Review Contributed by Josh Mak and Kynan Arden
Photos Contributed by Shane Henderson
Two long years have passed since the last Good Things Festival blessed the Flemington Showgrounds. Melbourne, you have waited, you have endured and now rejoice for live music is back and festival season is upon us.
I arrived around 11 am and the weather was forecast to be a sunny high of 22 and low of 15. Warm sun and a cool breeze, what more could you ask for? This wasn’t just my first time covering a festival, it was actually the first festival I have ever been to. With five stages and a total of 32 bands, I was going to need a game plan on how to tackle this behemoth. We (Josh and Kynan) drew up a strategy on which bands we would individually cover, this way we could efficiently move from set to set without the need to traverse the Showgrounds and jostle with the crowds as much.
So, whether you’re a veteran or a virgin of the festival scene, sit back, relax, spark up and join me as I take you through the experience that was Good Things 2022.
The first band of the day was the winner of Good Things Festival’s Battle of the bands,
Among The Restless. Rhett James (Vocals), Lachie Dunn (Guitar), Seamus Glenn (Guitar), Josh Marra (Bass), and Jaidyn Hale (Drums). These boys had fought hard to be here and were eager to prove why they had earned and deserved this coveted opening slot.
There were some technical issues at the beginning of their set, as a sample that was supposed to introduce the band didn’t play. Frontman, Rhett James made a split-second decision and said “Fuck it, let’s play.” This is highly commendable and showed their professionalism and ability to adapt to challenges. Ripping through a blistering set of six, including their new single Torn, no corner of the stage was left unexplored by Rhett James as he danced and engaged the audience. The band’s brilliant musicianship and energy paid off and the crowd grew with each song that they performed. It’s never easy being the opening band with such giants of the industry on the bill, but Among The Restless certainly impressed me with their ability to draw in and win the crowd. Keep your eyes on these boys because they are definitely going places.
Those Who Dream were another band that kicked off the day, and despite the technical difficulties which continued throughout the day, the young duo worked with what they had and still delivered a killer performance, with Josh’s charismatic engagement with the audience, and Hazel’s contagious enthusiasm that could make even transphobic troglodytes’ grin. The sudden drum battle between the two got the crowd pumped and wanting more
Check Out the Gallery from Stage 5
Stage 2 was adorned in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. This was going to be an emotionally charged set and those emotions were rage and determination. Jinjer burst onto the stage with all the subtlety of an explosion. The band played with surgical precision and vocalist, Tatiana “Tati” Shmalyuk’s vocals were on point. From deep guttural growls to haunting and melodious lines, she awed us with her range and execution. It was truly powerful and inspiring to see a band from Ukraine perform on the main stage given the current events in their home country. Mid-set, Tati took the time to thank the audience and Australia for their support of Ukraine, and the crowd roared in solidarity. You could feel the magic in the air and I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one with goosebumps from this. Then with the authority of an army general, Tati said “If fucking Putin is listening then let’s tell him with the next song that we want our country back!” War is a terrible thing but music has a power stronger than any weapon. Jinjer showed us how true this statement is.
Swedish punk rockers Millencolin were up next on Stage 1. They had a really fun vibe and got the crowd into party mode. Although their music was punk-based it did have a lot of strong rock and roll elements to it. Millencolin proved that no matter what genre of music the Scandinavians play, whether it's power metal or punk rock, they always do so with a high level of musicianship.
Thornhill, after a year of European and American tours, delivered as always on their home soil with a packed crowd, with a mix of their hits alongside tracks from their recent album Heroine, and the natural performing chops of the individual members themselves, especially the guitarist Ethan whose poses remain unmatched.
The Swedish invasion continued with the mighty Sabaton. I had been very keen to watch their set but the reaction of the crowd caught me completely off guard. People started pouring in and moving closer to the stage just before they were due to appear. Then as if cued by some unseen mystical force they all began chanting “Sabaton, Sabaton!”
