and suggest that we just get rid of every single one of them.
This was followed by the more relaxed song “Cholly,” from the 1986 album “In Your Face.” This was then followed by “Everyday Sunshine,” during which I got kicked in the face by a crowd-surfer.
The Fishbone live experience cannot be captured with mere words, or with the way the songs sound on the album. One must see them to experience it. Although rocking into their mid-50s, the seven-piece proved that they are as agile as they were when they were teenagers. At least half the band dove into the crowd at some point, Angelo threw some high kicks, and he ran around the small stage in a sailor’s outfit. What more could you ask for?
Well, there is one thing. It’s only worth it if someone in the band plays that weird thing Jimmy Page played during Whole Lotta Love on the “Song Remains the Same” DVD.
Well, you’re in luck. Angelo played it numerous times—it’s called a theremin, by the way—and it was an unexpected but very pleasant surprise.
Remember what I said about the Sublime songs? Well, just to prove myself right, Fishbone played a cover of Sublime’s Date Rape. And it was brilliant.
They played about 16 songs before ending their set with a double-whammy of “Skankin to the Beat” from the Say Anything soundtrack, followed by “Party at Ground Zero,” from their self-titled EP. I didn’t stay for the encore because it was 1 in the morning, we had to drive two hours back, I had to wake up for school at 6:15, and I heard all the songs I wanted to hear.
So if you can, I want you to do me a favor. Go buy Fishbone tickets if they are playing near you. It will be worth the small price, and much more. Fishbone have proven to the rest of the world that they are still red hot, and I got to prove to the city of Atlanta that I am the world’s 2nd youngest Fishbone fan.