• Luke Winchester

Gig Review: Good Things Festival @ Centennial Park, Sydney - 07/12/19


Show: Good Things Festival 2019

Venue: Centennial Park, Sydney

Date: Saturday, December 7th 2019

Review by Luke Winchester

Photos taken by Rhys Bennett

“Hey Good Things 2019, How’s this vibe?” Winston McCall of Parkway Drive yells to a roaring, elated crowd, and he ain’t wrong. GT 2K19 Sydney has been and gone, we’re all sunburnt and exhausted but, was it worth it? Was this a sophomore slump or a triumphant build from last year? Let’s rewind 10 hours and 25+ bands to the start of the second Good Things Festival.

The Bennies have the unenviable job of opening stage 3, as the hoards flock through the gates, security and staff are smiling and friendly, the vibe is already off to a good start. The Bennies Ska-Infused Aussie punk is a perfect way to begin the day, bolstering a decent crowd before the main stages open.

Esoteric, weird and fun as hell, Poppy drops a perfect blend of Nu-Metal groove and New Wave pop. It could be a dangerous thing for an artist that relies on theatrics to play such an early, sun-filled slot on a festival however Poppy and her band have stripped back the theatrics and just delivered some creepy and curious tracks, highlighted by the crackling dub-step infused "BloodMoney" which ruptures the small put. A wonderful way to start a lot of people’s day, especially those who have no idea who the meekly spoken LA based powerhouse is.

Across the way, opening stage 5 is Teeth, the Sydney based answer to Bury Your Dead and winners of the Good Things 2019 band competition. The band waste no time laying down their signature heavy, molten grooves. A small but swelling crowd is converging and vocalist Blake is a monster, having everyone eating out of the palm of his hand and if today is anything to go off then he and his band will be hitting larger stages in no time at all.

The wonderful thing about such an eclectic festival lineup is people can catch bands that they have no idea about and generally wouldn’t cross paths with, for this reviewer, Man With A Mission from Tokyo are one such band, donned with wolf heads blasting out infectiously hooky alternative rock. Throwing out a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" gets the crowd dancing, what a way to get people through the door.

Saying that Ice Nine Kills is a highlight of the day is an understatement, their 2018 album The Silver Scream is still fresh in people’s ears, incorporating huge glossy choruses with devastating, crushing breakdowns and lyrical content covering all of your favourite horror movies. The band do not fuck around getting theatrical with vocalist and INK mastermind Spencer coming out donned in a Freddy Krueger sweater and broken Jason Voorehees mask. This being their first time to Australia they clearly wanted to reward their rabid fans for their patience, covering almost their entire last album in today's set (only playing "Communion of the Cursed" from their 2015 album Every Trick in the Book). Opening with absolutely gold plated "Thank God It's Friday" (Inspired by the Friday the 13th franchise) the band set their intentions to beat the absolute piss out of the crowd as quickly as possible. Spencer goes through that many costume changes (Michael Myers, Ghostface from Scream and Jason Vorehes) it’s enough to make your head spin, speaking of which, they had a female actress on stage through songs playing different characters such as Regan from The Exorcist, Laurie from Halloween and Casey Becker from Scream. It’s a schtick, sure, but by fuck it’s entertaining and the fans lap up every moment right up until and including their crushing set closer IT is the End, which sees Mickey Mouse come out on stage with a red balloon, flipping the crowd off... You read that right, Mickey Mouse, flipping off the crowd. Spencer joins the band back on stage as Pennywise from IT and proceeds to chase Mickey around the stage much to the delight of the packed crowd. Please, Ice Nine, come back for a headliner as soon as possible.

Well, here we are, an alternative summer festival stacked with punk, metal and hardcore bands and smack bang in the middle of the day we have The Veronicas. A novelty? Maybe but this reality which was born out of a meme about a wall of death at a The Veronicas show the sisters have taken to the rock festival like ducks to water. The girls realise the gravity of the situation and continue to thank the now massive throng that have presented before them and they were vocally thankful to everyone in the crowd. Beefing up their sound with a full backing band the sisters know how to please the crowd covering Tracey Bonham’s 'Mother Mother" full of screams, Blink 182’s "I Miss You" acoustically and even getting (now local) Bert McCracken from The Used to sing the classic slapper "The Taste of Ink", the sisters even admitted that Bert had helped them with their screams. But, all of this is leading to something that thousands of people have been waiting for... The Wall of Death to "Untouched." It happened, twice and both times it was chaotic, putting some metal crowds to shame. The Pop girls know how to throw down and are certainly a welcome treat to the lineup.

