words by Sarah Rix & Rick Clifford // photos by Rick Clifford (@rcstills)
“..Australia needs a music festival like this.”
It was a big day for Melbourne’s sweaty, sunburnt masses. They streamed to Flemington Racecourse for the inaugural Good Things – a festival taking up the noble cause of giving Australia’s alternative rock fans a reason to roll out of bed.
It was a clear divide between the working stiff crew that rocked up post-5 pm clock out and the dedicated punters who had chucked a sickie. The telling sign? The lobster-like appearance of those that braved Melbourne’s 30-plus degree heat for a full day.
Casting a wide net with a lineup catering to fans across the punk, emo, and metal genre, the festival’s four-stage setup was conducive to stage hopping. Throughout the day, it was easy enough to see a bit of this, check out a bit of that, mosh your way through a favourite, or hop on the tilt-a-whirl.
Those that showed up early were treated to packed offerings from acts like Stuck Out, Ecca Vandal, Void of Vision, WAAX, Waterparks, Boston Manor, Northlane, The Wonder Years, La Dispute, Make Them Suffer, Babymetal, Palaye Royale, Scarlxrd, The Used, Tonight Alive, and Bullet For My Valentine.
Amongst the diverse lineup soiree of distorted guitars and greasy long haired wind farms sat a good helping of local/ national talent. Opening proceedings on the tucked away stage 4 was Ecca Vandal with the ominous task of amping up an already scorching and bothered(but decent sized) crowd of punters bewildered and in need of hydration. Recently returning from a stint in the northern hemisphere showed Ecca in fine, well rehearsed form. Owning every square inch of the stage with an intense gusto. Heavier numbers like ‘Closing Ceremony’ & ‘Price Of Living’ resinated well amongst the black shirts and tattooed hoards, keen on getting the angst out early on in the day.
No stranger to the oz festival scene are Brisbane staples WAAX, with the recent knowledge that OG drummer Tom being out for the count(read: becoming a father) and Violent Soho’s own Michael Richards stepping in, smashing skins and hair and such. A smoother transition would not be noticeable, my friends. The band never faulting, represented the national chunk of the festival insanely well, with shout outs from UK’s Boston Manor. Recent(ish) hit ‘Labrador’ going down a f-ing treat and hits ‘Same Same’ & ‘Wild & Weak’ from the aforementioned 2017 EP also amping up the now capacity floor space in front of the tucked away stage trois.
Taking a wander over to the “main stage” to catch what is no doubt a side step in terms of genre, La Dispute make their way out on to the oven of a stage. Singer Jordan Dreyer, wasting no time, taking his aggressive pacing around down into the security pit to get amongst the punters whom are shouting every word back at him. It was refreshing to see such a diverse band holding their own amongst a crowd sold on a “pop punk” ticket.
Absolutely smashing tracks from their recently re-recorded ‘Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair’ ending their(what seems to be) short set with ‘Such Small Hands’ with all the aggression and feels that have made them such a predominant sound in the post-hardcore realms.
Over on the smaller of the stages, Florida’s Mayday Parade were playing to a dedicated group of former – and possibly now, recurring – emo kids. It was a trip back to the mid-aughts, with the five-piece delving into their back catalogue, vocalist Derek Sanders telling the crowd: “This one song is almost 10 years old!” before launching into 2009’s ‘Anywhere but Here’. They also managed to pull out a fitting cover of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’.
“We started this band 13 years ago,” Sanders said as he setup at a keyboard to take the audience through ‘Miserable at Best’. “It’s crazy saying that. It’s our ninth time playing Australia.” The audience was happy to give them a reason to consider turning that into 10 times – singing back the lyrics to a 2007 track that’s probably still kicking around their high school iPod.
All Time Low, meanwhile, brought the sounds of SoCal, all the way from Maryland. Formed in 2003, the band’s played enough Warped Tour stages over the years to know the way to win a festival crowd: Keep it upbeat. Tell the crowd they’re good looking. Talk about flamingos. “It’s nice that Australia has a rock festival again,” they said after ‘Lost In The Stereo’, a track off 2009’s Nothing Personal. It was an even further dip back for the song that won out their set though – the band ending on 2007’s forever-familiar ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’.
It’s hard to imagine there’s much crossover between an All Time Low and Stone Sour audience, but once ATL finished up it was a quick trot to stage left to see Corey Taylor of Slipknot notoriety.
The Iowan band – who released their sixth album, Hydrograd in 2017 – jumped into it quickly, clearly playing to an audience of people very familiar with their material. Taylor (who could be played by Bradley Cooper channeling Eddie Vedder) soon sheds his sport jacket, playing up the pyrotechnics and hair flips instead. Stone Sour does well as outfit to highlight Taylor’s voice, though comparisons to their peers will be inevitable – especially when songs like set opener ‘Taipei Person / Allah Tea’ sounds so much like Limp Bizkit’s ‘Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)’.
Over at the other side of the festival grounds, playing to a smaller but still enthused crowd was Melbourne’s own The Smith Street Band. The seven-piece do easy-to-like pop rock and with so many international acts on the bill, it was nice to see the hometown group get thrown into the mix on such a key point in the evening.
They finished up their set and were quickly followed by Florida’s Dashboard Confessional. Opening with the familiar sounds of “Vindicated”, it’s a testament to the emo band’s longevity that despite all these years, from the get-go what they do is all so memorable – they’ve created songs and lyrics that will forever stay in your brain.
Closing out the night on the main stage was The Offspring – headliners who rightfully drew the biggest crowd of the festival. At it since 1984, the band were there to play Smash (their 1984 mainstream breakthrough) in-full, keeping things brisk and to the point.
The punks may have gotten older, but they still sounded vibrant. They were also helped by the surprising addition of No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal to the fold. A few cocked eyebrows ran throughout the crowd as they tried to figure out if it was actually him – but with such a distinctive playing style and such a proficiency with the instrument, it definitely had to have been Kanal.
The Offspring did well with their set thanks to the familiarity of their hits, though you could tell the audience was antsy for the non-Smash hits as well. ’Come Out and Play’ and ‘Self Esteem’ did well, but it was the singalong appeal of ‘Why Don’t You Get a Job?’ and the forever hilarious ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’ that will forever cement the band in the punk rock history books.
All in all: Good Things was a good time for its first showing. There’s room to grow – and it inevitably will because Australia needs a music festival like this. See you (and all the emo/alt-rock punks) next year.