Festival: Good Things Festival
Date: 8th December 2019
Venue: RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane
Presented By: Destroy All Lines
It had been over 4 years since my last festival in Brisbane, Soundwave 2015 is still a weekend I look very fondly upon to this day. I haven’t enjoyed live music in a similar setting since, sticking to local gigs and the occasional visit from international bands, I’ve been missing that big festival feel for too long and there was no way I was going to miss the 2019 rendition of Good Things. Sporting some of my favourite acts ranging from Enter Shikari, Thy Art is Murder and Gravemind to being headlined by A Day To Remember and Parkway Drive, I was ready for an experience. An experience I wanted to enhance with a little psychedelic substance called ‘Lysergic acid diethylamide’, more commonly known as ‘LSD’, or simply, ‘Acid’.
Full disclaimer, the use of illegal substances is not encouraged, but its 2019 and I can’t stop anyone from making their own decisions. If you are, in fact, going to indulge – please do so safely. Testing kits are readily available online and in some local stores, hopefully we can get them set up at festivals (because it’s ridiculously logical to do so) and these events will be safer moving forward. Now that that’s out of the way…
- Poppy -
I found myself wandering into the RNA Showgrounds just after 12.30pm and raced to the main stage to catch Youtube/music sensation, Poppy. Drenched in my own sweat from this ridiculous Brisbane summer we’ve been experiencing, I truly admired Poppy for donning an all-black outfit for the occasion. Playing crowd, and personal, favourites like ‘Scary Mask’ and ‘Bloodmoney’, Brisbane was ready to bounce and circle pit on command.
The heat didn’t seem to affect her or the band whatsoever, with Poppy’s pristine vocals being complimented by some tight playing underneath. Her unique charisma and swagger cannot be denied, nor her talent, as she strutted around the stage belting the occasional scream (I’d even refer to it as a shriek) whilst sounding, and looking, flawless for the whole performance.
Alas, I’d made a promise to myself to catch local artist competition winner, Joy in Motion, who were opening up the proceedings at the strategically placed Stage 5 right near the entrance to the event. So as my come-up continued, I rehydrated (very important) and made my exit from the main stage.
- Joy in Motion -
Following the sound of pounding drums, great melodies and a stream of ‘woah-oh’s, I found Joy in Motion playing to a solid turn out for a local opening band. Even more impressive, there was a decent contingent of fans on the barrier, singing along and enjoying themselves at this early point of the day. Being friends with half of the band has given me a little bit of insight on how hard these guys and girls work on their music, and this opening slot was fully deserved.
Vocalist, Jake Solway, has singing chops for days, pulling an immaculate performance out of his hat that made me forget I was missing the back half of Poppy’s set. Backed up by some solid vocal harmonies by Josh and Jess on bass and guitar, the band was fully rounded out by Carly’s thunderous effort on the sticks. I’ve seen this crew a handful of times with varying line ups and this was above and beyond the best they’ve sounded. If you ever need to scratch an itch and listen to some great pop-rock, Joy in Motion has you covered.
- Gravemind -
I neglected to mention that I timed my day’s journey so that all trip systems were a go for the Melbourne death machine known as Gravemind. My anticipation was bubbling, my pupils dilating and my sweat production had tripled. The space in front of the stage was empty just minutes before they started, with patrons scattered around the area hugging what little shade RNA had to offer. However, as soon as the band made their presence felt and appeared on stage, the crowd responded in kind, ignoring the blistering heat and filling out the mosh in numbers I did not expect.
Ripping right into ‘Embrace’ and ‘Zero-Point Energy’ to remind everyone how fucking good their latest album “Conduit” is, patrons started to flow directly from the entrance and over to the stage to see what all this hype was about. Slowly but surely, the crowd and pit became denser as people started to flock and throw down in appreciation to one of Australia’s hardest working bands and in no time at all, there was nothing but pure chaos and energy emanating through the place.
To try and put into perspective HOW crazy things got (which is impossible, trust me) the crowd started circle pits, a wall of death and the festival favourite ‘row-boat’ mosh without being commanded to do so. You could tell from the look of the Gravemind boys that they were gobsmacked, garnering an unprecedented reaction in a city that has loved this band since their first visit. The pit was further fuelled by security raining down some much needed water on the crowd with hoses from the barrier, something one particular fan in budgie smugglers seemed to be VERY fond of.
