The Scene: Cervantes’ venues still bring the diverse and lively music scene to Five Points that author Jack Kerouac once visited the neighborhood for some sixty-seven years ago. In “On the Road” Kerouac wrote: “At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night.” I say bring on the night and bring on Fishbone!
Opener: Brian Handlos, the manager from my neighborhood bar, Brendan’s 404, turned out to be the bass player for the Denver band that was taxed with warming up the room for Fishbone. He is a part of the octet known as Judge Roughneck. Their blend of first and second wave Ska, Rhythm & Blues, and elements of Hip-Hop packed the dance floor. Fishbones’ Angelo Moore joined them on stage to perform during their set and that gave the early birds a little something special. I guess Brian Handlos’ talents go way beyond just pouring a frosty glass of beer. This band was amazing. If you were lucky enough to get a ticket, you may have caught them last Saturday at Reggae on the Rocks with the likes of Rebelution, The Green, and The English Beat.
Fishbone: Moore and company opened up the show with probably their most popular song “Party at Ground Zero.” The song’s lyrics, “Please do not fear ’cause Fishbone is here to say (say what?) / Just have a good time the stop sign is far away,” could not have been more true as they tore off into their twenty-one song set. Considering the band formed in 1979, has recorded seven studio albums, four live albums, and six EPs, they had plenty of material to choose from.
The Ska, Skank, and go nuts sound that founding members Angelo Moore and Norwood Fischer created in the early 80’s when they combined elements of Ska, Punk, and Funk were evident on songs like “Ugly,” “Cholly,” and “Skakin’to the Beat.” The later more aggressive guitar-driven sound that focused on rock and soul music was evident on songs like “Everyday Sunshine,” “Lyin Ass Bitch,” and “Ho’ Fight.”
The group featured two song off their new EP Intrinsically Intertwined; “Whipper Snapper” and my favorite new track “Kung Fu Grip.” From the “covers” department the band played Sublimes‘ “Date Rape,” and Curtis Mayfield’s 1972 hit “Freddie’s Dead.” It was the latter that I thought was the best song of the night. When the song from the movie Superfly began Norwood’s slapping on the bass brought to mind other Blaxploitation soundtracks of the 70s, but it is the lyrics that really set this tune apart. Gone are the images of guns, booze, and hoes. Instead, Curtis Mayfield wrote hard-hitting commentary on the state of affairs in the world around him. Curtis’s message of both defeat and hope is still just as relevant today, especially when tinged with the metal guitar work of Rocky George formerly of Suicidal Tendencies.
The band ended with a three song encore. They started with a funktasticly good cover of Parliament’s “The Goose.” Next up was “Give It Up,” and finally they played “Simon says the Kingpin” to close the night out.
Between the swirling pit of moshers threatening to engulf me, the saxophones, trumpets, and trombones blaring, screaming guitars, thumping bass and bombastic drumming, the night was madness. I don’t think I ever knew which way was up. In the end I could not have been happier, because like Kerouac I came to Five Points to experience the life, joy, kicks, and darkness that the music of bands like Fishbone provide.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: B