It’s been a hot minute since there’s been a touring festival filled to the brim with punk, hardcore, and metal for those of us in Australia with that particular thirst. Good Things Festival, which was born out of the folding of Soundwave Festival, is hoping to change that when it hits Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne this weekend.
Festivals, in general, are a hell of an experience for everyone involved on and off the stage, even more so in the heat of the unforgiving Australian summer. How do you survive? What’s your golden rule?
PEDESTRIAN.TV got on the blower with The Offspring, Dashboard Confessional, The Used and Tonight Alive to get the lowdown on their tactics for big gigs, their favourite festival experiences, and what punters can expect from their sets at the first Good Things Festival.
PEDESTRIAN.TV: So, how are you feeling about playing Australia again at a festival?
Bert McCracken, The Used: So exciting to not have to travel so far to play shows, which is usually my go-to. But yeah playing, I guess “home shows” for me is so exciting. My two daughters will get to come up to see the shows, which is probably the most exciting thing in my entire life. I’m really looking forward to it.
Chris Carrabba, Dashboard Confessional: Yeah it’s been a minute since we did a festival there! I love festivals and the fact that I get to see so many bands every day. What could be better than that?
Jenna McDougall, Tonight Alive: I’m really excited about it, it’s just hard to know what to expect because it feels like since Soundwave there’s been less and less festivals to play. So this is a really exciting time. I mean we’ve played Unify Festival twice now, so it’s just nice to experience the festival culture again in our country.
Noodles, The Offspring: Our first time in Australia was at Big Day Out back in ’95 and we’ve done some of our own tours down there as well but it seems like more often than not we go down there for festivals. It’s just a blast; so many great Australian bands to tour around with, it’s just always a blast.
PTV: What can punters expect from your set at the festival?
Noodles: We were doing some covers recently and kinda having fun with that, as well as we always have like a couple of revolving spots where we throw in some of the older songs – songs that we don’t play that much. Since we’re doing Smash in its whole, we’ll do that whole thing and then we’ll probably come back out and do a few more songs. I don’t think we’ve figured it all out yet, to be honest with you. Sometimes we don’t know ’til like right before we go on. It’s good; keeps us guessing, keep the fans guessing.
Bert: We are the type of the band who loves to celebrate entire catalogues. All the songs we’ve ever written, all the most important songs. Not just the last bit of material we’ve done. So yeah, we’ve always kinda taken that approach.
PTV: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had at a festival?
Jenna: Recently we were on Warped Tour in Toronto and Sum 41 played a one-off date, and it was a really cool moment because they played before us – it was an A/B stage. I was just preparing for our show and continuing my warm-up but I realised I still remembered every single word to every single song of their set. I was just kind of…that moved me. Because I was like “wow, this is like so ingrained. This is part of my programming and my growing up,” and my personal development comes from those lyrics. I know it’s kinda dorky but it was really cool to be side stage feeling that before my own set.
Noodles: Oh god, some of the early ones really kinda stood out. I remember Courtney Love climbing down when we played with them at Big Day Out. I think that would have been ’95, maybe ’97. And just climbing down and hanging from her knees and her dress coming up over her head, and just the whole craziness of touring with both Courtney Love and Al Jourgensen, it was a crazy time and a lot of fun. Lots of great people-watching, for sure.
Chris: One time, we were side by side stages with Thursday and I was playing solo, and they were playing as a full band obviously, but they had to sound check while I was playing. So because they’re such sweet kids, they started making sure that whatever they were checking was in the same key of whatever song I was playing. That was just such a nice gesture, you know? Because of course, they’re going to be louder than I am, they’re a whole band. But they would basically be like playing along to that moment of my song.
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Being in a band is a wonderful glorious adventure/bone crunching grind of fatigue, self doubt and isolation. Today is a good day to thank my band and our crew, men and women who care so deeply about each other as people. Without that we wouldn’t even be able to get on the starting blocks. Just thought you should know how important they are to us and, without you knowing it, to you.
PTV: What do you never go on tour without?
Bert: I used to travel with suitcases full of books, but I got really in a bad habit of reading digital books. I guess it’s not uncommon to have a device with you but on my device I have all of my books. Never leave home without thousands of books. I appreciate the physical copy, but my only problem with physical reading is that sometimes when you’re something hard – like I’m working my way through On The Origins Of Species again – I can’t just click and open up pages [to research].
Chris: I don’t go on tour without my electric shaver. I have to shave three times a day. Should I leave it at home, it’s just a mess for everybody involved.
Jenna: I mean headphones, really. Just having something that you can stick in your phone that takes you to a different place, having a transportation tool in a way, to listen to music or put on a meditation or just like binge-watch something on Netflix or Stan or YouTube. Just set yourself time to be alone and switch off. Just to have your own headspace and set the tone for yourself. So much of the time on tour the tone is set for you and you don’t have much of a role in how the room’s going to feel. It feels a bit generic, but it’s an incredible tool.
Noodles: Probably just music on my iPhone. All the music that I take with me. But it’s just right there so it’s not something I think about packing anymore – it’s on my phone and I’m constantly updating it. Because travelling can really wear you down so some good music, a good set of headphones, that’s most important, for sure.
You can catch all of these awesome bands and a whole heap more at Good Things Festival Friday December 7 (today!) in Melbourne, Saturday December 8 in Sydney, and Sunday December 9 in Brisbane. Tickets are still available over on the festival website.Image: Getty Images / Brigitte Engl