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[Review] Good Things Festival @ Centennial Park, Sydney 03/12/2023

Review By Megan Milner

As the sun-drenched skyline of Sydney welcomes the much-anticipated Good Things Festival, 2023, it is quickly evident that music fanatics from all walks of life have converged upon Centennial Park. Following a wild kick-off in Melbourne yesterday and a sold-out anticipation for tomorrow’s climax in Brisbane, the festival has become a vital bond for fans eager to immerse themselves in an eclectic blend of international and local musical talents. With a lineup that reads like a rock and alternative music lover’s dream, featuring headliners Fall Out Boy, Limp Bizkit, and DEVO, alongside powerhouse acts like Bullet for My Valentine, Corey Taylor, and I Prevail, the air is charged with excitement and the promise of an unforgettable day. As the festival gates swing open, the collective heartbeat of the crowd echoes the anticipation of a day of music that transcends genres and unites enthusiasts under the banner of Good Things.

Although Centennial Park may not be everyone’s preferred festival venue owing to its location and accessibility challenges, there is a distinct advantage that emerges as you make your way in. The unmistakable sound of the main stages, today featuring Enter Shikari’s Sorry You’re Not a Winner, can be heard during your approach. Fortunately, my entrance into the festival proved remarkably straightforward. After a leisurely stroll along the park’s perimeter to the sole entry/exit point, the lines moved swiftly, and the security guards were notably friendly. Describing the sensation upon passing through the festival gates is a task in itself—there’s a deep exhale, a wide smile, and a palpable excitement as you contemplate the day ahead.

One of the bands I am most looking forward to are Russian deathcore goliaths, Slaughter to Prevail. Each band member appears on stage in the iconic ‘Kid of Darkness’ masks, lead singer Alex Terrible in gold and the band in silver. Opening their set with Bonebreaker the crowd kick into to mosh mode and it doesn’t slow for the remainder of their set. Alex’s monstrous vocals have been covered many times by online media, though none as much as his alligator growl in their latest single Viking, released in July this year. We all know it’s coming and there was a communal gasp when he did it, followed by loud cheers and headbangs! They take a short breather to thank the crowd for their first trip to Australia, before wrapping up with Demolisher. Sydney has one more chance to see them on Tuesday December 5th at Liberty Hall, before they pop over to Adelaide for their final performance in Australia on December 6th at The Gov. If you missed their festival set, don’t pass up the opportunity to witness Slaughter to Prevail in such a close setting.

Perth’s Make Them Suffer have the difficult task of following Slaughter to Prevails set on the adjoining stage, although Aussies tend to support their own – as the crowd fills quickly. Opening with Ghost of Me, they have the crowd moving before they can even get a drink of water. Their set list was really well crafted and flowed perfectly, their final songs Erase Me and Doomswitch were evidently crowd favourites.

The day and the heat were well underway as I take shelter under the trees for a moment catching up with friends new and old at every turn, because of the very scattered genre line up it really is a reunion of many people not seen in one place often! A few breaths and a cold beer later, its time to head back into the sun and the pit for Brazilian metal legends Sepultura. Derrick Green is an enormous tank of a man who commands the stage from the first note of Isolation, quickly followed by the 1993 classic track Territory. Sepultura have one of the strongest bands in the game with machine gun in human form drummer Eloy Casangrade, bass wizard Paulo Jr and everyones favourite shredder, Andreas Kisser. Their set was a good mix of current days Seps and Cavalera-era tracks including Arise, Ratamahatta and of course closing with Roots Bloody Roots.

Before racing off to see Slipknot front man Corey Taylor on the mainstage, I hear British metalcore act While She Sleeps begin their set, I suddenly feel very torn! Hearing the crowd scream back the intro to Sleep Society I know I have to stay. Lead singer Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor is full of energy, not staying still for more than a moment. I was surprised to hear Anti-Social as the second track, and I was not alone as others dance around beside me. The tracks I did hear from While She Sleeps were great, and thankfully they announced they will be returning to Aussie shores next year with new material – I need more!

Time to dash over to the main stage for Corey Taylor. If I hadn’t seen Taylor and co earlier in the week at their Metro Theatre side show, I may have stayed for the remainder of While She Sleeps although I had far too much fun and look forward to seeing them again. I arrive as he is wrapping up his first song Post Traumatic Blues. The setlist unfolded with a mix of Stone Sour and Slipknot hits, including Through the Glass, Tumult, Snuff, and the iconic Duality where a man in a Corey mask headbanged beside me. Taylor surprised and delighted the crowd with unexpected twists, such as a rendition of the SpongeBob SquarePants Theme, a main stay in his solo performances, showcasing his playful side in which he is still flipping of the crowd with a smile on his face. Their set concluded with a heartfelt cover of INXS’s Don’t Change. Corey was in this same park in March for a sold out Knotfest where Slipknot headlined, we are thankful he has returned so soon.

Next up on the main stage to our left are the Welsh metallers, Bullet for My Valentine, who were long overdue for a visit, last appearing at the very first Good Things Festival in 2018. The crowd had significantly swelled, and security guards had their hands full as crowd surfers and moshers flooded in during Your Betrayal. The setlist was stacked with hits, featuring favourites like 4 Words to Choke Upon and Scream Aim Fire. The nostalgic journey reached its peak when the entire crowd joined in to sing their hearts out during All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me) and Tears Don’t Fall. Vocalist Matt Tuck wore a continuous smile, expressing gratitude to the enthusiastic crowd and acknowledging that it had been too long since their last visit. He assured everyone that Bullet for My Valentine would be back in 2025, which is already too far away!

