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December 25, 2005

Still Bonin'

moore.jpgI still can't hear very well, but I sure did party well the other night at the Knitting Factory. Fishbone was in the house.

I realize something about myself. It's hard for me to be disappointed in Fishbone. But if I didn't know the band, I would have only been moderately impressed with last night's extended jam. It's been a long time since I bought new Fishbone stuff - since Angelo became Dr. Madd Vibe, I was still expecting to see Dirty Walt in the lineup but he wasn't. Still, it's only because, like a silly kid fanboy, I expect that the world will someday recognize the genius that is Fishbone. So this is part two of the extended Fishbone rant and review. See I bought four CDs off Angelo himself after the show, so I've got more stuff to digest. This is about the show in Hollywood Friday night.

Fishbone these days are six cats onstage. That's the right size for a band. Anything less can't make much music unless they are in perfect synch - which is what one should expect from jazz and electronica - or maybe acid jazz if you have a really tight single artist. But when it comes to jamming, which is what Fishbone does well, you gotta have at least five. So they did that right.

It took a while for them to get their asses out of cruise, but by the fourth or fifth song, Y and I were down on the dance floor in front of a crowd of about 50. As soon as we finished skanking to the song after 'Shine', the band ripped the head off of 'Freddy's Dead'. It was as if all of a sudden there was just a magical convergence of tightness and they showed how they can rock the shit out of a song you think you knew. What's subtly ironic about that was up until that point I had been hearing in the band, strains of a kind of Curtis Mayfield extended groove style. One can easily see the band doing gigs at the Mandalay Bay to huge crowds of drunk dancers, and doing dark smoky funky dub. Except they were amped up pretty loud for that.

I like the dub direction the band has taken. They could use somebody with a huge fat keyboad, fatter than the one used last night. In fact, if I was the manager of Fishbone, I would get them hooked up with Adrian Sherwood, because for all of the talent he has put together with On U, none of it is 1/3 as danceable as what Fishbone does. Angelo's spooky theramin is perfect for it, so is Norwood's bass. Who could possibly be a better front man for the next groove in dance? Nobody.

There's a new kid on trumpet which is a good punctuation for the band. As soon as they find out what to do with him, things could start seriously poppin' off. Trumpets are supposed to lead and define, and that wasn't going on. He was doing a kind of Milesish Tutu stuff behind the rhythm. So here's the deal, the horn arrangements aren't jumping off yet. I mean I don't know who was the man behind the orchestration on Nuttmeg, but that was bloody brilliant and it has not yet been approached by anything I've heard in rock. This set didn't have that kind of clarity where the Fisbhone horns are carrying the energy.

When they got to 'They All Have Abandoned Their Hopes' the groove was fully baked and everybody swung into it. By this time I was pogoing a hole in the floor like a goddamed fool. So I made sure that my sunglasses stayed on, just in case. Half the audience was just on the verge of getting moshified but it didn't fully happen. I can't speak for anybody else in the room but I was getting too pooped to pop. So even though the music didn't slow down, I had too. I mean Old School ain't just a label, this grey is real.

Angelo was his usual jumpity self, but kept his shirt on. He continued to rant on in what I have now learned is 'Cencor This & That' from The Medicine Cabinet. And now that I'm listening to that (one of the 3 albums I bought), things would have to go on a different angle, because Madd Vibe is a different variation on the species altogether - a new kind of blues, but more on that later. So after about two half-spontaneous encores, the fish finally finished. It was an evening of exuberated funk with strains of the quickness and beat-change up that is classic Fishbone. Yeah I wanted to hear some old stuff, then again, everything I know about the band is old stuff. Yet I'm pleased with what they're doing - I just hope the new band gels as nicely as the old did.

Now I'm going to say two things that need to be remembered, and I will underscore them in part three. Number one is that Angelo Moore is still one of the few people out of my generation and 'hood that retains a significant amount of cool. Hmm. That didn't come out just right. Let me try it this way. Angelo is still cooler than me, and that's damned hard to be. OK. But he's also as cryptic as an author 12 novels into an apocalyptic groove, which means he has to be taken seriously. The only person who gets that kind of regard from the critics and the masses is George Clinton, who, unlike Angelo, hasn't really done butkis in the past decade. Oh. So that's the second thing. Angelo still has something to say, whereas the rest of funk is dead.

I woulda thunk that the man to put this level of party genius forward would have been Sinbad or Chappelle, but clearly ain't nobody got legs that long. So mebbe if Jay Z has a reggae nightmare or Babyface or LA decides there's some dirty on the West Coast, not just the South, then the 'bone may rise again, under more than just it's own power. But I have no idea how that industry works... but maybe somebody somewhere might trip over these verbs and get an idea.

Speaking of which, there was another genius in the house. Overton Lloyd, the man who drew the bird. What bird you say? The bird screaming at Sir Nose on the cover of Aquaboogie. Now that is some stuff from way down in your psyche ain't it?

Soon come.. part three.

Posted by mbowen at December 25, 2005 05:16 PM

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I remember Fishbone back in '88 and '89. Man the sweat was dripping of the ceiling! I didn't know they were still jamming. It sounded like a good time.

Posted by: Jr at December 31, 2005 08:39 PM