Date: Thursday, December 29th, 2011
Line up: Fishbone, The Aggrolites, Pour Habit & The Expanders
Location: Key Club. Hollywood, CA
With the Hollywood walk of fame only a few hundred feet away, the Sunset strip’s Key Club hosted one of the most iconic bands in Los Angeles music history. Fishbone invaded the Hollywood nightclub scene and supplanted their name amongst other star recipients Carlos Santana, Peter Frampton, Steve Miller Band, and Queen. All of those performers changed the classification of what classic rock truly is. Fishbone has knocked down walls of classification and description since they formed in 1979.
One might attempt to put a label on what musical genre Fishbone exists in. But, within their set, the Los Angeles natives bring out the best of all flavors of music. In reality, a show should moisten the taste buds of concertgoers from the moment they walk into the venue. With the fusion of reggae, rock, punk, ska, metal, jazz, hip-hop and soul, the only genre not represented was classical. Yet, everyone in the packed house witnessed a classical performance throughout the entire night.
As the majority of the venue filled as doors opened, the all-L.A. lineup started off with The Expanders. Bringing their intimate island tone, the five-piece band’s harmony set the atmosphere for the evening. With over ten years of live performances under their belt, past show classics “Iron Throne” and “Race Is Run” took hold of the enticed crowd.
The smooth sounds of rockers reggae were prevalent with The Expanders, but the evening was about to be amplified with Pour Habit bringing high-octane punk rock fusion. The Long Beach locals came courtesy of Michael Burkett or “Fat Mike” of NOFX’s Fat Wreck Chords. Pour Habit announced their presence in an instant. Both Eric Walsh and Matt Hawks exchanged guitar solos only heard in head-banging metal songs of the late 1980s and Guitar Hero, but it was a pleasure the crowd thoroughly enjoyed. Lead singer, Chuck Green, introduced himself appropriately for a night with Fishbone as he walked off the stage and made his way straight into the crowd, and began the first of many mosh pits for the show.
One may never know what to expect when arriving at a showcase for the great Fishbone, and Pour Habit was the breath of fresh air that ran through the double-decked Key Club. Yet, many knew what to expect from The Aggrolites. Their “dirty reggae” sound with charming lyricism brought the sold-out crowd to one voice. The Aggrolites have been mixing their ska anthems and reggae beats for over a decade, but after a long tour in Europe, the hometown fans welcomed the slick back haired, black-clad ensemble with open arms and jubilant cheers.
Opening up with “Funky Fire”, The Aggrolites’ sound moved the crowd all across the dance floor, taking hold of every drumbeat. Jesse Wagner, The Aggrolites’ lead singer and guitarist, bounced across the stage, gazing into the crowd with endless smiles of acknowledgment, while Roger Rivas displayed his nifty handwork on the organ. “Free Time” was a prominent example of the keys being featured, extending the typically two minute song into nearly ten minutes. Although, there were zero complaints from the jiving fans with lengthy live renditions, the Aggrolites performed for over an hour. But to make way for Fishbone, their final song was “Don’t Let Me Down”. Closing out their set, the house lights turned on as the crowd sang the chorus in unison, from start to finish. The chants were boisterous and deafening, just the way the band intended.
Fans then waited elbow-to-elbow, from front to back as the lights went black, although the enthusiasm never evaporated. With the house music on playing everything from Eazy-E and Snoop Dogg to Bing Crosby and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the crowd was familiar with the two-step. However, the dancing and skanking was just about to begin.
Fishbone hit the stage with front man Angelo Moore perfectly dressed in his three-piece suit, suspenders, grey fedora and shiny saxophone. “The Flying Fish” were in top form, as Norwood Fisher slapped his funky bass, Moore either crowd surfed with other enthusiastic fans or managed a few cartwheels on the congested stage. If you have never seen Fishbone live, this performance would have been an ideal synopsis of what they embody in their show. The energy was unmatched at any other club in Hollywood. Fishbone did it their way, with fans running onto the stage to join the band on their favorite lyrics, others jumping up quickly only to stage dive moments later, or the select choice women that uncovered their x-rated features during an old ditty, “Fat Chicks”.
After all, it was a Fishbone show. When in Hollywood for a hometown show, everything is fair game. The purpose of any event is to be entertained. There might not be another band in the world that performs better, or anything like Fishbone. Every song has a story or dramatic tale in the lyrics. Some are better suited for comedic theatre, while others would be suited for a dramatic action film. All the while, Fishbone is telling stories with their instruments.
In fact, before many of their songs, Angelo Moore would introduce the background, only to stop and wait for the laughter and applause to subside. Before closing out Fishbone’s set, a newly rejuvenated song entitled “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” sparked the interest from every demographic represented after The Late Show Band covered it recently.
However, it was only appropriate to end the night with Fishbone’s greatest success from their first release, “Party At Ground Zero”. At the time of the self-titled track’s recording, the Cold War was ending, communism was falling and it was time to celebrate. Today, Fishbone’s consciousness of the socio-economical surroundings are profound within their lyrics. Still, with each song written over the past 25 years, each chorus, guitar riff and bass groove remain timeless and will never be matched by other musicians.
Fishbone is their own entity, and their live performances continue to burst through barriers. Their eclectic, hyperactive musical persona has planted a flag in four separate decades and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. On an ideal Hollywood evening, another year has passed by and Fishbone is still exercising the crowd’s ears, and that sentiment has never wavered since their first show in Los Angeles thirty years ago. Perhaps the concert was a look back to the past, or a glimpse to the future. Either way, Fishbone will continue being Fishbone!
– Article by: Kris Siuta
– Photos by: Jenni Anspach
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