38 Years Later, Fishbone Still Keeps It Real For ‘Chim Chim Rises: Return of the Monkey Tour’ (SHOW REVIEW)

The Los Angeles based ska/funk/freak-outfit Fishbone have been touring the last few years with various line-ups and to various sized crowds. For their most recent trek around the country the group has brought back some of their original members and decided to forgo classic numbers by digging dug deep into their catalog. The band never played by the rules and now decided to tour behind one of their least popular albums, Chim Chim’s Bad Ass Revenge, but that didn’t stop their fans from coming out to the Grammercy Theatre on March 24th for the Chim Chim Rises: Return of the Monkey Tour.

Before the headliners took the stage though two New York City Hardcore bands had opening sets in the hot, packed theater. Ache opened the night with their heavy speed punk mixed with brief bursts of headbanging aggression. The band stretched out for “98.6” off of their 2014 demo with frontman Ryan Bland commanding the stage in front of scorching guitars and slamming drums.

The show turned into more of a party when No Redeeming Social Value took the stage. The old school punk group got the crowd to lighten up by deploying mascots dressed as beer bottles, chickens, (and more) while also throwing beach balls into the crowd and inciting chant-alongs for songs like “Pussy Pussy Pussy” and “Beer =’s Fun”. While many in the packed house were unfamiliar with the group when they started, by the end of the set lots of new fans were converted by riotous numbers like “Still Drinking”, “Old-E” and “Skinheads Rule”.

Fishbone was up next and the headliner’s opener “Unyielding Conditioning” remains just as lyrically relevant today as it was when it was released in 1993. It worked well kicking off the set while “Pray To The Junkiemaker” also rings true with its funky rasta breaks before their all-time cover of the classic “Freddie’s Dead” got everyone fired up. Fishbone this tour is working with a power-packed lineup: Norwood Fisher on bass, “Dirty” Walt Kibby on trumpet and vocals, John Bigham and Rocky Johnson playing guitar, Jay Armant on trombone, Paul Hampton on keys, and the returning Fish Fisher on drums all behind the whirlwind wizard Angelo Moore fronting the band and blowing his big horn.

Maybe it was the opening heavy acts or the band about to focus on their most “metal” release, but whatever the reason a stomping version of the underrated “Swim” boomed forth and was a definite highlight of the night.

The full album came next and the standouts from Chim Chim’s Bad Ass Revenge were a cooking “Beergut” and the popular “Alcoholic”. In fairness, the crowd wasn’t as engaged if this had just been a “normal” Fishbone show that was career ranging, but by performing underplayed efforts like “Riot” and “Sourpuss” longtime fans were able to cross them off their ‘saw live’ list.

A double encore of the horn protesting “Fishy Swa Ska” (another extremely relevant old number) and the oddly weird (and perfectly Fishbone) theremin and slide bass dominated cover of Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers “Bustin’ Loose” were selected to end the night. As always this dynamic live group refuses to be pigeonholed and marches to their own funky drummer.

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