Standing there in thirty degree heat, The Wonder Years’ Dan Campbell said a few words that, despite their absolute simplicity, captured the entire spirit of Saturday’s festival. “Good Things is a good thing”, he muttered and even as the crowd cheered in agreeance, all knew that they had come to the same conclusion from the day’s opening moments.
Catching the train to Parramatta, there was a certain buzz in the air as attendees marched their way to the festival site, each piece of merchandise like their own personal colours. Like banners to their own personal musical army, you could see the excitement and anticipation that was being held towards Australia’s newest alternative music festival. The sight of it all just made everything feel like Good Things was picking up where Soundwave had left off. Whilst not directly comparable, the feeling was the same. It was time for emo Christmas.
As far as festival openers go, Redhook are a pretty damn good choice. Energetic, exciting and with more than enough talent to boot, the self-confessed ‘screaming rap rock electro pop mutants’ ticked all the boxes when it came to hyping up the festival’s early attendees. Even taking the time to bust out their signature rendition of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff”, the four-piece left no stone unturned in becoming the first act to play Good Things Sydney.
Void Of Vision
God damn Void of Vision. Now here’s a band that were made to grace the festival stage! As the metalcore act began their set, those familiar with the band knew exactly what they were getting themselves into. For those who didn’t however, well they were in for a rude shock. With full energy reserves, punters took little time to begin throwing down as the band blasted through a set of both newer tracks and deep cuts. Presenting their latest single “Kill All My Friends” to a Sydney crowd for the first time, the four-piece took no time in setting the bar for the day’s following acts very high.
I’ve been a big fan of Waax for a long time, and their Good Things set only cemented my appreciation for the band. Despite a line-up shuffle due to the birth of drummer Tom’s child that saw Violent Soho’s Michael Richards filling in, the five-piece barely skipped a beat. Undeniably wild but definitely not weak, it was the frantic screams of frontwoman Maz that had onlookers begging for more.
Having had the pleasure to see Waterparks at their sideshow earlier in the week, their festival set was noticeably different. While obviously shorter, there was an entirely different vibe from the audience too; primarily as a consequence of the festival needing to be age restricted. The sound also seemed to be lacking at times, as the backing tracks the three-piece use seemed ill-suited for a festival environment.
Despite this, the set was more than enjoyable and fun enough for all who saw it. Even after following on from Void of Vision who had only closed their set on the accompanying stage moments before, the bubblegum punks laid down a set that was enjoyed by the majority that saw it.
Without a doubt, Boston Manor’s set was one of my most anticipated all day. Making their performance debut in Sydney, the UK outfit were quick to make an immediate impression on onlookers. Kicking off with the bass-riff filled “Flowers in Your Dustbin”; the five-piece brought the heat with a set that branched throughout the majority of their relatively short history.
Frontman Henry Cox was his own hype-man, spending almost more time in the air than on his own feet while doing all he possibly could to get the audience off their feet. Again, issues with sound arose ever so slightly as the band’s backing tracks failed to translate perfectly to the outside environment, however it barely held the group back.
Demanding everything from circle pits to walls of death and crowdsurfers, the set peaked as the band played set list staple “Laika”. Even after testifying that his own friends had said Australian crowds were crazy, Cox didn’t hesitate to jump onto the barrier himself as every pop-punk kid in Sydney got down for the set that they all couldn’t wait to see.
The Wonder Years
If the pop-punk kids came out in force for Boston Manor, it was nothing compared to the reception that The Wonder Years got. It was a seamless transition from apprentice to master as the Americans showed exactly why they are the kings of the scene. Some persisting sound issues threatened to pester the set, but the six-piece would not be slowed down in any capacity.
Frontman Soupy is dominant on stage. It’s simple to see the experience in the band’s live set and how well travelled the group are. Blessing their fans with songs from their vast history including everything from emo playlist staples “Came Out Swinging” and “Local Man Ruins Everything”, to the heart wrenching “Devil in My Bloodstream”, it was a set that had everything.
Taking the time to share the backstory behind the newly released “Raining in Kyoto”, the obvious pain in Soupy’s voice is compelling as he strains with the outpouring of emotion. Dedicating their set to the legends in Waax, the band revealed their intention to only ever cover Waax songs for the rest of their careers in a confession of love for the five-piece.
