Show in Review: Stick Figure and Fortunate Youth

After two sold out Tribal Seeds shows last weekend, reggae fans were out in full force again Friday night for another stacked lineup at The Catalyst. They were in for a treat as the night consisted of positive vibes, good music and an appearance by a certain furry friend.

The venue filled quickly as anticipation grew for the first opening act, Katastro. With a sound more rock and hip-hop influenced than reggae, they hyped the growing crowd with their high energy. Fronted by exuberant lead singer Andy Chaves, the Tempe, Arizona group started the night off strong with hits including “Move Like Creatures” and “Sweet Tangerines.” Whether it was Chaves’ rapping or the overall excitement, their set was a whirlwind.

Fans couldn’t hold back their excitement as Los Angeles-based Fortunate Youth emerged from a cloud of smoke, led by front man Dan Kelly. The crowd’s screaming turned to singing as they opened with “Pass the Herb,” staying true to the lyrics as Kelly passed a joint around the stage. The band didn’t miss a beat, seamlessly moving through fan-favorites “My Love” and “Midnight Lover.”

Joining them on stage was a beautiful brown dog, lovingly known as Cocoa. The Australian Shepard, owned by Stick Figure’s front man Scott Woodruff, is well known in the reggae community and can be regularly found walking around festivals. Cocoa’s personality shined through as she ate up the attention the crowd gave her.

While Cocoa made herself comfortable on stage, Fortunate Youth kept the hits coming with “Positive,” “So Rebel” and “Sweet Love.” The smile on Kelly’s face was contagious as fans sang and danced throughout their set. Finishing their night with three reggae staples, “Peace, Love, & Unity,” Kelly took a video of the squealing crowd, looking on in awe at the scene.

Cocoa, not one to be outshined, came back out between sets to a resounding cheer. As she milled around the stage soaking up the glory, the real smoke made way to a machine, blanketing the crowd. With a tough act to follow, Stick Figure didn’t disappoint, as the lights dimmed and they materialized from the haze amongst a chorus of red, green and yellow lights.

Starting the night with popular songs “Breathe” and “Fire on the Horizon”, one thing was quickly evident: they knew how to put on a show. With a light display that could provoke a seizure, high energy and clear comfort on stage, they kept the crowd engaged throughout their set. The keyboardist, usually confined to an instrument, ran around the stage prompting the fans to clap and wave their hands to the beat.

Forging an even stronger connection to the city, they played several songs including “Shadow” and “Sound of the Sea” from their most recent album Set in Stone, which was created in the Santa Cruz mountains. To end the set, they kicked it old school with “Hawaii Song” off their 2009 effort Smoke Stack.

Exiting the stage with Cocoa in tow, the fans started chanting and whistling for an encore. As lead singer Woodruff obliged and returned to the stage, the fans voiced their approval, growing louder than they had been all night. After thanking the crowd for a sold out show, he took it back to the band’s origins by playing the beginning of “Songs of Yesterday” by himself. Halfway through, the rest of the band (and Cocoa of course) joined him on stage to finish the song together.

Playing it for the first time live, they curtailed into “Smiles on Faces” from Set in Stone, and looking around that’s exactly what you saw. The power of positivity was in full effect as they brought down the house with “Smokin’ Love.” “This is always one of our favorite places on any tour,” Woodruff said before they finished the set. As the crowd sang along to the chorus at the top of their lungs, there was no question why.