ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED TRACIE TEE
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED TRACIE TEE
Download Festival doesn’t just stop in Melbourne- Queenslanders got to share in the love through the Download Sideshow held at Brisbane’s Riverstage on Wednesday night. Good Charlotte headlined the show with Aussies Chase Atlantic, Americans Issues and Falling In Reverse as well as Welsh band Neck Deep also playing the gig. The iconic GC logo filled the stage’s backdrop.
The Riverstage is a fantastic venue for such a show- its hill slopes in towards the stage making a semi natural seating with easy viewing. Half the crowd chose to sit on the hill, chilling picnic style while the other half ready to rock, flooded the stage front and sides; moshpitting. Chase Atlantic played first up and Issues followed, warming up for the night to come.
Falling In Reverse was the third cab off the ranks, definitely popular with the moshpitters chanting “Falling” repeatedly. Their banner dropped down over the GC logo, wicked guitar riffs announcing their arrival. They played hits such as Alone and Losing My Mind with the audience singing along, hands bouncing in sync. Their set was full of energy and angst, prompting the chant of “one more!” as the set started reaching its end. Lead singer Ronnie Radke in response, asked the audience to raise their hand “if you or anyone you know are an asshole?” Of course, the majority raised their hands, heading into their final song, Just Like You with great delight from screaming fans jumping around.
The stage then changed over banners to Neck Deep’s art during a fifteen minute intermission giving attendees a chance to get food and drinks. When it hit Neck Deep’s performance time, a countdown lead into deep rumbling audio with piercing guitar riffs. The band opened with Happy Judgement Day, playing songs from The Peace and the Panic and Life’s Not Out To Get You albums for their set. Lead singer, Ben Barlow shared with the audience that “touring with Good Charlotte was something on the bucket list” and “without Good Charlotte, bands like us wouldn’t exist.” They bowed out for the final number Where Do We Go When We Go with the lights flashing down and fading out emulating rain apt for the song’s lyrics.
Noticeably, more people arrived through the gates towards the end of Neck Deep’s set and in the break that followed– they only came for one band. A great deal of those picnicking, packed up their gear, were up standing; moving closer to the stage. The tour shirts were everywhere. Their five year break clearly didn’t hurt their fandom.
The stage went black, everyone screamed. Rumbling audio with sirens and helicopter sounds panning across the speakers. Good Charlotte ran on to the excitement of everyone, opening with The Anthem. As they played, those on the hill kept moving in, dancing and singing along. Theatrical smoke pumped in streams across the stage front. This band was out to put on a truly sick show. Hands were up in the air, bouncing madly. Lead singer, Joel Madden spoke to the audience, saying tonight was special to the band as it was nostalgic to be back in Brisbane. As they continued to play earlier hits, Joel dedicated the song, Riot Girl to all the girls out there and spoke about his daughter, hoping that “she will express herself without sexism, without discrimination.”
The band went on to play a newer hit, Life Changes from their recent album, Youth Authority with Joel speaking about getting back up from tough times and that at the start of the band’s life, it was tough for them. Never once did the audience stop singing along throughout the set. This was as the Madden Brothers proclaimed, “a house party in a really big backyard.” They spoke about their humble beginnings and how times were tough in their small home town. They spoke about their success and that “all the statistics said we should have ended up a lot differently than today, so every time we’re up on stage we’re grateful for you guys.” There was great level of sincerity in those words. This is a band happy and appreciative of where they are in life. To that end, they continued with Motivation Proclamation. Then there was a new chant continuing amongst the moshpitters- “Do it”.
Good Charlotte then got into Keep Your Hands Off My Girl and Makeshift Love, Joel confessing that the brothers didn’t get a lot of hugs when they were younger and now fans’ mothers and grandmothers hug them, also mentioning that the Brothers’ mom and grandma were also with them tonight on the tour; telling the fans to appreciate their moms and grandmas. The “Do it” chant continued to persist. Clearly they hadn’t done what the “Do it” was.
