LIVE: Fishbone, La Société des Arts Technologiques, Montreal #mtljazzfest

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Every year when i come up to Montreal, i always see an artist that I can cross off on my musical “bucket list,” and this year is no exception.

After seeing a myriad of “next big things” basically half ass it or even bomb on stage this past year, it warms my heart to see performers nearing my dad’s age giving their all for a two and a half hour show. Their performance at Montreal’s Jazz Festival was pure energy from start to stop, turning Montreal’s SAT (my new favorite venue in the city) into a rightfully sweaty mess.

I say this again, and again to new artists who want to break into music. And I will say this once more. Study those who have come before you and study them well.

If you don’t know, Fishbone is the brainchild of Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore back in early 80s LA. Combining punk, ska, R&B, soul, and rock, there is still no other band like them on the face of the earth, and if they are any, it’s pure imitation. Unlike their compatriots, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, the band never grew beyond the underground–I guess a bunch of hard rock brothers with guitars was too crazy for white America at the time–yet it never stopped their dedication as a band.

And you see that in their live performance. Ripping through songs like their hits “Freddie’s Dead (cover),” and “Everyday Sunshine,” their latest lineup was in pure form. Angelo rocks the stage like a pure frontman, taking the stage with more charisma than anyone I’ve seen in recent years. Thought the band has gone through several lineup changes, it seems that their latest iteration might just be their best yet.

But unfortunately, while watching their show and being overcome with joy, I also unexpectedly got a different feeling–anger. After 30 years, these guys are still giving it their all, however they could have been so much bigger. Instead of playing for a few hundred people at SAT, they should’ve been playing for thousands. I don’t know what exactly why this is the case–is it racism? An unstable band situation? Mishandling by their label? We will never know.

What I do know is that these guys put on quite possibly one of the best shows I’ve seen in ages, and the best I’ve seen this year. Even if you can’t get down with their sound (and most likely you can), you should attend this show simply for the sheer energy.