Enlarge Photo by Chino Wongeno

Video: Bad Brains, Living Colour, and Fishbone Stage Awesome Megajam at Brooklyn’s Afropunk Fest

  • Axl Rosenberg

I never thought I’d feel bad for Ice Cube… until last night.

See, the founding member of N.W.A. closed out this weekend’s Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn with an hour-long set featuring many of his biggest hits… and yet, he was completely overshadowed by the bands that had gone on before him. ‘Cause those bands were Bad Brains, Living Colour, and Fishbone… together.

The historic jam session unfolded thusly:

After an introduction from the actor Geoffrey Wright (Angels in AmericaBasquiat, Casino Royale, etc.), Living Colour took the stage to perform four original songs, including “Cult of Personality,” “Type,” and “Ignorance is Bliss,” plus a cover of Biggie Smalls’ “Who Shot Ya?”.The latter track is part of a LC-curated mixtape that will feature a variety of takes on the song (you can pre-order that mixtape here).

It goes without saying that Living Colour were incredible. I’ve seen this band live more than a dozen times and they’ve never been anything less than stellar. Thirty years into their career, and they don’t seem to have aged a day. I dunno how they do it.

When Living Colour wrapped up their set, Fishbone came out, and a LC/Fishbone hybrid performed a cover of James Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine”…

…before Fishbone broke out a batch of their most beloved tunes, including “Party at Ground Zero,” “Every Day Sunshine,” and “The Suffering.” I hadn’t seen these dudes live in ten years, and I gotta say, I was blown away: they haven’t slowed down a bit. Frontman Angelo Moore is fifty-one years old, but the dude’s voice was in perfect shape, and he was leaping around the stage with the energy of a teenager. He’s in better shape than I am, and he’s got seventeen years on me.

Then shit got really crazy. With Bad Brains vocalist H.R. currently unable to perform due to health issues, the band’s remaning members — guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson performed with Moore, Living Colour’s Corey Glover, and The Suffers’ Kam Franklin on vocals… and LC’s Vernon Reid on lead guitar, just to give their material that much extra boost. Lemme tell you, not a lot of circle pits break out at Afropunk Fest, but this one was so massive the stage was temporarily hidden behind a cloud of dirt kicked up by the audience.

Welcome to America. Living Colour/Fishbone/BaaaadBraaainnss!

A video posted by Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) on

And then, in case that wasn’t all enough, they brought out George fucking Clinton for a Parliament Funkadelic cover featuring members of all three bands.

A video posted by Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) on

The three bands’ were scheduled to play for ninety minutes; by my watch, their set lasted closer to two hours. No one was complaining. Like I said: I felt bad for Ice Cube, who never really stood a chance of following this, even with guest appearances from Clinton and members of N.W.A. “It Was a Good Day” was a fun way to close out the fest, to be sure — but all anyone could talk about on the way home was Bad Brains, Living Colour, and Fishbone.

Photo by Chino Wongeno
Photo by Chino Wongeno
Photo by Chino Wongeno
Photo by Chino Wongeno
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