Nowhere Festival 2023 [Review

Review: Rashid AlKamraikhi
Photos: Richard Boltron

Quick disclaimer before we get into this review. An organisation I am a part of, SCHEMA Collective, was a Festival Sponsor, my band, Dr.Parallax performed, and I worked as a Stage Manager and Photographer throughout the day. I will try to be as subjective and honest in this review as possible but I guess you’re just going to have to trust me on that.

Now a little bit about the history of the festival as best I know it. Nowhere started as the brain child of Musician and Photographer Aimi Hobson. Aimi put on an annual house show in her garage where she would invite bands to come and perform and piss off her neighbours. Due to a change of residence house shows were no longer an option so Aimi decided to take the show out of the carport and into a venue. Enter Nowhere Festival 2023 featuring 21 bands playing Doom, Rock, and Metal, and more over two stages.

Opening up the festival on the Main Stage are Serpentum. This is their very first show but the band itself is comprised of seasoned vets such as fretboard wizard Amber, who is most well known for her work with Kaerulean. Serpentum is a Black Metal affair, in case the corpse paint didn’t give it away, and they blast beat, growl, and shred through the set. Or for at least as much of it as I can watch before I have to dart over to the second stage.

Garden Stage opening honours go to Mother Magnetic. This band gives me Black Sabbath vibes if Sabbath was ever fronted by Patti Smith.
The band plays through a thick blanket of haze, which suits their Psych-Rock style, as more bodies make their way over from the Main Stage to enjoy their tunes.

Back over at the Rock Arena aka Main Stage, Tradie-Core outfit Vomit Bomb are about to kick off. Hi-Vis clothing, Dealer Shades, and Footy Shorts sum up the bands look as they launch into their raucous Crossover Thrash. Banter throughout the set includes such high brow topics as how many pingaz one should ingest for breakfast and into which orifice, and overcoming cultural differences between themselves and Eshays. All very informative.

I return to the GS (as I will refer to it for the rest of the article and from that you should also be able to figure out what MS stands for) to catch Hells Horizon. The three piece makes one mighty big sound as each member takes a turn on the vocals, giving a variety of deep growls, piercing screams, and throaty warbles. They are having fun and even though their music is mostly grim blackened Thrash it puts a smile on my face.

Keeping the Thrash vibes strong, Warrior Within are tearing it up on the MS. They know their way around their instruments very well as a billion-gagillion notes fly out of the speakers and straight into our faces. Hardcore vocals and thunderous drumming hold it down as the crowd headbangs along.

The GS must be pretty well constructed because Symphony of putrescence is doing their damn best to shake it to its foundations. This is pure doom worship as The Flayed One lurches through the sea of fog determined to blow every speaker on stage out into the void of deep space. Part music, part performance, part deep tissue massage.

Another indomitable force, Beast machine, are rampaging on the MS. For a two piece they manage to conjure up an all consuming musical leviathan that probably eats car batteries just for fun. SCHEMA is supplying the backline for the MS and I honestly fear for the safety of our drum kit. Though at the same time I love watching the way it gets beat up.

A calmer sound greets me back at the GS, not to say that Fidel A Go Go didn’t provide some oomph of their own. Their post rock musings have elements of Math and Shoegaze mixed in and feature some tasty guitar work and a smooth vocal performance. Very cool.

The party hasn’t stopped over on the MS because Wagga Wagga’s Metalcore proponents Artifact are tearing it the fuck up. They rip out their tracks with boundless energy as melody and growls sonically entwined from their dual vocalists. Hopefully it’s not too long before they get back up here because I could definitely go another round.

Dressed in 60s inspired counter (cult)ure threads, Holystone play some super smooth stoner rock on the GS. Vocals reverbed to the nth degree soar pleasingly through the mix as sneaky little whammy bar drops and carefully measured drum rolls add a little extra spice to their sound. This band is solid.

