Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer.
Photos by Luke Sangiorgio – Full gallery to come!
The annual Dead Of Winter Festival is something I look forward to every year along with a lot of other festival goers and live music fans! This year, Dead Of Winter is in it’s 10th year of bringing Brisbane a massive day and night of live music and so much more. For the second year the festival was spread across two of our best live music venues, the Jubilee Hotel and The Tivoli. This year we were treated to 6 stages and 62 bands along with sideshows, food vans, the SFX makeup competition, alternative market stalls, more merch than you can poke a stick at, and bars stocked full of Young Henrys, Fireball and all the rest! All this is thanks to the hard work, dedication and passion from event organiser, Carolyn Bedford and her team of amazing creative musical souls including Christian Tryhorn, Jason Frame and so many more.
Arriving at The Tivoli early, jumping out of my uber I was greeted to the warmest winter sunshine and a line up of festival goers, bands and media all keen to kick off the day. Stepping into the familiar darkness, mustiness from concerts gone by and always slightly too cold air conditioning of The Tivoli I was ready for what the day and night would bring. Greeting friends from the moment I stepped in the door and then heading out to the carpark into the warm sun again to suss out the outdoor stage. I have never seen an outdoor stage at The Tiv before and it really worked perfectly. The Young Henrys stage was set up to the back of the car park next to the beautiful mural painted on the wall that I adore every time I see it.
The mood was set, mother nature had delivered a perfectly warm and sunny day and the first band to kick off the whole show was local rockers, Blue Savannah Underworld. What a way to start the day. These guys have not been around long, but they blow me away every time I see them. Seeing them on an outdoor stage so early was a big difference to catching them at Tomcat sometime after midnight where I usually see them play. It’s a big deal being the first band opening such a huge festival and I could feel the nerves from the band for about 2 seconds before they pelted out the same high level of musical magic they deliver every time. Even with friends rolling in the gates and people saying hi and other distractions, I had my eyes on the stage and was grooving along for their whole set. Although I did dash inside to the Fireball stage catch one song from local prog pop rockers, Patient Lounge who just wrapped up their ‘All You Want’ East Coast Tour yesterday at Peregian Originals on the Sunshine Coast. I managed to catch the single itself, All You Want which always reminds me a little of a COG track. And all I could think was, a few hours later COG will be gracing the same stage!
Time for a stroll in the sunshine to the Jube where I would spend most of the rest of my day. One of my all-time favourite bands, Hammers where set to rock up the Riffs & Licks stage and as always, they delivered a top shelf performance. Being the first band on this stage, they had some sound difficulties for the first song, but as always, handled this like the complete professionals they are with frontman, Leigh ‘Fish’ Dowling jumping from mic to mic to sing until his was sorted, all while rocking out hard and being polite to the soundie. True gentlemen these blokes. Adding to the reasons I love them. Not only that but they were also celebrating drummer, Ruckus Lucas’s birthday AND they made us FAIRY BREAD! What absolute bloody champions! They played a mean set including my personal fave to sing along with, Golden Gloves. What a tune. What a performance. What a band.
After getting all hot and sweaty watching Hammers, it was time to hit the big 4ZZZ outdoor stage for some Something Something Explosion. A special gig for them with it being their drummer, Nayth Marshall’s last show with the band. I love watching this band perform, from the hard-hitting punk tunes, to the banter between frontwoman, Grace Drummond and bass player, Daimon Motby, you are always in for a fun show. Grace delivered her usual beautifully delivered performance, with a mix of grace (pardon the pun) and punk rock attitude that fans know and love.