The Butterfly Effect bring their signature infectious, mellow, feel good grooves to stage 4 and Clint's vocals have not changed, just as enigmatic and melodic as ever. Fortunately for TBE fans they were able to step in for Coheed & Cambria who had to pull out earlier in the year due to drummer Josh Eppard having to undergo emergency heart surgery. The band, who recently came out of retirement, gifted the Sydney crowd with a new track with Clint saying “thanks for hanging in there” and promising a new release next year, Clint throws out his “old gig shirt” into the crowd and says “you can turn it into a pillow case so we can sleep together every night” what a smooth move.

Dance Gavin Dance are here and the crowds know it, perhaps the biggest crowd for stage 4 so far, and this band might have the best singer of the day, clean vocalist Tillian’s voice is angelic and close to flawless. Coupled with chaotic, screamed vocals from Jon Mess and disjointed, jarring post hardcore underlying flying melodic solos makes for a difficult band to follow for a casual punter but the frenzied fans that have waited years to see them again lap up every moment. Opening with "The Jiggler" from their lauded 2013 album Acceptance Speech, “I wanna love you but this town is not big enough for two” is screamed back at the band loud enough to be heard from the main stage. DGD are a band that have gone through enough lineup changes to fill a small football field but on with their current roster they are nailing every aspect of their catalogue. The absolute gargantuan Head Hunter is pitch perfect and the more melodic "The Summertime Gladness" brings the groove for people who wanna shake their ass. What a vibe for music festival.

The clashes for the day have been minimal so far, the crowds have been split evenly for most of the day, and GT19 is a really well set out festival with heaps of shade, plenty of amenities and a great selection of food and drinks which is often not the case for outdoor summer fests.

Trivium come on to cover the straightforward metal, a perfect metal band for a festival, entry level enough to catch people who might be just getting into metal but heavy and catchy enough for the old school fans. Matt Heafy taunts the crowd and says that Melbourne has been the best crowd of the tour and if we wanna change that we need to step it the fuck up before blasting into "Like Light To Flies" ripping the crowd into a frenzied pit. Now, these guys are veterans to the festival scene, having toured nearly country on the planet they certainly know how to entertain. Matt is all smiles as he talks about his memories of Australian fans really embracing the band when they released their album Shogun back in 2008, kicking into "Down From The Sky" to show their appreciation to their true, old school fans. Of course, the band can’t leave the stage until they play fan favourite "Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr" and "In Waves."

Enter Shikari are another perfect festival band, endlessly entertaining, happy as pigs in shit and engaging as all buggery. Singer Rou talks about how only 72 hours beforehand they were in the studio finishing off their new album and how surreal it was to be here on the other side of the world playing in front of so many beautiful people. The band open with a one, two, three knockout of "Stop The Clocks", "Destabilise" and the absolutely stomping "Sssnakepit." Fan favourite "Sorry You’re Not A Winner" gets the crowd locked in with everyone clapping along and the EDM thick sounds of "Meltdown" sees the entire pit lose their collective minds. The band end their set by saying “Be weird, be curious, be a child. this song is about kicking anxiety in the teeth and spitting in it's face” and crashes through a stomping "Live Outside."

Falling In Reverse are marred with sound problems with only one guitar coming through the PA for half a song. The crowd starts a “Bullshit” chant. Ronnie Radki's mic comes back on and he says “Hey sound guy, fuck you, I will fight you” and the sound goes out again. The band walks off stage. The band comes back out and things get under way still with sound issues. It leaves a bit of a bad taste in this reviewer's mouth, Ronnie is known for his big mouth and trouble with authority and to be honest the whole thing comes off as a toddler having a tantrum. It isn’t until their third song "DRUGS" that the sound comes good. Not great but just good. Ronnie goes between thankful to the crowd and whining about the sound quite quickly. They aptly close their train wreck of a set with their "Just Like You" with the chorus lyrics “I am aware that I am an asshole”... Yawn.

