GIG REVIEW: GOOD THINGS SYDNEY (Centennial Park, December 2019)
PARKWAY DRIVE, A DAY TO REMEMBER, VIOLENT SOHO, SIMPLE PLAN, BAD RELIGION, TRIVIUM & MANY, MANY MORE
Centennial Park, Sydney // 7th December, 2019
Sentimental favourites, good vibes and an Aussie headliner for the ages; there's no doubt the Australian music festival is more relevant and bankable than ever, and the Sydney edition of Good Things 2019 proved this in spades in its knockout second year.
Taking place during a volatile time as Sydney and the greater NSW surrounds are ablaze and blanketed with smoke, the enthusiastic turnout as the gates officially opened for the second year of the Good Things festival in Sydney proves people will withstand a lungful of ash for a chance to witness the truly eye-watering lineup that Good Things has amassed for its 2019 edition. And as the huge line of black t-shirts snaking down Centennial Park pours through the front gates bang on midday, punters are greeted immediately with the good-time vibes of Melbourne ska punks The Bennies. Between frontman Anty Horgan wielding a hot pink mic and the group sashaying their occasionally weed-tinged brew of dub, punk and heavy metal (and bicycle-themed interludes), it's a fitting start to the day while enigmatic alt-pop princess Poppy holds court on the main stage making her Aussie festival debut with some gothic, lolling flair.
THE BENNIES // pic by Mel Gleissner for The Soundcheck
Opening up the local stage for the day are the winners of the Sydney Good Things Band Comp, with metal men Teeth busting out a scathing 45 minute set complete with a crawl of death and a man dressed as an eggplant because...Sydney, I guess? Proving themselves well adept in the verses of mosh-inciting and chaotic riffs, Teeth repped the early locals with a steady showing while drawing a very decent crowd for such an early set in the day.
Igniting the sentimental theme that threads itself throughout the day, nostalgic ska lords Reel Big Fish bring some brassy, ballistic goodness, while Japanese dance rock legends Man With a Mission make it their mission to bring the party vibes, including gifting an outrageously fun cover of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, while clad in wolf masks for the entire set. And if you like your tunes with a costumed-twist, Boston metalcore scene-stealers Ice Nine Kills have you covered with a theatrical horror-themed set that kicks off with the retro 'Let's All Go to the Lobby' movie jingle before exploding into an homage to every iconic horror film amid multiple costume changes and a seriously tight, engaging set. And while it's also the group's debut Aussie festival appearance, here's hoping there's more to come in future from this lot; from being held in the air by the crowd to their dedicated horror theatrics and sharp sonic wares, this lot were indeed born for a festival setting.
ICE NINE KILLS // pic by Mel Gleissner for The Soundcheck
For those anxiously wondering, yes, the heavily anticipated wall of death made its dramatic showing at the main stage for The Veronicas, while comeback kings The Butterfly Effect continued their evolution with a set laced full of heavier crowd-favourites, and a particularly upbeat rendition of their brand new track Unbroken. The nostalgia is strong with this lot, but there's a sense of renewed vigour with each show the Butters boys have embarked on of late (plus an extra special shout out must go to FOH sound wizard Tony Bryan for busting out one of the best-sounding sets of the day).
THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT // pic by Mel Gleissner for The Soundcheck
Bringing more international flair to the Good Things table, Dance Gavin Dance deliver a delightful set for those of the post-hardcore/emo persuasion, boasting some sparkling heavy moments between some balanced clean and harsh vocals, while locals Gravemind and Windwaker continued to rep the emerging Aussies with lashings of pizzazz as they bust out some memorable death metal and metalcore respectively.
