Melbourne had the pleasure of hosting the inaugural Good Things Festival, with Flemington Racecourse converted into a rock music playground for a day! Though we have the annual Unify Gathering in Victoria, and Download Festival now held in Melbourne and Sydney, Good Things is an exciting and welcome addition to music festival offerings for those who appreciate rock, pop punk, as well as heavy music.
To state the obvious, it was HOT. Stifling hot. But that didn’t stop punters lining up in the sun ready for the 11:30am opening. Entry was easy and friendly, with festival goers as well as staff in good spirits, leading to us all very quickly and easily getting in and checking out what had been set up for us. The very spacious grounds featured two ‘wings’, which each had their own amenities as well as stage areas. Twin stages meant you could park yourself in an area for the day, or move between the two, depending on your tastes.
After checking out the merch tent, grabbing a few drinks, and scoping where the stages were (and buying a hat because I forgot mine ☹️) I got ready for Greyscale Records’ finest pop punkers Stuck Out to open the day. Musically tight, Ian Browney excelled with backing vocals throughout and a very hot looking Josh Walker was on point with vocals throughout. Marrying up contemplative and moody moments with jumping and air-punching intensity, they delivered a set that felt full and entertaining. Sharing tracks from their You Won’t Come Home EP as well as some older favourites like “Empty Sheets”, Stuck Out killed it, to the point where I’d say it’s the best I’ve seen them play so far. Festivals suit you, Stuck Out!
Void Of Vision
Void Of Vision were next on stage, with a siren heralding their arrival. Their most recently released single “Kill All My Friends” was their opener and a strong start – but looking around, I’m not sure if we knew what to do, and a half-hearted participation vibe might have been all that we could muster in the heat. Regardless, frontman Jack Bergin was working hard to amp us up, and a gradual hyping did happen! VOV brought djent punchiness, strong unison, and wailing riffs. “You Will Bring Me Down” from the exceptional Disturbia EP was a stand-out for me, feeling inclusive and dancy and it was a pleasure to bounce along to it on the lawn in front of the stage; I’d even consider it to be one of my personal favouite VOV moments to date. Though I wanted more for the band by way of interaction, especially when Jack jumped down to the barrier, the heat unfortunately made for lethargy than mosh inspiration. Kudos to the die-hard fans who pushed through!
Getting pretty unbearable to just stand in the sunshine, I took to one of the shelter tents and watched a short section of Waterparks who seemed to appear out of nowhere before ripping into their tunes from Entertainment and Double Dare in purple-haired rockstar fashion. Grooving and catchy times, they had a lot of crowd love; screaming, bouncing, singing, and dancing along with them.
I happened to catch UK’s Boston Manor on stage, though was having a pretty hard time breathing well in the heat in conjunction with moving from one end of the grounds to another. “Flowers In Your Dustbin” and “England’s Dreaming” were the glorious soundtrack to me catching my breath in a sliver of shade. Regardless of my state, my first experience of hearing/seeing this band live was dreamy and they were nailing their tunes true to recording, with no issues whatsoever. Full of energy, this class act had their Welcome To The Neighbourhood songs hit the crowd with fluidity, and their on stage presence meandered between sweet melodic moments and full blown thrash fests.
I set up camp again in one of the shade tents and caught Northlane, whose set kicked off thunderously with literal flames and the droning complexity of “Genesis”. We got to see the band’s new bassist Brendon Padjasek in action and it was as divine as short videos on Twitter had suggested it might be. Compared to when I critiqued the quintet at Download Festival, their stage presence seemed significantly lifted and the band (in particular vocalist Marcus Bridge) seemed to have more energy and were more actively engaging with the crowd throughout. I relied on the huge video screens for this set and found the close-ups of Josh Smith’s beautifully precise guitar style to be mesmerising. “Citizen” set the crowd alight, as did the reveal of a beckoning brand new song with dreamy drumming. “Quantum Flux” made for a big finish, covering everyone with purple confetti. I’m quietly keen to see what 2019 brings Northlane.
The Wonder Years
Liam caught The Wonder Years in action while I was Northlane-ing.
