After nearly three long years without large-scale heavy music festivals featuring international bands, the Good Things Festival tour has finally brought stadium-level alternative music celebrations back to Australia. It’s a tonic for metalheads down under who have tasted the bitterness of much-delayed tours, cancellations, and the general lack of joyful festival vibes these past few years. So it’s absolutely no surprise that the Brisbane leg, and the last festival of the tour, is completely sold out, even on a hot and sweaty summer Sunday.
By 11am, legions of Brisbane metalheads are lined up in a mammoth queue that extends around half the perimeter of the Brisbane Showgrounds, as they await entry through the only available gate. When the gates open at midday, the queue finally begins to move and this reviewer is lucky enough to make it through in time to catch Apate, the winners of the Good Things Brisbane ‘Battle of the Bands’, who open proceedings on Stage 5. These nu-metalcore newcomers waste no time in launching into some filthy breakdowns and intense grooves with a strong, bass-heavy live mix and a whole lot of energy. They really hit their stride a few songs in as the crowd grows and grows. Apate present an aggressive brand of nu-metal with tinges of deathcore and EDM that is reminiscent of Korn meets The Prodigy meets Kublai Khan, and they deliver a well-balanced set that gets a fight dancing mosh going towards the end – a great achievement for a local opener in a festival of this size.
Next, I move down to the main stage area to witness the return of Ukrainian groove metal titans Jinjer to a Brisbane stage. For such a global sensation, I’m surprised their set is scheduled so early – but considering what they would have been through to even make it into Australia, all I can feel is fervent gratitude that Jinjer are on the bill today. They open with absolute banger Teacher, Teacher, and I’m floored by the power of the relentless, ridiculously tight blast beats, and of course, the sheer force of nature that is Tatiana Shmayluk. She’s such an effortlessly charismatic, fluid performer, and her famously colossal harsh vocals pack a mighty punch live. It’s not long before circle pits break out as the band deliver copious amounts of crushing, groovy breakdowns through hits like Judgement (& Punishment), Perennial, and in a heart-wrenching, defiant moment of solidarity for Ukraine, Home Back. Pisces is a particular standout, with the whole crowd singing along to the sweet clean melody before the heavy sections burst in and fire up the mosh. For a short and early set, Jinjer have certainly made a strong impression today.
Swedish punk rockers Millencolin follow Jinjer on the other main stage in a curious change of pace, but their sunny, rebellious pop punk tunes serve to inject some party vibes into the arena. Opening with the catchy Kemp is a wise move, as this instantly gets the bodies in the crowd moving around and having a little dance. 30 years into their career, and the boys have still got it – they go as hard as ever, powering through their set with vim, vigour, and a dash of teenage punk attitude. Their sound is brash and bright as they deliver a nostalgic throwdown that gives new life to early ’00s pop punk. Bullion gets a circle pit going with its Blink-182 peppy punk tones. The performance is infectiously uplifting from start to finish, getting rowdier as it goes on, with even a spot of crowdsurfing breaking out. I find the band’s polite banter with the crowd that showcases their lovely, mild Swedish nature to be a wholesome contrast with the brazen attitude of their music. Hits like SOS, Penguins and Polarbears and No Cigar keep that mosh going right down memory lane. A fun and enjoyable set overall from Millencolin.
I don’t think any amount of warming up could prepare the crowd for the sheer spectacle that is a live Sabaton set. The metal warriors burst onto the stage amid the chants of “Sabaton, Sabaton”, and between the matching camo-print guitars, their Aussie-tailored backdrop of emus surrounding a cannon, and all that hair, the stagecraft manages to mirror the glory of Sabaton’s hero metal anthems. A mosh gets going straight away to opener Ghost Division, and this only increases in intensity for Great War, in which we get our first pyro display of the day! This band’s showmanship is nothing short of masterful; they’ve got it all with lightning guitar solos, guitarists and bassist frequently shredding in tandem, and driving drums, all underpinned by a strobe light show that fires like bullets. Frontman Joakim Brodén advises us that the band likes to think of themselves as a mixture of military historians and the Village People in camo gear, and that really doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does. It’s clear from the raging mosh pit that everyone is ready to join these Swedes on noble steed and charge right into battle.
I rush over to Stage 4 just in time to catch one of the most hotly anticipated acts on this line-up – Germany’s electro-metalcore sensations Electric Callboy. The crowd is absolutely massive, and it’s clear this band should be on the main stage. The six-piece explode on with so much energy that the stage seems smaller than it already is, and they’re rocking neon 80s aerobics gear as they launch into Pump It. Electric Callboy well and truly live up to their hype, delivering flawless, album-quality numbers with so much intensity that it feels like the stage area is going to spontaneously combust. It’s all high BPMs and high spirits as they cycle through high-octane bangers, both new and not-so-new, as well as several hilarious costume changes. Newies like Arrow of Love and Tekkno Train certainly get an epic mosh going, but it’s Hypa Hypa that really sends everyone completely wild. At one point, everyone in the mosh grabs their neighbours’ shoulders and moshes in jump rows, which is a first for me. If there was ever a question of what a mosh crossed with a rave would look and sound like – Electric Callboy would be it. It’s their first time in Australia, and I’m sure they’ll be back very soon.
Back at the main stage, The Amity Affliction are delivering catharsis to all the hardcore fans in the crowd with a catalogue of their greatest, and most tortured, hits. Joel Birch’s shrieks and guttural harshes are as gut-wrenching as ever, and they tear through the arena like screeching missiles. This contrasts really well with Ahren Stringer’s crystal clear cleans, which are really resonant despite a live mix that could be a little punchier overall. Birch thrashes around on the stage with more energy than the rest of the band put together – there’s so much passion in his performance. All My Friends Are Dead, Don’t Lean On Me and Death’s Hand in particular go off, and the moshing and crowdsurfing throughout The Amity Affliction’s set reaches chaotic levels. Pyro makes its glorious daylight return for Chasing Ghosts and Shine On, punctuating the ferocity of the music. But it’s Drag The Lake that really strikes a chord for the crowd, and for myself personally – this is such an emotive track, and it’s conveyed with such raw, palpable anguish live that you feel it in your bones. It’s a powerful set from one of South-East Queensland’s finest metal exports.