After rolling through a majority of “Conduit”, sneaking in ‘Lifelike’ and ‘The Deathgate’, I was almost brought to tears during ‘Phantom Pain’ from both the pure emotion and foreign chemical surging through my blood. This was probably the most unreal 45 minutes of music I’ve ever experienced and I will never forget it.
- Dance Gavin, Dance/ The Veronicas/ Butterfly Effect/ Slowly, Slowly -
I had wandered away from Stage 5 absolutely elated, I was truly embedded in my psychedelic experience at this point and my body was screaming for water and recovery, so like any responsible festival goer, my group went for a wander, stocked up on water bottles, nabbed a bit to eat and scoped out what else was on offer, as I had nothing planned until Enter Shikari at 4pm. After catching the end of Dance Gavin Dance, who bopped my socks off, I continued the bop over to the main stage as The Veronicas were not to be missed. Despite being slightly late, I managed to pull out my most caucasian dance moves far from the main mosh area in a state of pure bliss. I used the time after as an opportunity to rest my legs and recharge my batteries whilst watching The Butterfly Effect and Slowly, Slowly, seated and from a distance and a bountiful amount of rolling tobacco.
Major Jazza on Youtube
Time for another disclaimer, whilst the peak well and surely hit me during Gravemind, it absolutely does not last just 45 minutes. I apologize to anyone hoping for further feedback for any of these bands as I can only remember feeling very peaceful and content at this time and won’t be much use reviewing their performance. In saying that, I still had a little quarter tab saved for myself and consumed it around this time, deeming that I wouldn’t be totally useless come headliner time.
- Enter Shikari -
Whilst there have been times in the past where I’ve been very upset over extended LSD peaks due to the intensity, I was over the moon that I was still kicking at this point. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Shikari a few times over the years and this was setting up to be the best one yet. After refilling my water bottle in preparation for the inevitable carnage of the wild Brisbane punters, I returned to catch the end of ‘Stop the Clocks’ before ‘Destabilize’ hit and all bets were off.
Enter Shikari official Youtube channel
If you’ve ever seen these lads from across the pond live, you’d know that they are immaculate from a performance standpoint. Rou has a stage presence and aura that is unmatched by any other frontman, exemplified by greeting everybody as ‘carbon based life forms’ and introducing the band as ‘people who utilize beat, rhythm and sound to manipulate your emotions’, a statement myself and others could only cheer on enthusiastically. I'd simply describe the carbon based fans in attendance with two words, batshit insane, at this stage of the day, I probably wasn’t the only one trying to enhance their festival experience through nefarious means, and there was likely a lot of other elevated souls on my level (and beyond) at this point.
‘Sssnakpit’, ‘Anaesthetist’ and ‘Rabble Rouser’ sent everyone into an absolute frenzy, as I’d find myself in my group of friends who looked like they just jumped into a pool due to how much they were sweating, to being separated and alone in the chaos in a split second. Following Rou giving a smiling performance as he serenaded everyone with ‘Juggernauts’, Enter Shikari hit a ‘quickfire round’ medley of songs that closed with ‘…Meltdown’ before sending everyone off happy and dancing to ‘Live Outside’. The day was filled with highlights, but it’s hard to look past this as one of the festival’s true standouts.
- Falling in Reverse -
The last time I got to see Ronnie Radke and Co. was during the aforementioned Soundwave 2015 in the same tent that is regularly used in festival situations at RNA fittingly enough. Their stature as a band has grown significantly since then, as I was struggling to push past the mass of bodies from as far away as the sound desk. This crowd was dense, and no one was willing to give up their spot to see the self-proclaimed King of the Music Scene in the flesh.
Jumping into things with old favourite, ‘The Drug in Me is You’, the crowd erupted and sang back every word from their debut album’s title track. I’d heard of the sound issues that took place in Sydney, and have had people tell me in the past that Mr Radke isn’t all that in a live setting. All I have to say is, thank God we had zero sound issues and Ronnie backs up his claims of being one of the best in his field by turning in one of the most stellar vocal performances I’ve ever witnessed. His melodies were perfect, his charisma was off the charts and the Brisbane crowd ate up every second of it. Even his rap sections, which I am not much of a fan of on record, drew thunderous ovations from the crowd as his energy really shone through them at the best of times.
