Words by Jimmy Glinster
Pix by Squirty G
Third time lucky for this little ditty. I was planning to go to this both times, it got cancelled due to the filthy Rona, but I’d totally forgot about it this time around. That’s until I got the call up to get my
review boots on and get ‘em muddy in the pit.
Turns out I should have bought my camp chair, as it seems to be the in thing for today’s proceedings, even in the pit. This is my first camp chair festival but is this the new normal, is this even a thing now?
Anyway, a little bit of housekeeping first. The venue is the Southport Sharks, but not the club house or main oval, the event is based on the adjoining training fields and hillside. It’s not a bad setup with the top field housing merch tents, food trucks, the bar, some portaloos and a view of the stage at the bottom of a stepped down hillside. The hillside becomes the location of choice for our camp chair wielding friends, and those who just couldn’t be fucked standing up.
I’d give you all a play by play of my adventures to the bar, but $13 for a mid-strength pre-mix is all you need to know. You’ve gotta love Festival drink prices …
Anyway, let’s get to the bands shall we, I mean that’s what this festival stuff is all about right. We aren’t just here for the atmosphere, are we? And thank fuck because it’s hot and my balls are sweaty.
Alright, Electric Mary open proceedings with some slide guitar and harmonica before rocking out a set full of big riffs and some killer guitar solos. And who is this front man? It’s not Jack Jones of Southern Sons fame like I’d been previously led to believe, but who cares because this guy, Rusty Brown, commands the attention of the crowd and slowly drags some of those still comfortably seated from their camp chairs.
I don’t really know any of their songs, but I didn’t have a problem rocking along as the guitarists take turns ripping leads. They close out with a track titled MBF (I Fell Out With My Best Friend) which included an extended interlude with some call/response crowd participation, a quick Be-Bop-A-Lula cover and some Na Na Na’s. Well played Electric Mary, well played!
Next up are some more homegrown heroes, a somewhat known band by the name of Rose Tattoo. Ok, let’s not be silly, these blokes led by Angry Anderson are absolute legends of Australian Rock, Rock Royalty even. They take the stage and take no time to start rocking the fuck out. Angry promises us a long night ahead and tells us to consider this foreplay. It is what it is, hard rock with a blues twist and plenty of heavy slide guitar.
Angry raises a tallie and gives a cheers to everyone before telling them to drink up. The set is full of their classic hits and when You Can’t Be Beaten kicks in the crowd goes nuts. A short interlude mid song allows the crowd to participate in a well-timed clap along which further induces some of the hill sitters down into the pit. They finish up with Bad Boy For Love, well at least they try to. The crowd calls for an encore and Cheap Trick‘s Rick Nielsen gives the nod for another song from side of stage. They burst into Rock N Roll Outlaw and Rick joins them onstage to sing along in the choruses.
Take a lesson, this is how you do Rock ‘N Roll!
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club enter the stage looking nothing like a motorcycle club. A long-drawn- out intro of nothingness kicks off their show and the band starts playing a song. For some reason the vocalist/guitarist had a hoodie on which made no sense because it was still fucking hot, and my balls
were super sweaty. His must have been well and truly stuck to his leg.
For a 3 piece, they packed a serious amount of onstage amplification. They sound like some weird kind of folk rock that I don’t really get, and with a name like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club I was expecting something a little harder to be honest. Their next song sounds a little like Muse. It’s a bit of an unexpected change in vibe for the festival switching from Hard Rock to Mood Rock.
The bass player plays the shit out of his bass, but whatever he is doing is lost in the mix. I probably should have brought my camp chair for this set. I was so interested in this performance that I found my way to the VIP bar for some free pizza. The pizza was good, and when I got back the last couple of songs kinda rocked. Kinda.
An announcement chimes in over the PA, “please welcome to the stage the best fucking rock band you’ve ever seen”. Who, you ask? Well, it’s Cheap Trick of course, and with their entry to the stage the mosh pit crowd doubles in size and the camp chair pit army are hesitantly forced back from the stage.
Frontman Robin Zander was a sight to be seen with his sparkling white pants, white tank top, and a sailor’s hat with a big shiny silver star. I’m pretty sure I need to get myself some of those pants, and a battle suit jacket like the one rick was wearing.
Anyway, enough about the fashion. The band opens with Way of the World and receives a massive roar from the crowd. Next up is Dream Police and the crowd is rocking and singing along to every word. They dedicate the song Stiff Competition to Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters, who the rock world tragically lost earlier in the morning. This was apparently Taylor’s favourite Cheap Trick track.
I don’t know half the songs, but I didn’t need to cause these old soldiers know how to rock and Rick was absolutely killing it on lead guitar duties. The rest of the set is full of their classic hits including I Want You to Want Me, If You Want My Love, Can’t Stop Falling In Love, and The Flame. All songs had massive crowd participation and response and Rick complimented the Gold Coast having great voices … and Queensland … and Australia.
