Welcome To SkateTronics

My website is www.skatetronics.com My goal is to bring music and skateboarding together. "If hip hop was a sport it would be skateboarding".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Skatetronics.com goes On The Road With Fishbone

I’ve experienced many things in my life but this one has to be up in the top 5 best experiences in my life. At 3:30pm on Wednesday, December 3 of this year (2009) I got a call from Norwood of the legendary Ska-reggae-punk-funk-rock group “Fishbone” and he ask if I wanted to come out for a small set of four show long the coast of California in four cities, San Francisco, Los Angeles, The Inland Empire and San Diego. They were going to leave for San Francisco the next morning at 7:00am. It was a last minute thing but I had to say yes because this was a chance of a lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the Fishbone movement since the 1980’s, plus I do have some previous history with the lead singer and original member of Fishbone, Angelo Moore. We met at the Sherman Oaks Galleria at the arcade when we were kids. I lost contact for a couple decades only to re-contact at a Los Angeles Poetry Lounge in the Fairfax district called “Da Poetry Lounge”. Angelo is also a deep and eclectic poet but I digress. This tour was my chance to witness this group, which will be in the rock and roll hall of fame because I do believe the small-minded industry people who ignore Fishbone are going to either wake up and correct themselves or they will move on and real music authorities will take the place of this, hopefully-soon-to-be-retired, music establishment. But again I deviate from the story. I told Norwood yes and I would meet them in the morning.

The next morning I traveled with the band up to San Francisco along highway 5 through the many farm communities destroyed by politicians that take their orders from lobbyist and special interest corporations bent on killing America. It was a long ride and I got to know the guys in the band a bit. This included the road manager, Will who appeared very young but very capable and in control of his job through his strong people skills. This guy is going to be someone big one day soon. There was also the sound engineer and other crewmembers. Every one of the guys in the group is talented beyond probably anyone in the popular music business today. These guys play several instruments at the highest level and performed like it was second nature. There are six members in this live music band and each show was better than the previous. The elements are Angelo Moore: lead vocals, saxophones and theramin, Norwood Fisher: bass , Dre Gipson: Keyboards and vocals, John Steward: Drums, Rocky George: Lead Guitar and John McKnight: Keyboard, Trombone and Guitar. The backbone and one of two original members of Fishbone is Norwood Fisher who keeps it deep on the bass and drives the grooves hard into the pocket. I’ve heard the Sly and the Family group without Larry Graham, their bass player and it’s nothing like it should be, so I can imagine if there were no Norwood in Fishbone there’d be no Fishbone.

The tour was head by Florida ska-punk rockers “ Less Than Jake” along with Michigan’s The Swellers and Underground rapper Cage. The shows were never boring, the bands were all very professional but at the same time friendly like everyone was homeboys. You could see members of the other bands watching each other perform from the sides of the stage and in the audience. And speaking of the audience, they were full of energy. They gave back what was given to them, which made this a great tour to see up close.

In the show the first act was the Swellers then Cage then Fishbone and rounding it out, the headliners, Less than Jake. But the high light of the show has to be Fishbone as this legendary hardworking band puts on a show that would be difficult for almost any of today’s bands to match. Combine the energy of James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, the Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chilli Peppers all coming from probably the best front man in the music business today Angelo Moore. Even after thirty years of doing it Moore has the energy of a 19 year old. He juggles singing the lead and fronting the band with playing multiple saxophones and the theramin, which is a weird electronic instrument he plays without touching the instrument at all. The sound is like the scaring soundtrack tone from a 1950’s sci-fi, horror film or vampire movie of that era. Angelo flips, slides and dives into the audience in mid-song or lyric and continues to sing as the audience holds his body high above their heads floating Angelo from the middle of the crowd back to the stage.

sets start with the horn section filled, reggae inspired The Suffering, a song that exhibits the soul-funk side of the band, I’m still laughing about the lyric “you’re a fool and a sucka - you po’ muthafucka”, followed by Behind Closed Doors a reggae/ska/punk –rock hybrid jam where Angelo gives up some lead vocal time to Dre Gipson who comes out from behind the keys and raps it up Jamaican style. After Closed Doors is Cholly a song about the thickness section of the girlie isle in your local neighborhood, from their 1986 album, which is a straight ahead rock tune. Next was the anthem to the state of inebriation entitled Alcoholic, a cross between reggae and hard driving ska-punk that leads off with the liquor-love chat of Ya-ya-ya drink is goood… Then drives you into a frenzy of wooos and ahhhhs. Ma and Pa follows. Another ska jam for sure. Then there’s Date Rape, a cover from Sublime that is next and arguably Fishbone has made this song their own. Not trying to start anything but they put their stamp on it in the same way Earth Wind and Fire did for the Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life”, for which EWF won a Grammy. Give It Up is next and comes from the mid eighties project which has hints of the Sly and the Family Stone jams from the 60’s. Next to the last song is the immortal Let Them Whoes Fight. This nod to the ever-popular game of competitive ego wrestling slamming their pride on the mat of redemption that never comes. Following it all up is the 80’s hit Party At Ground Zero, which is amazingly relevant almost thirty years later as politicians are still letting warmongers run America into the ground towards the ultimate conflict. Might as well have a party as the world turns to pink vapor stew.

I have to give mention to the other members of the band here; Rocky George is one of the most talented guitarist in a band, listen to his phrasing and ability to bring back the old-school technique in today’s music and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Ray Gipson, keyboards and vocals is a strong counter punch to Angelo Moore’s performance on stage. John McKnight has mastered the extremes of playing guitar, trombone, keyboards and singing like he was born doing this, all in the same song. And last but not least is the pocket master and groove locksmith; drummer John Steward, who makes anyone who’s ever picked up a set of sticks think twice. Don’t get on the trap unless you can set a trap and hook the listener.

With that said, this band can out perform any band in this industry. Ask anyone who’s attended a Fishbone concert; I guarantee the answer confirms this. The live music experience is fully on display when they’re on stage. The bone-head buster asses with whatever hang-ups, who control the levers of power in the music and publicity industry needs to get over their puke-filled hater-aide laden mind-set and give these guys their due. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Buddy Guy and many others have all but been left out of any rock music retrospectives produced on television when talking about who is and was the best… will Fishbone have to follow in those same footsteps? Let’s hope not.

The House of Blues performance in San Diego convinced me I was truly witnessing something historic and real and the new or somewhat recent line-up in the group makes no difference. These guys performance and talent will keep the most hard-core Fishbone fan loving this band for years and years. I can’t wait to see them again.

1 comment:

  1. I've know Norwood and Angelo from show around the country but everytime they come to Vegas we get to hang and catch up. Someone has a petition to get them into the R&R Hall of Fame and they deserve like no other band in the last 30 years. Sign it!