DANCE GAVIN DANCE // pic by Mel Gleissner for The Soundcheck
Good Things has certainly curated a healthy mix of genres and subgenres for the day, and next up Aussie scuzz rockers Skeggs command a substantial crowd for their main stage set as they work their way through their skewed surf rock. But stealing heavy hearts and inciting mayhem left, right and centre next are Orlando metal behemoths Trivium. A hotly anticipated act for many, this dynamic bunch whip the crowd into a frenzy as frontman Matt Heafy charms and drummer Alex Bent ferociously blastbeats into next century across hits including the crowd-favourites The Heart From Your Hate and Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr. There's something truly infectious about the positive yet ferocious showing from this American bunch, and Heafy's smile is as engaging as the blasting performances from guitarist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto swelter more than the heaving heat under the sun.
TRIVIUM // pic by Mel Gleissner for The Soundcheck
Expertly waving the prog flag next are Perth delights Voyager charming the local stage, adding to a huge year of live shows for the group, including a showing on the main stage at Download Festival earlier this year. Opening with the electric Hyperventilating, the classy quintet bewitch with their 80s-tinged metal, bringing a stadium-worthy performance to the smaller stage. If there's one negative here, it's merely that the group aren't gifted with lighting to complement their colourful tones, but their prismatic performance more than makes up for the lack of snazzy lights, and the group once again prove why they're so in demand all over the country and beyond.
It would be a crime to miss punk icons Bad Religion as they take to the main stage, and after close to four decades as a band these gents can still bust out burly harmonies and frenetic beats with more energy than me after my third long black for the day. With an insane back catalogue to choose from, there's a delightful mix of classics including This Is Hell to Generator and of the most iconic punk riffs of all time with American Jesus. Sure, they may all look like a bunch of dads (albeit cool dads) onstage, but we all could only hope we could be shredding that hard after a lifetime of rock and roll.
Following on, Brits Enter Shikari and American rockers Falling In Reverse pump up the thicc with some electronic vibes licking around their riffs before Canadian pop punks Simple Plan take me sublimely back to my teen years in spectacular fashion. While gifting a stark contrast to many of the acts that have come before them and still to follow for the day, Simple Plan manage to pull off the unthinkable in a sea of hardcore heavy fans, equally delighting and surprising the crowd with their musical prowess and heart-rending tunes, with frontman Pierre Bouvier effortlessly leading the crowd in renditions of fan favourites, from I'd Do Anything, I'm Just a Kid and the truly beautiful Perfect. It's a very wholesome yet beefy set, and in keeping with the name of the very festival we're all attending, there's some outrageously good vibes busting out in the crowd after this set with a heap of smiling faces filtering off to witness the remaining acts.
Deathcore gets its moment in the setting Sydney sun as Thy Art Is Murder unleash a blistering set, while grunge enthusiasts Violent Soho gift their only Australian show for the year with their mainstream-Nirvana vibes delighting the crowd who emphatically chant along to tunes including Like Soda and Viceroy. And off the back of the group's new tune A-OK marking their first new matierla since WACO in 2016, it goes without saying that 2020 is set to be a bit of a cracker year for this Brissie lunch.
Fittingly taking to the stage their fellow alt rock brothers The Butterfly Effect had tread earlier in the day, Perth prog idols Karnivool deliver a flawless set next to an increasingly boisterous crowd. Covering a perfect mix of tunes, with everything from Themata to Roquefort getting a look in, the Karnivool lads once again cement their legendary status as one of Australia's greatest prog acts in existence. There's something particularly joyful in seeing a group genuinely love what they do, and frontman Ian Kenny in particular rises to greater heights than ever in a festival setting.
As the day slowly turns to night, The Beautiful Monument and Yours Truly powerfully close out the local stage, while the main stage erupts to the stylings of A Day To Remember. And while perhaps not everyone's cup of tea ahead of time, within seconds it's clear ADTR didn't come here to play it safe, blasting one of the most memorable (no pun intended) sets of the day. There's just something rapturous about seeing a popcore band in person, and ADTR prove they're more than just sacchirine riffs as their precision performance mixes in with some feel-good melodics, and a mic-drop moment as their final song closes out amid a sea of confetti explosions. Based on the gasps and multiple horns thrown in the air throughout the set, it's safe to assume ADTR have cultivated a heap of new fans today - and for damn good reasons.
