With the arrival of Good Things last year, it was great to have a summer festival back on the Aussie music scene that was making an attempt at being more than just 10 bands chucked on down the local pub. There is nothing wrong with that approach either, the more live music that can infect the numbed masses the better the world will be, but we were/are lacking that big draw card to get a few international acts on a hot sweaty stage for drunken bogans to throw their empties at.
So Good Things makes a welcome return, with more Aussie representation on stage than last year, and that is important because the music scene here is so vibrant and alive at the moment with music in all of its glorious forms on display here. To be honest, from the outset, there was only four bands I felt were important for me to catch today, although my LOUD junior associate had extras added on the list. Our day was hindered from the outset as the gates were a little slow to open which left a hot and baying crowd assembled on the streets in the full Queensland sun before we may have been ready for that kind of open assault. The delay meant that we missed the local band that got to open the festival on the small stage 5. Sorry guys.
The first act that we caught a little of was Poppy, a strange mix of pop and alternative that had never slid across my ears before. It didn’t really register for me, merely playing on the stage next to the first band of the day I had on my list to catch. Reel Big Fish are always entertaining and as the kings of 90s ska the crowd assembled before them were mostly older – not that it seemed to matter. Dancing and skanking was the order of the day as the band played everything that has propelled them to this point and the soon to be modern classic Life Sucks, Let’s Dance from their newest album.
The only thing everyone agrees with on festival day is the clash of onstage talent and the RBF saw just such a clash as the one band I had to catch, according to my junior associate, was Ice Nine Kills, a modern metalcore unit that focuses heavily on a horror element. The clash meant that I missed the early half of their set whilst I revelled in ska good times. INK play a great live show, with constant costume changes giving an Alice Cooper feel that on a headline show would be great, but it really slowed the pace of their already compact festival set, leading to long silences between to few song I managed to catch.
We caught some of Skeggs set waiting for my next must-see band to come on. The jangly surf/garage rock vibe was perfect for days such as today and kept the energy up and the crowd moving as the afternoon sun began to burn itself into the back of your neck, if you weren’t smart enough to follow the festival’s advice. Slip,slop,slap, as the old saying goes. The Butterfly Effect were always an anomaly to me when I was younger being. I fell in love with them when I first heard them but they were so far from my musical wheel house at the time that they become a small personal revelation. After leading the early 00s prog rock scene in Australia ahead of inter-band politics, forcing them taking a rest, they’ve been back for a short while now, with a new found appreciation for each other and their music. This is obvious from the outset as they play with passion and broad smiles. The Butterfly Effect has always played a great live show, and being this is their hometown the audience are lapping up their energy. Hands down, one of the best sets of the day for this intrepid reviewer.
Trivium have always been a great live band, and, again today is no different. Playing a set of more mid-paced numbers appealed more to the casual festival fan than the diehards at the front of their pit, who didn’t let loose until Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr was laid out and the circle pit opened up on the unsuspecting casual fan.
Bad Religion have been a band for as long as I have been breathing now although you wouldn’t know it. Playing a list of their best tracks, opening with 21st Century Digital Boy, the melodic hardcore hits just kept coming with an almost unrivalled energy level.
I don’t know what to say about Falling In Reverse. They had a decent gathering before them, but my show notes just say ‘woeful’. Make of that what you will. I am not a fan, and their live performance did nothing to convince me I should be.
Thy Art Is Murder are always entertaining live, even if you aren’t a fan of their deathcore style. They know how to bring a good time to music that isn’t about having fun. Circle pits and hardcore dancing ensue as the band mainly play tracks of the two newest and more death metal-oriented albums before vocalist CJ takes a moment to thank the organisers of the festival at the same time as chastising promoters for not supporting modern local heavy bands enough. Fair point mate, but today is headlined by one of our biggest exports in a while.
Straight after Thy Art… is Karnivool. There is an argument that this band deserved to be playing on the larger stage 1 or 2 instead of the band that they clash with, Violent Soho. Karnivool don’t seem fazed by the argument as they whip the smaller stage into a frenzy and hold them within the palm of their hands. Violent Soho, on the other hand, look as though they have far too much room to move on stage and seem out of sorts as they play their by-the-numbers 90s grunge.
A Day To Remember were the next up as the night began to wind down. This is another band that LOUD junior insisted I pay attention to as he took off into the pit. Never really a band that’s been on my radar, I have never been able to get my head around their pop punk/hardcore mash up. As we all know though, live is where the best bands make their bread and butter and these blokes are a well made sandwich on stage, their set only slowing when an acoustic guitar was cracked out, giving the pit time to take rest. I will be going back and checking out their records after such a massive sounding set. It’s one of the best things about festivals: they give you a chance to find new bands and ones you might have missed the first time around.
I am amazed at the amount of people leaving the main arena as tonight’s headliner, and one of Australia’s biggest heavy bands, get ready to take the stage. I have caught them several times before today and they are always immense. Every time there is something new on show. Parkway Drive have spent the European summer headlining festivals and that experience is about to pay off in spades. Some of those wandering out stop, and a short intro video plays on the big screens before the pop of fireworks and the band get lead through the crowd by masked men with torches. This is how you put on a show!
The spoken word introduction for Wishing Wells is enough to create an uneasy calm before Winston McCall’s howl of “Tonight I’m killing gods!” starts a movement of mass humanity that is hypnotic from our vantage point. Parkway run a playbook that includes Vice Grip and Carrion as well as the surprise of quieter moments such as Cemetery Bloom and Writing On The Wall that comes complete with string quartet to bolster the already haunting sound. The other thing that this band have done is invest heavily in pyro. Fire blows off constantly adding to a spectacle that has now drawn in some of those that were originally willing to walk away. It all comes together on the super heavy Crushed that sees the drum kit spin around while the whole stage appears to be ON FUCKING FIRE!
This is how Parkway Drive have reached the top of the pile: powerful music and a great show. The band thank us once more for being there to witness such a great festival before leaving us with Bottom Feeder. Next year’s headliner has a lot to live up to. Hopefully they will also be another Aussie act because such a great local festival deserves great local bands to headline. See ya next year Good Things.