In Festival Guide

Fishbone played the Big Backyard Thursday afternoon.

Fishbone serves up satisfying ska on Summerfest's second day

Backstage in the green room of the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard was a scene you'd probably expect from a seasoned band like Fishbone prepping for a later afternoon co-headliner: a couple of beers going down, light chatter and an air of "been there done that."

This is a "weekend warrior type gig" as keyboardist Paul Hampton explained. They toured hard with the "Chim Chim Rises: Return of the Monkey Tour" last year, reuniting original members together for the first time in 25 years, so their summer bookings are of the one-off variety.

With the rest of the band already on stage, lead man Angelo Moore poured a cup of coffee and headed out to kick off the show with "Unyielding." The extended version of that song, which started prior to the band's 4 p.m. time slot, showed the professionalism of a band that's been on the road for the better part of four decades.

After getting the crowd going, and seamlessly correcting some sound issues, they set up shop. The band's unique blend of ska, blues and rock is all Fishbone. This seven piece band's skill of fusing the genres is years in the making. The Fisher brother's rhythmic core (Norwood on bass and Fish on drums) is the heartbeat that makes the magic happen. The current lineup is a nice balance of four original members with some talented newcomers.

Back to the show, the crowd got lathered up with the classic "Everyday Sunshine," and they broke into some serious ska with "Fishy Swa Ska," "A Selection" and "Skankin" standing out.

The band, never afraid to express its political beliefs, dedicated "Lyin' Ass Bitch" to our president. "Give it Up" is an anti-war song that merits attention as a deep cut that still carries weight. They also catered to the Milwaukee crowd with a rendition of "Alcoholic" during which they challenged the crowd to show them their drinks.

A long open mic poetry slam type intro from Moore had a few in the audience trying to figure out what was coming for the final number. They were rewarded as Fishbone ended the show with "Party at Ground Zero," their most recognizable hit. You know the band is doing something right when the security guard standing next to you starts clapping after every song in the set.

Ska was served on an overcast Thursday afternoon, and the Summerfest crowd loved it.


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