Thursday night we headed to a sold out show at Highline Ballroom to see Stick Figure. I had not scene Stick Figure play live before and was honestly not familiar with much of their work aside from their newest 2015 release Set In Stone. I was intrigued to learn more about this band built around the talents of one man who writes, records, produces and performs all the songs on the album.
Raging Fyah was the opening set, coming from Kingston, Jamaica the do not play New York very often and I was excited. I missed what friends called an amazing show last time they played here at Milk River in Brooklyn. It was also great to see the mix of Caribbean reggae with West Coast reggae/rock as I think it opened Raging Fyah to a larger audience who would appreciate their music.
Raging Fyah put on a well balanced set, hitting classic tracks from their Destiny album released in 2014. Their new album Everlasting is due out May 27th. Jah Glory and Irie Vibe brought the tone to kick off the night. They closed with a beautiful cover of Dennis Brown ‘s Milk and Honey, which will be featured on the coming VP Records compilation We Remember Dennis Brown.
Following Raging Fyah, Fortunate Youth took the stage in a literal blaze of fire. The lead singer walked on carrying a giant blow up plastic joint. Kicking right into Pass The Herb, off their 2015 Don’t Think Twice album, they fired up a joint, passed it around stage and into the audience. While the crowd already had a halo of smoke, this set the tone for the rest of the show as the sweet aroma filled the air.
Following Fortunate Youth, the crowd grew restless, waiting for Stick Figure to take the stage. As if to ease the vibe, their dog Cocoa casually strolled onto the stage. I thought it must have been an accident that this Australian Shepherd had wandered onto the stage. It soon became clear that she is a staple at shows, as chew toys and stuffed animals flew from the crowd and onto the stage. Cocoa laid down and gnawed a stuffed animal, then took a tour past the front row for a few rounds of pets before wandering back off stage.
When Stick Figure hit the stage I could immediately see what the delay had been about. Stick Figure travels with an amazing backdrop and light production. A back lit beautiful, but almost eerie African landscape, similar to their album cover sat behind them. Flashing lights matched the beat of songs as they carried the audience through track after track. The effects of the lights and sound, married with the smoke in the air, created an ethereal atmosphere, as Stick Figure performed many of their songs in shadow. The sold out crowd vibed on the music as they sang along to tracks like Fire On The Horizon and Choice Is Yours.
Having not seen Stick Figure before the energy was something that I didn’t understand, at first. Don’t fans want to see the artists, why is everything so dark? Halfway though the second song it hit me. The dim and direct lighting matched perfectly with both the timing and mood of the songs and created an atmosphere like none that I have ever experienced at a reggae show before. I walked in having only heard their album and walked out a fan. I will see you at the next show, dog toy in hand.