“I saw them open for The Clash and for Talking Heads,” said Styles, smiling as he re-lived the shows. “I’d never seen anybody stage dive. The dude [leader Angelo Moore] just threw his trombone down and leaped off the front of the stage. I thought he was committing suicide. There’s nothing but chairs out there, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my god.’ All of a sudden all these hands come up and they’re carrying him around and he’s pulling back toward the stage, and I’m saying, ‘Wow, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.’”
Yellow Dubmarine, the seven-piece reggae band playing Beatles’ songs, drew the biggest crowd so far this year. More than 10,000 people crowded onto the waterfront to dance and sing-along, according to Styles. It could be that Fishbone will be the other crowd-pleaser this season.
As so often happens to pioneering performers, Fishbone’s influence has far outstripped its own success. Living Colour, No Doubt, and particularly the Red Hot Chili Peppers, rode the band’s innovative blend of rock and funk to much wider success. But Fishbone has stayed together, and judging by the videos of the band in performance on YouTube, time has done little to dissipate the energy of those early shows Styles so fondly remembers.
If at Riverfront Nights people want to have a party, as Styles suggests, with a band like Fishbone that can’t help but happen.
Richard Winham is the host and producer of WUTC-FM’s afternoon music program and has observed the Chattanooga music scene for more than 25 years.