In the middle of all that we were served with a bass solo, a 12 string bass solo. That’s about 8 too many strings for a bass guitar, but anyway, back to the show. What a show, and what a killer set of hits. This was the type of performance you’d expected from the headliner, and it was more than enough to finish the day for me perfectly, but there was still more to come …
Next up is Stone Temple Pilots, the band I’d originally planned to be here to see. The band enters stage in the dark and as they kick into Wicked Garden the stage lights up and the crowd promptly rushes to the front. I think we might have lost a few camp chairs in that little crush. Luckily there is a heavy dose of Vaseline up next to lube those broken joints though, and the crowd fucking appreciates it with a massive response.
Big Bang Baby is up next, and it goes off with a bang before vocalist Jeff Gutt gets down on the barrier to kick off Down. Unfortunately, he’s forced to cut the band mid song to break up a couple of pissed dickheads punching on in the middle of the pit. They quickly restart the song once the troublemakers are ejected and absolutely smash it out of the park.
They step down the tempo momentarily to deliver Big Empty to the pleasure and massive response of the crowd. Meadow, Plush, and Interstate Love Song follow up, and the crowd response just keeps growing, with Plush the straight up crowd favourite out of that bunch.
I quickly take off for piss when I spot there is no line-up at the porta shitters and on my return, there is a sudden rush to them. For a moment, I’m thinking they must be playing a new song, or something.
It wasn’t though, it was Crackerman, and my second guess is that the band was rocking so hard it was shaking up everyone’s bloated bladders. And on that note, Dead & Bloated followed up and rocked the place even harder.
Tripping On A Hole In A Paper Heart and Sex Type Thing wrap up a fucking big set full of absolute crowd pleasers, and we haven’t even reached the headliners yet …
I take another quick run up to the VIP bar for some free pizza, which was no longer available. Now, that’s unfortunate, but what’s more unfortunate is that some punters were leaving early after STP absolutely crushed it.
Anyway, I smash down a couple of stiff whiskeys and miss the intro and first song of headliners Bush because they decided to come on a few minutes early. Either that or my watch is wrong. Anyway, I did hear some big thumps and saw some flashing lights, on my way back down to the stage, but that’s all I’ve got for ya.
Bush seems heavier than I ever remember them, but let’s be honest, I can only tell you one of their songs which they’ll probably play as encore or something anyway. On second thoughts, I might actually know this next song though, I think it’s called Machine Head? It is, and I’ve decided I should probably use modern technology to figure out the names of these songs.
The band gets all post hardcore for the intro to the next track. Again, I have no idea what’s it’s called though, but I use my Soundhound to identify it as a track from their 2020 release The Kingdom. It’s called Blood River, even though I didn’t know it, or had never heard it, the crowd seemed to, and it got a surprisingly good response. As it turns out, I actually knew the next track titled The Chemicals Between Us too.
Frontman Gavin Rossdale thanks the crowd for coming to the show following multiple cancellations. He also lets us know they have a new record which came out in 2020 mid-Rona and that it is available on all platforms. The band smashes out a few tracks from the latest album including Quicksand, Ghosts In The Machine, Bullet Holes, and Flowers On A Grave. These new tracks seem super heavy, and the guitar tone is absolutely massive considering that Gavin focuses only on singing while giving the guitar a rest.
Suddenly, a massive sample screech just about takes out my ear drums and the volume of the band instantly drops. It’s in that moment I realise that the band is playing to a click track for the new songs, and that there are samples and backing tracks in the mix, including guitar tracks. Once the backing tracks are pulled back, the guitar tones levels out and the backing tracks become more apparent beneath the live guitar, which they were previously drowning out. Although it sounded great, I’m not too sure how I feel about this as it now borderline karaoke. Just my opinion, though, take it or leave it.
Amongst the absolutely banging new tracks, and an unfortunate thinning of the crowd, the band takes it back to where it all began with Everything Zen after Gavin takes a moment to explain how surreal it is to finally be on tour on the other side of the world again. They pull back mid song for a good old-fashioned clap along which is a nice touch, and Gavin gets down on the barriers to be face to face with the crowd.
A mid-set political speech could have fucked right off, but at least he gave us credit for all coming together and putting our personal, political, and religious shit aside to enjoy some music for the day. Apart from those two gronks punching on during the STP set that is.
Gavin later took the stage alone with his guitar and made an emotional shout out to Taylor Hawkins before performing Glycerine as a dedication to him. He really struggled to get through it, and you could hear the pure emotion and heartbreak in his voice. Emotion and heartbreak that was shared with and by the crowd attending this festival on a sad day for the rock music industry.
After another short speech about loving each other, I hear a song I know, but it takes me a minute to figure out its name. Come Down, or This Cloud or something? Something about coming down from a cloud anyway, and the band backed off mid-song singalong. And surprise, surprise, the crowd knew the words. Hell, even I bloody did.
And that’s a wrap, time for the cattle crawl the fuck outta here and maybe the odd fist fight with a camp chair.
In defence of Bush and the thinning of the crowd, it was after 9pm and the pensioners in the camp chairs could have just been getting tired. Hell, I know I was, and I was mid-range in the average age of the crowd. Thankfully it wasn’t the Big Day Out in January in the paddock next door, or I just may have been D.E.D.
Great Festival, Great Bands, Great people and one hell of a good time! Let’s do this sometime again, shall we!