My intrigue for La Dispute had grown exponentially since their release of “Rose Quartz”/”Fulton Street I”. From the start, frontman Jordan Dreyer personified a word that appears in the Michigan band’s bio: ‘uncompromising’. Furiously stalking the stage with intensity of eye contact to match, it was clear we were in La Dispute’s domain; strapped in for a ride of erratic rhythms and empassioned vocals. High frantic energy was intriguing and (as a newcomer to the band) it reminded me of a Vessel era Tyler Joseph by way of the intense one-track-minded focus on the creation that’s being shared; uncompromising indeed, and intensely connected with the crowd.
At this point, Kill Your Stereo‘s editor/writer Alex Sievers found me in the sea of people, and excitedly rattled off song names and back stories to songs such as “Hudsonville MI 1956”. There is clearly a lot wrapped up in this bands’ songs and I wondered if this density didn’t necessarily translate to less familiar punters who sought catchy choruses to nod their heads to. Nonetheless, La Dispute connected powerfully with existing/familiar fans, inspiring tears at the specialness of it all. They also shared gratitude for where they were at, with a nod to where they’d been and how much they’d sacrificed and risked for it. Their sideshow at Northcote Social next week promises to be goosebump-worthy.
I took a moment to fill up with more water and also get soaked by the beloved and highly populated misting tent, and also have some lunch. Babymetal was the next band I saw, and the hype was off the charts. Droning and dramatic, Babymetal made their entrance with precision and control. With seemingly every moment choreographed, the Japanese kawaii band’s set was a well-orchestrated experience of metal with all of us in the palm of their hands in the process. Grace and confident poise were not elements I expected to see on any stage at Good Things alongside metallic intensity, but it was all here, from end to end. Babymetal vibed royalty and it was mesmerising and amazing. This was legitimately ‘must-see’ territory and I hope they come back to Australia soon.[Unfortunately we were not authorised to photograph the Babymetal set.]
Around about the time The Used were on stage, I admittedly hit a wall of ‘whoa’ in the stifling heat. Though the Utah band shared anthemic singalong choruses and drum massiveness (such as “All That I’ve Got”), gaining a whole lot of feelgood love from the crowd, I found it tough to personally connect with the set. Leaning back on the lawn for awhile, I let it all wash over me, curious about the use of Shakespearean sonnets coupled with rock, and recognising the band’s genuine appreciation for their fans.
Bullet For My Valentine
Bullet For My Valentine hit us hard off the bat with “Don’t Need You”, and the Welsh band sounded and felt full on stage. Fluid and making it look easy, I appreciated how well the vocals worked together, as well as the bouncing, punching, and grooving vibe. Bassist and vocalist Jamie Mathias was a stand-out, as was the work of drummer Jason Bowld in keeping vibes high and hectic. The machine gun-esque fire of “Your Betrayal” captured attention easily and this in conjunction with mega-riffs had fans going nuts; singing every word and crowd surfing to their band.
While I was watching Bullet For My Valentine, Liam was watching Scarlxrd tear it up. From the energy of the photos, I think I missed something pretty great, so I hope we get more chances to see Scarlxrd in action sometime next year!
With a gentle (temporary) rain attempting to cool us down as well as a change in breeze, I wandered over to stages 3 and 4, catching Tonight Alive in full swing already. Even from far across the stage area, frontwoman Jenna McDougall was a breath of fresh air with her happy vibes and openness. Beautifully inclusive, Jenna literally encouraged us all to say “I fucking love you”, toward everyone including ourselves. Stunning under the glow of yellow light, the Sydney band shared “Crack My Heart” from their Underworld album. Around this point I felt myself taking a deep breath and recovering, feeling like witnessing this set was exactly what I needed in that moment. Tears flowed with Jenna’s question: “Good Things, do you want to feel and heal and break? Just nod your head.”
Heartwarming, connective, inspiring belonging and compassion, the set was just as much about us in the crowd as much as the band. Asking us “What Are You So Scared Of?” via song, then playing “Disappear” in this ‘non-violent dance party’, we were invited to give the security guard ‘cuddles’, then given permission to ‘lose your fucking mind’ to “Temple”. This set was a good time, with good vibes, and was a special stand-out for me on the day for the precious restoration it offered me on more levels than one. Grateful.
