Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
DEAD OF WINTER 2018
Saturday 7th July, 2018
Jubilee Hotel/The Tivoli, Brisbane
It’s that time of year once again: kind of cold, but actually not, early July aka Dead of Winter time. With a wide-ranging slate of genres and musical tastes on offer, and spread across two locations in the Fortitude Valley, the Hysteria team hit the ground for some quickfire and totally not booze-fuelled live music reviews. Warning: quality of reporting may suffer due to states of inebriation and good times.
MORE: KICK OUT THE JAMS: POLARIS // Hailing Jams With Jamie Hails // OCEAN GROVE: We Give You Ultralove // PAGAN: The Proof Is In The Magick Pudding REVIEWS: IMMORTAL: Northern Chaos Gods // PAGAN: Black Wash
There are long lines at the bar next to the Drum Cartel stage as Brisbane progressive tech death metallers Kaerulean kick things off. All heads turn to the stage as frontman Adrian Pagano leads the band through their set and the local fans turn out in force to get the mosh pit started early. They have set the bar high straight from the get-go and make sure everyone is well and truly warmed up for the day ahead.—Michelle O’Rance
Energy levels were high when this year’s Dead Of Winter Festival began in the early afternoon. A large crowd squeezed itself into the front of our Hysteria Stage to witness local punks Goon On The Rocks. The early crowd’s excitement infected the band’s singer who couldn’t help but coil as much of his mic’s lead to take with him into the crowd.—Timothy Byrnes
The party vibe went up several levels with Brisbane groove metallers MASSIC. Lead singer Simon Russell-White came out swinging from the start of the band’s set of brutal riffing, throwing himself into the crowd while clasping two microphones and switching between each to scream down. He received a lot of slaps on the back while amongst fans, but fans eventually climbed their way on stage to head-bang with the rest of the band, with one particularly enthusiastic fan leaping into the crowd multiple times.—Timothy Byrnes
That fan’s actions were less welcomed during Hammers. Even with multiple stickers warning against crowd-surfing, the fan tried his antics again only to be swiftly pulled away by security. Distractions like these were unnecessary as the Northern Rivers-based blues rockers overcame the crowd with crunching blues grooves, made extra thick by bassist Ricky’s power chords and topped off with hip-thrusting singer Fish’s wails.
Next we head upstairs to the Riffs and Licks stage to see young Gold Coast band Level H. They are a late addition to the lineup, to cover the cancellation of the thrashers in Harlott, but they draw a solid amount of people upstairs with their brand of heavy, progressive metal. Level H really are a band on the rise and this shows from the sheer number of people drawn upstairs to check them out.—Michelle O’Rance
Rolling in to the Drum Cartel Stage to catch Gold Coast heavies THE BLACK SWAMP, we come to the immediate realisation that wearing a battle jacket was a bad idea, as it’s a fucking hotbox right now and beer can only cool us down so much. The five-piece get the arvo party started, with lumbering, headbang-ready grooves, weaponised stage banter (“We’re The Black Swamp; you’re the crowd.”) and a vocal performance that makes us think of A Life Once Lost’s Rob Meadows at his most larynx-shredding. Some dude in a flanno gets real pumped up and goes for the crowd-surf into the welcoming arms of approximately three people, his limbs flailing and kicking photographers in the process. The vibe is definitely a loose one, with many a riff as the band cruises through tracks from this year’s Witches EP, and we see a lot of strong styles kicking around: multiple Black Sabbath patches; one lady in a fetching top hat, complete with purple feather and speed dealers; the band’s drummer has a hat that’s boldly and simply emblazoned with the word BEER; and there’s a bloke next to us with a back patch that declares: EAT PUSSY. CHUG WHISKEY. HAIL SATAN.—which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the day’s festivities.—Owen Morawitz
A sea of Mohawk spikes were at the front of 4ZZZ’s car park stage for Wollongong punks Topnovil, but it was singer Dee Dee’s that towered above us all. The band staggered across the stage and ripped through tracks expressing the virtues of punk rock, screaming “Punk rock is in our hearts”. The afternoon sun was hot, leading to drummer Des to remove his singlet to mop his brow, but the mohawks stood strong and never wilted.—Timothy Byrnes
