There stood Angelo Moore, front-man for Fishbone, decked out in a white jumpsuit with his nickname “Dr. Madd Vibe” embroidered across his chest. Puffed up, squared away, ready to go onstage for his July 3 gig at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
“I just woke up,” he confessed shortly before midnight.
Twenty minutes later, who would have known? In Tahoe to help local band Lavish Green celebrate its 20th anniversary, he led his six bandmates in a high-energy performance that spilled into the early hours of Independence Day.
“The party’s just starting,” he advised the crowd of several hundred inside Hard Rock’s Vinyl showroom.
As it takes the stage, Fishbone for decades has been introduced as the “greatest band in the world.” But before the “Party at Ground Zero” began, Moore praised Lavish Green for its own long, successful run. Lavish Green’s Chris Sanchez described his band as a “baby Fishbone,” whose music also is hard to define.
At different times, sometimes in the same tune, Fishbone includes elements of funk, punk, soul, R&B, reggae, ska, hard rock, twang, Big Band and even an occasional touch of Barbershop .
Moore relies heavily on irreverence on both the stage in his songs, but “Suffering” is a poignant critique of marriage. For visual effect, a concertgoer who stood at front of the stage handed his wedding ring to Moore while he sang, “The engagement ring, the wedding ring, the church bells ring, and the suffering.”
Last summer at the Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival, Fishbone only played for about 20 minutes due to a rain storm that delayed the event. But on this night, the band played a full set and treated fans to songs from its entire library of records. It played “Wish I Had a Date” from the 1986 debut “In Your Face,” and two tunes from the early 1990s that captured the attention of listeners beyond the band’s hometown Los Angeles: autobiographical “Everyday Sunshine” and the Curtis Mayfield cover “Freddie’s Dead.”
Fishbone has downsized its onstage antics somewhat. In 2014, the Associated Press reported, a federal judge ordered the band to pay a $1.4 million settlement to a New Jersey woman injured four years earlier when “Dr. Madd Vibe” Moore dove from the stage into the crowd.
Moore and other band members responded on their Facebook page, “The claim against us outlined what was a very unfortunate and accidental circumstance experienced by someone who had never been to Fishbone concert.
“… We do not endorse or encourage disruptive behavior that results in injury. We do endorse self-expression and feel strongly that self-expression is a powerful form of artistic release as it defines the punk rock subculture we and hundreds of bands have been part of since the late 1970s.”
After Moore advised the crowd, the diminutive trombone player “Flying” Jay Armant did the diving at the Lake Tahoe show. He’s at least a foot shorter than Moore and makes Trombone Shorty look like Shaquille O’Neal. All was good, with Moore lending a hand to “Flying Jay” who surfed the handy, attentive crowd.
Moore pitched some Fishbone merchandise in the lobby. Times are tense, he said, holding up a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Fuck Racism” and including the band’s logo. Fans chanted back the mantra.
Always outspoken and never dull, Fishbone gave folks something to think about on the way out.