Watching most of their set but ducking back into the Riffs & Licks stage to catch some of Sydney’s sludgy doom metallers, Potion whom I had on my ‘must see’ list for the day after discovering them not long ago. I managed to catch one song before I was off again to my next destination. Back out to the 4ZZZ stage to catch some Whiskey & Speed. Now I have been a fan of these guys for some time but had never seen them live until yesterday and I loved every minute of their performance. From glitter bombs to a bright pink penis shaped piñata with a smiling face on it, they gave us all we could want and more! Their interaction with the crowd was constant and fun, with frontman, Dayne Kersnovske announcing at one point “We are organic, free range, fully sustainable and family owned” before jumping into another track. Faces painted with what I could only describe as some kind of zombie Hello Kitty look and bass player, Loki in his usual rainbow attire, Whiskey & Speed were a clear stand out for me. Grungy, punky rockers with that added sparkle, they are most certainly my cup of tea. Whiskey & Speed are the next big thing and if they are not at least they gave us a penis piñata at this years DOW. The guys have got an awesome new shirt too, designed by Kersnovske. I totally forgot to go buy one with all the madness of the day, but I will be purchasing one as soon as I can. Check out their Facebook page to grab a shirt from them. You’ll be glad you did.
Next stop was the Hysteria stage in the Jubilee beer garden to catch a bit of Tai Sui’s set. There has been a lot of hype around this band for a while now and I can see why. Their blend of musical genres creates a unique sound that appeals to many. Sporting matching outfits that looked like pyjamas or some kind of bad (yet beautiful) 90’s tracksuit, they totally rocked their set. Though I had to move from where I was initially standing because of the reverb on the vocals. It took away from the beauty and strength of frontwoman Alexis Tarja’s powerful vocals but moving back had that fixed and I was able to appreciate and take in the sound that is Tai Sui. They remind me of some kind of perfected mix of No Doubt mixed with a much heavier sound and the energy of all four of them was something to behold.
Oh my heart. Next on the Riffs & Licks stage was one of my absolute favourite Melbourne metal bands, ÂME NOIRE. I found the horror that is ÂME NOIRE a year or so ago now and have been madly in love with them ever since. Last time I saw them, they were on tour with another fave Melbourne metal band, Hollow World and I was so stoked to see them again! I know when putting on a festival with the calibre of bands on the line up extremely high, it is hard to have everyone on later obviously, but I would have loved to have seen these guys on later. However, their time slot certainly did not take away from the brilliance of their set. These guys never fail to satisfy their fans and all those watching with frontman Alex Hill’s signature moves of letting spit drip from his lips, contorting his body and hanging himself with his mic chord and the rest of the band just fucking killing it every time, their performance is a gift to the ears and the eyes. If you love death metal and grind, you’ll love ÂME NOIRE and I urge you to check them out if you haven’t already. HAIL HORROR!
I missed the end of their set to rush upstairs to the Drum Cartel stage and catch some Nowhere Else. But alas I could barely see them due to how many people were packed into the small upstairs room to see them! From what I could see and hear they were at their usual high standard of hard rocking brilliance. It’s always so hot at the upstairs stage and even more so when it’s really packed! The heat coming from the room was crazy, not just from all the bodies in the room but from the band killing it on the small stage.
Radolescent were next and after seeing them at Halloween Hysteria last year I was super keen to catch them again. Unfortunately, the guys had some sound difficulties and a few moments where their set was interrupted for various things, but they still managed to deliver a performance that had myself and other fans dancing our butts off and loving every minute.
Piston Fist hit the stage next and this time I made sure I made my way to the front before it packed out. Surrounded by a lot of the local metal crew, I was keen to see what Piston Fist had to offer. These guys are super popular right now, playing heaps of gigs and with much talk about them throughout the local music world. They certainly lived up to the hype. Sludgy goodness with a likeness to some early Metallica and maybe even some Pantera. They are really talented, and they had metal fans eating out of their hands or fists? Whatever. They were killer. I can’t wait to see them again!
Back outside to the 4ZZZ stage again to catch a band I had been hanging to see and had at the top of my list of bands not to miss. All the way from Moscow and Milan, the in your face thrashcore punk sounds of SVETLANAS. With frontwoman, Olga sporting a cut off midriff top that stated, ‘Nazi Trump Fuck Off!’ she proceeded to take to that stage like she fucking owned it! I have a long list of amazing frontwomen whom I adore going back to my teens and my obsession with Courtney Love but I don’t think I have ever witnessed a frontwoman as relentlessly full of energy and passion as Olga Svetlanas. The band also has a member most would know and recognise, Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age) and his performance was great too but my eyes barely left Olga, she has a presence that mesmerises. Dubbed as ‘the most dangerous band in the world’, they are by far one of my standout bands for the whole day and night.
