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DEAD OF WINTER 2017
Saturday July 29th, 2017
Jubilee Hotel, Brisbane
The line to get into the Dead Of Winter festival stretched down St Paul’s terrace long before the doors were due to open at The Jubilee. The punters were very keen on getting in early for the massive day of metal, punk, ska, and rock and roll that was ahead.
The day started off with bang on the Drum Cartel, aka the metal stage, as local thrashers DERAIGN got the party started.
The crowd quickly grew as people headed upstairs to catch the foursome as they blasted through their set of blistering old school thrash, setting the bar high for the bands that were to follow. These boys live and breathe the genre and with a sound that throws back to the likes of eighties style of Slayer and Megadeth, they have really harnessed the spirit of thrash, reviving it well and truly.
After a quick jaunt about the venue to see what else was happening and check out some of the wares on offer at the markets, it was back upstairs for the next band on the metal stage with Sunshine Coast metal boys HOLISTIC giving us a taste of their brand of straight up, no frills metal and the crowd was eating it up.
Catchy hooks and face melting riffs were the order of their set and they punched through their tracks with an intense energy and passion. The band have an album slated for release in the near future and you can expect to see them on a lot more shows in support of this as they are definitely a band to keep an eye on.// MO
Brissy three-piece WALKEN are tasked with ripping off the sonic band-aid on this fine winter’s afternoon. They’re certainly giving it a red-hot go. Sure, it’s a bit shit that lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Jamez Cochran has a wicked case of the SARS, but he pushes through and lends the group’s alt-grunge fusion sound a husky edge. Guitarist Pat Shipp cracks a funny about the band playing Duality by Slipknot, and then some dedicated fan up front just won’t let it go, recycling the gag in between every single song. The band move through some Rage-esque grooves, with dashes of Nirvana punk and Chilli Peppers funk, and an eager crew of punters bang their heads dutifully.
We move outside to the Hysteria stage (hey, that’s us!) and quickly flick some sunnies on to cut the glare from the giant fire orb in the sky. Punk rockers FREAKSHOW NIGHTMARE take the stage and look ready to get downright ghoulish. There’s a false start from drummer Pirate Nel before the first song, which is nervously laughed away as they kick off into a loose but warm set of fast and bashy tracks. Vocalist and guitarist Brett Bites is joined on stage by a female friend with a bright lime-green hair-do, and the dual vocal approach helps keep their set mildly entertaining.
At this point, we decide to break the seal (definitely an ominous sign this early into an all-day music fest) and are pleasantly surprised to find a port-a-loo tucked away in the back corner that’s yet to be soiled. Heaven is a place on Earth, friends. On our way back from the bar, we spot a bloke with a snazzy piece of Bennies merch that reads: ‘Life ain’t a dance, it’s a heavy disco.’ Truth.// OM
It’s back downstairs now, to head to the main stages to take in some Viking metal. Although originally slated for an earlier timeslot, VALHALORE proved they were certainly worthy of the opportunity presented to them as they were moved to a later time and a bigger stage. The Vikings commanded the beer garden crowd with a ferocious set, drawing in the people passing by and the faithful alike as they led the rowdy punters through their set of folk metal tunes, encouraging singalongs, war chants of ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ and some circle pit jig dancing madness.
They are a tight, well rehearsed band who don’t miss a beat nor let themselves be fazed by anything, which was evident during a feedback issue early on in their set. But this didn’t damper any spirits and the crowd swelled with many people walking away at the end, shaking their heads in wonder at what they had just witnessed.
The vibe of the festival was really in full swing by this stage, as it was close to the halfway mark and word is that the small amount of tickets that were available on the door were now sold out, making sure that the second half of the event was to be an epic time.
Continuing the party upstairs in the metal arena were local party animals IN DEATH. They are fresh off the back of a United States tour and were welcomed onstage by a room full of raucous fans keen on getting their fix after the Americans had them for so long.
And they don’t disappoint. With the recent release of their new album The Devil Speaks the band have hit a solid stride and they are relentless on stage as they blast out new tracks from the record, mixed with a few older favourites. In Death have certainly found their rhythm together and they definitely leave the crowd wanting much more by the end of their show. // MO
Setting up camp around the 4ZZZ stage, we witness Gold Coast crew FRIENDS WITH THE ENEMY rip into a set of melodic skate punk that shows great reverence for acts like Propagandhi and A Wilhelm Scream. There’s razor-sharp riffs on offer, backed by solid hooks and beating drums, and with vocals from powerhouse frontwoman Chelsie Bomb, they rip through tracks like Conspiracy Theory off last year’s Declassified album. The band keeps things brief with minimal stage banter, but throw just enough shade at the sun for blaring down on them. It’s here that we partake in what ends up being our only morsel of food for the entire festival, practically inhaling a soft taco from our mate Geoff’s scraps. No rest for the wicked.