Joel continued along the nostalgia line by talking about how the band had struggled getting their first song on the radio. The first place in the world that played any Good Charlotte, was Brisbane, Australia- this lead them into performing Little Things. The hit songs got bigger and bigger, with numbers like Misery and The Young and The Hopeless. They then had a false start mixing up the cues for Dance Floor Anthem and Last Night, however handled this jokingly and played both songs. That “Do It” chant still persisted.
The gig was reaching its climax with mega hit I Just Wanna Live, the crowd singing louder and louder, responding to Joel’s every vocal challenge. The chant still didn’t die down and when you start working out which song hasn’t been done yet- what they were asking for became obvious. They broke into their break out hit, Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous– suddenly those chanters, broke into screaming praise! During a break in the song, they thanked the staff and shouted out their fellow touring bands, ending with streaming theatrical smoke and pyrotechnics putting the “live” in live show. Fans coming away from this show, satisfied was an understatement. Good Charlotte came to rock the “house party” and rocked it they did!
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
What’s the best thing about this year’s first ever Australian edition of Download Festival? Well, if you live in Brisbane, it’s the Sideshows baby! And if there was one that I was excited to see, it was Billboard Top 10 Charting, Grammy Award winning, Mastodon; supported by French Heavy Metal kings Gojira – This was already set to be a show of epic proportions.
While Mastodon have played this venue in the past and visited quite frequently over the years, this was Gojira’s first time back in Brisbane since Soundwave 2014 and their first time ever performing at The Eatons Hill Grand Ballroom – there were plenty of patient fans eager to wrap their listening gear around their set – live, up close, and personal.
The Ballroom is a sea of black band-shirts and as opening time draws closer whistling begins, devil horns rise, and the crowd starts beckoning their idols to the stage – “Go-ji-ra! Go-ji-ra!”
Technical death metal four-piece, Gojira take over the stage with blasts of pyrotechnics during the first song “Open Pain”, one of the most essential tracks from their intense and emotionally charged “Magma” release. Following that they take us back to 2005 with “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe”. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Joe Duplantier, manages to give light and shade to the performance with his mix of clean style, for songs like the opener, and death growling vocals, for others like “The Cell” – which the fans were absolutely elated to hear mid-set. Duplantier bantered with the crowd in between a few songs, endearingly expressing how grateful they were to be performing for us – the crowd responding with calls of love. Both Christian Andreu on lead guitar, and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass, bound around the stage with aggression and intensity, and the occasional smile and look of absolute elation. With their progressive, uncommon song structures, amazing riffs, and the foundation of Mario Duplantier’s thundering drum beats, Gojira give their Brisbane fans what they’ve been waiting for.
The Mastodon backdrop unfurls, last check of setup, and the lights go out. The silhouettes take their places on the stage, flanked by Orange stacks on the left and Marshall stacks on the right, devil horn salutes to the crowd – And it begins. They start with “Sultan’s Curse” – what a choice for opening track! The first song off their seventh studio Album, “Emperor of Sand”, which recently took away the win for Best Metal Performance at this years Grammy Awards. The prog metal, heavy stoner rock vibes fill the Ballroom sending the audience into the trance and collective high they have come to experience.
Multilayered complex instrumental bars married with vocal harmonies, Brann Dailor’s effortless drum fills and Brent Hinds’ signature solos.
Some of the audience members are clearly here for Hinds and his shredding, uncontrollably pulling out their air guitars and attempting to keep up with the master. “Show Yourself” and “High Road” were noticeable crowd favourites and chances for Mastodon and their audience to interact – clapping along and chanting on cue.
The mosh makes way for a circle pit mid-set – it was bound to happen, fun to witness – the energy from the band and the pit is infectious and seems to lift and unite the entire room of hungry metal-heads and music-lovers.
Troy Sanders uses every inch he can of that stage to thrash around his bass, regularly wielding it above his head like a trophy, breaking only when he needs to get to the mic to scream out those resonating vocals. Bill Kelliher on rhythm guitar moves about the stage almost as much as Sanders, leaning in over the fans reaching out from the barrier, giving a few fist-bumps mid-song and flicking guitar picks out into the eager mob. They make a promise to come back “sooner rather than later” (metal-heads rejoice!) and bust out with their last song of the night, 2004 release “Blood and Thunder”.
