feature: look into the vaults of legendary live shows in honor of the bad brains / living colour / fishbone #soundcheck

May 5, 2016

Bad Brains. Living Colour. Fishbone. The true originals. The pioneers. The holy trinity of AFROPUNK. Three of the best live bands in history teaming up for one night at this year’s AFROPUNK festival. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting jam (at least without some serious necromancy). To celebrate the jam, we wanted to look back at some of the most legendary live appearances of the three. Because there’ll be one more to add to the list soon.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK contributor

Living Colour has always been more than the sum of its parts. Corey Glover may be one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, and Vernon Reid may be one of the greatest virtuosos to ever hold a guitar, but its the chemistry between everyone on that stage that makes the band unique. Unlike Fishbone and Bad Brains whose sets are known for their frenzied heights, Living Colour’s sets are more a celebration. The genuine affection between Glover, Reid, and drummer Will Calhoun on this 1992 live set at the Hollywood Rock Festival in Brazil is pure magic. It’s the rare live show where the between song banter is as vital as the songs. “Look at him. Look at him! Isn’t he a vision? I’ll say.”

Above: Living Colour by Karsten Staiger Photography

Fishbone’s original line-up was unmatched in their range. They could jump between a half a dozen styles (sometimes in the course of a single song) and always sound unmistakably like Fishbone. Nowhere was this clearer than in this legendary Tokyo appearance from 1992, where the interplay between ringleader Angelo Moore and multi-instrumentalist Chris Dowd is on full display. Only Angelo Moore could make a mouth harp solo a showstopping moment.

When you’re talking about Bad Brains, every show is legendary. Arguably the greatest live band ever, the Brains leave no stage unchanged. But one show looms largest in their history: the 3 day CBGB’s residency between December 24th and 26th 1982. The most perfect encapsulation of Bad Brains’s power as a live band, the show has achieved almost mythical status. Ask any old school punk in NYC and all of them have a story about Bad Brains at CBGB’s in 1982, though if even a quarter of the people who claimed to have been at that show were actually there that floor would have given out at HR’s first jump. And if you need any better example of that PMA: check out the look of utter joy on Dr. Know’s face with every note.