FESTIVAL REVIEW: GOOD THINGS FESTIVAL 2018 Live at RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane
While the past few years has seen a rapid increase in the amount of bands touring Australia off their own back, the real highlight of the Australian music scene has always been the festival. While it has taken a few years to fill the voids left by the demise of Big Day Out and Soundwave, smaller festivals like Unify continued to fly the flag and prove that Australia was a destination that desperately needed these festivals as part of their lifeblood. Fast forward to 2018, and we have been very fortunate this year to have had not only the inaugural Download Australia events being held in March, but also Good Things festival, which finished up its three show run in Brisbane this past Sunday.
The day was a hot and humid affair from its 11am opening until well into the evening, which seemed in line with weather reports from the Sydney and Melbourne dates, and even though the threat of rain loomed for most of the day, Brisbane was lucky enough to only get a minor sprinkle. While some of the only complaints coming out of Good Things in Melbourne and Sydney seemed to be related to their respective shade situations, Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds had this more than covered with its pavilions and tents ensuring that there was always a place to get out of the sun’s rays.
Probably the hardest thing about attending any festival is picking which bands to see and those that you need to miss out on due to clashes. Luckily, Good Things had cultivated set times in such a way, with the exception of a few acts that might have crossed genres, that there wouldn’t be many clashes. While there was a wide variety of bands on offer, it was the heavier end of the spectrum that I was keen to see, and luckily enough that meant that there was only one or two occasions that there was a difficult decision to be made.
Opening the day’s proceedings were local Brisbane act Stateside, a fantastic band that had amassed quite a crowd in front of the main stage very early into the day to watch. Void of Vision followed on the opposite stage and it was only a few short minutes into their set that their pit erupted into flurry of flailing limbs. The band themselves put on a great show, but when you’ve got a pit as active as this one was , its sometimes quite difficult to pull your attention away from there. Acting almost as a direct contrast, the pop-rock sounding Waterparks followed Void, and while the band performs a style of music that I am not necessarily a massive fan of, I did love the way that they interacted with their crowd — both during and in-between songs. The band had a great presence, a really solid sound and their crowd turnout proved that they were definitely the right band to be performing at Good Things.
Australian Metalcore crew Northlane were up next, and it was little surprising that the beloved act had a considerable crowd turnout. Commanding the stage in their own unique way, the quintet knew exactly how to work over the Brisbane crowd. Whether it was the band’s performance, their mid-afternoon pyro session, or the rain of purple confetti towards the end of their set, there was never a dull moment while the band was on stage. Following on from Northlane, and after making a mad dash across the other side of the showgrounds, I managed to catch Make Them Suffer for a few songs. One thing that these guys always bring is intensity, and it appeared that Good Things was no different for the brief part of their set that I caught. It was heavy, it was emotive, and the acoustics from the concreted floor in front of stage only helped to magnify that sound.
Being their first time in Australia, and the first opportunity for many to see the band, I quickly rushed back to the main stage (along with a large influx of other festival attendees) to watch the spectacle that is Babymetal. With their mid-afternoon set drawing a crowd quite similar in size to some of the days headliners, it was quite easy to see that this was a definite drawcard for the festival. Performance wise, Babymetal proved to be the most intriguing act of the day, with their carefully curated stage performance entrancing the crowd, while the musician arm of the band played effortlessly. Many people walked away from the stage equally bewildered and blown away, and I’m sure that the band garnered a fairly large amount of fans off the back of that performance.
From Babymetal onwards, the main stages served up a variety of acts that seemed to strike a perfect balance between the varied demography of the crowd. The Used took many fans on a trip down memory lane, with their rock anthems quickly resonating with a large majority of the crowd, while Bullet For My Valentine performed energetically for their last performance for 2018 to a massive crowd that erupted into several circle pits throughout the duration of their set. Bullet For My Valentine musically were probably my personal standout for the day, striking the perfect balance between showmanship and intensity, and definitely seemed to have a very passionate crowd watching their performance.
Celtic punk rockers Dropkick Murphys were the first band to kick in as the sun began to set, and used their mid afternoon set to appeal to not only to the faithful that had gathered in front of the stage, but also to all the exhausted punters that were trying to find food or a place to rest briefly as the evening went on. Their set was full of energy, and it resonated well with the crowd which at one point saw a row of random people behind the main crowd joining in linked arms during “I’m Shipping up to Boston” to synchronically leg kick. As the song went on, this line continued to grow until it finished up with about 50 people joining in song and dance, for what was one of the more memorable moments of the day.
Probably my only letdown for the day (if you could even call it that), came during Stone Sour’s set. The band was an obvious highlight and crowd favourite, and performed a really great collection of classics for their Australian fans, but personally, there was something about Corey Taylor’s performance that felt flat. I’m not sure if it was due to the rigours of touring Australia with our heat and humidity, or whether or not he had been partying the night before for his birthday and hadn’t got much rest (sidenote: Happy Birthday Corey!), but his performance didn’t seem to check the same boxes that it has over the past seven occasions I have seen him, and didn’t seem to fit with the energetic and nearly flawless performance of the rest of the band. It was good, don’t get me wrong – it just wasn’t at the level that it could have been, and that I have maybe come to expect from Mr Taylor. With that being said, Stone Sour still had one of the most robust performances, one of the most energetic crowds, and one of the greatest receptions for the entire day.
Finally, one of the major drawcards for the festival, The Offspring closed proceedings by performing their 1994 hit album Smash in full, before throwing in several other classic tracks to round out their set. While it was some of the bands later albums that helped ease me into heavier music (i.e. Ixnay on the Hombre), I had a great appreciation for Smash and it was great to see the band performing an album that had a profound impact on many that were in attendance. Although musically it might not have been as clean as it used to be, as I’m sure anything experiences age after almost a quarter-century, it didn’t matter for the remaining crowd that loved every moment of it. The band put on a great performance, that had many old school punk rockers and younger fans alike singing in unison, and when it felt like it couldn’t get any better the band had to call time on an impressive evening.
During the middle of The Offspring’s set I managed to also sneak off briefly to catch a glimpse of Dashboard Confessional before returning for the remainder of The Offspring’s performance. While I understand the reasons why, it was still disappointing to see that there was only a relatively small crowd that had turned out for Dashboard. The two songs that I did manage catch were performed quite well to small, yet very receptive crowd that didn’t seem phased by the relatively intimate turnout. With that being said, if your set time is competing against The Offspring for fans, there’s not a whole lot you can really do, so I appreciate that the band did the best they could under circumstances outside their control.
At the end of the day Good Things helped prove one thing — that Australia still loves an alternative music festival and that there is still very much a market for the alternative scene in Australia. With plans already underway for next year’s event, we can only hope that Good Things will grow alongside Download and Unify to resolidify the Australian alternative festival scene to the heights that we came to know and love during the end of the 2000’s.