A flash of sparks and flame accompanied by a deafening roar and there they were. Dressed in matching camo print cargo pants and frontman Joakim Brodén with his signature armored vest and sunglasses. The mood had changed and it seemed like every person here was a hardcore Sabaton fan.
I was immediately pulled into the pit as the crowd went into a frenzy. The fans had decided on my behalf that I was staying for this entire set whether I wanted to or not. Not that I wanted to leave, because Sabaton played an absolutely mind-blowing set! Tales of war throughout the ages were told by Joakim in a commanding voice that was equal parts glorious and gritty. Guitarists, Tommy Johansson and Chris Rörland dazzled us with technically precise shredding paired with melodic phrasing that power metal is so well known for.
We were a brotherhood born in flames, smoke, and war cries. In these moments the crowd became an army of warriors united under the flag of Sabaton.
Check Out the Gallery from Stage 4
I now had a little time before I was due for the next set so my stomach decided for me that it was time to explore the food and other attractions on offer at the festival. I really must commend the organisers of Good Things Festival as there was a plethora of food trucks to choose from. Argentinian steak sandwiches, German bratwurst, Nachos, Burgers, dumplings and the list went on. I could probably write an entire review on the food trucks alone but maybe we’ll save that for next year. The majority of the food was reasonably priced and there were sufficient stalls that made it possible to grab a bite without waiting in line endlessly. Water stations, sunscreen, and even a phone charging station were placed throughout the venue and there was no lack of toilets.
A huge marquee was erected in the middle of the Showgrounds where people could have their lunch or just get out of the sun for a bit and in the marquee, there was a cover band playing the fan favourites.
There were also a few small theme park rides, tattooists, and barbers. Not really my kind of thing at a music festival but judging from the lines, the punters seemed to enjoy it.
I eventually settled on some nachos and now that I was fed it was time to get back to the music.
Nova Twins. What on earth can I say? If these girls don’t reach every corner of the world with their charisma and dominance that could match Cleopatra herself, I will accept that intelligence no longer exists. Even after the lengthy delay due to sound issues, the twins did not hold bad, delivering the baddest, most fiery performance imaginable with their urban punk/grime sound, encouraging the combination of twerking matched with moshing within the crowd
Check Out the Gallery from Stage 3
Queensland’s darlings of the metal core scene, The Amity Affliction were up next. They definitely drew the largest crowd I had seen so far. Moshing and crowd surfing were aplenty despite large banners saying they were forbidden. I guess the fans took it as more of a suggestion than a rule to adhere to. Having said this, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that the overall atmosphere at the festival was very positive. Everyone I saw and interacted with was very respectful and was here to enjoy the music and not cause a nuisance.
All in all The Amity Affliction was certainly a crowd favourite.
Having had their style described as progressive technical death metal, Gojira certainly did not disappoint. Brutally crushing dropped-tuned goodness was conveyed via insanely fast and violent rhythms. Vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier, together with drummer Mario Duplantir played at inhuman speeds. Showing a level of virtuosity I had never seen live. Many people have a stereotypical image of romance, art and croissants when they think of France. Gojira decisively destroys that stereotype and invokes more gritty imagery like a harsher version of Luc Besson’s Banlieue 13.
Sleeping with Sirens had just finished their set at stage 3 and as Soulfly was about to take the stage you could see a noticeable shift in the fan demographics. Gothic attire and brightly coloured hair gave way to leather and denim vests adorned with patches. Soulfly’s performance can be summed up as pure distilled tribal brutality. An intoxicating blend of crushing riffs and strong grooves from the drum and bass.
A most welcomed surprise for me was seeing Dino Cazares of Fear Factory filling the role of the lead guitarist as a special guest for this tour. His playing was breathtaking. Syncopated rhythms and dissonant lead lines made all the fans hope that this wouldn’t be the last we see of him performing with Soulfly.