While his band members exit stage left, Dailor emerges from behind the kit, sharing a laugh with the crowd about local terminology -“Is it BrisVegas? Do I call you Brisbanians?” – expressing further gratitude to the crew and the fans, distributing a large handful of drumsticks. It was a nice touch.
After an hour and a half of solid Mastodon goodness, if your band shirt wasn’t stuck to your skin with sweat, then you weren’t there!
Review Contributed by Elizabeth Sharpe
Fresh from their stunning performances just two days earlier at Australia’s first ever Download Festival in Melbourne, both Mastodon and Gojira marched into Sydney to perform a festival sideshow to the hearty fans who one could assume were all there because they could not make it down to Melbourne for the festival, although of course it is highly probable that a certain few may just have made it to several Australian performances to witness these two global metal giants, and who could blame them?!
For those who have not ventured into the Big Top venue let me tell you that it is a strange old feeling when you wander into the surrounding outdoor area, because it is smack bang in the middle of the famous Luna Park amusement location, which is directly beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge – makes for some stunning scenery once you exit the venue in a south-easterly direction… but I digress.
Once inside, the general hum of heavy metal banter amongst the punters, people making merchandise decisions and alcohol decisions was brought to a halt when the lights dimmed and Gojira quietly entered the stage – however the relative quiet disappeared almost as quickly as it began once the French lads began tearing into ‘Only Pain’ and boom, the night was instantly on track with raw power!
I don’t know what it is about Gojira, well I kinda do, but their mix of varying riff and tempo changes, fricken brutal drum beats and a strong stage presence makes them a tantalising feast to behold – a real pleasure to witness!
Gojira ripped through old and new tracks, including the monumental Flying Whales from the ‘From Mars To Sirius’ album dating back to 2005 – nuh, that ain’t lost any lustre my friends, geez did that one tear the roof off!
Occasionally breaking to chat to the feverish crowd, Joe Duplantier was and is a charming and charismatic front man, with an endearing demeanour, especially when he is speaking fondly about fellow bands and what it means to be sharing large stages with them. He quipped at one stage about how often they have toured with Mastodon, and in fact each time they have been to Australia they have supported them, he jokingly added that it was about time that Gojira headlined a tour here!
Whilst the set did not contain any of the pyro as seen at Download, they still used their utterly hypnotic light show which somehow fits perfectly with the high energy of the ever changing tempos, and this folks includes various blastbeats so a big kudos to the lighting dude!
For me the track that kicked the most arse on the night was ‘Backbone’ which is also from the ‘From Mars To Sirius’ album – for me it is a blend of both Morbid Angel and Arkhon Infaustus, the latter also being a brutal French outfit!
Let me tell ‘ya too, it wasn’t just Gojira’s material that was making your ears bleed, their mix was superb, with every smashing of a drum skin reverberating through the venue, allowing a beautiful rich, yet pounding sound that added depth and unadulterated power to the set – magic!
Precise riffing, guttural vocals, piercing drum beats and great stage presence – this was superb Gojira, and the band didn’t hold back when displaying their appreciation for the attendance and interaction with the crowd, who began jumping and banging from the beginning and did not stop until the set finished – kinda old school and really good to see consistent head moving!
So, here we are, one global giant of a band down, another to come – and so it was time for the might of the Atlanta natives who have forged a massive career for themselves – Mastodon!
Boom, into Sultan’s Curse they went from the outset and the crowd were immediately drawn into a level of physical demand, jumping, banging, waving, anything to relate to the sound.
The lighting was very much a different feel and ambience to Gojira, Mastodon’s was largely a green, blue or red colour cast which to me did not highlight enough of the players – it doesn’t need to of course, just my opinion.
Lighting aside, the band played Divinations from ‘Crack The Skye’ second track up and when that famous guitar intro was heard the crowd went nuts, and I mean a really large roar – gave me goosebumps!
