A couple of years ago, I made a silent vow to myself that I was done with attending music festivals. There were a number of reasons for this: the large crowds, the lengthy duration, getting dirty and sweaty in the moshpit. It just wasn’t my thing anymore. Though I did push myself to attend Unify in 2018, it wasn’t an enjoyable experience for me. The lonely overnight camping plus my unruly neighbours and my fragile mental state also didn’t help matters. It was more to say that I did it and crossed it off my bucket list. But I wouldn’t do it again.
However, when I considered going to Good Things this year, it felt like a throwback to the days of the Big Day Out (1999-2014) which I used to go to. Similar lineup of bands. Similar layout of stages, rides, food trucks. And it’s only a single day festival. I said to myself “You know what? I’ll give it a shot.” And so I opted for the pay over time installment option as I couldn’t afford the full cost of the ticket at the time. I used to complain about how expensive festival tickets are but if you consider how many big international bands are on the lineup, it’s actually pretty reasonable.
My biggest concern going it to this was how my energy levels and tiredness would fare. This is after all a 9-10 hour event so I knew that I would have to pace myself throughout the day and place plenty of rest breaks in between bands. The most important decision of the day was working out which bands to see. It’s good that Good Things offers fans plenty of variety and choice but that means there’s a lot of potential for timetable clashes. The biggest offender would have to be between Windwaker and The Veronicas which actually sparked a lot of outrage, shit posting and memes on social media.
From catching the train from Southern Cross to Flemington Racecourse to lining up outside the entry gates, I felt a huge rush of anticipation and anxiety. Even though I was well and truly prepared for this, my brain decided to overthink things big time. I figured that this would be like an episode of Border Security when it comes to the bag checking process. However, the girl wasn’t even that thorough. She barely giving the contents of my backpack more than a glance.
The only odd thing was having my photo ID checked twice by two different security staff. Not that it really bothered me to be honest. It was more that I expected to be scanned for metallic items and be searched by sniffer dogs, according to the information on the Good Things website. But getting through the entry gates did make me feel more at ease. It took a while to get my bearings of the festival site layout but it wasn’t too difficult to navigate. I had a printout of the map and digital copy on my phone just in case.
POPPY…Like most people, I only discovered this Massachusetts-born singer songwriter a few months ago. Her style is a unique fusion of pop, electronica, metal and industrial often with sweet melodic choruses and heavy breakdowns in the verses. She came out onto the stage with a drummer and guitarist, both wearing weird face masks, platinum blonde wigs and black leather suits. In the words of Kath and Kim, she could be described perfectly as noice, unusual, different. Set List: Concrete, Am I A Girl?, Play Destroy, Scary Mask. https://music.apple.com/au/artist/poppy/1004130511
GRAVEMIND…I can’t say that I’m as invested in Death Metal bands as I used to be. However, I do have a soft spot for these guys. I was particularly impressed by their connection with the crowd both in supporting local bands and the importance of overcoming mental health issues. They delivered a super heavy set with lots of emotion and heart.Set List: Lifelike, Phantom Pain, Volgin. https://music.apple.com/au/album/conduit/1462900465
WINDWAKER…Okay look. I was honestly very divided about whether to split my time between my boys in Windwaker and The Veronicas. But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a pointless idea. Being a music festival, there is so much ducking and weaving between the crowds of people and therefore it’s time consuming getting from one stage to another. So I went with my gut and stayed where I was, which I believe ended up being the right decision.
Today was Liam Guinane’s last show with Windwaker. It was a very bittersweet experience for me. But it was such a pleasure watching him perform a keyboard and vocal solo of the track Colourless with the entire crowd kneeling down. I was crying internal tears, that’s for damn sure! The band had some technical issues early on which delayed their starting time. However, they more than made up for it by the awesome show they put on, complete with plastic beach balls, crowd singalongs and an epic circle pit to rival The Veronicas wall of death! Set List: The Sitch, Grey World, Reject, Colourless, My Empire. Freak (Silverchair cover) https://music.apple.com/au/album/empire-ep/1448666181
TRIVIUM / BAD RELIGION…After Windwaker’s set, I decided to take a break and chilled out on the lawn between Stages 1 and 2. Unfortunately, I began getting myself overcome with conflicting emotions, depression and loneliness. I couldn’t really work out where it was coming from, though witnessing people hanging out in groups may have been a trigger. It’s not a new thing for me as I’ve always been “flying solo” when it comes to attending gigs and music festivals. And yet it’s still not always easy accepting that I don’t really have a close circle of friends around me.
I decided to try meditating, reached out to a few friends on social media and listened to the sets of Trivium and Bad Religion from a far distance away. It was difficult trying to shake the black dog off me but slowly I started to feel better. Considering how far I’d come just to attend Good Things for the first time, it was an important reminder to put things into perspective. Plus I had already met and bumped into lots of amazing band mates so I was far from alone, even though I was hanging out by myself.
SIMPLE PLAN…It’s hard to conceive that this Pop-Rock-Punk outfit from Montreal in Canada has been going for 20 years. Admittedly, I decided to watch their set for the nostalgic value of their classic anthems, mainly from 2002 to 2009. I found myself singing along with the crowd around me to songs I grew up with in my late teenage years and early adulthood. And after such a long time together, they still sounded great and the lyrical messages of not fitting in and not feeling accepted are still relatable today. People were randomly throwing rolls of toilet paper through the air and tossing giant black beach balls back and forth. Set List: I’m Just a Kid, I’d Do Anything, Addicted, Perfect, Welcome to My Life, Shut Up, Jet Lag, Summer Paradise, Boom! https://music.apple.com/us/artist/simple-plan/150861
KARNIVOOL…This was the band I was the most keen for today. The Perth-based Progressive Rock outfit have been around since 1997 and this was my first time catching them live. I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore fan, even though I do own all of their albums. But their quality of songwriting and musical output in truly phenomenal. Their style is complex and out of the box, touching on important social and political themes such as media corruption, the end of the world, the existence of God and the function of society and governments.
Vocalist Ian Kenny still has one of the best clean singing voices in any Australian band and put on an outstanding performance tonight. And I’m sure many Karnivool fans out there are still wondering when the 4th album is going to drop? I guess you just can’t rush art! Set List: We Are, Simple Boy, Themata, The Refusal, New Day. https://music.apple.com/us/artist/karnivool/85099785
I did consider staying for PARKWAY DRIVE but then remembered the announcement after arriving at Flemington Racecourse. The last train to depart will be at 9.20pm. Which meant that I would only be able to see about half of Parkway’s set. Honestly, I was pretty wrecked after Karnivool and decided to leave early. I saw all the bands I really wanted to see and therefore didn’t feel the need to stay any longer.
Overall, it was a pretty good festival. The very long queues for entry, cloaking, band merch, the toilets and food trucks were annoying but inevitable considering how large the attendance was. The litter on the ground was fairly disappointing considering how many bins there were available. The free water stations and first aid tents were an excellent idea. The weather did get deceivingly warm today and I did get sunburned but it could have been much worse, considering it is meant to be summer now. I’m really glad I came out!