Standing in the carpark of The Jube, we’re waiting for Australia’s premier dad jokes/punk rock covers act DAD RELIGION to start on the 4ZZZ Stage. Some bloke grabs one of the stools from the Young Henry’s VIP section (which also contains possibly the saddest bowl of uneaten crinkle cut chips we’ve ever seen) and proceeds to balance said stool on his bottom lip and keep it there for a good couple of minutes. Weirdly impressive indeed, yet it only seems to garner him bemused stares and a smattering of mild applause. Tough crowd. Once the band gets going, we’re essentially watching an all-star Aussie line-up (Gordy and Lindsay from Frenzal Rhomb, Grant and Cam from Bodyjar, and Stevie from Clowns) perform a live Punk-O-Rama compilation. At one point, Stevie–replete in some fabulous tiger striped pants–turns to the crowd and cries “You guys like punk rock?” This just in: yeah, they do. Churning through a slate of 90s skate-punk bangers, Too Drunk To Fuck is definitely a highlight, and likely going to be the catch-phrase of the day judging by how freely the beers are flowing right now.—Owen Morawitz
Hailing from Northern New South Wales are the crazy maniacs in Decryptus. They take to the Riffs and Licks stage at 4:30pm and they have a huge crowd there to see them tear apart the room. The floor literally moves as frontman Will Magnusson works the crowd into a frenzy and he belts out each track with ferocity and passion. He invites the crowd to meet him at the merch stand post-set for some chilli eating good times and many oblige, although some may have definitely regretted taking him up on the offer, for his chillies, like Decryptus’s metal, were hotter than hot.— Michelle O’Rance
As the sun set on the carpark, celebrated Brisbane punks Flangipanis bounced onto the stage wearing peach-coloured princess dresses. It was a bittersweet affair; the band is going on hiatus while drummer John recuperates from an upcoming surgery. The band was much better behaved than last year, where their outstanding performance riled up the crowd and nearly made the stage collapse, but they still had plenty of time for shenanigans. Singer Jodie and guitarist Josh both pulled out leaf-blowers with rolls of toilet paper attached, wrapping excited fans as they moshed. Hearing Jodie scream “Suck my dick!” will surely be missed, and here’s hoping their hiatus is as short as one of their songs.
Sydney trio The Dead Love made a great case for the return of grunge. The band hit all the right notes of the genre: soft verses of chiming guitars turning into massive choruses. But just as the band were about to launch into the chorus of new single Wake Up, Clint’s bass went out of tune. After he encouraged everyone to shout at him in unison “Clint’s a fuckwit”, the band hit the song even harder. Miles’ drums shook from the pummelling, and singer/guitarist Stevie screamed the chorus until his lungs were empty.—Timothy Byrnes
From The Jubilee, it’s a short trek up the road to The Tivoli to catch Melbourne metal band Zeolite. These guys know how to command a room and The Tivoli stage is just big enough to contain vocalist Fraser Mainwaring’s rage as he stalks around screaming into his mic. It’s a good sized crowd for the interstaters and they get right into the set as Zeolite know how to put on a huge show and do so with ease.—Michelle O’Rance
After making our way through the labyrinthian passageways of punters and market stalls, we emerge upstairs at the Riffs and Licks Stage to see Brisbane’s own THE CUTAWAYS blast through some straight, no-foolin’ rock and/or roll, and the lack of a line at the bar is a welcome sight indeed. The four-piece rip into some spill-your-beer-and-sing-a-long bangers like the catchy-as-fuck Muscle In, with frontwoman Emmy Haora’s gravelly vocals delivering the perfect amount of hoarse grit. Fill-in skinsman Pete Bosworth of The Disables-fame lends a driving edge to band’s set, standing up at opportune moments to get a proper backswing before he smashes the shit out of his cymbals. It’s shoulder to shoulder here at the Riffs and Licks Stage, and everyone in attendance is digging the The Gaslight Anthem/Bruce Springsteen vibes, including SLF who takes the spilling beer part far too literally, and we also spot a dude dressed as a zombie-mummy-hybrid getting his boogie on up the back. Spooky.—Owen Morawitz
Back down at The Jubilee’s Drum Cartel stage at the deck bar, another interstate band is commanding a huge crowd and after their blistering performance, become a talking point among many. After Lo! step off stage, new-comers are left wondering what they just witnessed while older fans are clamouring for more as the Sydney foursome blistered through their set. The groove-laden, sludgey notes are perfectly accompanied by Sam Dillon’s immense roars and his insane stage presence and they are certainly one of the best on the day.—Michelle O’Rance
