Words by Sara Jones
Photography by Dylan Martin, see more of his work here.
Since the crash and burn of Soundwave Festival all those years ago, the Australian alternative/heavy music scene has been struggling to cope without the power of a decent festival tour bringing new and old international bands to our shores.While the controversial loss of the festival has since given the country plenty of room to work on fleshing out our own local alt/metal festivals like Dead of Winter Fest here in Brisbane, Australia still needed something bigger and better – something to draw in all of the international bands that struggle to afford to travel to Australia alone. Suddenly, out of the blue, enters the Good Things Festival. For a festival that no one had ever heard of before, Good Things sparked up quite a bit of intrigue and suspicion – especially considering the way that Big Day Out and Soundwave went – but it wasn’t long before the excitement at the prospect of a new festival overtook the cynicism of the warier punters. Good Things Fest began quietly with some mysterious advertising in the cities before rapidly growing into one of the most anticipated new festival tours in Australia; with organisers adding band after band to the line-up to pique the interest of any alternative fans out there.
Good Things Festival just seemed to exude the wonderful aroma of good organisation, eye-catching advertising and stellar music. With the likes of Waax, Northlane, Waterparks,Palaye Royale, The Used, Bullet for my Valentine, All Time Low, Stone Sour, Dropkick Murphy’s and the almighty Offspring, Good Things Fest 2018 looked like it heldall the promise of Soundwave Fest and more; while still retaining the sensible modesty of a brand-new festival. Spanning only 4 stages with 24 bands and minimalist food trucks/market stalls, it was obvious that the organisers were keeping a cautious eye on their finances, giving hope that Good Things Fest is here to stay and will be back every year.
Boasting the theme of an alien invasion, the Good Things Festival really had come to take us all away to another planet – but just for the day. Judging by the looks on the faces of punters young and old as they stepped through the gates into the Brisbane RNA Showgrounds, everyone was both relieved and overjoyed at the arrival of Good Things. Having already rocked its way through Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane was the final destination; and everyone in attendance on that hot Sunday afternoon seemed more than ready to prove why Alex Gaskarth from All Time Low calls Brisbane “The Party City”.
I started my day with the wonderful WAAX, who took to stage 3 early at 12:45pm. Despite the early start time, WAAX proved their worth by drawing an impressive and involved crowd of fans and newcomers. The band played an all-too-brief set with tracks like “I for an Eye” and “FU”, providing the perfect set for festival-goers to get warmed up and pumped for the rest of the day.
Unfortunately due to set clashes, I was only able to catch the last part of Waterparks’ set at stage 2, but what I did see of the band impressed me thoroughly. Awsten Knight’ small frame delivered a surprisingly powerful performance, while the sizeable army of fans gathered kept the energy high despite the relentless early afternoon sun.
Taking control of stage 1 at 1:45pm with a fiery bang was Northlane, delivering a unremitting setlist filled with incredible pyro effects, as if the summer day wasn’t already hot enough. We Aussies love our local bands, and the Sydney-natives only served to bring out the ferocity of the punters as two massive,violent circle pits surged and quite a few people were carried out of the pit covered in blood. Bringing brand new music to our ears, Northlane delivered their newest unreleased track called “Talking Heads” and absolutely blew everyone’s minds.
Keeping it heavy, I decided to go check out Perth legends Make Them Suffer. In the sheltered refuge of the stage 3 and 4 tent, the Aussie band brought in a sizeable crowd. With enough energy to fill both side-by side stages, Make Them Suffer drove their fans into a frenzy with tracks like “Let Me In” and “Ether”,while “Blood Moon” had fans opening up a gigantic, vicious wall of death. The highlight of Make Them Suffer’s set was the spontaneous rowboat moshpit that had both the band and fans alike laughing and enjoying some silliness amongst the aggression.
Hailing from Nevada, Las Vegas on stage 3 was Palaye Royale. Presenting their blues-tinged art-rock sound to their small but dedicated crowd of supporters, the band seemed to enjoy the freedom of playing to a smaller crowd. The band members regularly jumped into the crowd to interact with fans while the lead singer climbed mic stacks and hung from the stage scaffolding as the crowd cheered him on. Palaye Royal smashed through their classics like “Get Higher”, “Mr Doctor Man” and “You’ll Be Fine”, as well as a spot-on cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers”, leaving me impatient for them to return to Australia for a propertour.
The Used were up next on stage 2 at 4pm, delivering a 45 minute set of emo classics and hilarious quips, not to mention the “Playschool” song which had grown adults throwing themselves into a laughter-filled circle pit to mosh to the song that every Aussie knows from one of our most iconic children’s shows. The Used have always been a band held dear in the heart of alternative Aussies, which made the band’s appearance at our first new festival a wonderful dose of nostalgia and exaltation. Bert McCracken was full of fantastic vocals and witty quips as he belted out fan favourites like “I Caught Fire” and “A Box Full Of Sharp Objects”, while security sprayed the audience with water hoses to try to combat the deadly combination of heat and close proximity amongst the punters.
