In a milestone first sell-out stadium show, Sticky Fingers smashed out an intense set at HBF Stadium last Saturday in their classic raucous fashion. Absorbed and wholeheartedly singing along with every lyric that left Dylan Frost’s lips, the atmosphere of love between the band and their fans created a uniquely unforgettable experience.
The inner Western Sydney reggae/indie rockers made their dramatic return to the Australian music scene with the release of their single Kick On on April 12. After an upheaval of controversy involving racism and violence allegations, lengthy social media tirades and the hiatus bombshell of 2016, their comeback hasn’t been the smoothest of rides despite efforts to reconcile.
The band’s behavior has been under extreme scrutiny since their return, prompting a withdrawal from This That festival after Newcastle Music Festival received criticism for booking the act. Ongoing public conflict with fellow Australian music artist Thelma Plum via social media has created divides within the community as to how the band portray themselves. Saturday night in itself was simply a euphoric, nostalgic and emotional return to the music as they performed to sold out stadium of fans ready to welcome Sticky Fingers back to the stage.
After openers Fortune Shumba and True Vibenation had the crowd abuzz, the five fingers of STIFI landed on stage with a roaring reception from their audience. Personally, I had just been mowed down by a dude steamrolling through the crowd sideways for no apparent reason other than to crush bodies – so not only did excitement have my heart pumping, I was a little mad. Soon I was soothed by the opening sounds of Land Of Pleasure, completely absorbed in the moment by Sticky Fingers‘ captivating stage presence. Throughout the set they sounded pristinely in tune, in sync and pumping with energy. With minimal interaction from frontman Dylan Frost, who was regularly blocked out of my view by tall (selfish) people, bassist Paddy Cornwall gave thanks and small introductions to tunes to come.
The most exciting part of the evening was when the band played their yet to be released banger Loose Ends. The immediate effect it had on the audience bodes well for the band with plans for the release of their new album close on the horizon. Rum Rage and Liquorlip Loaded Gun were the two tracks that really swept the audience into a communal wave of smartphone screens, singing and swaying. For Everybody’s Talkin’ Bout It the audience were treated to some brass instrumental backing by members of True Vibenation which added some extra oomph to the track.
After some stomping and screaming chants of “Sticky!” from the crowd, the band re-emerged for an encore with four additional tunes up their sleeves. Cyclone was a beautiful acoustic touch to the evening with Frost’s unique vocals on full display and crowd favourite How To Fly from their 2013 album Caress Your Soul also featured in the mix. The band closed the night on Lazerhead as hands swayed in the air and their fans sung in unison, “I will follow, put them lasers to my head”.
Despite some questionable elements in the crowd, Sticky Fingers well and truly brought everyone back together on Saturday, testament to the healing power of rock and roll.