The best moments in life are often those that come with little planning – so when my buddy hit me up last Wednesday about making a last-minute trip to see ska/punk/funk legends Fishbone at Syracuse’s Westcott Theater – I said “Funk ya!” California’s Fishbone has been touring since 1979 and still features three original members – lead vocalist Angelo Moore, bassist John Norwood Fisher and “Dirty” Walter A Kibby II on trumpet. Add in Rocky George of Suicidal Tendencies fame on guitar, John Steward on drums, Jay Armant on trombone, and Paul Hampton on the keys and they become a force to be reckoned with. This is no watered down state fair nostalgia act, this is the real deal.
We made good time to the show and got in right as opener Brett Wilson (of Roots of Creation) took the stage. Wilson’s solo act is an acoustic singer/songwriter gig featuring covers and original material. Despite being a lone man on stage, he was a formidable presence and got the early comers moving and pumped for the acts to follow.
Next up was Street Rock Mafia – a rap/funk/rock group from Utica. The Mafia’s genre is well stated as their sound lay somewhere in between Limp Bizkit, Ludacris and Syracuse’s own Sophistafunk. With ample guitar to go with the eloquent hip hop and subtle funk undertones – this band should have no trouble finding a varied audience as they continue to grow.
Finally it was time to grab one of the Westcott’s micro brews and get a spot up front for Fishbone. The audience was a bit sparse considering the history of this band, but that took little from the experience. The band came out to play one of their most well-known tunes “Party at Ground Zero” and immediately set the dance floor on fire. Showing no signs of age – vocalist/multi instrumentalist Moore was bouncing around the stage like an eighteen year old – and the rest of the band followed suit. The set featured a mix of old and new material and a spot on cover of the Sublime classic “Date Rape.” The band even managed to give a shout out to guitarist George’s old band – Suicidal Tendencies – with an extended head bang worthy jam around the tune “Institutionalized”. I, of course, immediately asked the bartender for a Pepsi, but he wouldn’t give me one.
Fishbone is touring heavily this year and was just announced as a headliner for September’s Last Daze of Summer festival at Sterling Stage in Sterling, NY. Put this band on your bucket list and find a way to see them. The last-minute journey to funkytown was well worth the five hours of sleep and the groggy morning after. And I finally got my Pepsi.