Soothed and chilled in the aftermath of uplifting sweetness, I felt fully primed for the Mayday Parade storytelling vibes that kicked off on the neighbouring stage. Nostalgic harmonies, voices singing along with abandon, and tumbling and turning vibes made this a really enjoyable set. Punters danced and swayed, or paused momentarily to just listen and soak it up, before bouncing along with their favourites. Laying on the grass near many others who were doing the same, this recharging set felt a lot like coming home. Catching the Floridian band’s rendition of Gotye‘s “Somebody That I Used To Know” was icing on a great cake.
All Time Low
Back at stages 1 and 2, it was time for the All Time Low party. Bras were flung on stage and hung from microphones, while the Baltimore kings drew audience attention and participation like it was a game. With the crowd like putty in their hands, it was a dance party of loud voices joining in with polished pop punk/pop rock anthems, and easy hand-clapping and arm-waving. The guys shared their appreciation for our country with the passionate thousands in front of them reciprocating with emphatic fingerpointing ‘backing vocals’ and jumping with songs like “Weightless” and “Backseat Serenade”. Guitarist Jack Barakat even climbed down to connect with fans at the barrier.
The sun was starting to set on the very first Good Things, and All Time Low let the vibe settle into something more sedate and relaxed for a time, like a warm hum of happiness filling the grounds. Up on shoulders, “Something’s Gotta Give” was collectively sung, as was the sugary sweet “Birthday”. Playing their hearts out throughout the set, All Time Low expressed gratitude for what felt like a revival of live rock festivals in Australia.
Stone Sour arrived triumphantly to the stage, with frontman Corey Taylor oozing confidence as though the band had already just given the best performance of their lifetime. They might as well have for how enthusiastic the crowd was too, sharing wide-eyed hype with their favourite band’s intense frontman who was stalking the stage and owning the platforms. Celebrating just being here, confetti/streamer cannons added to a fireworks dusted set, which was chock full of taunts and teases as to whether we wanted to hear more from the band.
“Is that the sound of one of my favourite countries?” Corey purred, taking in all the cheers and attention in this relaxed party environment despite the heaviness of what we were hearing laid out before us. Even when intensity was lowered to simmering with the acoustic “Bother”, attention was easily held, carrying through to the fireworks of the end of their set. This was a clear crowd favourite of the day for the palm-of-his-hand hold that Corey had upon us.
The appearance of The Offspring on the Good Things line-up was an absolute treat for me, having seen them live once before at Big Day Out on the Gold Coast in 1997. That’s a long time between gigs, so my main question was “Do they still have it?”. Nailing their megahits from Smash as well as adding a little flare here and there, it was very quickly an easy “Fuck yes” reply. With playful onstage banter between Dexter and Noodles (including some dad jokes), it was a relaxed good time, with no signs of losing their punk intensity or ability to nail those notes (ie. “Heyyyyy-EY-eyy! Come out and PLAY!”)
Though we punters were all heat-weary (from the 40 degree celsius peaks we’d apparently endured through the day!😲), in the darkness of the crowd there were bursts of excitement and energy for the singles in particular, with nostalgia washing over us all. Songs like “Come Out And Play” and “Self Esteem” come with infectious familiarity that seems to be part of our DNA (including Ixnay On The Hombre‘s “All I Want” immediately inspiring memories of the legendary Crazy Taxi video game). Treating us to a version of AC/DC‘s “Whole Lotta Rosie” before finishing up with the mammoth “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, The Offspring ended the very first Good Things festival on a happy high. It was a treat to get to see them!
Music aside, Good Things ran very smoothly, with minimal waiting for things like food, water, or toilets, and everything easy to find. (And though port-a-loos are horrendous, these were surprisingly clean late in the day!?) Extremely well organised, the staff were courteous and friendly, helpful where needed, and I saw a lot of relaxed and happy people around me enjoying the day. I’d call that a success!
See you next year, Good Things!
Photos by the amazing Liam Davidson (who was snapped by Andrew Basso capturing La Dispute)