Like a one-two emo punch, La Dispute continued to carry the torch that The Wonder Years had lit. Kicking off their set with “New Storms for Older Lovers”, frontman Jordan Dreyer took to the forefront with a tambourine in one hand and mic stand in the other. As Dreyer let loose the crowd followed his lead. I have the image of his broken tambourine soaring through the air before the first song had even finished, his performance aggression too much for the poor little instrument to even handle.
While his band mates seemed contrastingly calm, Dreyer was frantic as the band followed up with “Castle Builders”; another deep cut from the recently remastered “Somewhere at the Bottom of the River”. Technical difficulties with bassist Adam Vass temporarily derailed the set, while Dreyer took the brief break in the set as an opportunity to get intimate with the crowd and talk about how everyone can contribute to strengthening our musical community.
La Dispute’s return to Sydney was undoubtedly one of the best sets of the day, as the legion of Tumblr veterans screamed along to the anthemic pieces of the five-piece. Making room for everything from the devastating “King Park” to the divorce themed “Mayor in Splitsville”, the band ended their set with the most notable “Such Small Hands”. As punters climbed over the top of each other for the mic grab that would undoubtedly make their entire day, it became clear that the time since La Dispute’s last visit had only made their fans hungrier.
If you weren’t there, close your eyes and try your very best to imagine the emotion-driven La Dispute finishing up on one stage and immediately following that, Babymetal taking the stage right next to them. We are living in a simulation, you cannot prove me wrong. If every punter in attendance wasn’t bearing witness to this set I would genuinely be surprised as the immediate area surrounding the main stages swelled with thousands keen to catch a glimpse of the kawaii metal band.
I really don’t know much about Babymetal; I never bought into the hype prior to the festival and was completely unfamiliar with any of their songs but holy shit, what a clanger of a performance. I understand that Babymetal is based on a gimmick in some ways, but with synchronised dance moves and chunky riffing, what else do we even need in life?
From the opening of the set an enormous dust cloud filled the main stages as punters could barely keep their feet on the ground. Circle pits burst open, eager moshers got on the floor for a synchronised rowing pit and an enormous wall of death opened as the Babymetal spectacle debuted in Sydney for the first time. What a coup for Good Things, Babymetal were a sight to see.[Unfortunately we were not authorised to photograph the Babymetal set.]
For one reason or another, The Used was never a band that I got behind, but it only took watching them live to see why so many people love them. It was clear in the delight on punters faces how excited they were to see the songs that provided the soundtrack to their emo years in the flesh. It was just as clear however, to see the love on the face of The Used and their frontman Bert McCracken who were undoubtedly grateful to be there.
As a resident of Sydney himself, Bert was quick to celebrate that this was his hometown show. As he brought his daughter Cleo onto the stage the cheers that filled the main stages were filled with love and admiration for McCracken, feelings that were channelled wholeheartedly as the band surged through their set.
There was genuinely no way to prepare myself for what I witnessed during Scarlxrd’s set, and even now I struggle to put into words what I saw. By far and wide the most left-field inclusion on the Good Things lineup, the rapper’s unique infusion of trap and metal had the audience going absolutely off.
The crowd was one thing, but Scarlxrd was an entirely different being. With buckets of energy he never stopped or slowed down for the entirety of his 45 minute set, a feat even more impressive when you consider the vocal endurance on display to scream his lungs out for the entire time. I honestly went to watch Scarlxrd just for a bit of fun, but it was ultimately a set I genuinely enjoyed. It was a pleasant switch from what I had witnessed for the rest of the day, and it highlighted the fantastic genre diversity Good Things had.
Bullet For My Valentine
Like the transition between La Dispute and Babymetal, the change from Scarlxrd to Tonight Alive was another wild sight to see. The Sydney sweethearts took the stage as the sun began to set and the breeze rolled in, a well-timed cool change to counter the heat that Tonight Alive were about to bring. Hometown shows are always special, but the crowd’s reaction to Tonight Alive was beautiful as they screamed lyrics back and let loose together.
