Fishbone – The Nephrok Allstars, Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine, August 15th, 2016

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The first time I heard Fishbone was the fall of 1989. My younger brother used to mention their name here and there but it wasn’t until a trip to Colorado to visit my little bro that I actually heard them. There, stuck in a car as we drove from Boulder to Durango, I heard the band’s full library to date. I loved it and wondered how could have this band slipped under my radar? I mean, I am the musician of the family.  My brother had seen them a couple of times, along with The Red Hot Chili Peppers since apparently the bands used to like to tour together.

I wasn’t lucky enough to see them until a couple years later on their Reality of My Surroundings tour. Since then I have seen the band a handful of times and know what an awesome show I’m in for each time.

Opening up the show was a funk band from Boston called The Nephrok Allstars. The band was a lot of fun with the front-man taking a page out of  Fishbone’s own Angelo Moore’s book and stealing the show and spotlight. They were quite fun and had the audience dancing and moving to the foot of the stage pretty quickly.

With no pit, the barricaded area between the stage and the audience, and my past experience with Fishbone shows, I was gearing up to be pushed around a bit.  Fishbone’s music is a mix of ska, funk, and funk, and typically has the audience slam dancing and pushing each other around. Luckily for me, I think most of the Fushbone audience has grown older with the band so it was a relatively mellow show. People were dancing, pogoing, and there was some bumping into one another but nothing like what I was part of in the past.

As I mentioned above singer, Angelo Moore is a bit of a spotlight hog, as most front-men are. When he is center stage it’s kinda hard to look away, afraid that you are going to miss something. Many of the band members have changed over the years, but many of those currently touring have been with the outfit for quite awhile. The only two original members are Angelo and bassist, John Norwood Fisher. Norwood was hanging out in the shadows of stage right, making him a hard guy to photograph. Guitarist, Rocky George, who has been in the band since 2004 is a favorite of many, an underrated guitar player who has some great licks and is a fun guy to watch, although on this night his lighting was not the greatest. Due to overcrowding on the stage, Rocky was pushed off far stage left which did have more light than Norwood’s side, but it was still rather shadowy. Drummer, John Steward, who joined the band in 1999, was as tight as ever holding everything down with precision. And on the keyboards since 2004, Dre Gipson added his flare to the songs.  Also added to the lineup are Jay Armant, on trombone and vocals, and Walter Adam Kibby II, also on horns and vocals.  And as if seven members, plus too many mic stands to count, were not enough, Angelo also brings a Theremin on stage with him, which shows up in nearly every frame of the drummer.  There you have it – a lot of talent on a little stage.

Fishbone got a bit of a late start, some of it due to technical difficulties with Rocky George’s amp, but once they did get going the place erupted in a flurry f dancing. Even I did my fair share of dancing and for those of you who know me, I don’t dance. There is just something about Fishbone’s music that makes it imposable to stand still.

The band played many old hits, a few later ones, and Angelo always throws in a couple of his spoken word pieces. Unfortunately because of the late start, the band did not get through their entire set, but the crowd was grateful to get what they got, and what they got was a whole lot of fun.

The setlist: Forever Moore – Crazy Glue – The Goose – Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge – U.G.L.Y. – Go Nuttz – I Wish I Had A Date – Junky Maker – Everyday Sunshine – Whip Snap – Question – Skankin’ – Date Rape – Ho’ Fight – Cholly – Alchoholic – Party At Ground Zero

Songs that were not played but on the set (between Alcoholic and Party At Ground Zero)

Kung Fu Grip – Bonin’ In The Boneyard – Sunless Saturday – Suffering – Lyin’ Ass Bitch – Ma & Pa

It is really too bad the clock ran out on them because some of my favorite material was in the “not played” file, but again, I was just happy to be part of the scene.

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