Critical Times: Fishbone’s Hen House Sessions (MVD)
by Ari M. Joffe
I haven’t kept up with Fishbone since the mid-’90s when they were being treated by MTV as a “buzz” band, so I was anxious to check out this documentary of their 2001 sessions at the Hen House, a free community recording space in California.
There are a few interesting things going on here. First off, this isn’t a retrospective of the band’s career. No mention is given to some of the former band members that, if memory serves, ended up joining some kind of weird religious cult a few years back. No groupie-groping scenes, coke snorting, or ego-tripping here. It’s just the band going over their arrangements and trying to nail their parts down. This should be interesting for the musician viewers out there, but might seem a bit boring for the average fan.
Secondly, there’s the aspect of watching a band that has probably passed their commercial peak but is, nevertheless, still reaching for new artistic heights. It’s pretty damn refreshing to watch these dudes put all this time and energy into creating their music, some of which sounds awesome, while acknowledging it’ll never get the kind of exposure it once did.
This DVD seems like a “forget-me-not” to remind folks that Fishbone is still a hard rockin’ funk, punk, ska, jazz, reggae, metal machine. And they’re still weird as hell. Maybe it’s time to usher in the Fishbone renaissance, huh?