Thursday, November 22, 2007


Fishbone still filled with kinetic energy after two-plus decades

Date published: 11/22/2007

One of my fondest memories as a parent was taking road trips with my then-3-year-old son while Fishbone played on the car stereo.

Fishbone has always been--and continues to be--a necessity for any road trip mega-mix. Nothing gave me more pleasure than to hear my son sing along to the band's "Party at Ground Zero" and yell at the top of his young lungs the "WAAAAAAAAAAHHHH" of frontman Angelo Moore.

Long before bands such as Operation Ivy and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Fishbone was a staple in the ska scene. Their fun, frenetic, poignant and poetic songs set them apart from their peers and have influenced many an artist.

Even after 25-plus years, 10 albums, various lineup changes and consistent touring, the ska/funk/punk/rock/reggae ensemble still has it--no matter what genre you want to put them in.

On their latest album, "Still Stuck in Your Throat," the 'Bones continue with their blended concoction of musical diversity, while creating a rockin' good album, full of fun, that is reminiscent of their earlier works.

From the opening track of "Jack Ass Brigade," with its super-snappy ska beat, complete with donkey sound effects, you know Fishbone is about to take you on a musical roller-coaster ride. And what a ride it is. Songs like "Party With Saddam" and "Skan'n Go Nuttz" will appeal to the Tony Hawk generation, while songs like "Forever Moore" have a soulful rock-steady vibe that will simply take you to a happy place.

As usual, Fishbone has something to say about the state of the world. It is refreshing, however, to see somebody having a good time while saying it.

As luck would have it, Fishbone played Alley Katz in Richmond recently in support of the new album. To see the band live can only be described as the Energizer Bunny with a bad case of ADHD. Upcoming rockers should take a lesson from this group of 40-somethings. Their over-the-top, no-holds-barred set was simply breathtaking. Seriously, Fishbone's energy was so kinetic, I couldn't keep up, and had to stop for air over and over again.

Fishbone stepped through a barrage of old and new songs, and paused long enough for frontman Moore to get a word or two in about current affairs. Bassist John Norwood Fisher, with his distinctive slap-bass style, and drummer John Steward kept the beats alive, while the sax and trumpet kept the show skanking to the beat. Fishbone was red hot.

Anyone looking for a break from the cookie-cutter melodramatic emo rock of today should give Fish bone a listen. Soon enough you too may find yourself singing "WAAAAAAAAAAHHHH."

--Scott Fennell

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