It was an interesting night for all of those that attended the Fairfield Theater Company on March 23. Most guests were obvious die hard fans of the eclectic group. People of all different ages were dressed for the occasion, bobbed their heads to every song, mouthed out lyrics and moshed their way through the center of the floor. But those who were unaware of the strange nature of Fishbone, seemed to be unpleasantly surprised by the brash and outrageous group. Eight band members mobbed the stage, which was just a few too many for the venue to hold – there always seemed to be a competition between instruments and voices. It didn’t seem to bother those who were familiar with the music because they were recognizable inflections, but there were times when it was hard to make out the melody being sung from horn section, which made up a third of the band.
The group is known for their diverse musical styles and tones. They range from funky and technical ska, to bold and brash thrash. But different venues work well for different bands and genres. For example, seeing Metallica at the Blue Note wouldn’t be very fitting, nor would putting John Coltrane at Red Rocks. This is all an outsider’s point of view as well. Again, those die hard fans were having the time of their lives. But there were many out of place patrons (ones lacking leather clothing and chains) that left early or lost interest halfway through. Fishbone was undoubtedly very talented and professional and the venue has hosted some incredible shows that were perfect for it’s size, but they just didn’t have the space to let Fishbone loose. There were too many sounds and tones to be shoved through their PA system, which ranged from a theremin, to a fret-less acoustic bass guitar. It felt unintelligible at times, which was only true during the heavy parts.
It wasn’t all indeterminable noise. As stated before, Fishbone is well known for there buck-wild performance and expansive genre selection. They played a well-balanced setlist, oscillating from ska, to punk, hard rock and back over again, so it wasn’t a constant barrage of sound the entire night. Ska and reggae styled songs like “Unyielded Conditioning” were very well done. Each instrument could be heard clearly and it was enjoyable for everyone. But songs similar to “In The Cube” a ten minute hard rock/metal track about sitting on the toilet, were musically all over the place and contained too many tone variations for the sound system to handle, especially during the heavier parts.
Again, no one was at fault here. The Fairfield Theater Company is a fantastic venue with a huge stage, open area, and Fishbone and Rebuilder, the opening act, did their jobs and did them well. Rebuilder is a punk/ rock band out of Boston Massachusetts and gave 100 percent. Their sound was a little familiar, pulling out all the stops listeners would expect from a punk band. But it was reassuring to see that genre of music still thriving. Fishbone gave it their absolute all as well because this is the first time all of the original members have shared a stage for sometime. But somethings aren’t meant to go together. Like pineapple on pizza – great for some people, but just not a good mix for others. And when a band is trying to make a come back like they were, they need to appeal to as many people as possible, and a more intimate venue in central Fairfield was not the place to gain a larger audience.
This may seem like the interpretation of an older, less tolerant soul. But rest assured, loud and brash music is still fantastic to see live, but only in the proper setting. Fishbone is a group known specifically for their wild performances, but just be sure to see them in the right venue to give listener’s ears some space to enjoy the music instead of leaving them ringing.