GOOD THINGS FESTIVAL 2023
@ FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE, MELBOURNE (AU)
DECEMBER 1, 2023
Despite the gloomy weather, the Good Things Festival rocked Melbourne on Friday at Flemington Racecourse, showcasing the best of Rock, Metal and Punk. The rain did not dampen the fans’ spirits who enjoyed the extravaganza. Good Things Festival 2023 planning was well rehearsed, with an easy-to-follow app that provided maps and schedules, with additional options for food and stalls, also welcoming the new Stage 666 karaoke, circus/freakshow and DJs. Commemorative tattoo – sure, all available at the festival. The event planners did a great job this year by letting the fans enter the venue by 1130, hoping to avoid the usual stampede for the first set. But it was not a smooth start, as the people had to wait on the platform for a while until a side gate was opened. I’m keen to check out some female performers this time, particularly PVRIS, Stand Atlantic, Royal & The Serpent, and Hanabie… Especially Hanabie!
PVIRS was up first on Stage 1, following the Acknowledgement to Country. Something is not quite right on stage, with Lynn Gunn admitting to vocal issues, sore throat, and cough. The more challenging tracks must be reserved, stating, “This is not punk rock, but health is.” Damn, stick it to the man Gunn.
“I Don’t Want to do This Anymore” and “Goddess” are phenomenal tracks from the album Evergreen, and to be honest, quite a call to arms for the young women in the crowd. Gunn does a stellar job under vocal pressure. Her unique vocals mixed with electronic base beats are quite the trip. I’m impressed by the resilience of PVRIS as they push through without much fuss with a fresh, forgiving, youthful crowd.
Stages 3 and 4 are under cover this year, a good addition for those pesky erratic weather events. The crowd is steadily increasing, but by no means close to capacity, seeking out Stand Atlantic, Aussie punk rock; these guys are well coordinated in their green trackies – no surprise, Downunder. There is a lot of energy with Stand Atlantic, guitarist David Potter casually thrashing about, with nil fucks to give. Playing “Wavelength”, the lyrics are hectic; Bonnie Fraser (vocals) does a killer job getting the energy up as the first band to the stage, demanding the Wall of Death, followed by the mosh rowboat, but not before playing “Bloodclot”, what a fantastic name for a love song. A surprise visit from the Royal & The Serpent vocalist, Ryan Jillian Santiago, joining for “Pity Party”, a super excellent addition. If you love rocking out to some intense tunes, you’ll dig this band’s vibe. They have a killer energy that makes you feel alive and ready to go wild. But watch out for the mosh pit; it can get rough. If you don’t mind getting a few bruises, jump in and enjoy the adrenaline rush.
Stage 5 for the following few acts – kicking off with Tapestry, who are humbled to be part of the Good Things Festival 2023. The first time I heard these gents, they were indebted to the crowd, making them somewhat more magnetic to me. I’m impressed with a soft metal sound – if that’s even a thing – the mix of angst and affection is captured perfectly on their album covers like The Pain You Deserve and The Love You Deserve. “Chasing Silhouettes” is a lyrically gorgeous delight that fits the theme, with lines like, ‘I used to be in love with the sound of your heartbeat/Now, there’s a gap where your heart used to be/I hate the part of me that loves you still.’ The final set, “The Pain You Deserve, the Love You Deserve”, was outstanding; what a tragic love story.
Hanabie is Harajuku-core! A mix of metalcore, hardcore punk, and electronica, this is the coolest thing I have ever heard/seen! But wait… Stage 5 technical issues resulted in Hanabie kicking off a little late. Photographers were eagerly snapping away in the front, blocking the view of the front-row fans; not ideal, but I understand the situation. They move on, unleashing Hanabie, who was on freakin’ fire! The spectators ate it up, with crowd surfing extraordinaire testing the security limits on the day. I adore this band; they punch you in the face and are terrifying! “Sunrise Miso Soup” and “TOUSOU” smash your senses, Yukina (vocals) commenting on how beautiful the day is. These feisty freaks bounce around the stage and hold their own. There was nothing but positive feedback from the crowd, even referring to a standout on the day—Japanese Harajuku-core for the win.
Skin is starting to burn; Samara, a fellow punter, kindly offers some sunscreen – the humans on the day are excellent. Ocean Sleeper, Gippsland locals, get positioned. “Never the One” is belted out with Karl Spiessl, pausing for Michael to propose to Britney, hand shaking; Britney agrees to the proposal – be still my beating heart! “Light in my Dark” is a crowd pleaser, with Spiessl jumping into the crowd after the set. The weather starts to turn. Is that rain coming back on? It’s a welcome relief.
Royal & The Serpent, the anticipation was killing me. Ten and then 15 minutes go by, and Stage 5 seems to be having issues, resulting in a delayed start of an already short set. The crowd and band are doing their best; some punters move on. Once the technical issues are sorted, “Overwhelmed” fills the void, which is a welcome relief, but all too soon, technical problems re-emerge, this time with the guitar. Ryan Jillian Santiago is pissed at the ongoing technical issues. Jumping into “F*CKBOI REJECTS”, they do attempt to recover. The drummer is the stand-out. His ferocious play is fascinating. Ending with “Love Abuser”, they exit the stage visibly disappointed. I’d seek Royal & The Serpent out in the future.
Luca Brasis, melodic punk, and Tassie locals. This Aussie band is truly a treat. They ooze charisma and are such a joy to watch; with their relatable turns and gentle style, “The World Don’t Owe You Anything” perfectly captured our era of entitlement. “Anything Near Convention” was… the… best! Great show and representation, gents!
Back to Stage 2, it’s time for Limp Bizkit, holy enchiladas; stoked for these guys having previously been somewhat controversial in Australia, we are thrilled to have them back. The crowd donning red baseball caps fitted backwards; they were loaded springs, all thick with stress and psychosis. This is going to be a banger, and it is. No matter what your position in the crowd, you are stuck with the electric power of this band. Kicking off with “Break Stuff”, Fred Durst tests his boundaries; the song certainly sets a scene. Immediately, you can’t help but feel furious – how can’t you be? This music is meant to piss you off. “My Generation” and “Nookie” blast the crowd. Unfortunately, they pulled away prematurely and missed the finale. Limp Bizkit put on a stellar show.
Despite the challenges of bad weather, sickness, and technical glitches, Good Things Festival 2023 was a blast—a fantastic crowd on the day. They were amazing and supportive. Crowd safety has improved a lot over the years. Kudos to the paramedics, who showed professionalism and compassion throughout the event.
(Photography by Victoria Love-Rainbow)