Fishbone At Levitt Pavilion, Friday June 29th 2108
‘The time we are living are very ugly, but we must be beautiful from the inside out’, said Angelo Moore just before a devilish ska version of ‘Ugly’… You can always count on Fishbone to put a place upside down, they played a very crowded show at Levitt Pavilion on Friday night, and the legendary punk-funk-skacore band had rallied fans under a pirate FUCK RACISM black flag. The show started with people greeting and taking selfies with frontman Angelo Moore at the merchandize booth, before turning into a furious mosh pit just behind the front row where I was standing… it was wild and sweaty, as a Fishbone concert will always be.
They started relatively smoothly and quietly with ‘Unyielding Conditioning’, but soon the tone took a more aggressive turn with punk riffs and an Angelo Moore carrying the energy at the top of his long sweaty arms and legs. There was so much going on during their non-stop gig, that they barely took the time to rest for a few seconds, mixing genres from ska to funk with a touch of blues or jazz and beyond, wrapped under a strong punk rock ethic. As usual, the horns were certainly the stars of the concert, omnipresent and leading the game, joined by keyboard, drums, bass, guitar and even a theremin, composing a disorienting ensemble of free-style music, challenging description and categorization for about 90 minutes. Fishbone are one of the kind and will always be.
‘We wrote this shit a long time ago but it’s still relevant goddamn today’, screamed ‘Dirty’ Walter A. Kibby II while holding his small trumpet. And if Fishbone would probably prefer to live in a time when this ‘shit’ is not relevant anymore, they are were aware of our present times. When you wrote (exactly 30 years ago) ‘They don’t play the facts/They play the crackerjacks/Subliminal Fascism gettin’ under your skin so you better wake up US’, you know you must have predicted the future.
The band formed in 1979, and despite a few hits, they have never sold out, this music isn’t commercial to the core, it’s a mad hybrid fusion of dub, soul funk with mighty horns, recurrent ska lines and Angelo Moore’s giant reggae steps.
During the entire show, the very charismatic and effervescent frontman was all-fired-up, blowing a million different saxophones in the middle of a buoyant energy, drenched in sweat even before they got the big guns out, such as ‘Behavior Control Technician’ and its metal-like brass-band-lines. At this point, people got out of control with a massive mosh pit running a fury behind us, and no one calmed down for ‘Subliminal Fascism’ that they dedicated to Justice Kennedy.
Between songs, it was of course question of our crazy government, but the lyrics of ‘Pressure’ (which fueled the pit with an insane energy) ‘Ugly’, ‘Lyin’ Ass Bitch’, ‘Nasty’ were speaking by themselves, and this materialized even more during a pure anti Trump rap interlude when Angelo spit his anger with style.
Bassist Norwood Fisher in the shade on one side of the stage, and brother Philip ‘Fish’ Fisher on drums, turning his back to the crowd were completing a constant barrage of honking horns and loudness. The funk came back here and there, between Rasta-beats, a series of soul-like tantrum and a James Brown inspiration… It was my second Fishbone show and at this point I was used to their original melting pot that they will always repeat with ample variations show after show. All their songs were so legendary that each one could have concluded the evening, but they started a new one with a regained anergy, always aiming to the crazy party, with a tireless Angelo haranguing the crowd and shaking a few hands….and I am sure they would have gone on for a few hours at this same rhythm if the Levitt Pavilion hadn’t had a curfew…
They came back for an encore with a glorious ‘Everyday Sunshine’, while ending with the sunny and unclassifiable ‘Party At Ground Zero’ and its last line, ‘For our nations need new heroes/Time to sing a new war song’….‘Don’t be afraid to say it and reinforce it’, screamed Angelo while advertising the free ‘Fuck Racism’ posters and shirts at the end of the show.
Fishbone always put the epic in the middle of their signature funk-rap-soul-ska-punk-rock kaleidoscope, but they are also eager to remind us that this joyful party is not an irrelevant and futile charade.
Ghetto Sound Waves
Behavior Control Technician
Lyin’ Ass Bitch
Pray to the Junkiemaker
Simon Says The Kingpin
Bonin’ in the Boneyard
Shakin’ To the Beat
Party At Ground Zero