On April 24th, 2002 I saw Fishbone at the nightclub at the end of the universe, Ottawa’s own Zaphod Beeblebrox.
You would think a guy who used to carry around with him a well-worn copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy like it was a Bible would love a bar that themed itself after his favourite book series, but I don’t. I’ve never even ordered a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster or any of their many Guide-inspired specialty cocktails, though I suppose I could bring myself to order a jinnan tawn’k the next time I find myself there.
The bar is a good size, it has an interesting set up, it features live music all the time, it’s in a great location, and it’s one of the city’s long-running live music success stories, opening in it’s original location just a couple of years before I started gigging around town (which was in 1989) before relocating to it’s current address in the early 90’s*.
But I gotta say I’ve never really felt that the owner gave any respect to local bands and musicians so I don’t care for the man, and that in turn reflects on my opinion of his business. Plus the fact that he insists on ending live music at 11pm sharp to make way for DJ’s has always stuck in my craw. Even moreso when I see how undeniably successful the policy is.
Could it be that this Fishbone show was my last time walking into Zaphod Beeblebrox? If so it would be the one thing that makes the evening somewhat notable; certainly the band wasn’t. I’m sure that’s my own fault though; my pedestrian interest in ska was not deep enough to have previously exposed myself to anything about Fishbone beyond their name. I remember several friends being at the show (indeed, it was at their suggestion that I was there at all), and while I recall trying to get interested in the band I spent much of Fishbone’s imposed abbreviated set socializing and didn’t give the band enough time to sink in to my aesthetics.
Which is too bad. I do know that they’re a good band.
Come to think about it, if I had discovered Zaphod’s in some exotic locale while on vacation somewhere I would probably have been over the moon about the place, and of course I would have ordered myself a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster or three. Maybe I have a case of anti-local hero sentiment? Heck, nowadays I might actually appreciate a show that starts and ends early. But while I’ve always been impressed when a concert begins on time I can’t ever see myself getting behind a policy of ending a concert before it’s supposed to be over.
*I wrote this ticket story just months before the bar changed hands, names, and layout. It’s dramatically better now as the 27 Club, though I much prefer the old name.