You are at a music festival. The lights fade out and the annoying background music suddenly stops playing. The headlining band comes forward and starts playing immediately. Not wasting any time, they erupt into their fastest, bounciest hit that everybody came to hear. The crowd is immediately riled up. You’re barely able to hold your ground as inebriated and sweaty people (mostly dudes) of all sizes around you start shoving with all of their might and even pogo-ing three feet off the ground.
You were expecting something like this. This is how this type of fast music has been universally celebrated since it was created in the '70s. But then out of nowhere, you hear a crunch in your body and see a flash of light and suddenly wake up in the hospital. What do you do?
In the case of Kimberly Myers — a 47-year-old mother of three from New Jersey who experienced something like this at a Fishbone show in 2010 — you sue the band, the venue, their management and their booking agent for everything they're worth. In this case, approximately $1.4 million.
The problem, according to Fishbone's lead singer, Angelo Moore (aka Dr. Madd Vibe), is that the band is just barely getting by. “Contrary to popular beliefs, we’re barely able to make it month to month with living expenses as it is. Fishbone has been living the lifestyle of the rich and famous but not actually rich for a really long time,” he tells L.A. Weekly.
Like many successful bands playing genres (in this case, funk, punk and ska) outside the mainstream, Fishbone's only reliable source of income, besides a few pennies off streaming music services, is whatever they make from touring and selling merchandise. With Moore's home base of Los Angeles in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, it's barely enough to get by.
“It makes me not want to eat,” Moore says. “It screws with my will to perform, with my internal happiness, and I’m having to hear about it all day; the amount of money is bizarre, unrealistic and just plain scary.”
But for Moore, the most unsettling aspect, besides the amount of money being asked for, is that he's been accused of not showing any real remorse for the incident. When asked about this allegation, he responds, “Hell yeah, I feel bad, man.
“I never wish anybody any harm; it’s unfortunate that she got hurt. A lot of articles are saying that I’m unremorseful. But that’s not me. I’m sorry that you got hurt. I remember the first time that I got hurt at a punk rock show. It was in 1984 at a Dead Kennedys show, I jumped and landed straight on my knees and I don’t want anybody going through anything like that.”
Ironically, it was this same Dead Kennedys show that paved the way for his stage-diving-driven live performance style. “I got up there with my jerry curls and pop-locking outfit that I had bought at the mall. It looked like they were flying, man, and I wanted to do that, too.” He adds that stage-diving to him is equivalent to when you’re in church and overtaken with the spirit and joy of the lord.
Moore has already successfully crowd-funded nearly 80 percent of the initial $10,000 he needs to afford legal representation in his court battle, with 18 days still left in his FundRazr campaign. Some dedicated fans have donated as much as $500; one such fan, Strider Smith, noted, “You guys have always been there for me. Your music has been pivotal in my life. I would not be the person I am today without Fishbone.” Another fan, Sean Buguba, even commented that he was there when the whole event happened and “saw her not get hurt.”
A benefit show with bands that share Moore's performance beliefs will be announced soon, as well.
As to how this situation has affected Moore’s performances with Fishbone going forward, he confirms that it “fucks with [him]” every single time he takes the stage. He now warns people when he is going to stage-dive. Even if, according to him, that might take away the personal touch and intimacy between the band and crowd.