You could not have asked for a better band to continue the energy, than I, Prevail. They immediately took command with Bow Down as the energy surged through the crowd setting the tone for a huge performance. The setlist was a rollercoaster of intensity, featuring crowd favourites such as Hurricane, Choke, and the powerful Gasoline. I Prevail’s dynamic stage presence and seamless transitions between heavy hits showcased their mastery of the genre. A standout moment came with their unexpected cover of System of a Down’s Chop Suey injecting yet another momentous amount of energy into the already puffed out crowd.

One of the surprising additions to the line up are American new wave artists from the 70s, DEVO who are currently on their Farewell Tour celebrating 50 years as a band. From the opening notes of Don’t Shoot (I’m a Man) to classics like Whip It and Mongoloid, DEVO’s quirky energy and synchronized movements captivated fans old and new. The setlist, including hits such as Jocko Homo and Gut Feeling (Slap Your Mammy), had the crowd dancing from start to finish. Good Things organisers tend to throw in a wild card, and it’s safe to say DEVO were it this year!

I quickly ran over to stage 3 to catch Polish extreme metal band Behemoth. From the ominous chants of Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer to the relentless fury of Conquer All, Behemoth’s performance was a primitive journey into the depths of extreme metal. The setlist, featuring intense tracks like Ov Fire and the Void and Bartzabel, showcased the band’s mastery of dark atmospheres and ferocious arrangements. Frontman Nergal’s commanding stage presence and guttural vocals added a menacing layer to the performance, while the crowd was immersed in the occult and apocalyptic themes of Chant for Eschaton 2000. Behemoth’s set was a testament to their status as one of the most influential and uncompromising forces in the extreme metal scene and a great addition to the day.

The sun was setting over Centennial Park and many sunburnt faces finally took a sigh of relief. As the sun descends, it means it is headliner time and it is now time for nu metal master’s Limp Bizkit! Opening with the explosive Break Stuff, the crowd immediately kicked into gear. Hits like Rollin’ and My Way had us all singing along, showcasing the lasting appeal of the band’s anthems. A standout for me was Show Me What You Got from 1999’s Significant Other, quickly showing the old school fans in the crowd rapping every word flawlessly. Guitarist Wes Borland is always a showman with his movements and more so, his outfits. Today is no exception as he dons an ornate mask with teeth hanging from the jaw (originally buffalo teeth but weren’t permitted in the country), and a white suite adorned with flowers and Scandinavian designs. He was first spotted with this new stage outfit in Japan, it’s great to see in person.

The setlist featured a energetic mix of old favourites such as Nookie and My Generation, and their classic cover of George Michael’s Faith. Frontman Fred Durst’s charismatic stage presence and the band’s tight performance was perfection as Sam Rivers, John Otto, DJ Lethal and Wes Borland were back together once more. The set concluded with a powerful reprise of Break Stuff, leaving the audience on an adrenaline high and cementing Limp Bizkit’s status as influential trailblazers in the fusion of rap and rock. This will be an incredibly hard act to follow!

Fall Out Boy are the festival headliners this year and the crowd is packed in tight, ready for the pop rockers. Opening with the infectious energy of The Pink Seashell and transitioning seamlessly into the anthemic The Phoenix, the band set the tone for a night of unbridled enthusiasm. Classics like Sugar, We’re Goin Down had the audience singing in unison, showcasing the popularity of Fall Out Boy’s signature blend of catchy hooks and emotive lyrics. The setlist also featured gems like Love from the Other Side and Uma Thurman, the latter cut short due to an impending storm.

“Please bear with us for a moment. There’s a storm approaching,” bass player Pete Wentz explained amid a chorus of confused boos from the crowd. “We’re informed that we need to pause the show momentarily. We’re hoping to resume real soon. Your patience is appreciated; we’ll be back shortly.”

However, in a matter of moments, at roughly 8:40pm an announcer over the PA system urgently instructed us to evacuate immediately due to the imminent threat of a hailstorm.

“We have a hailstorm approaching with large hailstones and lightning,” the announcer emphasized. “We kindly request an orderly evacuation of the site. Please avoid rushing and move away from the structures for your safety.”

I didn’t hear a confirmed number of fans in attendance today, although I was told it was close to 25,000 of us were all ordered out a single exit with the skies flashing above us. The storm felt imminent as announcers said the festival will resume after the storm, although in a statement posted to the Good Things Festival social media pages after 11pm stated the decision to evacuate was made by police, the State Emergency Service and event organisers.

I was extremely fortunate to see each band I set out for, although I know many weren’t as lucky with the early cancellation of Pvris due to illness and headliners Fall Out Boy cut short. The band posted a statement to social media, promising they would “make it up to” Sydney fans.
“Sydney, we’re bummed that last night’s @GoodThingsFest set got cut short due to the weather. We’re working hard to figure out how to make it up to you, stay tuned. ❤️” – Fall Out Boy

Ultimately, my time at Good Things Festival 2023 was truly fantastic! The short lines at the bars, food stalls, and water stations made the day incredibly smooth, letting me fully immerse myself in the music hassle-free. The diverse lineup featured bands at the top of their game, with Corey Taylor, Bullet for My Valentine, and I Prevail delivering main stage energy performances, alongside the iconic presence of DEVO and the heavy vibes from Behemoth. Thankfully the issues with low sound from last year were rectified and my personal highlights were the nostalgic rap-metal hits of Limp Bizkit and the raw power of Slaughter to Prevail. Good Things Festival, though relatively new since its debut in 2018, (and two years lost to Covid) has become a staple event for alternative music fans, and I’m already looking forward to what 2024 will bring!Top of Form

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