Due to the fact that I felt compelled to watch the entirety of the drubbing of the UA basketball team at the hands of UCLA, I missed all but the last chords of the last song by openers Mankind. But I can offer a two-word review of every Mankind set I've ever seen (and there have been many): Fuck Mankind! (And just in case you've never seen them perform, trust me, that's a compliment.)
Next up were Chango Malo, who, after a career spent being compared to Fishbone, finally got the opportunity to open for them. They didn't disappoint. In fact, much of their set was filled with new songs that sound, well, less Fishboney than their older material--the ska elements of yore had been largely excised, and there was a distinct quality of melodic maturity, more to grab onto. Clearly jazzed to share the stage with their heroes--at one point, singer Quin Davis exclaimed, "I've wanted to play with this band since 1986!"--the sextet injected even more energy into their performance than usual, which is saying an awful lot.
After a huge gap during which technical and sound issues were ironed out, Fishbone finally eased into a loping reggae groove that showcased the dancehall MC skills of keyboardist Dre Gipson. It was a slightly odd start for the band that pretty much single-handedly invented the whole ska-funk-punk hybrid, and one known for their dementedly energetic live shows. But any fears that the band had lost a step or two over the last quarter-century were quickly put to rest when, halfway through that first song, Gipson and frontman Angelo Moore both dove head-first into the crowd. The mania endured for the next hour and 45 minutes, as the band plowed through a mix of newer, often unfamiliar songs; old favorites such as "Everyday Sunshine," "Alcoholic," and "Ma and Pa"; covers of Sublime's "Date Rape" and Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead"; and even the theme song from the '70s TV show Good Times.
They closed with the sing-along anthem "Party at Ground Zero," and despite the clock reading well past the 2 a.m. closing time, Moore defiantly extended it by prodding each band member into soloing--which was fine by us, if not the club staff.