There’s something truly universal about good ol’ fashioned rock’n’roll; I mean really, who doesn’t like The Boss? And thankfully, that’s exactly what THE CUTAWAYS have in store for us. Frontwoman Emmy Haora’s gravelly vocals hit all the right notes on punchy tracks like Muscle In, propelling the group through some epic sing-a-long choruses and simple, striking rhythms courtesy of skinsman Jeff Paton. There’s a decent crowd turning out for the Brissy four-piece, showing some love in the front row and feeding off the band’s infectious energy. It’s beer-swilling, arm-in-arm-with-your-mates, ‘full boonta’ music, and we’re fairly certain that the band have gathered a whole bunch of new fans based off their performance here today.
Next up are Brissy rock darlings SMOKING MARTHA, who waste little time in kicking things up a notch. Musically, they bring a classic rock’n’roll feel with thick riffs, flashy solos and the occasional harmony; but the real smoking gun here is smouldering songstress Tasha D. With an impressive vocal range, D stalks the stage like a caged animal, soulfully crooning her way through massive hooks on What’s Her Name and Say You’re Mine from their recently released, debut album In Deep. There was significant buzz around the band on today’s line-up, and gauging the crowd’s reaction, they managed to live up to (and exceed) said hype.
Moving firmly into the metal contingent of today’s line-up, we venture upstairs to the Drum Cartel stage to have a geez at Sydney crushers ARTERIES. If you like your metal chunky and discordant, played with a blatant disrespect for conventional time signatures, then this heavy five-piece is most definitely for you. Vocalist Brendan spends the majority of the set at right angles, screaming and bellowing into people’s faces; while drummer Zak flails around like a man possessed, with his distractingly large nose piercing bobbing along like bull-ring metronome. Tracks like Conversation Killer from the band’s upcoming album go down a treat and the band are greeted to some enthusiastic cheers and thrown horns as they wrap up an impressive set.
As we hit the midway point of today’s viewing, we decide to add some spice to the evening. Necking a shot of vodka at the upstairs bar, we swing down through the pokie lounge and back it up with a double espresso, much to the chagrin of the gaming room attendant. Pushing back out into the inside stages with a fresh beer, we take a spot on the back wall amongst a sweating and seething throng of attendees waiting for BLACK RHENO to begin. Unfortunately their set is hampered by sound issues, and when they do start, the sound is noticeably thin. Frontman Milla works up a solid sweat though, getting rowdy and smashing the mic in people’s faces. It’s not the most musically vibrant or dynamic set (which is a shame, because the group is considerably potent on record), but the three-piece definitely have fun with it.
Back upstairs, we take a breather on the back wall and watch melo-death wrecking crew HOLLOW WORLD work the room. It’s metal that sounds distinctly European in tone, yet the Melbourne boys give it an Aussie twist, smiling like banshees through their entire set, as they pull largely from recent album, Exanimate. The mix is heavy and crushing when it needs to be, but with enough clarity to single out the ripping solos and subtle riff flourishes from fill-in guitarist Grant ‘Windmill’ McGuinness. The band were on our ‘must-watch’ list for the festival, and they earned the spot here tonight. We also spy fellow Hysteria scribe and 4ZZZ host Michelle O’Rance in the crowd, who’s looking super festive with some truly gruesome make-up on, making it look like someone ripped her throat wide open. Brutal.// OM
As we get up front near the Green Beacon stage, we’re joined by an eclectic mix of patrons in lieu of the next act: Jim Beam-sponsored metalheads; Sunny Coast weekend punks; a dude who’s in a double breasted suit, giving off strong Dracula-aesthetic vibes; alt chicks with those ‘My wardrobe is based solely off The Craft’ chokers; and well-lubricated music journos.
The reason? Everyone wants to check out THE GUTTERBIRDS. The premise is certainly an intriguing one: three saucy young women in polka-dot dresses, singing a variety of smut-fuelled pop songs, with a gentlemen on piano to boot. Tracks include a vintage doo-wop version of Frenzal’s Bucket Bong, and what we assume is an original song titled Thank Fuck He Dumped Me. We’ve never heard ‘spunk’ used so casually before, but it totally works, and everyone in the crowd is cheering along in between bouts of uncontrollable laughter. We also spy some dude in the crowd, with a loud shirt that has Toadie from Neighbour’s smiling visage repeated across the back. Legendary status achieved.
