Even if you think you don't know Fishbone, you might. Seen Say Anything? Lloyd Dobler sports a Fishbone t-shirt all over that movie. The scene where Lloyd holds up the radio outside Diane Court's window and blasts Peter Gabriel? He's actually blasting Fishbone on the set. Ask members of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Primus, No Doubt, Jane's Addiction, George Clinton or even Ice-T (who each appear in the doc Everyday Sunshine), and they'll tell you. The band is their contemporary...and a major, inspiring influence. As T says it, they're an "original o.g." Before their brand of punk/rock/ska/reggae/funk, there was no "pre-Fishbone."
I have my own history with the band. The soundtrack for Say Anything and John Cusack and Tim Robbins' passion for them, plus Fishbone's apperance in the actors' cult hit Tapeheads, cemented the group in my early teen movie memory. After that, I tried never to pass up a chance to see them live. For me and diehard fans of the group, not much comes close to the energy and "life" experienced at a show from these musical hybrid magicians.
I've watched them play for thousands at Lollapalooza, hundreds at USC's Springfest, and - in a most "intimate" concert experience - to me and four friends at a post-Katrina benefit show at the Roxy. The Fishbone crew were game that time to perform at the all-day charity event, but due to last minute scheduling and a bad, final slot, I and a few pals were the only ones left when they took the stage.
And that's when I fell in love again with this band. They didn't seem to care that there were only a few of us watching. The band and singer Angelo Moore - one of the greatest, unheralded front men in the history of rock - knew they were playing for a good cause (charity tickets had been sold out for the day's lineup, and Interscope had already auctioned off lots of cool stuff). They gave it, to phrase one of their best albums, lots of "truth and soul." Angelo came down onto the floor and rocked out with us while the rest of the group, founder/bassist Norwood Fisher and an ensemble of musicians, kept it grooving for a fine set. I'll remember the show, more so than Lollapalooza, because it said everything about the character - and characters - in Fishbone.
I recommend that anyone who likes good, eclectic music and movies check out this pic as soon as you can. It chronicles the band's history in hilarious, heartbreaking, hard-rocking fashion - from the verge of pre-Nirvana superstardom to an industry onslaught of passing trends (and a weird religious cult for one ex-member) to Fishbone's acceptance of their fate and their undying spirit to keep it rocking anyways.
This is rock doc must-see material...what are others for you guys? Or rock mocks? Or rock movies? Seen It Might Get Loud? Intimately familiar with Spinal Tap? Can't go a month without cuttin' loose to Footloose or Tommy? Comment and let know below!
Also, a big kudos to the L.A. Film Festival for premiering this documentary. The fest is still happening at venues across downtown L.A. through the 27th, and they've still got lots of great stuff yet to screen - including a Saturday matinee of Pee Wee's Big Adventure at the Orpheum. If you live in L.A. and aren't going to see The Karate Kid for the third time, check out the rest of the L.A. Film Fest schedule here.