Twenty-five years after the release of their self-titled debut EP, Fishbone are still going strong and haven’t lost a smidge of what makes them an amazing live act. Supporting Pepper on their Like A Surgeon Tour, Fishbone opened with the reggae beats of The Suffering, a well-chosen opener for the Pepper faithful, and wasted no time jumping into action with Angelo and Dre up to (and over) the rail in no time. I’ve always said that there’s no better way to engage a crowd than jumping on their heads. Okay, I’ve never said that before but it appears to work well.
From there, they kicked it into full-on Fishbone classics-mode with some fast paced ska in the form of Cholly. The band gave plenty of space to Angelo who bounced around the stage, only stopping when his sax needed a pic. Norwood’s mellow groove on-stage stood in contrast to the all-purple ensemble while Rocky rocked it in the shadows, his afro ablaze from the back-light. But with all the action on stage, the band came across polished and as tight as I’ve ever heard them. And if the crowd was ever uncertain about what to make of Fishbone’s fusion of ska, punk, and funk, a tease of Suicidal Tendencies’ Institutionalized and their cover of Sublime’s Date Rape sealed the deal for the rest of the set.
If you think you think that you know Fishbone from their albums, then you’re sorely mistaken as there’s no possible way to capture the energy of their live show on disc. It’s like trying to guess what food tastes like from watching the cooking channel; you just can’t. They’ve always been and will always be best as a live band and, wrapping up the set with Party At Ground Zero from their original EP, left no doubt of that in the minds of the Warfield crowd. A 45 minute set had never gone by so fast.