Dead of Winter festival is an event where black clad, long haired folk gather together to enjoy bands from genres encompassing metal, rock, and punk, all of which roared life into the Valley on a sleepy Saturday afternoon. Not only were there were masks, a hell of a lot of black jeans, thrashy beats and the absolute necessity for earplugs, there was was also some god damn fucking great music, which as Richard Hunt, lead singer of HITS highlighted, continues to be the one thing that despite the deluge of social media, connects people and creates a sense of community.
As the day progressed and one hardcore band played after the other, one thing did cross my mind. Why don’t Butter Menthols sponsor Dead of Winter? Surely, from a business perspective, it would make sense and everyone, in particular the frontmen, would benefit!
With six stages set up at The Tivoli and Jubilee Hotel, the intense mosh pits, shout-a-longs and crowd surfers highlighted the fact that there was nothing dead about the festival at all.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, I was lucky enough to catch the following bands:
From Crisis to Collapse
Hailing from Byron Bay, these guys wasted no time getting straight into the intense head banging, neck gyrating songs as vocalist, Angus Carter, clad in a tie-dyed shirt with ‘die hippie scum’ scrawled on the front of it, roared his way through the set. With his guttural screams and no doubt, meaningful lyrics (lets be honest, metal is hard to decipher without a lyrics sheet) to a loyal crowd, these guys took no prisoners. Given the fact their usual drummer was out of action and they’d recruited one only the day before, From Crisis to Collapse played a solid set and were one of the more impressive opening acts of the festival.
After battling through some technical difficulties like true professionals, HAMMERS brought some Australiana rock and roll to the adoring crowd at the Jubilee. With frontman, Leigh ‘Fish’ Dowling and guitarist, Lucas Stone, showcasing their melodic harmonies, alongside some ear-plug piercing guitars, these guys brought some seriously great music to the early afternoon crowd. Playing hits like ‘Speak of the Devil’, ‘Volcanoes’ and ‘Guilty Pleasures’, HAMMERS are without a doubt one of my new favourite Australian rock bands.
These guys were like Peep Temple meets the Pixies, with their enigmatic front man, citing ‘I thought this was a fancy dress festival, I came dressed as Michael Hutchence and now I feel fucking ridiculous’ as well as the two incredible female vocalists, who really showed the audience how to rock. Rolling out songs like ‘Take Your Pills’ and ‘Sometimes You Just Know Who Your Friends Are’, this Brisbane band with some serious attitude (in a pulverising, fabulous way) injected some serious energy to the crowd, who lapped up every minute.
Clad in white and blood soaked from mouth to chest, Flangipanis made a visual and aural impact. Playing both old and new material, the female front woman Jodie and her fellow band mates thrummed out some non-PC punk meets rock tunes that had the packed outdoor stage at the Jubilee jumping, head banging and rocking out. With great harmonies and tight riffs, Flangpanis are definitely a band to keep a sharp eye one. Not a flower in sight for the record.
Geez these guys were amazing. There truly is no other way to describe them other than they brought the clear, crisp desert air and those open, starry skies to the Tivoli stage. A Kyuss tribute that featured the former Kyuss/QOSTA bassist Nick Oliveri, alongside members of Dead Letter Circus, The Butterfly Effect, The Black Armada and The Royal Artillery was, funnily enough, one of the most anticipated sets of the festival. Professional, cool, calm and fucking collected, these guys truly were incredible to catch, with their music bringing Arizona and Joshua Tree to Australia. Reeling out a couple of Queens of the Stone Age hits, such as ‘Song for the Dead’ and ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’, as well as a plethora of their own music, these guys brought their already incredible set to a captivated crowd. Here’s hoping Kyuss Dies lives for a while yet.
With a packed crowd brimming with anticipation it was great to see funk rock stalwarts Mammal take to the stage for an energetic and memorable performance. Frontman Ezekiel knows how to hold a crowd in the palm of his hand, whilst in a sense, spitting on them at the same time. With their energetic bassist, Nick Adams leaping (literally) around the stage, talented lead guitarist, Pete Williamson and drummer, Zane Rosanoski keeping it all together, Ezekiel was left to work his magic, both musically and performance wise. Rolling out hits like ‘The Majority’, ‘Mr Devil’ and ‘Clear Enough’, Mammal’s angsty stage presence and feisty lyrics had the mosh pit going crazy.
‘Unless you’re fucking disabled, you’d better start clapping.’
What a poet. It was all the audience needed for the set to transform into a highly energetic and charged performance, which hopefully leaves us seeing more of Mammal in 2019.
To wrap up the festival,it came down to a choice between Disentomb and Cog and given the fact I’d caught my fair share of metal for one day, Cog were my pick.
Cog had the Tivoli packed to the rafters and as always, didn’t disappoint. Although they endured a couple of fairly significant technical issues part way through their set, Lucius’ incredible professionalism saw him rebooting the computer, giving instructions to tech support and drumming – all at the same time. That man truly is an enigma and for the record, managed to fix the problem. Rolling out hits such as ‘The Middle’, ‘My Enemy’, ‘Birds of A Feather’ and ‘Anarchy OK’, Cog honestly seem to improve with age. For a three piece, Luke, Flynn and Lucius create a incredibly powerful sound, complete with thoughtful lyrics and compositions, that leaves the crowd, almost literally, gasping for air. With crescendos and build ups that either rivet you to the stage, or have you singing along, Cog are a band that have made a mark on the Australian music industry and will no doubt continue to awe, inspire and rock Australian audiences well into the future.
IMAGE: Cog gig in February 2019 (c) Dan Maynard Photography