Other classic offerings were Trilobite which I’m told was the first time the band had played it live since 2008, Ghost of Karelia and Oblivion along with Toe To Toes making it’s live debut!
The biggest crowd reaction of the set was easily for Oblivion… I reckon that noise would have shaken the nearby Sydney Harbour Bridge – magnificent!
It was clear to most, if not all (visually anyway) that Brent Hinds was having some sound issues with his amps, however it appeared to have been sorted well enough, not that the crowd would have noticed sound wise, they were too busy being lost in many moments, moving seamlessly to the hypnotic trance that Mastodon produce with their offbeat, yet somehow smooth blend of crunchy metal riffs and lead laden dual guitar runs, along with a great rhythm section.
Of course, Mastodon are not on the same level of heaviness as Gojira etc, however as we know they’re not pretending to be, they have their own flow and their own sound and whilst that was a contrast to the previous set, it did not alter the mood nor willingness of the crowd to become almost berserk at stages – this band can write amazing material!
I could be wrong, however to me it appeared as though the band were purposely steering away from tracks where Brann Dailor dominated the vocals from his drum kit, preferring to play more tracks where Troy Sanders took the vocal lead, perhaps there was a need to preserve Brann’s voice to create longevity on this tour?
Having said that, when Brann did sing he belted the tracks out, no problem there!
A relatively long set, 19 tracks by my account and that folks is a huge band that respects their fans and really loves what they do!
A good selection of old and new tracks, although they ensured that the popular tracks from ‘Sultan’s Curse’ were played, being Steambreather, Show Yourself, Roots Remain etc.
And so the Sydney version of the Mastodon Festival Sideshow drew to a close, this one including the might of Gojira!
Two very different bands, yet both equally capable of delivering a mesmerising and memorable performance – these moments in one’s life are to be treasured, we are lucky to be able to witness this type of talent, and share the love and passion of our genre with large scores of people whom instantly become your family simply by stepping into venues to share such experiences.
Mastodon and Gojira, hold your collective heads up high my friends – until we meet again!
Review Contributed by Rochelle Cupido
With a line-up as big as this, you’d expect the Hordern Pavilion to be packed! But being a Monday, it wasn’t quiet, which left the audience with just enough space to dance and jump around, but, also only bringing out the fans who were willing to risk the Tuesday morning to follow.
Kicking off the bill was Chase Atlantic, the only Australian band on this five-band line up. Warming up the crowd with their hip hop beats and pop-rock sound the night kicked off with a fun vibe. Issues followed with a set-list seemingly made for singalongs, preparing the crowd for what was to follow. The crowd moved to the unique sounds of the band’s mash up of metal-core and pop tunes.
Falling in Reverse walked on stage to a screaming crowd. The intensity of the band was felt throughout the venue as each member of the five piece greeted the audience. It became clear the band has a strong fan base as much of the crowd chanted the words back to them. With an energetic stage presence and big vocals, Ronnie Radke captivated the audience. If you took a look around, all eyes were on stage, some with adoration and some with a slight sense of shock in their eyes whether it be at the intriguing lyrics or exciting performance. Definitely an experience for all!
The Hordern began to fill up. With people leaving their seats to fill the floor, more fans arriving and everyone clearly getting excited. Neck Deep, came out full of energy and ready to go. Kicking off the set with ‘Happy Judgement Day’, it was an instant frenzy of pop-punk dance moves and screaming the lyrics as loud as you could. Following with ‘Gold Steps’ and ‘Motion Sickness,’ it was as if Neck Deep was the headliner band that everyone had been anticipating all night. The longer intro of ‘Don’t Wait’ had the crowd clapping in time. Lead singer Ben Barlow kept the energy and the vibe flowing, “we’ve only got thirty minutes” he announced before kicking into the next song – ‘In Bloom’ – if everyone wasn’t singing already, they certainly were now. Crowd surfers, flowed and crashed over the barrier. ‘Can’t Kick Up the Roots’ saw the first circle pit of the night, as instructed by the band, with the quick, fun drums and guitars which saw the room erupt with movement as the whole crowd seemed to join in. Chanting ‘one more song’ before they even knew the next song was the last one, the intro to ‘Where Do We Go When We Go’ began but over the chanting, you could barely hear the track. Then the hard-hitting drums rang in and Dani Washington gave his all for the bands final song. The crowd gave just as much back but much to their disappointment, Neck Deep’s set was over and we said farewell to the U.K pop-punkers.
