All-time great performances: Fishbone on SNL

March 23, 1991. I was sitting in the commons room at Brown House, my happy home for the past three years. I was terrified of the world outside Duke. We had watched most of the Gulf War on the same TV. The recession limited our job prospects. I had concluded I wasn’t going to find the woman of my dreams in college (in retrospect, a good thing — I still had some growing up to do).

Saturday Night Live was a nice respite for us. The musical act that night was Fishbone, which existed on our plane as one of those bands whose name we had heard but little else.

By the time Angelo Moore got three-quarters of the way through a front flip to kick off Kendall Jones’ blazing guitar solo, my jaw was hanging open. I couldn’t believe guys could run around and create such chaos on stage while playing such a powerful rock song called Sunless Saturday.

I was vaguely aware that my dormmates were less impressed. Angelo’s antics aren’t for everyone. “Dirty Walt,” the dude with the Mohawk doing backup vocals and not playing trumpet even though he was supposedly the band’s trumpet player, freaked out a few people.

But after it ended, all I could do was say, “That … was awesome!”

Not sure my dormmates ever looked at me the same way again. I didn’t mind — I went out and bought The Reality of My Surroundings and listened to it nonstop that summer. It’s still in my top 10 or 20 albums of all time.

It’s No. 57 here: StompBeast: THE 100 BEST SNL PERFORMANCES (3 of 5).

(Unfortunately, my quest to find video of The Time’s marvelously choreographed performance of Jerk Out is still unfulfilled.)

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