Good Things Festival ’23 – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane [Review and Gallery]

Review: Benjamin Coe
Photography: Dan Maynard 
With contributions from JD Garrahy and Luke Petty 

It feels like only yesterday that we were all ambling out of the RNA Showgrounds after Bring Me The Horizon closed out the last edition of Good Things and yet here, we are again, gearing up for another sweltering day of live bands, sweaty people and foot-long dagwood dogs.

The gates are open early this year and the crowd drip-feeds in rather than waiting in a bulk line that doesn’t seem to move anywhere anytime soon. It gives people the chance to check out the surroundings, find the stages and plan their day accordingly well before the festivities have even begun.

Having the ever-so daunting task of opening the main stages is American trio PVRIS who just the day before had to cancel their appearance at the Sydney edition of Good Things and today are powering through an illness to perform for the crowd that has gathered early on. You wouldn’t tell though, as singer/guitarist Lynn Gunn’s vocals cry out through the hot morning air getting the crowd moving and shaking with songs like My House and Anywhere But Here.

Over on Stage 4, another international band are getting things going in a much more aggressive fashion as The Plot In You begin to get the crowd moshing with their masterclass in metalcore. “I’m hot, I’m sick as fuck, let’s rock!” declares ailing frontman Landon Tewers as the band tear into new song Divide to kick off proceedings on the side stages. He taunts the “bored”-looking security at the front by calling for crowd surfers and splits the crowd down the middle for crowd favourite Forgotten.

After PVRIS’ dance-happy set, the main stage crowd shifts from Stage 1 to Stage 2 for another dance fest curated by England’s genre-bending outfit Enter Shikari. Rou Reynolds and gang are in fine form as they dance around the stage urging the crowd to “get moving!” which opening song {The Dreamer’s Hotel} most certainly does. Latest hit A Kiss For The Whole World goes down a treat as Anaesthetist sees Reynold get amongst the sweaty crowd action.

After this years Battle of the Bands winners, the aptly named The Local Romance, are done warming up stage 5 it’s time for Sydney post-hardcore outfit Bloom to treat the amassed crowd to a short but sweet selection of tracks from their discography including a closing one-two punch of latest singles Bound To Your Whispers and Maybe In Another Life.

As the day progresses so too does the temperature soar nesting somewhere in the mid-to-late 30’s in terms of degrees but the feel temperature on the ground is surely higher. This is definitely the case inside the tent that houses Stages 3 & 4 but as Sydney-siders Stand Atlantic smash out hit after hit of their brand of electro-tinged rock the crowd seems unfazed by the increasing heat and they 100% match the energy that pours off the stage turning the side stages into a swirling, sweaty mess while the band closes out their set in a flurry of strobes and smoke pillars backed by Molotov [OK] off last years f.e.a.r album.

Next up in the tent-come-sauna is the moment a lot of people have been waiting for; the arrival of Russia’s metal titans Slaughter to Prevail to Australian shores. After obliterating Melbourne and Sydney prior to today, Alex Terrible and his masked cohorts come out to a rapturous response and waste no time showing the audience what they’re made of. The intense pit seems to be a bit much for some as people constantly flock in and out of the chaos as they belt out such songs as Bonebreaker and Viking. If the response the band have received at this run of shows is anything to go by, it won’t be long before we see them return to our fair country.

Meanwhile, over the main stage, contemporary rock outfit Eskimo Joe are treating the ever-expanding crowd in the main arena to a selection of hits from their expansive catalogue. Frontman Kav Temperley is a sight to behold as he dances his way through the set and has the adoring crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. He briefly compares Good Things to the Big Day Out festival of old saying they share the same vibe before offering up the classic tune Who Sold Her Out? to an appreciative audience before closing out with arguably their biggest hit, From The Sea from their critically acclaimed album A Song Is A City.

Stage 5 is still pumping in the heat as Melbourne’s resident post-hardcore newcomers Tapestry battle their way through the belting sun claiming that they are having “the weekend of (their) lives!” and are eternally grateful for the opportunity to play for their crowd.

Perth’s Make Them Suffer show the people at Stage 3 why they’re regarded as one of the days “must-see” acts with their massive metalcore sound that goes over an absolute treat. Playing heavily from their 2022 album How To Survive A Funeral, the band are a tight, proficient unit who put on a hell of a show. Older songs like Ether and Contraband sound huge and the new addition of keyboardist/vocalist extraordinaire Alex Reade contrasts beautifully with the harsh vocals of frontman Sean Harmanis.

Bringing the classic punk vibes to the day are Californian outfit, Pennywise. These guys are veterans of the scene and it is easy to see why. They are flawless, funny and fucking fantastic at what they do. Opening with Homeless from their seminal self-titled album (released all the way back in 1991!) the band celebrate their 20th(!) tour of Australia in style and even pay homage to their good friends, the soon-to-be-retired NOFX, with a cheeky medley of some of Fat Mike and co.’s best before ripping into “Pennywise by Pennywise from the album Pennywise”. A massive rendition of Fuck Authority  precedes the massive sing-along fest of set-closer Bro Hymn before the boys exit the stage to likely continue partying elsewhere.

The all-female Japanese metalcore crew of HANABIE. are pulling the biggest crowd on stage 5 of the day so far and fans and curious onlookers alike are enthralled at what’s unfolding on the stage. Co-vocalists Yukina and Matsuri (who doubles on guitar duties as well) are having the time of their life despite the sun shining directly into the stage. Borrowing heavily from their latest album Reborn Superstar! the band bend genres amongst the best of them and are just a hell of a lot of fun to watch!

While Slowly Slowly have had their work cut out for them on Stage 1 after Pennywise’s epic set, their infectious high-energy rock and roll does not fail to impress the crowd as the temperature begins to drop ever so slightly. Borrowing heavily from last years hit album Daisy Chain the boys are unstoppable and they’ve got the stage moves to match!

