It was 11am and the sun was already beating down on an incorrigible sweat-drenched crowd at Flemington Racecourse. A perfect blue sky heralded what would become a scorching 38-degree day – and yet, it could be plainly seen that this was no deterrent. There were friends to meet, food to eat, tinnies to sink and an incredible lineup of amazing artists to see. It was the very first Good Things Festival, and no force – be it natural or alien – could halt the extravaganza.
Ecca Vandal kicked off the day with a suitably power-packed batch of her hardest-hitting tracks. Her first gig in Melbourne after six months of touring, Vandal showed no signs of slowing, shifting effortlessly between incredible screams and smooth lyrical flows. The no-holds-barred ‘Price Of Living’ – dedicated to asylum seekers around the world – proved a crowd favourite, brimming with an especially frenetic energy.
WAAX followed with a second burst of unstoppable vocal energy from Marie DeVita, who soon introduced the crowd to a familiar friend – Michael Richards of Violent Soho, filling in for regular drummer Tom Bloomfield (whose partner was having their child that day). WAAX demonstrated how they’ve risen so meteorically across the nation, unleashing some of their most beloved tracks such as ‘Labrador’ and ‘Wild & Weak’.
Fittingly, the premiere Good Things was a time of firsts for several artists. It was British pop-punk outfit Boston Manor‘s debut Australian festival run and they were gleefully received by the crowd. One of the most anticipated acts of the day, however, was indisputably Japan’s BABYMETAL.
Enthusiasm was at fever-pitch for their first ever Australian appearance, with chants of “BAY-BEE-MEH-TAL” starting before the band even stepped foot on stage. Braving the sweltering conditions in matching battle armour, the group flawlessly performed an intricately choreographed show against the backdrop of their J-Pop and heavy metal fusion that has seen them garner a worldwide following. Hits like ‘Gimme Chocolate!!’ and ‘Karate’ were everything their fans wanted.
The trio disappeared briefly before their last song, reappearing brandishing a series of dark flags and launching into ‘Road of Resistance’. This earned the most enthusiastic reaction of the day – gigantic circle-pits formed. Crowd-surfers with Japanese flags rose above people’s heads and flung themselves around. BABYMETAL left their audience with a level of joy so pure that it felt almost impossible to believe there was still half a day to go, with bands like Tonight Alive, Bullet for My Valentine, The Used, Mayday Parade, The Smith Street Band and All Time Low yet to play.
Scarlxrd left jaws agape with his heavy-hitting mix of trap, metal and hip hop. Northlane defied the weather with pyrotechnics and La Dispute whipped their dedicated fans into a glorious, impassioned frenzy. Dropkick Murphys tapped into the rowdy, fun-loving energy that still simmered long into the day, jumping in and out of the crowd and tearing up the stage with their larger-than-life antics – you’ve never heard an accordion solo or banjo lick quite as face-melting before. Across on Stage 2, Stone Sour‘s effervescent showman Corey Taylor launched himself onto the stage, firing a confetti cannon into the crowd. The Iowan outfit produced a powerful display reminding Australia why they’ve been such an enduring touring force.
Finally, punk legends The Offspring took to the stage to play their breakout 1994 album Smash, with an effortlessness that proved the LP still packs the wallop now that it did back then. With the biggest crowd of the day at their disposal, fans turned up the love for ‘Come Out and Play’ and ‘Gotta Get Away’ before thousands of voices lovingly bellowed their way through ‘Self Esteem’ – a display that overpowered even frontman Dexter Holland’s untarnished vocals.
In its premiere event, Good Things retains the earnest wonder and enthusiasm that has built classic Aussie festivals from fun times into rites of passage. It’s the kind of show that you don’t just brave the heat for, but actively has you looking forward to summer. By battling this year’s relentless conditions, fans have paid it a respect that truly speaks for itself. Good Things has set itself up for success and deserves to become the juggernaut it has introduced itself as.