Good Things Festival took over Flemington Racecourse last Friday, the punk and rock festival now entering its sophomore year. Boasting an explosive line-up of Aussie and international acts, Good Things filled five stages for a non-stop day of loud, distorted guitars and pounding drumbeats.
As Flemington filled with leather jackets, heavy boots, and fishnet stockings, the Racecourse came to life with opening acts. American ska legends Reel Big Fish opened Stage 1, their signature horns ringing across the grounds. John Christianson’s trumpet cut over the crowds, frontman Aaron Barrett joking to the audience between songs. RBF rocked their classic ‘Everyone Else is an Asshole’, while their ska cover of ‘Take on Me’ was a highlight.
Skegss took over Stage 2, their stoner surf-rock drawing the audience closer, vocals coming with a thick Aussie accent. Their stage presence was phenomenal: from the epic renditions, to necking beers onstage, to bringing a fan up to play. The only thing that could overshadow this performance was the impending aptly named event: “Wall of death when The Veronica’s play Untouched at Good Things”, a Facebook event that gathered almost five thousand ‘Going’ responses. The Veronicas built up to this, their ‘Take Me on the Floor’ and ‘Hook Me Up’ screamed back by the audience, before the brilliant cover of Blink-182’s ‘I Miss You’. Finally, the moment came, and after the second chorus of Australia’s unofficial national anthem ‘Untouched’ played, thousands crashed together for the biggest Wall of Death the festival had seen.
Meanwhile, Slowly Slowly were tearing up Stage 4 with their punk rock set. The audience almost took the lead for ‘Jellyfish’, while front-man Ben Stewart lept from the stage during their closing track, carried wildly by the crowd, still belting out verses. It was easy to tell that Simple Plan were soon to hit the stage, as people began flocking to Stage 2. Drawing tracks from their five-album catalogue, this was their first time returning to Australia since bassist David Desrosiers rejoined after a brief hiatus. Simple Plan were strong, and amid the rainfall of audience-tossed toilet paper rolls they managed to take us all back to 2005 with classics like ‘Welcome to My Life’ and ‘I’m Just a Kid’. Lead singer Pierre Bouvier also revealed that Simple Plan will return to tour Australia in 2020.
Violent Soho, playing their first live show in over a year, had obviously spent that time rehearsing. The instruments were tight, but the vocals from Luke Boerdam stood out. The call of “King or the viceroys…” could be heard across the whole racecourse. ‘Vacation Forever’ made its live debut, while ‘Liars’ was heard for the first time live since 2013.
While A Day to Remember’s explosive set was taking over Stage 2, Simple Creatures began their set on the other side of the grounds. Comprised of Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus and All Time Low guitarist Alex Gaskarth, side-project Simple Creatures bought their “trashy-pop” Australia for the first time, their two EPs coming to life brilliantly. A mix of bass, guitars and synths, the duo’s stage dynamic showed their chemistry as musicians. Highlights from their set included ‘Thanks, I Hate It’ and ‘One Little Lie’, opting to skip leaving for an encore for the latter.
Good Things 2019 was electric – it was loud, heavy and just fucking awesome. It was punk, but there was a sense of comradery in the crowd. Amid the moshing and walls of death, the audience was looking after one another. If someone fell, they were helped up. If a phone was dropped, it got back to its owner. Everyone wanted to have a good time, and it’s crowds like this that really make festivals like Good Things that little bit more special. A great mix of international and Aussie acts, I think I speak for everyone there when I say we can’t wait for Good Things 2020.
Friday, December 6, 2019
Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Reviewed by Thom Devereux
Photos by Joshua Braybrook