The night wasn’t even close to over. Linkin Park’s ‘In the End’ came through the audio system, maybe as tribute to Chester Bennington but definitely a great intro track and it wasn’t a long wait before Good Charlotte greeted their eagerly awaiting audience. Kicking the eighteen-track set list off with their biggest hit ‘The Anthem’ the room was instantly allured. For the first time all night the Hordern felt full and the crowd seemed to give everything they had for the rest of the night. Next up was ‘Story of My Old Man’ and ‘Bloody Valentine’ both from the same album, but, the set list wasn’t limited. With a mixture of songs from across the twenty-two-year span of the band, it’d be easy to assume all fans left happy. ‘Girls & Boys’ and ‘Riot Girl’ were clear crowd favourites, with many fans finding some shoulders to sit on or crowd surfing their way to the front. These songs also had the crowd dancing and jumping around, before following into the changing tempo of ‘Life Changes’ hailing from the newest album ‘Youth Authority.’
The lighting and special effects held the attention almost as much as the on-stage banter between brothers Benji and Joel Madden which they shared with the crowd. “We’re Australian part time” announced Joel with a laugh, sharing with the crowd that he lives right here in Sydney (sometimes). Stating that he hates Melbourne with a ‘boo’ retaliation from the crowd and then being honest by following with “I said the same thing last night in Melbourne about Sydney.” ‘Predictable’ a number one hit had the older fans chanting the spoken words from the song, while ‘The Motivation Proclamation’ provoked a change in emotions from many fans around the room, slowing everything down. ‘Keep Your Hands Off My Girl’ ramped up the atmosphere again and had many bouncing on their feet and in their seats before ‘Makeshift Love’ let drummer, Dean Butterworth show off his skills from the newest album.
It was a trip back to the beginning of the millennium as ‘Little Things’ began to play, with its groovy guitar riffs which saw Bill Martin smiling into the crowd. The angsty tune of ‘The Young and The Hopeless’ saw fists punch the air and the older fans seem to reminisce on the days when they didn’t care about going out on a Monday night. Earlier in the night the crowd had been asked if it was their first time seeing Good Charlotte – from the response it seemed like it was for the majority. So, for the rest of the night it was referred to as a “first date” with the band. However, the night was coming to an end but it was definitely not just going to fizzle out. ‘Misery’ had the crowd dancing around again and harmonizing to the woah oh’s. Then, following in album order ‘The River’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be In Love (Dance Floor Anthem)’ was up next from the 2008 album ‘Good Morning Revival’ with a cheer erupting from the crowd as each song began and ‘Last Night’ seemed to almost be rounding out the night as the only song from 2010 album ’Cardiology.’
What was left to play, except two of the biggest pop-punk sing-a-along. The iconic intro to ‘I Just Wanna Live’ began and somehow the crowd still had energy. The room was ecstatic, with everyone up off their feet bouncing to the well-known song. “We don’t do that encore shit” announced Joel Madden “this is your encore” and right on que the quick drums of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ began, as if there could be a person left in the room without at least knowing the chorus. It was almost as if the band didn’t even need to play, with audience members acting out different instruments and parts of the song. The special effects had their final moments, with steam canons and pyro techniques blasting out from the stage, with one fan saying ‘I wish there was confetti’ as she departed the venue. The band fare welled the audience with big waves and the toss of some drum sticks.
All in all, this Download sideshow was a huge success. With a five-band line-up, not something often done in Australia, the show seemed to run smoothly with only set times seemingly a problem. Download has now announced its return in 2019 to Melbourne, while adding Sydney to its list of locations! Who do you want to see on next year’s lineup?
Review Contributed by Carleigh Ingram
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED CARLEIGH INGRAM