From the Hysteria stage outside we take in the experience that is a FLANGIPANIS show. We’re not entirely sure what ‘fake-punk’ is, but if it looks anything like tonight’s gig, it’s a whole lot of fun. The crowd is well-pissed and keen to party, which vocalist Jodie is only too happy to oblige, clad in some form of pink blanket/cape contraption. There’s copious swearing going on, but it’s all in good fun, and the band smash through some fast loose cuts like Kicked Out from their Sportsball EP.
The gruesome makeup is one of the best things about Dead Of Winter. Some people just love a good dress up and some of the costumes and face paint that is spotted about The Jubilee is actually quite terrifying. It’s about this time that we head on over to the main stage bar as the masters of the industrial corpse paint, and Dead of Winter veterans, DARKCELL take centre stage, ready to kick things into gear for their rabid fans.
And truly. the frenzied vibe that the whole festival has experienced all day didn’t feel like it could get any more intense, but Darkcell still manage to coax that little something extra out of the fans with their catchy choruses and melodic hooks that have the crowd headbanging and singing along all at once. These guys have been at it a while but they still do what they do very well.
From Darkc3ll it is a mad push through the crowded venue to get to the 4ZZZ carpark stage to catch one of the headlining acts in ska, punk band THE PORKERS. It’s a nice change of pace from the blistering metal I’ve covered all day and a chance to relax and have a bit of a dance. The crowd favourites aren’t showing their age as they produce an energetic set full of their classics and a killer Ramones cover of Rock n Roll Radio. It was definitely fun, definitely groovy and definitely an awesome way to let loose the inner ska fan.
The night is, sadly, nearing the end, but there are headliners left that are not to be outdone and the brutality is stepped up a notch with the final few metal bands getting ready to hit the stages. //MO
Back upstairs for the third time tonight, we’re watching Goldie boys SHE CRIES WOLF bring some chaotic hardcore mayhem to the bill. Having witnessed the band’s intense performances before, the live sound isn’t the best for them this time around, but their full-throttle approach to tracks like Churchblock and Chapter II go down well with the crowd. Guitarists Kyal Franklin and Daniel Belic swing their axes like their chopping wood, while drummer Luke Gal works the beat with aplomb. Due to time restrictions, their set is sadly cut short, but it’s still a sufficiently wild ride for those who risked it.
For the uninitiated, WHORETOPSY are a band that, upon hearing the name, makes you wonder what you are in for. And for those in the know, know that what you are in for is a pummelling. With fill in frontman Zac Bergholtz playing up to his hometown fans, the Melbourne slam metal band take control of the main stage mosh with a ferocious set that doesn’t let up once. It’s easy to see why this band is taking the extreme metal scene by storm, they are professional, polished and can command an audience with authority. A special mention must also go to drummer Jake Sproule is possibly inhuman as not only did he smash out his Whoretopsy set, he pulled double duties with a crushing follow up, filling in for Adelaide metallers Truth Corroded.
What can one really say about THE BENNIES, without actually being there to experience it? ‘Psychedelic Reggae Ska Doom Metal Punk Rock From Hell’ kind of speaks for itself. The band is essentially a musical acid trip and tonight is really no exception. Headlining the festival, the band stride out to the 4ZZZ stage under a Mary-Jane green glow, and proceed to get down and dirty amongst a sea of revellers. Tracks from recent album Wisdom Machine go down swimmingly, as limbs and clothing get lost in a haze of suspiciously pungent smoke. Vocalist Anty Horgan is a borderline demon, spending more time throwing out the mic or jumping in the front row than actually performing, singing or keyboarding. But look, no one really gives a shit—it’s The Bennies. Life ain’t a dance, bro. It’s a fucking heavy disco, alright? // OM
By midnight, after twelve hours of some of the best Australian bands going around at the moment, you have to wonder how HADAL MAW can possibly top anything seen already today. But if you were present for their headlining set on the metal stage, you would have witnessed sheer greatness. The crazed, maniacal look in vocalist Sam Dillon’s eyes was captivating and you couldn’t look away as the Melbourne fivesome make their way through the crushing tracks from albums Olm and Senium. They are an extremely talented band that are well polished and no strangers to bringing a huge performance after bands who have set some incredibly high standards before them. //MO
Last but not least, Melbourne punk veterans THE MEANIES work the Sailor Jerry stage inside with some vintage punk rock bangers. The band are criminally under-watched, but it seems that everyone is tuckered out from The Bennies onslaught, and the band are really just a curious thing to behold for the younger and messier patrons exiting the venue into the waiting night. Despite this indifference, The Meanies take it in their stride and cruise right along, with a little pack of seasoned old punkers down front clinking pints like time isn’t a relentless beast. //OM