Western Sydney’s favourite death metal band Thy Art Is Murder bring everyone together with their nihilistic breakdowns. CJ says “Our country is on fire, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to come together and the first thing is you cunts have to do exactly what I say, you understand? Good, put your arms over the shoulders of the people to your left and right and jump when I jump” erupting the biggest mosh pit of the day for "The Purest Strain Of Hate." Not one to be outdone by anyone CJ starts talking shit on The Veronicas and their wall of death, “No one comes to our home and outdoes the biggest band on the planet, Thy Art Is Murder” all tongue in cheek of course, but he wasn’t fucking around about the wall off death pushing it back to each side of the staged area. Chaos is the only word that can be used for what ensued, one of, if not the biggest pit of the day. Watching this band is a joy, which is a weird thing to say because they are truly the heaviest, most hateful band of the day but when you have wise-cracking, expletive charged leader CJ egging everyone one and just shouting out to his friends in the crowd that have come out for their hometown show one can’t help but smile.

A Day To Remember have come so far in their career, this reviewer still remembers seeing them in 2009 in London in a dive bar just after their breakthrough album Homesick came out and by fuck have they come up in leaps and bounds in popularity. Opening with "The Downfall Of Us All", it’s clear that the majority of the crowd have been waiting all day for this set singing along to every word as if their lives depended on it, crowd surfing and circle pitting their little hearts out. I don’t know what the band have done to beef up their sound but they are sounding heavier and more vital than ever. Jeremy's screams and clean vocals are dangerously on point and the band are just clearly loving their time on top of their game. Guitarists/Vocalists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall are pissed off and the collective screams hit like a fucking freight train and the rhythm section of drummer Alex Shelnutt and bassist Joshua Woodward are holding down the low end so tightly it sounds too good to be real. Continuing the sing-a-longs with All I Want" the band are here to get people moving but it’s when they dust off the rare live gem "Sticks And Bricks" from 2010’s What Separates Me From You that the moshpit reaches critical mass. New tracks like "Degenerates" and "Resentment" stack up perfectly with old favourites like "I’m Made Of Wax" (clears throat) and "2nd Sucks." This band deserves to be where they are and it won’t be long until they’re sitting in that top slot headlining over everyone.

Well, it’s been a long day, the show has gone off basically without a hitch, as mentioned many times within this review, the vibe has been excellent and it’s all lead to this because Australia’s metal poster boys Parkway Drive have brought their entire European touring rig, drum riser, full pyro and even a small four piece string section. They are not fucking around and they want to prove that an Aussie band can successfully headline a festival like this. We get an epic intro where the band walk through the crowd with flaming torches.This band is another group of mellow headed individuals who have come from humble beginnings, playing youth centres, holes in the wall and dive bars until they got enough of a following to blow everyone the fuck away with their massive headlining sound. These guys know their way around a festival stage having headlined countless big named fests across Europe and showing everyone in between their epic potential.

The band enter the arena through the crowd with security donned in balaclavas and holding torches aflame, Winston and co get to the stage in time to open with a destructively dramatic "Wishing Wells", goosebumps ensue and people lose their minds. Continuing with their newer material the band thrash through their euro-metal tinged "Prey" which gets the crowds voices warmed up for the following essential "Carrion." The Byron Bay locals are currently on fire, having gone out into the wilds of the world to hone their deceptively catchy songs, this powerhouse is now bringing them home to share with their fans.

“How’s that vibe?" Winston laughs to the crowd, and as I said, he’s not wrong, the vibe of this set along with this entire festival has been nothing short of brilliant. No issues, fights or even raised voices. Remember in the above paragraph where I said a small four piece string section? Yeah, you didn’t misread that because during the Tom Waits inspired "Writings On The Wall" sees the band joined by three violinists and a cello player it was a surreal, emotional moment and fortunately the classically trained players stay on stage for the melodic "Shadow Boxing." What an absolute delight but it’s not over yet, PWD, the legends that they are, had promised us all something special and that comes with a drum solo from human metronome Ben Gordon who is strapped into a mechanism that spins him upside down, not missing a beat through the entire display and rolling straight into a pyro filled crowd favourite "Crushed." The band have done enough and could quite easily walk off stage without anyone being disappointed but they just love spoiling their people, closing the set with a blistering Bottom Feeder and the crowd stayed for the entirety.

The fact that this festival ran so smoothly is a testament to the organisers of Good Things, the bands that played and all of the staff on site, everyone of them working tirelessly to make it all happen without a hitch. Here’s hoping that they keep doing it year after year because if today's anything to go off they know how to put together a massively entertaining and monumentally effortless festival.


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