Since last playing Dead Of Winter in 2013, Melbourne punks Clowns have become a completely new band. The line-up has changed and they’ve begun exploring new sounds on their last album Lucid Again. One thing that remained is the hyperactive energy of singer Stevie Williams, who whipped his hair and throttled his microphone to his bandmates’ sonic maelstrom. The sound mixing wasn’t the best, with tracks like Pickle barely audible through thick noise. The band sounded best during older tracks like Euthanise Me, with even the screams of fans that had Stevie’s mic shoved in their faces sounding perfect.—Timothy Byrnes
(Please Note – Sound issues during the Clowns set was due to the local council paying a visit, not the sound engineers on the day. Event organisers are already working hard with the local council to assure this won’t happen at future events at The Jubilee Hotel. Clowns still stole the show!) – ED
Venturing up the hill, Brissy boys DEADLIGHTS are working The Tivoli crowd in to a frenzy over on the Young Henry’s Stage. The four-piece are bathed in some sepia hues, with plenty of down-tuned riffs and catchy vocal lines courtesy of the interplay between guitarist Tynan Reibelt and vocalist Dylan Davidson. With plenty of touring under their belt since we saw them last, the band has a super-confident stage presence, with tracks like Attitude and Longitude and The Mad Scientist off their debut record Mesma sounding eclectic and interesting, building off the standard metalcore-meets-post-hardcore template, while also twisting said genres into new and curious forms. The bottom floor of The Tivoli is filling up during their set, and we spy punters upstairs on the balcony (those damn highfalutin VIP’s) banging their heads and singing along.—Owen Morawitz
With their debut record Black Wash officially unleashed upon the world, it’s time for some Campari occult from Melbourne death disco punks PAGAN. Singles like Silver and Death Before Disco give the Tiv crowd a welcome taste of the band’s Tubronegro-meets-Darkthrone aural aesthetic: drummer Matt Marasco’s rolling party hi hat; crunchy bass tones; power chord/tremolo switcheroos; and frontwoman Nikki Brumen’s demonic banshee shriek and formidable dance moves. In a touching moment of solidarity, Brumen confesses to us that Brisbane is by far the band’s favourite place to play (a statement she prefaces by emphasising her penchant for raw honesty in telling everyone that she has no problem going to the toilet with the door open). Old favourites like Luigi Cherubini get a look in also, with Brumen commanding the crowd to raise their hands with closed fingers and do their best Italian stereotype impression. Baba-da-boopie!—Owen Morawitz
Thrash is definitely not dead and Desecrator show just how good the Aussie thrash scene is as they punch through their stage time. The Victorians are brutal and full of energy and command a huge, boisterous mosh. Bashing through their tracks they played a tight set that shows why they are at the top of their game and the crowd roars back their appreciation as they clearly think so too.—Michelle O’Rance
After hours of moshing at the car park stage, the pace slowed for American blues rockers Radio Moscow. The trio were tight throughout their stoned jams, often locking eyes and communicating the next direction. Parker Griggs’ muscular guitar wailed and growled riffs and solos, and the rhythms of bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone layered deep grooves for the entranced crowd to nod to.—Timothy Byrnes
Rather than giving a journalistic blow-by-blow of Sydney groove metal three-piece BLACK RHENO’s set, here’s an anecdote that sums up the entire thing rather succinctly: Mid-way through the set, while drummer Dougy and guitarist Nano are slamming through some new material off their soon-to-released debut album, vocalist Milla jumps headfirst into the crowd. He starts off crowd-surfing, then being somehow vertical but not on the ground, then actually on the ground in the pit, before appearing on someone’s shoulders, scaling a ground-floor railing and pulling himself up to the balcony level, leaping over another railing, and then screaming into a bunch of people’s faces as the band charges on. To finish, Milla then climbs back over said railing, and jumps back in to the crowd from the balcony level and miraculously reappears back on stage before the song ends. Fucking metal. Two horns up.—Owen Morawitz
The night air is starting to cool, but things are definitely hotter than ever inside The Jubilee after the sun has set. Nancy Vandal continues the party going with their fast-paced style of punk and rock’n’roll and their fans are loving every minute of it. A cameo from JJ Speedball ups the ante even more and the party gets even more wild as they belt out their classics. – Michelle O’Rance