Pretty much my only complaint would be leaving ‘Alone’ off of the set list, whilst songs like ‘Just Like You’ and ‘Raised by Wolves’ would have left people happy, that particular rap-driven anthem is a cult favourite amongst many Australian FIR fans. In saying that, they DID play ‘Drugs’ and there was truly something special about watching and hearing a huge crowd scream back ‘Everybody’s on drugs!’ whilst, well, probably being on drugs. I’ve missed Falling in Reverse headliners that have hit Australia and I regret it a lot, despite being quite far back for this performance, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Photo: Kyle Burgess (Good Things Sydney)
- Thy Art is Recovery -
Now, Thy Art is Murder were scheduled next and even though I did spend a large portion of my day being very excited to witness multiple mosh-related murders in their pit, I physically couldn’t. Earlier in the day, Gravemind vocalist Dylan Gillies-Parsons apologized to those who were involved in their chaotic crowd as ‘they would be sore for the rest of the day,’ and boy he wasn’t kidding. I safely listened to their set whilst sitting down in a group just outside the tent and, truth be told, I will never ever get over how tight and heavy they are, even if I can’t see them.
Despite not being in and amongst the warzone, every chug, riff, demonic vocal and drum hit resonated to our location, which led to some hilarious antics involving moshing around a vodka filled water bottle and just straight freaking out at how massive everything sounded as the darkness of the evening started to descend. One thing I have to note is that new drummer, Jesse Beahler, who took over the reins from Lee Stanton earlier this year, is an absolute freak. I didn’t know how to feel about it back when it first happened, and I’d had yet to see Thy Art with this new line up, but Jesse didn’t miss a beat and the band are better off as a result.
As things wrapped up, we decided to hit a Doobie Snack before rolling on over to the grandstands to catch the end Violent Soho, appropriate, I know, and ADTR and Parkway Drive.
- A Day To Remember -
Like most bands from my day, I hadn’t seen ADTR in years and, like those bands, this was probably the best I’ve seen them. Psychedelic enhancement aside, I will forever love the contrast between their heavy and soft sides and constant ability to put on a great show. Even after all these years, the typical live tropes from toilet paper rolls, confetti cannons, crowdsurfer surfing (self-explanatory) and acoustic sing along to ‘If It Means A Lot to You’ will never, ever get old.
Speaking of psychedelic enhancement, anyone familiar with LSD will know that it peaks and valleys in continuous waves during the whole experience, I was right back up by the time ADTR had taken to the stage and their smoke pillars, stage props and light show, particularly during ‘Rescue Me’, had me smiling from ear to ear.
All of this trippy enjoyment aside, the one absolute standout for me was ADTR dropping mother**king ‘Sticks and Bricks’. I was almost sure this was an acid induced hallucination that I would have been pinching myself over, but ‘I AM FUELLED BY ALL FORMS OF FAILURE’ quickly quelled my concerns and I pulled the stankest face of the day. Jeremy Mackinnon stated this was the first time they had played it in Australia and I wasn’t the only one ridiculously stoked on this news. Tying in their newer releases like 'Degenerates' with their all-time classics like 'I'm Made of Wax Larry...' to put on an excellent show, you’d never think that another band could headline over them in this scene. Well, we're Australian and we say all hail Parkway Drive.
Photo: Kyle Burgess (Good Things Sydney)
- Parkway Drive -
Urban Gypsy on Youtube
In case anyone needed any reminding how big Parkway Drive have gotten since becoming a stadium rock/metal band, I could end this review by saying they undoubtedly have the biggest dicks in the alternative music scene. From a well-produced introductory video, fireworks imitating gunshots and dressing as druids to walk through the crowd with huge fire torches, I boldly claimed ‘this is the heaviest shit I’ve seen all day’ and they hadn’t even played a single note yet. You can probably imagine where my mind was at this point, and I was in complete awe from the get-go.
Now, if this was Soundwave 2015 or any year prior, I hands down would have been in and amongst the pit in the mainstage for ADTR and Parkway. However, that is a young man’s game and my left knee will probably never allow me to hit a festival from start to finish ever again, despite seeing a large portion of the crowd funnel out before Byron Bay’s stalwarts hit the stage, I still don’t think I would have survived.
Following their evolution to becoming the worldwide phenomenon that they are today, the crowd was gifted only ‘Idols and Anchors’ and ‘Carrion’ to relive the glory days of smaller shows, ‘Karma’ was the only other pre-Atlas song on offer this evening. There were some moans and groans, with someone even wanting to hear ‘Gimme a D’, after seeing current Parkway song’s and their entire presentation, you’ll have no right to be upset with their musical change and current direction. Their live show is now such a grand experience that has to be witnessed for yourself in person. Long live heavy music.