The cheering from avid fans is deafening when American emo-hardcore favourites Sleeping With Sirens take over Stage 3. They rip right into a dynamic and compelling set of their best-loved hits, striking the perfect balance between delivering the earnest, anthemic melodies with passionate sensitivity and crushing it with aggressive breakdowns. A frenetic energy builds in the stage area, particularly during the defiant Kick Me, and it doesn’t take long for the crowd to get a little loose. However, frontman Kellin Quinn makes a point of fostering community within the crowd, saying that we are all special, that this is a safe space for everyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. I’m struck by how the punk rock beats and candy-sweet melodies take the heat off the often very serious subject matter in these tracks – particularly in Better Off Dead and Bloody Knuckles, the latter of which gets a thunderous count in from the crowd and is performed with a real gutsy swagger that gets the blood up. This is offset by a touching acoustic cover of Iris by Goo Goo Dolls, which inspires a big singalong. Wrapping it up with cheeky classic If You Can’t Hang, Sleeping with Sirens end on a high note.
Back on Stage 5, Norwegian punk outfit Blood Command are well and truly bringing their unique brand of chaos. Their heavy, hyper, cyber punk metal injects a welcome burst of frenzied energy as we get towards the tail end of the festival. A little research tells me that much of the thematic content in Blood Command’s “death pop” music references the bizarre Heaven’s Gate movement, but even without that prior knowledge, the intensity of their live performance creates a sense of manic claustrophobia that really does make you feel like you’re part of a cult. This is thanks in no small part to frontwoman Nikki Brumen, known to Australian audiences for her work in the now-disbanded Pagan, and she is a real pocket rocket. Bouncing around with a feral energy and a no-fucks-given attitude, Brumen is an absolute powerhouse, showcasing incredible vocal versatility and a punk shriek that’s like an angrier version of Amyl and The Sniffers. The band have an amazing natural chemistry, which is further emboldened by the heart-wrenching origin story of Brumen’s journey into the band. It’s the first time the band has ever toured outside of Europe, and I hope we’ll be seeing much more of them now.
The main stage area is now overwhelmingly populated as punters gather for the arrival of Deftones. An ominous, ethereal droney intro builds the tension and an incredible geometric lighting backdrop is slowly revealed. A guitar begins to strum, and then the four-piece digs into their earthy yet brutal take on rock that is as black as night. What unfolds is a masterpiece in controlled, understated rage – blisteringly heavy in parts, intimately subdued in others. Bangers both old and new have the same hypnotising effect, with My Own Summer (Shove It) a clear early standout – this track absolutely slaps live, and the entire arena of punters are yelling along with the iconic “Shove It, Shove It, Shove It”. The crowd are completely transfixed by the performance, as you can hear a pin drop during the quieter moments, in stark contrast to the powerful defiance of the more brutal riffs. Frontman Chino Moreno is in top form tonight, the ferocity of his screams hitting us out of nowhere after minutes of pretty shoegaze guitar tones, and his distinctive cleans convey such depth of emotion. Numbers like Genesis and the title track from recent album “Ohms” land with just as much impact as the classic hits like Change (In The House of Flies), which inspires a big singalong. Max Cavalera is invited on stage for a surprise cameo in the closing number, the swaggery nu-metal anthem Headup, and it’s a fitting way to wrap up a captivating set from masters of their craft.
An elaborate video display that gives Doctor Who vibes heralds the arrival of the day’s headline act. A burst of confetti punctuates the start of Bring Me The Horizon’s performance as they launch into megahit Can You Feel My Heart, and with the entire band’s seemingly limitless energy and technical precision, and the kaleidoscopic video visuals tailored for each track, this feels truly like a stadium show. In keeping with their recent turn into a more electro-driven take on metalcore, the visuals are like meme culture and futuristic, dystopian robot themes all rolled into one, and they serve to take us on a captivating odyssey through the greatest hits of the band’s meteoric career. Frontman Oli Sykes is a force to behold – the confidence he exudes as a frontman is only matched by his unbelievable versatility as a vocalist. Backed by an impeccably tight rhythm section, bangers like Teardrops and Mantra resound through the arena and get the crowd moshing even more intensely.
With Sykes egging on the mosh in his South Yorkshire accent, this tips things over into utter chaos. Synths pulsate and guitar chugs reign supreme in Parasite Eve, and sTraNgeRs feels anthemic. Kingslayer inspires a frenzy of activity, and the Matrix-style visuals enhance the futuristic flavour of this track live. There’s a real sitting by the campfire moment when the band serenades us with an acoustic rendition of Follow You, and then the intensity is dialled back up to the max with Drown. They come back for a quick encore of Obey, which absolutely goes off, finally wrapping up for good with Throne and an accompanying explosion of streamers.
The quality of the line-up at Good Things Festival – or at least, what this reviewer has been able to cover of it – has been nothing short of phenomenal, with all bands giving incredible, energetic performances. Some of the organisational issues on the day – queue management at the entrance and very long lines in the food truck areas – took the wind out of some sails, but because the calibre of musicianship has been so high, the Good Things experience was still, overall, a pretty good one. A bit more tweaking for next year, and it’ll be a truly unforgettable festival experience for Australia’s alternative contingent.
Thanks to Dallas Does PR