No one could ever make the claim that rock stars, by and large, don’t fall victim to their addictions. Following a string of self-destructive decisions, Australian reggae-rock band Sticky Fingers’ front man Dylan Frost issued a public apology and the band subsequently went on an indefinite hiatus in 2016. It wasn’t until mid-2018 that the boys regrouped to write and record what would become Yours to Keep, their darkest and most introspective record to date.
It was bittersweet, then, to watch Frost appear at Montreal’s Corona Theater drunk as a skunk for the first of their two sold-out evening shows here. The thing is, as obnoxious as the behaviour may have seemed, and as sad as the backstory surrounding it is, there was something so inherently punk-rock-as-fuck in his onstage demeanour that the crowd couldn’t help but egg him on and cheer for more. Each time he kicked over a mic stand or dropped his guitar somewhere (whether there was a person in that spot or not), a stage hand would dutifully run out and correct the mistake before any real damage was done.
While there were moments where the rest of the band clearly had to keep a close eye on Frost to make sure they were keeping up with him, they didn’t seem to mind his antics too much. Perhaps this is because each of them is a rock star in their own right and arguably just as popular as Frost in the eyes of the fans (if crowd reaction to each of their individual stage entrances was any indication). As demonstrated by happy jams like “Gold Snafu” and “Cool & Calm,” they really did seem like they were having the time of their lives. The energy that filled the room as they played through “Another Episode” – a soulful emo-themed ballad from their latest release that the Sticky Fingers of four years ago probably wouldn’t have even been capable or writing – was absolutely electric.
The show’s highlight moment, for better or worse, came when Frost decided he was going to climb up the side speakers and up to the balcony. Keep in mind, these speakers are not bolted to anything, and the larger of the two was merely hanging from the rafters. Once he made it to the balcony, he sauntered across it on the freaking railing while the rest of the band jammed on stage. The crowd cheered and everyone who had been sitting was suddenly on their feet, with the unspoken but very real collective feeling that they may be about to witness something truly horrific and the inability to look away suddenly dawning on them. But Frost made his way back down the speakers on the other side of the stage as easily as he had made his way up, and the show went on.
In terms of other things that happened that night, Tommy Newport played a perfectly acceptable if not overly exciting opening set. His music definitely sounded a lot heavier than it does recorded, although “Mr. Angel” is just as catchy in both settings. Newport joined Sticky Fingers on stage for quite a few songs providing some shaker action that, due to everything that was previously mentioned, went largely unnoticed.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson