Sticky Fingers’ 2014 album Land of Pleasure was a summer staple of reggae vibes and chilled Australiana that catapulted the Sydney band to be darlings of the alternative music industry in this country.
It’s also no secret their reputation catastrophically burned into flames with them offending so many that they were unceremoniously banned from being played on triple j, and excluded from working with many in the industry, but if their upgrade to RAC Arena for this tour is anything to go by, it hasn’t hurt their popularity too much.
Australia’s most controversial band were officially back pushing their fourth independently released album Yours To Keep on Saturday night. The tour announcement was deafeningly quiet, only advertised to their email subscribers with not a whisper on social media initially. It was no great surprise then, that combined with remnants of public animosity, the Arena felt noticeably empty – strange considering it was marketed as a sold out show.
UK support Will And The People set the scene with their reggae-infused London pop rock, sounding reminiscent of Oasis meets Bloc Party. Frontman Will Rendle is brimming with the energy of a newly famous rockstar and brought out infectious sounding, cheerful tunes to hype up the slowly arriving crowd. He was the most excitable and eager performer of the night, though it seemed that many sadly missed their set.
The crowd that was slowly making their way inside was unmistakably young, a large percentage definitely underage, a sea of matching Doc Martins and STIFI merch t-shirts engulfing the venue.
Sticky Fingers arrived on stage to a surprisingly loud version of Underworld’s Born Slippy. Interesting choice considering the majority of the audience was born considerably after Trainspotting‘s release and it ignited such a different vibe to their own sound.
They opened with Hurricane, frontman Dylan Frost adorned in a huge, fluffy, brown, dressing gown-esque jacket that must have been sweltering under the lights. He looked charmingly plumper and healthier. Unfortunately, the lyrics sounded extremely fuzzy and inaudible. It was near impossible to clearly make out anything he was singing, although I was saved by inebriated juveniles singing them out loudly in every direction, translating them for me.
There was no crowd interaction bar throwing some items to the people at the end, the audience was barely addressed in any way and Dylan seemed bored at best. The star of the show was Freddy Crabs on his keys, reasonably enigmatic, wearing nothing but tiny 80s AFL shorts and an impressive dirty mo. He was really embracing those vibes from Australian movie The Castle and somehow he makes it work.
For a band with a whole lot to prove it was extremely sub-par. While crowd favourites like How To Fly and Australia Street were warmly welcomed and enjoyed by the crowd, the entire performance, sound and vibe was lacklustre at best. It may have just scraped by as a festival sideline or an opening act but left those who aren’t die-hard fans disappointed. It definitely would not have won them over any new fans, which is what playing headline gigs in huge arenas is all about, and this reviewer’s high hopes of an epic comeback were crushed.
Photos by Cooper Gordon