Max Cavalera one of the actual legends of the metal scene was amazing and everything I imagined him to be live. His experience from decades of touring came through in his playing and showmanship and my God did he have a ferocious roar. The sounds coming out of Max Cavalera’s mouth made you think that he came from a place much further south than Brazil. Zyon Cavalera, Max’s son was a master on the drums, beating the skins with ferocity and feeling. It was heartwarming to see two members of the Cavalera family share the stage once again.
Soulfly’s fans were almost rabid and you could taste the tension in the air as Max called for a wall of death. Passion, excitement and just a tiny tinge of danger thrown in for good measure made Soulfly’s performance my favourite of the festival.
Check Out the Gallery from Stage 2
TISM. Oh TISM. Even after 19 years of silence, you drew one of the largest crowds filled with both aged and younger fans, who could scream all day about being a wanker, sexual envy, drugs that killed River Pheonix, and yelling at the cu*t Greg for continuously missing the bloody stop sign. The trash bag suits, plastic masks, and the gimp outfits brought a new but exciting feel to Good Things Festival.
NOFX began their set in the most spectacular fashion by declaring themselves the best band at the festival. Then quickly noting that they were also the oldest band and drew attention to their hairlines. In the best possible way, they treated their headlining festival set like it was a backyard pool party with friends as Fat Mike and El Hefe traded banter with each other and the crowd. The cheekiness and mischief were dialed to 11 and at one point El Hefe who is a trumpet player, mimicked a trumpet line from a song with noises from his mouth while miming the action with his hands.
The majority of the things that came out of Fat Mike’s mouth are probably too non-PC to put to print in this day and age but here are a couple of highlights.
“A lot of the bands here today are angry. We’re not angry we’re grumpy.”
“We’re about to play more songs nobody cares about so get ready for more disappointment.”
“My nipples can play a mean didgeridoo.”
There are many bands that claim to be punk but few bands embody the philosophy of punk like NOFX does. Some bands are virtuosos musically but NOFX are the true masters in the art of not giving a fuck.
The time had finally come, Deftones were about to take the stage. Having learned from my earlier experience during the Sabaton set, I opted to not stand too close to the stage in order to avoid getting caught in the pit. However, as soon as the band walked out on stage my plans went right out the window. I had begun standing on the edge looking into the pit and in the blink of an eye, I was in the middle of a new and much larger pit that stretched back further than I could see. The crowd had packed in and there was no room to move at all. The Deftones played a phenomenal set of many of the fan favourites and it was awesome to see that this band from my childhood still had such a big impact on the festival attendees.
Check Out the Gallery from Stage 1
The headliners of Good Things Festival 2022 were the British Kings of the Metalcore scene and it was obvious that the vast majority of the attendees had come to worship at the altar of Bring Me The Horizon. The show began with dazzling visuals on the big screen and the stage had been transformed with different raised levels. A beautiful white electronic drum kit and keyboard perfectly complimented the modern cyberpunk aesthetic. Frontman Oliver Sykes emerged to rapturous applause as a big cloud of confetti blasted into the air. This was an opulent stage show befitting the headline act. Lyrics and neon-colored graphics flashed across different screens as the band performed. The crowd needed no prompting as they sang at the top of their lungs to every single song. Like an orchestral conductor, Oliver Sykes directed the crowd and they were more than eager to please their idol.
Bring Me The Horizon somehow managed to fuse the party element of an EDM concert together with the aggression of metalcore. This fusion brought forth spectacular visuals against a backdrop of an awesome rock band. At a festival the further you are from the stage the harder it is to connect with a band. It takes something truly special to reach every corner of the crowd and Bring Me The Horizon has that something special in spades.
As I write this, I am nursing a sun-scorched back as I reflect on all I have experienced in the last 24hrs. A festival is not a casual event, it requires a certain amount of stamina to get through from start to finish. What distracts you from the fatigue are the amazing bands that you get to see live one after another. So, if a sunburnt back and some sore feet are the prices I have to pay then I shall proudly wear my battle scars as medals of honour. For I have now lost my festival virginity and God damn, Good Things Festival was a great place for it to happen.
Bring on the next one!