Stick Figure Live From Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ (6/25/2023)

Stick Figure Live From Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ (6/25/2023)

You could feel the buzz entering Asbury Park, the town I truly consider to be the unofficial state capital of New Jersey. While bad weather may have threatened the shore towns in the morning, the afternoon refused to comply. The sun forced itself out, causing the clouds to scatter in fear, and nothing could ruin the good vibes on the horizon. One thing was certain and it kept a smile on the face of everyone I encountered, Stick Figure was in town!

The Wisdom Tour has been rolling across the country, and its New Jersey stop was at the legendary Stone Pony, bringing with them Pepper and The Elovaters. The Jersey fans even got to show some love to their own, with local powerhouses Sensamotion starting the party on the Summer Stage, and P-Funk North keeping it going late night inside!

Concertgoers lined up around the venue all afternoon to secure their spot inside, and when the doors opened, they rushed the rail. Shortly after that, the show started, and Sensamotion quickly let us all know that we were here to jam. The Atlantic City band had a shorter set, but definitely left their mark on the crowd with some heavy but fun tunes. It was during this set when we collectively realized a few things: the weather seemed like it was going to be on our side, the vibes are at an all-time high, and we were in the presence of absolute greatness. That’s when she walked out—the queen herself, Cocoa.

Next up were the wickedest flows. The Elovaters, hailing from Boston, have many in our scene believing they might be the biggest thing since sliced bread. If you’ve ever heard Jackson Wetherbee’s incredible voice on a track, then you understand that statement. Their set was a great mix of recently released singles off their upcoming album “Endless Summer” and a couple of their most beloved tunes from older albums. The energy was something I haven’t seen many times before when Bret Bollinger came out to help perform “Let It All Out”. Then somehow it elevated even more when Scott Woodruff and Tommy Suliman emerged from the back for “Gardenia”. The entire time The Elovaters were on stage, they had the crowd captivated. The notes Jackson belted truly brought so much happiness to me, and the rest of the guys are some of the best on their respective instruments. If you haven’t seen them live yet, catch them immediately.

I have to be honest here. I’ve been to more shows and seen more bands live than I could even count, but somehow Pepper has never been one of them. All I can say after my first experience is HOLY SHIT! The group from Kona Town might be the most energetic people to ever play music. I’ve always heard this, but until you’re there and you’re seeing them run around while hitting every note and not missing a word, you could never imagine it. Something took over the crowd during their set, and I can guarantee there are a lot of sore necks from head-banging right now. I thought I had my list of duo lead singer bands in this genre all worked out, but it’s time to toss that away and go back to the drawing board. Twenty-six years of doing what they do, at the level they do it on, is inspirational.

On a serious note, as their set was going on, they pointed out a fan in the crowd who needed assistance. This would happen a couple more times throughout the night, and every time it did, the artists were quick to help direct EMS to the correct spot. Many crowds may have gotten restless during this, but in the true nature of our scene, we were there for each other and made sure help was provided. I think I can speak for the crowd when I give a sincere thank you to the staff of The Stone Pony and the bands on stage for handling those situations correctly.

As the sun was setting, it was time. The reason we were all there. The reason we’ve been counting down the days since tickets went on sale. We were all about to watch one of the best live sets we will ever see. Stick Figure, a band that has reached such a high level of sound that it’s become spiritual. Scott is and will always be the humble mastermind of the band, and he deserves all the love for everything he’s given us while making records as Stick. However, when these guys are together on stage, true magic happens. Tommy, KBong, Kevin Offitzer, Johnny Cosmic and Will Phillips all add their own pieces to this incredible live set to make it so special. The talent on that stage “sticking” together for this long should always remind us to take a second and really enjoy it whenever we get the privilege to see them live. As if that’s not enough, they always have a secret weapon waiting to make the crowd go wild while he sings our favorite verse and dances around the stage. The joy you know TJ O’Neill is about to have is so infectious that it’s spreading across the crowd before we even hear the words “playing on your radio”. I’ll always say it, that man deserves all of his flowers. Oh yeah and just as a reminder, Cocoa has been walking around playing with the toys being thrown to her all night. What a band!

It was truly a special time in Asbury Park that night. The only downfall was the town’s curfew, if that wasn’t in place we might still be out there.

Review & Live Photos By: @TheReggaePlug