A special treat for punters came in the form of cult rock trio Pangaea, who have reunited at the request of the festivals’ organisers. Featuring Regurgitator’s Ben Ely, Resin Dogs’ Dave Atkins, and guitarist Jimi Sinclair, the band were a hit on the 90s’ Brisbane scene, and the love remained strong during their set. It’s been some time since the band played together, and before one track Ben asked Jimi, “Are you sure you want to play this song?” When Jimi affirmatively responded, Ben shook his wrists out and warned, “This song always fucks us up. We might have to do it twice. Maybe three times”. They nailed it in the first go, working up a sweat of solos from each of the members, and a lot of bass slapping and tapping from Ben.—Timothy Byrnes
The wunderkids from New Zealand Alien Weaponry have sparked a lot of talk with their unique brand of Maori Thrash and a large crowd has turned out to the Drum Cartel stage to see if they can live up to the hype. They start a little slowly but soon warm up and the crowd get right into their set. Singing in both English and Te Reo Māori, the mosh scream the words back at them as they are worked into a frenzy by the teenagers. They are definitely one to watch.—Michelle O’Rance
It’s getting late by the time we watch OCEAN GROVE do their thing, and we’ve punched a thousand beers at this point (also shots; RIP memory). Said thing is mostly early 2000s nu metal passed through a metalcore filter, and it’s all very sick. Vocalist Luke Holmes is wearing all white, like he’s in a Puff Daddy clip, and bassist Dale Tanner has a B-movie villain, Mad Max get-up on. Notable tracks like Beers, Thunderdome, Stratosphere Love and the raging Intimate Alien from their powerhouse album The Rhapsody Tapes land very well into the sizeable Tiv crowd. Drummer and studio sensation Sam Bassal drops some colossal fills around piles of riffs courtesy of guitarists Jimmy Hall and Matt Henley, and the mix of catchy cleans and rap parts in the anthemic Lights on Kind of Lover gets the crowd rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ indeed. Also, at some point during the set, SLF reappears next to us with not one, but two pieces of pizza smuggled into the pockets of her jacket like delicious contraband. Incredible.—Owen Morawitz
The party is definitely at its peak by the time the pirate kings in Lagerstein hit the beer garden. While they are competing with Frenzal Rhomb they still have a packed floor, full of their faithful fans ready to headbang along to their folk metal anthems. It’s a solid set as always from the pirates, led by their Captain Gregar, and they bounce through crowd favourites, drink from their beer bongs and generally cause a ruckus as they close out the Hysteria stage.—Michelle O’Rance
The 4ZZZ Car Park Stage overflowed with fans for the stage’s closing act, shit-stirrers and legendary punks (they proudly state they once had a song on Neighbours) Frenzal Rhomb. The stirring came early as the band arrived onstage to John Farnham’s Pressure Down, which guitarist Lindsay McDougall howled along to, much to singer Jason Whalley’s displeasure.
“Have you guys got any requests you want to hear particularly?” Jason asked the massive crowd. Fans erupted with song titles, some louder than others. Fans may have had their personal favourites, but no one could contain themselves when each song began.
By the time Russell Crowe’s Band was played, more people began pushing their way through the crowd to shout with everyone the song’s chorus, “At least we know that Russell Crowe’s band’s a fucking pile of shit!” Loudest of all was Never Had So Much Fun, which Jason let the crowd scream to their hearts’ content into each other’s faces and Fortitude Valley’s night sky.
There isn’t really much we need to say about metalcore upstarts POLARIS that hasn’t already been covered in other live reviews (ours included). The young Sydney quintet are crazy talented, super tight and utterly monstrous live: titanic breakdowns driven by the chugs of guitarists Rick Schneider and Ryan Siew, thunderous drums from skinsman Daniel Furnari and soaring vocals from bassist Jake Steinhauser and vocalist Jamie Hails. Last time we saw the band at the Tiv was opening for Aussie legends Parkway Drive, and there’s a notable sense of familiarity in their set tonight. Standout tracks like the crushing Lucid, The Slow Decay and the rock-riff anthem The Remedy from their album The Mortal Coil work over the Tiv crowd, and we see more pit action here for their set than we’ve seen all day. If Dead of Winter didn’t get the better of us, then this Polaris absolutely did. What a time.—Owen Morawitz