A DAY TO REMEMBER
Combining members of Blink-182 (Mark Hoppus) and All Time Low (Alex Gaskarth), Simple Creatures are on show with some synth-pop on the side stage. But it's all eyes and ears on the main stage as at long last Parkway Drive headline their first ever festival in Australia.
The anticipation is palpable as the empty stage sits looking like a Mad Max industrial maze, full of steel apparatus and various levels. But the stage is definitely not the place to be looking right now, as the Parkway boys make their way from the back of the crowd to the stage, accompanied by flaming torches and building tension. The moment before frontman Winston McCall opens his mouth marks the last time anyone would ever doubt if Parkway are headline material - and what follows is nothing short of astonishing.
Opening with the ballistic brawler Wishing Wells, the Parkway lads utterly demolish the crowd with a raw and animalistic performance full of visual thrills and musical chills. Packed to the brim with theatrical motifs, overwhelming onstage brilliance and blistering performances, the onstage energy is equally matched by the emphatic crowd below as the Parkway boys and their enamoured crowd embrace the insane amount of love flowing back and forth throughout the jaw-dropping set. With absolute ragers in the form of Prey, Idols and Anchors and Shadow Boxing, the crowd reach peak hysteria as the boys unleash Wild Eyes before seemingly leaving the stage.
But just when you thought you'd seen it all (including a string quartet and some softer, candid moments with McCall genuinely in awe of the crowd's response), the Parkway gents set the bar to dizzying heights for all festival headliners to come as the cage surrounding drummer Ben 'Gaz' Gordon starts to rotate. Jaws already dropping throughout the crowd (particularly for those who hadn't previously witnessed a Parkway set recently), the cage sets on fire and Gaz pummels away on the kit, at times suspended completely upside down onstage. But wait - there's more, as the group rejoin Gaz onstage, and absolutely obliterate the crowd with Crushed and more pyrotechnics than a new years eve on the Harbour Bridge, before ending proceedings with their monster tune Bottom Feeder.
As the flames subside and the booming tones fade into the night, there's almost a moment of silence as both the band and the crowd try to comprehend what they have just witnessed. And while it was to be expected that Parkway would never disappoint, perhaps what is most inspiring about such a sensational set isn't just that they delivered some very polished goods - but that they havefirmly proven that Australian bands can indeed headline festivals on home soil, and it's a particularly nice note to end on by celebrating such dramatic local talent (plus - man of the match absolutely must go to Steve Granville, the gentleman behind the ballistic lights and the catalyst for the dazzling fixtures taking things to a whole new stratosphere for Parkway's live show).
PARKWAY DRIVE (IF YOU SQUINT YOU'LL SEE AN UPSIDE-DOWN GAZ)
Overall, the haze and the vibes were equally strong for Sydney's 2019 Good Things festival; but between the extremely efficient running (not once was there a ridiculous wait for the bar or bathrooms), the generally pleasant demeanour of the horde of heavy music fans in attendance and the utterly stacked lineup, there's never been better proof that these types of events are still as relevant as ever - and proof that a heap of smoke won't stop the rock. Heralding a new era for the alternative Aussie music festival, filling the holes left by the revered Big Day Outs and Soundwaves of days gone by, Good Things makes good on its namesake in its second year; this was indeed a day of all things good, and a dazzling celebration of the both the industry greats and the ones poised to shape the next era of alternative music (and here's hoping the increased success will bring the party to some of the other states and territories in years to come).
WITH HUGE THANKS TO MEL GLEISSNER FOR TEAMING UP WITH THE SOUNDCHECK FOR SOME PICS, AND TO JANINE MORCOS, DALLAS DOES PR AND ALL THE GOOD THINGS CREW.
FOR MORE GOOD THINGS INFO, HEAD TO: www.goodthingsfestival.com.au
FULL GOOD THINGS GALLERY TO COME SOON - WATCH THIS SPACE!
BY TIANA SPETER