Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fishbone: Mad Vibe

ONE COOL FALL EVENING back in the mid -80’s The Leopard was strolling on a downtown Washington D.C. street when I heard the most wonderful noise –blaring brass horns, played loud and rhythmically like roaring choo-choo. I peeked down a dark, black-bricked passageway following the sounds. Once inside, there was a dimly lit club, hot as a toaster oven, stuffed to the rafters with young men and women of all races and ethnic types in punk regalia – torn jeans and t-shirts, spiky hair of all colors and consistencies  - wildly slam dancing with an almost murderous abandon. Beer bottles were flying, and other identified liquids which made the floor shiny-slick. Kids had their heads thrown back in sheer ecstasy while others leapt on and off the stage, sometimes barging into the band’s space – and diving into a mosh of sweaty, writhing bodies.

Leading all this were five young black men, also drenched, dancing so wildly I feared the lead singer, (Angelo Moore, A.K.A. Dr. Madd Vibe), would somehow injure himself, what with his crazy twitching so near the mike stand, and his insistence on rolling around on the glass covered floor.
All 5 men were also simultaneously playing all manner of instruments sometimes switching from a saxophone to a keyboard, to a guitar or bass, while singing, rapping or simply screaming—all seemingly with righteous purpose. Before I realized it, I too joined the fray. By the end of the wet, dark, hot night I was, and forever more, a Fishbone fan.

Since, over the years, I’ve purchased nearly all their recordings and stuck by them through thick and thin, and gone to see them many times. They never disappoint. Now in their mid-to-late 50’s, only two of the original band members whom I saw that fateful night at the 9:30 Club remain. Lead singer/cofounder Angelo and bass player/high school pal & co-founder Norwood Fisher.

When I saw them recently at Brooklyn Bowl, It seemed nothing had changed. Before the show, Wearing a wrinkled Beetlejuice –like suit, Moore waded through the crowd, greeting fans and taking iphone selfies. I couldn’t resist. As I realized I never actually made an acquaintance with this man who’d gRown to mean so much to me. As I strode up to him, placing my hand on his shoulder to pose for a portrait, I whispered in his ear, “I love you man”.  He knowingly smiled.

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