Shifting smoothly between releases, the majority of the set was taken from the band’s newest release Underworld, but don’t think it stopped there as the five-piece took the chance to visit their older releases including an incredible rendition of one of the earliest songs in “Wasting Away”. Whilst the set was cut short due to the unfortunate tragedy that unfolded at the conclusion of “The Edge”, it was undoubtedly an incredibly enjoyable one while it lasted.
After a delay due to the emergency that ended Tonight Alive’s set, Mayday Parade graced the Good Things stages to an enormous crowd of reformed emos, scene kids and metal heads alike. The pop punk veterans have frequented Australian shores as of late, but even their regular visits didn’t dissuade the mass of punters that came to watch their set.
With a set that dug heavily out of their back catalogue, onlookers seemed ecstatic to hear songs they’ve long for years played in front of them. With tracks like “Jersey”, “Black Cat” and “Jamie All Over” finding their way onto the setlist, the crowd was overjoyed, occasionally singing along louder than Sander’s himself. As an unexpected but welcome surprise, the Floridians also took the time to perform their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, making for an unforgettable experience for all who saw it.
All Time Low
It was at this point where I realised that I wasn’t quite sure whether my little emo heart could survive All Time Low’s upcoming set, especially considering what I’d been lucky enough to see up until that point in the day. Opening their set with “Damned If I Do Ya”, I swear the ground shook as everyone in the main stage leapt in unison.
It had been a while since I’d seen All Time Low, but it felt like nothing had changed since I saw them last. The overwhelming sexual tension between Jack and Alex, the jokes about blowjobs, the skinny jeans, it was all there, and it was fantastic. Their setlist that surprised me a lot, there was a surprising lack of songs from Don’t Panic and plenty of bangers from their early releases from “Weightless” to “Stella” and “Dear Maria” too.
It was obvious that their newer songs didn’t quite pop off in the same manner as their back catalogue, however the set was undeniably enjoyable. Anyone and everyone got down for it, and what a sight to see that was.
In all honesty, when it came to the headliners of Good Things, none of them were any bands I had ever truly invested in. Despite this, I knew I wanted to see Stone Sour, with a reputation that undoubtedly precedes him, Corey Taylor marched onto the stage to an enormous roar as metalheads and the like rejoiced.
Having only ever seen Slipknot, it was initially odd to hear Taylor’s voice when it wasn’t behind the mask that he has popularised for so many years. Like a king Taylor ruled the entire crowd, marching from side to side demanding the crowd get off their feet with him and with no hesitation they followed. As he picked up a confetti cannon, the sight of him walking to the front of the stage and launching an enormous blast of confetti was one of the festival’s highlights but I honestly can’t say I’d be surprised if it turned out to be an actual rocket launcher.
Announcing it was his birthday, he declared it one of the best he’s ever had. In his own words “It’s my birthday and I’m in one of my favourite countries in the fucking world and I’m ready to kick the shit out of each and every one of you.” I think having the shit kicked out of us by Corey Taylor is everybody’s dream honestly.
As the legendary act burst through their set, it’s easy to see why they’re such a beloved band to the metal community. Not only does Taylor have a commanding stage presence, but the musicianship is excellent and the band is one to behold. As pyro began to light up the stage, the set went to a whole new level, becoming the spectacle that it truly is.
As the final set of the night came around, I took the time (finally) to step back, relax and take the entire night in. Like Stone Sour, I have never been familiar with The Offspring, only really ever knowing their hits and even then, not really knowing them that well. My ignorance to one of rock’s biggest bands was made up for by the amount of people who were nowhere near as unfamiliar as I was.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of the ever-iconic album Smash, there seemed to be an incredible amount of people happy to fork out the festival’s ticket price just for the opportunity to see the release in full. They knew every beat, every piece of every instrumental, every lyric, and they were aware this would be their last chance to see a lot of these songs for the last time. An incredible set that capped off a fantastic festival, it’s clear to see why The Offspring are as well regarded as they are.
As for Good Things as a whole, what an incredible day from start to finish. While improvements are definitely in order, the Sydney leg ran, for the most part, very smoothly. With an incredible lineup spanning both time and genre, there is no doubt that the festival has a huge and vibrant future in Australia. I definitely can’t wait for Good Things 2019, bring it on.[Photos courtesy of Ivan Souriyavong]