Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fishbone @Knitting Factory, Nov. 29th

(Sorry for posting this late and out of order after the Neil Young at MSG reviews. That's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.)

As part of Bestest Boy's birthday bonanza, I decided to rally the boys to catch one of their all-time faves, Fishbone. I hadn't been to the Knitting Factory in nearly a year, since the time I saw GZA perform Liquid Swords. It was also an occasion to catch one of the last shows at the venue as it was due to close shop in early 2009.

I had a vague knowledge of Fishbone, remembering them best from my high school days of listening to 92.3 WDRE back in their hey day during the mid '80s to early '90s. I knew them to have influenced many a ska/punk/funk band, several of which ended up surpassing Fishbone's level of fame. This was my first opportunity to see Fishbone, and I wondered about their capacity to endure over three decades. Bestest Boy told me about seeing them twenty years ago at shows filled with leather jackets, boots and sweaty bodies moshing in constant kinetic movement. How would they fare in 2008?

To my amazement, Fishbone is still running strong, even despite a few personnel changes, largely on the back of its front man, Angelo Moore, a lean, muscular man of 43 years. He started off the evening with a stirring solo spoken word performance. When the rest of the band joined him on the stage, he strapped on his baritone sax and adeptly led them and the crowd through a few hours of sheer madness. His vocals sounded great, and his energy was unbelieveable, even singing while surfing through the crowd all the way to the bar. To my delight, I easily knew at least 1/2 of the songs, and even the songs I didn't know were accessible and totally fun.

The intimacy of the Knitting Factory really added to the energy, as it was virtually impossible to avoid being part of the moshing throng. Not since college had I felt the crowd surge with such movement. I tried not to think too much about the ick factor of all these sweaty guys smashing up against me, a funny mix of guys in their late 30s/40s, like Bestest Boy and his friends, and young kids who might not have been born yet in 1990. Instead, I absorbed the vibe and just went with the flow. Chi-tastic!

It was particularly funny when Bestest Boy and Nick decided to enter the heart of the moshing, handing me their glasses for safe keeping. I'll never stop laughing at the site of them disappearing, and then reappearing, sweaty and out of breath. Hee hee!

Here's a taste of the intensity of the evening -- Fishbone performing their seminal hit, "Party at Ground Zero":

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