As The Used left the stage and the crowd sprinted twenty meters to the left for Bullet for my Valentine on stage 1, tensions were starting to amp up in preparation for the crushing wall of sound that was about to be constructed by the welsh metal superstars. Disappointingly, the band seemed lacklustre when held side-by-side with their reputation. Lead singer Matt Tuck made the odd choice of wearing a leather jacket in 30+ degree heat and barely moved, while the rest of the band tried to make up for the lack of stage presence. Nevertheless, fans of the band were all too happy to open up some devastating mosh pits to show their love as Bullet for my Valentine played a mix of both new and old songs, saving the bangers like “Scream, Aim, Fire” “Waking the Demon” and “Tears Don’t Fall” for last.
I found myself faced with the difficult decision of choosing between pop punk heroes Mayday Parade and celtic punk rockers Dropkick Murphys. I ended up thoroughly enjoying the emotive and genuine performance given by Mayday Parade on stage 4as the sun began to set. The Floridians looked completely at home in the heat,jumping about the stage with wild abandon as they played a wide range of tracks. Fans were excited to hear the band play the first song they ever released called “Three Cheers for Five Years”, as well as the timeless“Miserable at Best”. A humorous high point of their set was their Pop-Goes-Punk cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” but the true height of emotion for Mayday Parade’s set was the deafening sing-along for one of the band’s more recent songs called “Stay”, giving their set a poignant but still overwhelmingly happy vibe that stuck in everyone’s minds long afterwards.
Back over at stage 1, All Time Low started at 6:45 to a massive audience, grinning and joking their way through their thirteen-song set as fans laughed and danced along. The lead guitarist found himself in possession of a few bras that were thrown onstage, while the lead singer laughed at him for almost missing their set due to a badly-timed toilet break. With newer songs like “Dark Side of Your Room” and “Birthday” set in contrast to hits like “Backseat Serenade” and “Los tin Stereo”, everyone came away happy and satisfied with All Time Low’s reliably hilarious and talented stage presence.
This time,the crowd sprinted twenty meters to the right to get a good spot for Stone Sour,and I found myself at the front of the audience with a perfect view of the insane energy brought by Corey Taylor and co. As the band launched into “Taipei Person/Allah Tea” the crowd immediately rushed forward in their enthusiasm,erupting into a mass of flying hair and bodies as the band grinned down at the sheer visceral madness of the moshpit. “Bother” and “Through Glass” saw Corey Taylor alone on stage without a hope in hell of having his voice heard over the thousands of people singing along in deafening unison, a moment that had the lead singer visibly overflowing with excitement and exuberance. 30/30-150,“Song #3” and “Fabuless” brought out the most feral of moshpits, with every band member grinning and screaming encouragement at the punters as they gave us every ounce of energy they had left. Of all the bands I witnessed at Good Things, Stone Sour were definitely one of the highlights.
Finally, it was time to close the night out with The Offspring. A massive crowd had gathered both on the ground and up in the stands in preparation for the headline act, and before long the band had launched into the first song off their album “Smash”. From there on out it was a frenzy of fast beats, chaotic moshing amidst the crush of bodies with barely a moment to rest between song sas the band showed no signs of wearing out or slowing down. “Gotta Get Away”,“Smash” and “Self Esteem” were crowd favourites, with dancers breaking away from the main mosh to take advantage of the space offered toward the back of the crowd, dancing with abandon and tussling with each other on the ground while the sounds of their teenage years blared from the musicians on stage.Guitarist Noodles was full of humorous wise-cracks, making a joke about expecting Bert McCracken from The Used to grab his balls while they were touring together. The band performed every single song with studio clarity, a testament to the talent given to them by 23 gruelling years of hard touring and recording. Of course, once The Offspring finished their album play through, we were all wondering if we would get to hear any other legendary songs from the band. Sure enough, after a brief elevator-music intermission that somehow hilariously had everyone dancing even more than when the band were onstage, we were rewarded with an encore of non-stop bangers. “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid”had everyone on their feet singing and dancing, and the good times only continued as the band smashed out tracks like “All I Want”, “(Can’t Get My)Head Around You”, “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and a surprisingly touching piano rendition of “Gone Away”. As a nod to our country the band joked about playing an Aussie band cover, suggesting Frenzal Rhomb and The Living End before settling on a positively rocking cover of “Whole Lotta Rosie” by AC/DC. Closing the night on a massive high note, “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright” had both band and audience expending the very last of their energy in a flurry of drunken dance moves, unsteady headbanging and pure joy at getting to witness such an awesome band end the Good Things Festival with the songs we all knew and loved.
Good Things Festival was a complete success in my books. Where previous festivals flew too close to the sun and ended up losing money, the organisers made it clear they had learned from the mistakes of others and kept the festival small and simple while still pulling out all the stops with the amazing bands they brought to our shores. Each and every band was at the top of their game and supplied everyone with the high energy, joyful mosh pits that us Aussies love to jump into. To the organisers, event managers, stage hands, water-hose-wielding security guards, paramedics and to all of the amazing people who showed up to support this awesome festival, thank you. Good Things Festival is the perfect remedy to the woes of the Aussie alternative scene, and I am undeniably excited for what “Good Things” the future holds…