In a twist of irony, while lazing around this Saturday and playing the YouTube 80's DJ Game (in which you try not to be predictable while pulling up old music videos), my girlfriend pulled up "Modern Industry" without even knowing I was taking her to the show. The break-through song and video that first thrust them into the national consciousness shows a manic mad-hatteresque Angelo Moore as a kind of cyber-punk B-boy, ranting on commercialism, the crush of mass communication, radio "personalities." This group ur-persona as agents of revolution defined them as they blazed through late '80's, trend-swapping with unique takes on synth, bass licks that picked up adherents and admirers from Flea to Bela Fleck, and vocals, guitar and horns that took funk, reggae, ska, punk, spoken word and soul and mashed them all into a Fishbone stew of tireless, raucous energy and timeless ingenuity.
The classics such as "Party at Ground Zero" and "I Wish I had a Date" -- and they absolutely deserve that label—are as impactful now as they were then, but grittier, more layered, and really, just plain more. No wonder a whole sub-generation of Y's showed up at school one day with Fishbone shirts and Fuck Racism buttons -- Fishbone had taken the idea of alternative and blew it the fuck-up and now they've seasoned it with layers and grunge and harder rock feel. It's timeless, but it has aged well.
The Monday concert, a redux of February's Thursday night concert earlier this year, was only half as attended (casual estimate this time around was 150 or so, all crowded around the stage and lingering in the surrounding cage and wood-like City Museum maze), but the energy in this crowd was all-over, frenetic, spontaneous, pleasure-seeking and in sync. Angelo's stump to stump dance moves, his stage dive, followed by the younger Fisher's stage dive, followed by some Mardi Gras inspired crowd nudity, capped off by some serious soulful spoken word, sprinkled with harmonies, the appropriate use of a theremin and a "what will they do next" mix, put the crowd on an edge in which they danced and generally acted like horny teenagers again.
Angelo stopped his show briefly to salute the St. Louis fans and to comment that playing at the City Museum was like visiting "Willy Wonka's without the chocolate." Some venues are just made for some bands, like the Dead and the Filmore or the Whiskey a Go-Go and the Doors. For Fishbone, at least for St. Louis, writing an essay it's the City Museum, and the band were like deranged, musical umpa lumpas, and I was like Charlie and my wristband, well that was like a golden ticket.