New Brunswick, New Jersey’s recently reunited Sticks and Stones isn’t very well known outside of the Garden State, but chances are you’ve heard references, influences, or songs by the band even though they’ve been broken up since the 90s. Vocalist Pete Ventanonio went on to form the World Inferno Friendship Society under the moniker Jack Terricloth, Lifetime has a song called “Yeems song for Nothing” (a reference to their “Theme Song For Nothing”), and The Bouncing Souls not only have a song written about their guitarist Johnny X, but also cover Sticks and Stones song Less Than Free.
Sticks and Stones announced they would be doing a reunion show in New York City, and another reunion show in Asbury Park at the Asbury Brewery. I haven’t seen them since the one-off reunion they did with The Bouncing Souls years ago that strange time they played The House Of Blues in Atlantic City back in 2005, so on a chilly Wednesday night, my girlfriend and I made the trek to my ancestral homeland from Philadelphia. I missed most of the openers, and the narrow room was decently filled for a Wednesday night when Sticks and Stones started playing.
I sort of assumed that this show was a bit of a warm-up show for their NYC show and it definitely felt pretty intimate with them pretty much playing on the floor. Playing a long set spanning 1.5-2hrs, they ripped through a lot of their songs spanning from their entire discography including some fan favorites like “Less Than Free”, “Contempt”, “Sekai”, etc (but not my favorite “Reason To Care” unfortunately). Plenty of that set was their banter though, as they all jokingly ripped into each other (especially Pete and Johnny X), reminisced, and made fun of themselves plenty. They stated that the only reason they were doing these reunion shows was for their bassist Osamu, who was moving back to Japan and wanted to play again before leaving the country, so don’t expect to be seeing them again soon. They experienced a decent amount of sound issues throughout the set, so it definitely felt like they were working out the kinks a bit but it didn’t really take away from the show at all.
If you’re a fan of bands like Lifetime or The Bouncing Souls, Sticks & Stones is a must. While my favorite release is their 1988 EP World To Saved, Song To Be Sung, you can’t really go wrong with either of their full lengths Theme Song For Nothing or The Optimist Club (or pretty much their entire discography on the compilation The Strife And The Times released on Chunksaah years after they broke up) .