Gig Reviews

STICKY FINGERS + Underlights, Annandale Hotel – 06/07/2012

Even before entering birthday-celebrating venue The Annandale Hotel last Friday night, you could already sense that there was a little crazy in the air. The line stretching down Parramatta Rd, the deer in the headlights look on the door staff, and a packed house literally bursting at the seems in front of your eyes, it was no shit…a sight for even the most seasoned ‘Dale attendee. Welcome to what is fast becoming your typical Sticky Fingers show! Every time I see these guys play, the crowds get bigger, sexier, rowdier and more dedicated. Confusion, excitement and finite electricity bounce around at every gig, and I gotta say, that feeling and those songs stick in your head for days to come…

First up though were Sydney group, Underlights. While unfortunately missing the start of their set due to the chaos out the front, when I did eventually get in to see them, I was instantly blown away by their solid song structure, psyched-out inventive grooves and original feel. Never staying in one particular sound, the band were hard to peg. Classic British influences and, if I could say anything, maybe a shout-out to The Editors fits well, but a healthy dose of 80’s and 90’s UK bands have been on these guys playlists for quite some time. Confident and working well as a cohesive unit, Underlights still have a way to go to really pull the crowd in, but playing to a packed-out Annandale isn’t going to be taking away any experience points any time soon. Wrapping up the set to a genuinely appreciative crowd, most were left thinking that it would be a good idea to keep these guys on the radar in the near future.

If the room was packed during Underlights set, sardines in a tin have had more room to move than the sudden surge that flooded the main room leading up to the night’s launchees, local budding heroes, Sticky Fingers. Now, for a band that plays so many chilled-out, laid-back and dubbed-out jams, I have to say, Sticky Fingers’ fans are not your average beanie-wearing, spliff-smoking, barefoot, Bob Marley lovin’ hippies… Nay, STI-FI’s are a loyal, loud, and unruly bunch. More akin to a hardcore punk band’s fans, these guys and girls can take a loved-out, reggae ditty, and turn it into a circle pit. No seriously, but we’ll get to that in a bit…

As the curtain lifted, there was nothing but cheers and smiles stretching right around the room. The band started off with classic tune Paranoise, a head-bobbing slow ska builder with a bombastic freedom fighter finish, complete this time with the obligatory walking down the bar guitar solo by the modestly named Seamus (Hollywood) Red Thunder, getting the people into it from the get-go. New track Chief Havoc was up next, giving the room a taste of the tunes they’ve been working on for their upcoming album, and the audience lapped it up, not leaving a crumb on the plate. Probably their biggest and arguably catchiest track, Happy Endings followed on and didn’t disappoint as a regular favourite, the crowd singing along with every word. In fact, for a relatively new local band, I would say pretty much every single person was singing along to the majority of the show, which I cannot recall seeing for a local group in Sydney for a very long time.

A few more familiar waves of songs were sent out to ready the troops, but current triple j fave and the reason we were all here tonight, latest single Caress Your Soul was up next. If things were getting crazy before, this track lifted the crowd into Nicolas Cage-type loopy: jumping, screaming, singing and laughing manically. If it was a scolding winter night outside, nobody told the Annandale. Now this, my friends, is where it gets interesting. It is quite an experience to be hearing such beautiful, sweet and blissed-out tunes, while feeling like you’re in the mosh pit at the Big Day Out wrestling with thousands, but that it seems, is what you can begin to expect at a Sticky Fingers concert. Bodies were being thrown around like pillows, crowd surfers flailing about in every direction and, as mentioned before, circle pits started opening up with a little more machismo than was welcome. As it got a bit too heavy to even continue playing, the band stopped, which quickly chilled everyone out, hugs were shared and the night went on…

Despite a couple of hard-to-notice, crowd-infused sound problems and a few ‘interesting’ situations, it was good to see a passionate, dedicated, fully interactive Sydney crowd…FINALLY getting off their asses and stopping just bobbing their heads, looking cool and pouting. It’s easy to see why the group gets bigger every time they play. Already having built a solid and versatile body of work, Sticky Fingers continue time and time again to hit the mark. Consistent as the sunrise, this band impress with every viewing. Like kicking back with a good rack of ribs, Sticky Fingers are always the best part.

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