29. Fishbone – Sunless Saturday

I see the pestilence outside my window. I see the dung heaps piled at least a mile high.

I was sitting in the bar at Macquarie University one Friday afternoon and Sunless Saturday came through the ceiling speakers. I didn’t recognize the band, and the title had something to do with Saturday but I couldn’t figure out Sunless. Nobody I was with knew the song. The barman didn’t know the song. I was left in the dark until a week later when I heard it on the radio and I had to persevere through the following songs until I heard the announcer telling me I had just listened to Fishbone. Great, now who in the world were Fishbone?

I bought the album and it was not what I expected. Sunless Saturday was the metal side of Fishbone, but they had other equally brilliant songs that sounded much more ska or soul, such as Everyday Sunshine. I would play the album for people and they’d go “Fishbone? Who are Fishbone?”

They mightn’t have been big in Australia, but they had come to visit as a support act to the Violent Femmes. My good buddy Kevin Grealish went to see the gig. He didn’t know who Fishbone were, either, but they opened the evening and were loud and up-tempo, with seven of them jumping around on stage having a huge time. They entertained the crowd that was waiting for the Femmes.

Now the rules in Australia were such that an Aussie act had to be the main support for an international touring band. As an example, when I went to see The Police somewhere around 1983 with about four thousand other people, they were supported by Bryan Adams (in his Cuts like a Knife era) and The Sunnyboys (Alone With You). Bryan Adams was a stadium rocker and had a great time playing with the big crowd. He was loud and he joked with the audience and he ran around stage like a madman. We might have thought he was some Canadian nut job but he kept us from being bored in the sun. I’d even go so far as to say he was too good. To my great regret, my memories of that gig are more of Bryan Adams than The Police.

Bryan Adams was followed by The Sunnyboys. I had heard The Sunnyboys because some friend of a friend was a friend of the band and played the single repeatedly one evening. I’d guess their previous largest audience was about 150 folks, including bar staff. They’d never done an arena before. They were tiny on stage. I was in the audience cheering for them, wishing for them to interact with the crowd more or even just move around a bit. I wanted them to succeed, but the contrast to Bryan Adams was too large to overcome. As I looked around the masses of people, I could see my fellow audience members were bored. Squishing a fine Aussie pub band between two big International acts didn’t work out.

So with that in mind, who did they book to follow Fishbone? To give you the full effect, here’s Fishbone singing Sunless Saturday in a video directed by Spike Lee.


Between Fishbone and the Femmes they booked … Frente. Little Angie Hart was pretty, with a lovely voice and trend-leading nose jewelry but there was no way an audience riled up by Fishbone’s Boning in the Boneyard was going to sit still for beautiful mellow Frente. Within minutes they were chanting, “Femmes! Femmes!” It was a long set for Frente.

In 1996 I moved to America and asked the dude sitting opposite me at work, Raman Sarin, if he’d heard of Fishbone. “Sure!” he said, “Bonin’ in the Boneyard!” I’d moved to somewhere where people knew their music.

Fishbone came to Seattle so we went to see them at the Fenix Underground. They’d slimmed down to five members but still lit it up on stage. It was a great concert. The most memorable part of the gig was Angelo Moore jumping so hard that his pants fell down to reveal his bouncing willy. He’d gone commando with his baggy pants held up by suspenders and, whoops, a wardrobe malfunction. Sure it was staged but it was fine entertainment for the Fenix crowd. Angelo doesn’t lack for confidence.

From the album The Reality of my Surroundings.


Next: 28. Public Image Limited – Public Image

Previous: 30. The Buzzcocks – What Do I Get


3 Responses to “29. Fishbone – Sunless Saturday”

  1. 1 Jean Curtis
    July 31, 2009 at 19:27

    ah yes, Angelo’s bouncing willy. An imagine I fail to omit from my memory despite many attempts.

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