What a joy it is to be back - Good Things Festival kicked off in Melbourne and heads to Sydney and Brisbane next.
(Pic by Mary Varvaris)
There is a surrealness to the entire journey into Good Things Festival. A train car full of eager punters are all frothing for something that a year ago seemed impossible - a music festival. Having not had it for so long, watching the festival appear below the train line with all its promise of music and adventures almost brings a tear to the eye.
It's overwhelming and moves in a blur, to begin with. Kisschasy are giving "Do-Dos & Woah Ohs" on one stage, and Millencolin are throwing back to Tony Hawk Pro Skater memories, reminding us of just how fun they have always been on another. Squeezing through the crowd towards Cosmic Psychos' blistering set, the throng comes to a standstill. When it simply becomes impossible to move, we settle in to watch Electric Callboy. Settling in isn't the correct descriptor, as we are immediately catapulted into out-of-control, neon fun, with multiple costume changes, as they meld metal and bangers. They're worth beating the crowd crush and heat for. Though the always great Sabaton bang on temptingly somewhere nearby, the lure of Electric Callboy wins out this time.
Having finally obtained the holy grail (an icy cold beer), we take a proper stroll through the festival grounds as we seek out lunch. The bad old days of festival food have mercifully given way to rows and rows of delicious options. With a steaming bowl of paella in hand, we take in a few minutes of The Amity Affliction before beating a hasty retreat from the afternoon sun.
Stalwarts of Aussie rock n roll, You Am I, fill the 3OH!3 shaped hole in the timetable (the American nostalgia group cancelled last minute) with their faultless set. "Get together with some people you love and make some music", suggests a dungaree-clad Tim Rogers. Over on the main stage, French metal legends Gojira are their face-melting selves. Bidding the crowd adieu with a big "fuck yeah, we fuckin love you, Melbourne", it's time to start jostling forward to secure premium viewing spots for today's arguably most anticipated band - TISM.
After a solid 18-year hiatus, the anonymous agitators hit the stage in silver suits with what appears to be giant inflatable anal beads floating above their heads. Whatareya? sees a small clutch of punters start an aerobics circle and Greg! The Stop Sign! rings across the field like a bizarre hymn. Adding to the lunacy are the score of tradies on the stage putting up fencing, loading a cement mixer, and building a sign that says… TISN? It's a madcap hour of TISM's greatest hits; all eagerly gobbled down by the audience. They're best on ground so far and just as hilarious and searing as they were all those years ago.
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Perhaps it's the fact that TISM were so incredibly fun immediately beforehand, but NOFX just didn't hit today. They were fine but nowhere near their best. Hanging in there for as long as possible, we opted instead to see the fantastic Polaris on the smaller stage, enjoying the last rays of sunshine while laying out on the grass rather than hitting the very tempting pit.
The flock towards Deftones begins, and we nestle into our spot to soak up everything they have. Their set is faultless, seductive, and unapologetically horny. With a setlist dotted with Change (In The House Of Flies), Sextape, Be Quiet And Drive, and capped off with Back To School, Deftones have arguably delivered the gig of the day. Expansive, ethereal, and brutal, it was one for the books.
Having never been the biggest, or honestly any kind of, Bring Me The Horizon fan, it was a toss-up between them and Regurgitator. BMTH won out and delivered a polished, intense, and gorgeous set. Frontman Oli Sykes holds the enormous crowd in the palm of his hand, oozing charisma every step of the way. Their light show was something to behold, and I promised myself it was time to give their catalogue another listen. Though it's hard to tear myself away, I duck over to Regurgitator to catch the last of their set and manage to roll in just in time for !!! (Song Formerly Known As). It's a shame to have missed what sounded like a brilliant set, but here's hoping there is more Regurgitator in our future.
There is much to be said about a day like today. To call it perfect isn't right because there were flaws, but I would be splitting hairs if I tried to point them out. Were the bar lines gigantic at times? Yes. Were to food lines massive? Absolutely. Would it have been great to see more women on stage? Definitely. However, we were brought back together in all our sweaty, shouty, beery glory. As I nurse a honking blister on my heel and feel the sunburn prickle on my shoulders, I realise how much I have missed this. How much we all have missed this.
What a joy it is to be back.