April 23, 2005

L.A.'s Fishbone has been together for twenty years, but they played with the energy of a band still trying to make it at Jazzfest Saturday afternoon. Well, Fishbone never officially "made it." They're just one of those bands that survives by riding in a bus all year with a legacy of smart, good music and loyal fans.

Here's some adjectives to describe Fishbone: volatile, confident, fun, rambunctious, street-smart, quirky, and passionate.

The insane rantings of lead vocalist/saxophonist Angelo Moore went well with the music's schizophrenia. Equal parts ska, funk, metal, and punk. Mix doo-wop background vocals with Chuck Berry melodies with the flamboyance of Parliament Funkadelic with the social commentary of Gil Scott Heron with the aggression of Bad Brains. And it's a socially conscious party, baby(say like Bootsy Collins).

Fisbone focused their energy on racism("Beergut"), alcoholism("Alcoholic"), and drug addiction on Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead." Moore started the set with a solo spoken-word rap about his hopes for the future of the world.

Moore was a great frontman. The other band members were into the songs, but Moore provided energy for all of them. He tripped, stumbled, and ran around the stage like an uncaged Nick Nolte. He bent over backwards, blew raspberries into the mic, and hit himself over the head with an inflattable baseball bat. Ok, I made that last one up, but it wouldn't have been off-character.

The front of the Congo Square field was full of people throwing arms into the air and jumping up and down for Fishbone. It was a celebration.

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