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Concert Reviews and Interviews:  Stickfigure (with Jack McDowell)

Peabody's Concert Club
Cleveland, OH
Wed., May 8, 2002

Click here for a review of
Ape of the Kings, the latest album from Stickfigure. And don't forget to check out's interview with Jack McDowell, Stickfigure frontman and former big league pitcher.

I think the last time I saw Jack McDowell, he was on the mound for the Cleveland Indians, battling arm problems and trying to resurrect his baseball career. I always knew he fronted the band Stickfigure, but this was the first chance I had to see them live or hear any of their music, period. Seeing an ex-baseball player in a band, you figure the old cliché that all rock stars want to be athletes and all athletes want to be rock stars applies. That's why I didn't have high expectations. Boy, was I wrong. I mean, I'm a musician who has released three CDs, but my fastball tops out at around 53 mph. Jack has won a Cy Young AND released three records. But the kicker is that his band and his songs are really good. 

So Jack comes out on stage in his thrift store t-shirt and jeans, and has grown his hair to the point I don't think his ex-Indians manager Mike Hargrove would approve. What was kind of different about this show was that there were TV cameras from Fox Sports there, right in front of the stage getting some human- interest footage. And aside from the hippies dancing up front for the first couple of songs, there was a pretty unenthusiastic, albeit sparse crowd. 

But Stickfigure rocked right from the beginning. McDowell has assembled an awesome band, with drummer Rob Brown and bassist Mike Mesaros anchoring the tight unit. "Say it Me" was a real catchy song and "She's Got the Action" had some great vocal harmonies by lead guitarist Mike Hamilton…somehow this song reminded me of something out of a 1970s movie soundtrack. Okay, maybe it was the beer. But there were definitely hints of classic rock in their music, along with some roots rock and modern influences. McDowell affirmed this by saying "we rock all genres." There were hints of REM, particularly in his nasal vocal style, but the band sounded more like the Replacements or Toad the Wet Sprocket for the most part, particularly in "Fire," a song off the first Stickfigure album. 

Stickfigure was working up quite a sweat as they blazed through a 45-minute set, most of which featured songs from their new release, Ape of the Kings. "Hey Now," the first single off the new record, and a shuffling rocker entitled "Call Me Crazy" rounded out a solid show by McDowell and company. Before their last song, one fan in front yelled out "SportsCenter…tomorrow…you guys!" I'm sure his band gets tired of hearing that, but they don't need to because the music is as good as anything else out there. Now if only I could get my fastball up to 60 mph….

~Mike Farley : Feedback - Link to Us  - About B-E - FAQ - Advertise with Us

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