Fishbone's show at the Palace on Friday capped a quick rise for the first black band since the Bus Boys to make a mark on the L.A. rock scene. On stage, though, the kinetic sextet pelts you with so much action that it's nearly impossible to get a fix on what it's about.
It's easier to identify the sources of Fishbone's volatile vaudeville, starting with the original funk ringmaster, George Clinton. There's the danceable drive of England's ska bands, the mix of hardcore and reggae formulated by D.C.'s Bad Brains, the apocalyptic concerns of Prince ("Party at Ground Zero" is a short step away from "1999"), the nervous energy of Oingo Boingo.
They keep things lively with their punk-derived aggression and sharp sound, but their hyperactivity makes them seem slippery and evasive. Fishbone may have something original deep down, but they're locked into a novelty stance that doesn't let you get beneath the surface. File under "Wait and See."