Cast your memory back to the Big Day Outs of the nineties – the choking dust, the sweat-dripping crowds, the never-ending queues for the bar and the unforgettable portaloos. But none of that seemed to matter when you were 19, you were there for the music and the music only right? Fast forward twenty years and we’re now lucky enough to have Hotter Than Hell, a boutique-style Big Day Out, back for its second year at Gold Coast Broadwater Parklands. Aimed at taking punters on a trip down memory lane, the festival prides itself on showcasing the best of Australian and New Zealand rock from the 90’s for the crowd who, let’s be honest, are 20 years older now as well. This year’s cracker line up featured Area 7, 28 Days, Bodyjar, Killing Heidi, Shihad and Spiderbait and given the Gold Coast’s reputation for its love of rock music, Hotter Than Hell was an inferno to say the least.
As the burning sun beat down on the crowd’s heads, 28 Days fired things up even more, delivering a tight set that packed a punch. With intensely fast drumming and guitar riffs, the guys had the crowd singing along to old favourites such as ‘Goodbye’, ‘I Remember’, ‘Say What’ and ‘Stealing Chairs’. Amidst self-deprecating humorous banter between the band, as well as political rants and non-stop hits, 28 Days set the scene for the evening ahead.
Age doesn’t seem to have affected Tom Read and Cam Baines who took to the stage as if they’d only just stopped performing at all those 1990’s Big Day Outs yesterday. With their old-school punk influences, the boys belted out classics such as ‘Good Intentions’, ‘You Say’ and ‘No Payback’. As the sun began to set, the crowd also loosened up (might have had something to do with the fact it was no longer 40 degrees) and the Gold Coast rocked out to their ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ cover, reminding us all, just how good Bodyjar were, and let’s be honest, still are.
Can you believe that Ella Hooper was only 13 when she started Killing Heidi? So it wasn’t too surprising to see that she still looks amazing and her vibrant, feminine energy on stage was a refreshing change from the male-dominated line-up. Asking us to ‘tap into our teenage angst’ (Teenage?! More like middle-age angst!) the crowd happily sung along to old favourites like ‘Calm Down’, ‘Heavensent’ and ‘Superman’, revelling in her powerful voice and meaningful lyrics. Although the 90’s might have been their time to shine, it’s without a doubt Killing Heidi remain significant in the story of Australian music, especially when a song like ‘Weir’ has the entire festival dancing, hugging and singing along.
If this isn’t New Zealand’s best export, then God knows what is. Jon Toogood is literally, too good. Celebrating 30 years of playing music, and 20 years since the release of ‘General Electric’, Shihad had the crowd eating out of their hands from the minute they came on stage. ‘Alive’, ‘Comfort Me’, ‘Pacifier’, ‘Run’ and the absolute classic, ‘General Electric’ were just some of the songs they belted out, but the band is more than just rocking guitars, cohesive sets and heart-felt lyrics. Shihad’s stage presence is indescribable and one that is not to be missed. I guess in a nutshell, we should be hoping the guys keep playing for another 30 years and migrate to Australia.
One word. Kram. Yes, Janet and Whit hold the fort with epic bass and guitar work, but seriously, Kram must be one of the best drummers in the Australian music industry. This guy owned the show and had the crowd obediently doing whatever he asked, be it clapping, yodelling or head banging. Drum solos aplenty, the set was also packed full of all-time classics such as ‘Calypso, ‘Buy Me a Pony’, which unfortunately was marred by technical issues, and ‘Hot Water and Milk’. The band were absolutely rock solid (pardon the pun) throughout their energetic and lively set, thrilling the crowd with an epic version of ‘Old Man Sam’ and finishing off with their explosive ‘Black Betty’ cover.
If all of these bands are deemed to be ‘Hotter Than Hell’, I’m more than happy to bypass the pearly white gates when my time has come.
IMAGES (c) Danny Santangelo