One of my favourite bands, Therein, are the next contenders on the MS. They know it, and I know that they know it. Stupidly talented musicians that seemingly erratically, yet definitely intentionally move between styles, genres, time signatures, planes of reality, and anything else they can possibly conjure. And all of it executed perfectly. It’s my opinion that if you don’t know Therein, you don’t know shit, and they know that you don’t know shit. But you should.

Over in GS land The Wretched Creatures have emerged on stage. They promise to bring the fuzz, the sludge, and the doom, and it’s a promise they keep. Through the muck and mire comes sharp clean vocals that shine out like a lighthouse in the fog but are instead the bioluminescence of a creature of the deep.

I have taken over stage management duties on the GS at this stage and I unfortunately miss WA band Infinite Exiles set on the MS. I later found out, by way of running into him, that I knew the vocalist Shan. He used to be in a band that I’d played shows with in the past so I was extra pissed that I missed it. Ironically he ended up missing my bands set too, so that makes us even.

Kentucky Green graces (or grasses) the GS with their Blues laden Stonner Rock ditties. Songs that start off as simple laid back riffs give way to blistering guitar solos. Thumping drums and bass from the rhythm section keep their whole sound moving, and the crowd along with it.

I make it back over to the MS to catch the second band from the WA contingent, Vulgurite.
Their front man is running from end to end of the stage like a possessed amalgamation of Robert Plant, Bon Scott, and Bruce Dickinson, while the rest of the band blazes away on their respective instruments. All energy and absolutely killer.

The only band that had the potential to rival Symphony of putrescence on the decibel meter is gearing up on the GS, and that band was HIPPO. Lead by the legendary Loki and the contraption known as the Ugly Stick – a fusing of a bass guitar, pedal board, and inter dimensional time machine control centre.
The experimental three piece crank into their anarchic arrangements engulfing the audience in every frequency they could throw at them. Oh and there was a Noise Pig. Have you seen it?

Inside on the MS Kaosphere aren’t messing around. An imposing figure, vocalist Ricci croons, raps, screams, and growls as the band power on behind him. They have riffs for days and the crowd are here for it. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for much of the set because I had somewhere to be.

Okay so now it’s time for my band Dr.Parallax to play on the GS. I start by misplacing my car keys and am filled with panic before eventually finding them in the bottom of a bag they shouldn’t be in. I have a brief moment of relief before realising that I am now late getting my gear on stage, so the panic returns. I manage to get ready in time and begin to play but the lights on stage are blinding and I can’t see shit. How have the other bands been dealing with this? I blow out one of my fingers on the second song by playing too hard and cultivate a massive blood blister. The vague silhouettes I can barely make out are cheering and hollering though so I guess that means we did good?

After regaining my composure I head over to the MS in time to catch Dreamkillers last two songs. A bunch of diehard fans are getting down to the scene veterans however this is my first time seeing them. I know Chrisgaar from his time in Minus Life and that he is a gun bass player but fuck me can he play guitar as well. Two songs are enough to let me know what I’ve been missing and I’m looking forward to the next chance I get to see them.

Headlining the GS is Melbournes’s Khan. I’d given their latest album, Creatures, a fair few plays in the lead up to Nowhere Festival and was keen to see them perform tracks from it live. They do not disappoint, playing a bunch of tracks from it along with cuts from their other releases. The sounds the trio manifest wrap us up like a warm weighted blanket and we all huddle together beneath it.

Closing up the MS and the day as a whole are (also) Melbourne’s Frankenbok. The Bok have been terrorising stages across Australia for over a quarter of a century and now it is the crowd at Nowhere Festivals turn to bear the brunt of it. Ferocious growls pour from the mouth of vocalist Dan as he stalks around the stage while Azza and crew belt out frankenbanger after frankenbanger. It’s another killer performance for them to add to their list of many. But this one’s ours.

Nowhere Festival 2023 was a huge day that showcased amazing bands from all over the country. Hopefully word spreads about just how great it was and contributes to the future successes of this endeavour. Congratulations goes to Aimi and Nowhere Productions for putting it on.

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