This week in Clubland, it's all about Fishbone.
In one of the summer's coolest club bookings, the legendary Los Angeles punk-funk ensemble will perform in the "An Evening With" format at 10 tonight in Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.).
This is big. Big enough so that, if you are planning to see Brian Wilson reunited with the Beach Boys tonight out at Darien Lake, you still might want to consider hauling yourself directly down to Allentown afterward. Fishbone, after all, represents the "other '80s" of the Los Angeles music scene -- the deep, dark and desperate underground that gave us Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and (in San Francisco) Primus. If you asked anyone in the above-cited bands who schooled them, who inspired them, and who frightened them the most when they were coming up, the smart money would be on them sputtering Fishbone in muted, reverential tones.
Fishbone arrived at the dawn of the '80s, radically reimagined funk, marrying it to alternative, metal and punk rock, and drove it all home for the listener with grooves that confronted with aggression, like a sledgehammer to the head. Just as significantly, the band told you the truth concerning the economic and political realities the "have-nots" faced in Reagan-era America. The trickle-down was not trickling too far, it would seem, and Fishbone's Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher were anxious to make this fact plain. Back then, in the mostly pre-rap music world, an all-African-American ensemble was not welcomed with open arms into the still segregated mainstream. Fishbone blew just about every single one of their contemporaries out of the water, musically, stylistically, attitude-wise. But they were never going to be as big as Bon Jovi, were they? Whatever. The mainstream's loss is a gain for the rest of us.
That independent spirit is still to the band's credit all these years later, with its status as progenitors of the American alternative music movement beyond any reasonable challenge. To see a band this important in the intimate environs of Nietzsche's? We are blessed to be offered such an opportunity.
Though our collective cup already overfloweth, we'll be doubly blessed to see "Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone," a riveting, verite-infused docu-drama narrated by Laurence Fishburne chronicling the rise, fall and rebirth of this incredibly significant American band -- prior to the Nietzsche's gig. The film will be screened at 7 tonight in Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center (341 Delaware Ave.) Immediately following, attendees will be able to participate in a Q&A session with the bandmembers -- and if you've every had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Moore, you know that this isn't going to be some lame-brained, glossing-over-the-tough-bits type of dialogue.
Tickets for the "Everyday Sunshine" screening and Q&A at Hallwalls are $10. Admission for the Nietzsche's concert is $25. More information and tickets for both events can be found through ECEpresents.com. Don't miss this!
At 10 p.m. Saturday, following the moe./Conspirator double-bill at Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor, Nietzsche's is offering another killer bill, this one headlined by the immensely loveable electro-jam outfit Lazlo Hollyfeld, with friends the Etchings and Ka Kaugh helping out with the heavy lifting. Stop across the street at Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar first, and catch the 6 p.m. happy hour set from jazz drummer Carmen Intorre and friends first.
Al Schnier and Vin Amico, who will be headlining the harbor concert with moe. on Saturday, will bring their eminently charming bluegrass/jam side project Floodwood to Duke's following the harbor show. If you caught the band last time it rolled through town and paused at Duke's, then you know this show will be the icing on your moe. cake.
Finally, prog-rock legends Van Der Graaf Generator take over the Tralf Music Hall at 8 tonight. This band is still a powerhouse.