Over at Stage 4, the temperature is still sweltering as the mighty Sepultura take the stage in front of an absolutely massive crowd. The cool breeze outside does nothing to calm the storm inside the tent and after all these years, Derrick Green and his band of unfathomably great musicians still love what they do. The reaction from the crowd is just as joyful as they blast out such classics as Arise and amazing set closer Roots.

There’s a traffic jam on the way to the main stages and for good reason too! The man, the myth, the legend, Corey M****F****N Taylor is about to bring his solo project to Australian stages for the very first time and the anticipation in the crowd is rife as The Box from his latest album CMF2 plays over the speakers. The band runs out to an epic crowd response eclipsed only by the arrival of the man himself. They waste no time tearing straight into Post Traumatic Blues and what follows is a masterclass in live entertainment. Guitarists Christian Martucci and Zach Throne are incomparable, shredding their way through a set of not only Taylor’s solo material but cuts from Stone Sour (Song #3Through Glass) and the almighty Slipknot (Before I ForgetDuality, and to everyone’s pleasant surprise, Snuff). Closing out with a cover of the INXS classic Don’t ChangeCorey Taylor proves, yet again, that he is one of the most dominant frontmen of the modern era.

Despite the Slipknot main-man enthralling the audience on Stage 2 a mere 100m away, Victorian 3-piece metalcore outfit Ocean Sleeper have managed to garner a large, dedicated crowd for their rip-roaring set including the singles Your Love I’ll Never Need and epic finale song Forever Sinking. There is so much talent floating around in the Australian metal scene and these guys are definitely a band to watch out for!

Next up in the main arena are Welsh metal heroes Bullet For My Valentine, who never cease to amaze with their intricate skills and powerfully energetic songs. They open strong with Knives off their latest self-titles effort and proceed to power through a set of absolute bangers such as Your BetrayalFour Words (To Choke Upon) and the classic Tears Don’t Fall. Singer guitarist Matt Tuck is in awe of the energy in the crowd despite the heat, claiming he’s “fucking melting” on the stage. If you’ve never see Bullet… live, you are missing out!

As Jebediah rock the fuck out Stage 4 with a set of hits from their classic catalogue (including a rockin’ version of Harpoon) the crowd gathered at Stage 3 are getting restless as they await the arrival of Long Island, NY rock icons Taking Back Sunday. They saunter out on stage clad in matching red suits and looking dapper as ever as they open with A Decade Under The Influence much to the crowds delight. They provide a platter of hits from their expansive back catalogue intertwining classic hits such as Liar (It Takes One To Know One) and You’re So Last Summer with newer songs like You Can’t Look Back and S’Old as charismatic front man Adam Lazzara shakes his hips and swings his mic like it’s nobody’s business.

I Prevail keep the main stage crowd moving with a master class in metalcore. Their absolutely monster 14-song set features a range of crushing numbers from all their albums but heavily relies on latest (and arguably greatest) release True Power. It’s the theatrics, it’s the flames and it’s the off-the-cuff System of a Down covers that set these guys apart from the rest and makes them one of the best acts of the day so far.

The sun begins to disappear and Stage 3 darkens. Smoke billows from all angles as the cloaked figure of Behemoth mastermind Nergal emerges from the shadows. The black metal titans power through a blistering set of flashing lights and smoke machines with double-kick drum galore and a brooding stage presence. There’s a reason they’re so highly regarded not only as a live band but on their studio albums as well, and that reason is laid bare before the watchful eyes of the crowd. It’s almost impossible to look away while Nergal and his followers plow through a bevy of songs from across their impressive set of releases.

The twilight set tonight goes to the legends from Devo and they are definitely in a giving mood as they deliver one final performance for the people of Brisbane. Being awkwardly slotted between I Prevail and Limp Bizkit does noting to slow the aging rockers and they show the curious crowd just why they are in such a high position on the bill. They are s tight as ever, pumping out all the classics like Whip It and Freedom of Choice.

As the sun finally disappears the crowd reaches critical mass in the main arena and the hip hop beats playing over the PA signal the arrival of the “redneck fuckers from Jacksonville” Limp Bizkit. These guys are always a sight to behold, especially guitarist Wes Borland who is dressed up like some sort of demented tooth fairy creature. “I know why you’re here” frontman Fred Durst addresses the crowd as Borland begins to play the opening riff to their massive hit Break Stuff, a song normally saved for the end of the set. The crowd participation is huge, the sing alongs are massive and the energy is palpable. From the front to the very back of the main arena and even into the grandstands, everybody is moving to classics like My GenerationNookie, and Rearranged and for an extra treat, they decide to close the set with a complete reprisal of Break Stuff. That’s right, they played it twice!

But now it’s time for the main event, the piece de resistance, the one, the only, Fall Out Boy! Moseying on stage like they own the joint, the four piece are in fine form cracking out the opening song Love From The Other Side off their latest album So Much (For) Stardust. The crowd bounces and sways to the electric energy coming off the stage feeding the literal flames that burst from not only behind the drum riser, but also Pete Wentz’s bass guitar during a fiery (pun intended) rendition of The Phoenix. Break out hit, Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down follows much to the crowd’s delight before the curtains open to an epic stage design and the band belts out hit after hit to the adoring crowd.

Their set is phenomenally huge, boasting a grand total of 24 songs from their expansive catalogue (including a cheeky cover of Men At Work‘s Land Down Under) and ending in a flurry of confetti and smiling faces from both the band and the crowd.

And as another wonderfully amazing chapter of Good Things comes to a close we can’t help but wonder, how are they going to top this?! So until next time my friends, stay safe, be excellent to each other and I’ll see you all next year.