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Review By Matt New

Photos By Angie New

Large scale international music festivals are back, and are hopefully here to stay. Three years have passed since the last Good Things Festival occurred, and the anticipation of seeing some of the world’s finest live music acts meant so many arriving as early as possible to Centennial Park. It was a very invigorating sight to see the snaking line of people as far as the eye could see. A wide array of band shirts, crazy hair-dos and a myriad of tattoos, all coupled by smiles from ear to ear.

Once inside, it was a very simple task to get your bearings to the stages and various amenities. The distance between the stages however meant it would be a challenge to see all overlapping bands on the schedule. So, apologies in advance if this review omits some of the bands you may have wanted to read about!

The main stages, located right at the centre of the venue, would be the main destination of the day for many fans. The first band of note was Ukraine’s metal act Jinjer. The crowd quickly amassed in large numbers and right from the very first note of Teacher, Teacher it was on! Jinjer were evidently one of the bands a lot of people were keen to see as they have been riding a wave of success over the past few years. They ploughed through a strong set which included Pisces, Judgement (and Punishment) and their brutal war protest Home Back. Their intensity and musicianship showed why they are a force to be reckoned with, and their live performance left a mark on this festival that would be hard to top.

Next up were Sweden’s punk pioneers Millencolin. Celebrating 30 years as a band, the occasion was monumental, and they fired straight into Kemp from their 2002 release Home From Home. After a few small technical issues that plagued their guitarists, they soon found momentum and motored through a compilation of catchy pop-punk anthems spanning their entire career. They were a highly entertaining band with a fun energy.

With a brief break between bands, it seemed an appropriate time to check out the various food trucks, and here exposed the first of many problems with the organisation of the festival. The experiment to make this festival a cashless one completely failed. Vendors were highly stressed as they had no internet for their eftpos machines, resulting in one-hour plus wait times for customers awaiting food and water. Negative feedback ran rife through the lines as people complained they were missing bands whilst they waited for their orders in the hot sun.

Always a highly energetic band, Sabaton had their allegiance of diehard fans salivating through every song. Their infectious brand of Swedish Power Metal was full of crushing riffs and catchy sing-a-long power metal melodies. Their performance was meticulously constructed with virtuosity and bravado. They conclued their firey set with fan favourite To Hell and Back and the crowd went wild.

Finally, the time had come to make the long adventure over to stages 3 and 4, and even moving with the long crowds, it took over 5 minutes at best to make the journey from the main stages. You Am I were a late addition to the festival line-up and are a band I have always wanted to see live. It was unfortunately a sub-par performance. They struggled in all facets with their gear, live sound and then unexpectedly stopped their set after a few songs due to the drummer suffering from heatstroke. Everyone in the crowd was certainly concerned for the well-being of the band’s drummer and eventually understood their decision to pull up stumps.

Next up was Italian goth-metal ambassadors Lacuna Coil. If Jinjer set the standard for the day, Lacuna Coil raised the bar for the rest to follow. Fronted by the dual vocal attack of Andrea Ferro and Christina Scabbia, they continually bounced between dark guttural and perfectly ethereal melodies with the utmost of ease. Christina’s live vocal performance was so precise, it sounded as good, if not better than what would have been originally recorded. This is a band of highly talented musicians that treated fans to some re-imagined tracks from their highly acclaimed Comalies album that celebrates 20 years. Heaven’s a Lie, Tight Rope and Swamped all getting a new perspective live, and it had fans singing along with every word.

Throughout the day, it was clear that the European bands were the ones setting the standard for the festival, and France’s metal juggernauts Gojira were no exception to that rule. A band constructed by brute power, incredible mechanical precision and amazingly crafted songs, their audience was one of the largest for the day. Driven by the amazing drumming of Mario Duplantier and the fierce vocals of his older brother Joe, Gojira treated the crowd to an amazing set that included massive bangers like Silvera, The Cell and Flying Whales, as well as tracks from their latest release Fortitude. Mario taunted the crowd with the prospect of a drum solo, only to then hold up oversized banners with cheeky Australian colloquialisms. Gojira were an unforgiving force of nature of the highest order, and for this fan, the band of the day.

TISM were a peculiar addition to this festival lineup, but the nostalgia of one of Australia’s most avant-garde and amusing acts was highly alluring. Performing for the first time live in over 20 years, TISM graced the stage with strangely, oversized helium balloon balaclava one-piece costumes that proved to be as much a distraction for them on stage as it was for fans to watch. Their perfect blend of comedy, new-wave synth pop and post-punk attitude was infectious. Performing all the fan favourites like Greg The Stop Sign, What Are Ya?, (He’ll Never Be an) ‘Ol Man River and Defecate on my Face, TISM were non-stop fun. They powered through an hour-long set, all the while a group of tradies constructed a misspelled “TISN” logo backdrop, sent a “wrecking ball” into the crowd that fruitlessly caught the wind at every opportunity, and served countless tennis balls into the crowd, ensuring fans would leave with a souvenir.

The recent announcement that NOFX would be disbanding in 2023 guaranteed that the punk legends would have a large legion of support for their fun-filled set. Vocalist Fat Mike would continuously joke that everyone was only there in preparation for Deftones who would follow them on the adjacent stage, and that would not be the end of their tirade of one-liners. Eventually, the band would race through an intensely quick-fire set that included 20 of their famous punk melodies and many little fun ditties questioning Why Did The Cat Get So Fat?. The band was meticulously precise and equally amusing as they were entertaining. Finishing the set assuring they will be back in Australia next year for a proper farewell.

Deftones were one of the biggest draw cards on this festival line-up, and with recent touring personnel changes including the omission of guitarist Stef Carpenter, many questions surrounded whether the experience would be the same. In all honesty, as much as I love Deftones, they were good, but not amazing. Chino plagued by technical issues with his microphones and guitars was clearly frustrated. Once in their groove, they recovered like the consummate professionals they are. The set was a snapshot to a near 30-year catalogue of hits. The crowd went extremely nuts for songs like My Own Summer (Shove It), Rocket Skates and Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away). Visually the band basked in the warm glow of a perfect sunset that enveloped Centennial Park, as hundreds of bats flew overhead.

The final band for the day would be UK’s alternative metal poster kids Bring Me The Horizon. A band I have not had much familiarity with, they were certainly an act that seemed hyped for the occasion. Their colourful and intelligent futuristic visuals added an extra level to their amazing live sound that made the fans go crazy. Frontman Ollie Sykes cockily mocking the Sydney crowd that Melbourne were louder and more receptive, that only fired up everyone to outdo our neighbours to the south. Bring Me The Horizon were easily the band with the best overall mix and production for the evening as they treated fans to Can You Feel My Heart, Mantra and performing an encore that included Obey and Throne. A well-rounded way to finish a day of top-quality live music.

So, in summary, what was the overall consensus on Good Things 2022? So many great acts of varying genres to accommodate a wide range of festival-goers, a great open venue to host the festival, and a crowd that was exceptionally well-behaved and connected. To see the joy on so many people’s faces to have the opportunity to see international bands on this scale again was priceless. But there were a few drawbacks on the day. A lack of shaded areas for people to avoid the sun and incredibly quiet front-of-house sound limits that made it difficult on occasion to hear the bands, but I will only assume this is a noise restriction consideration for nearby residents. And finally, the lack of phone reception that would plague fans and food vendors alike. All teething issues that can easily be rectified for future Good Things Festivals to come.

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