I stayed at the 4ZZZ stage to catch some of our resident punkers that always bring the party to DOW, Flangipanis! Dressed in their Andrew WK-esq outfits with white shirts and blood, they took the stage with their usual style, blow up beach balls and fish being thrown into the crowds and the now famous leaf blowers shooting toilet paper at everyone. I just love Flange and had to tear myself away, I caught a song or two before rushing off to my next destination!
Heading to the Hysteria stage, the next band was also one on my list of bands not to miss. Kaosis. Holy shit. I posted a status saying ‘Ok Kaosis, I am done’ with the love heart eyes emoji. Because in all seriousness. I was fucking done. This band is like nothing else. Like no one else. Like pure magic. They took my breath away. An eclectic mix of genres blended with musicians and performers who were clearly born to be in the spotlight and perform for the masses, they stole the show. Each band member has their own unique personality and style and their show is both visually stunning and engaging and their music is just something else. With Monshi and Om3n changing masks and hyping the crowd with electric green laser beams shooting from their fingers, the energy this band creates is insane. I just can’t put into words what it is like to see Kaosis live. Just go see them as soon as you can, you’ll thank me later. New Zealand has got something magical with Kaosis and I can’t wait for them to come back to Brisbane so I can experience their live set all over again.
Next I caught a few songs from Lo! another favourite Melbourne metal band. They never fail to have me in awe of their pure awesomeness with frontman, Sam Dillon capturing his audience with his signature way of contorting his body and staring into your soul as he pelts out song after song of sludgy metal that hits you in the chest and fills you with a feeling of not just wanting, but needing more.
Finally, it was time to head back to The Tivoli. A band I have ached to see for many moons was next to take to the Young Henrys stage. Mammal. At this point, the last few bands I had seen had been super high energy and I was a tad exhausted from the sheer size of the day and night and the amount of jumping around and energy I had so far expelled. Not to mention the emotion of it all. I am a highly sensitive and feeling music loving soul and I don’t just hear and see the music; I feel it deep in my soul. I wasn’t sure how much more I could take but oh my heart! Mammal were next level. Frontman, Ezekiel Ox has such a powerful presence. As does his stunning girlfriend whom I happened to be standing with while watching their set. I felt this performance on a deep level. Mammal’s songs are brilliant musically but also all have a strong message with them. Political rock at it’s finest. Peaceful protests through music and singing about things that matter always captures me. The place was packed, and everyone was clearly entranced by their performance.
The entranced feeling moved on with me to the next band. Inside to the Fireball stage for COG. ‘In COG we trust.’ And indeed, we do. I have had the pleasure of reviewing COG before and they never fail to mesmerise and entrance me and all those in their presence. I caught the first few songs before having to call it a night and go get some much needed food and a cold water to refresh after a massive day and night. They played two of my favourites before I had to bail, Are You Interested? and What If to a backdrop of bold and bright magenta and yellow lights. A photographers dream. And watching them had me in a dream-like state.
There were many bands I missed as I just could not be in so many places all at once! Shout out to all those I missed. I am sure your sets were as brilliant as the ones I caught and from what friends have told me, I did miss some amazing sets! Special shout out to some local bands I love and was gutted to miss, From Crisis To Collapse and Swamp Gully Howlers.
Well what can I say!? Dead Of Winter 2019 was an epic and extremely successful event. With just over 3,000 people through the doors, it was a day and night of live music from bands who blew me away, good times and memories that I will hold with me forever. The thing about Dead Of Winter too, is that it is like one big reunion of friends and creative music loving souls who all come together for something we all love with a passion; live music. There is nothing like looking around at an event such as this and seeing all the live music photographers I know, all the writers, event organisers, stage managers, stagehands, soundies, bands, musicians, artists, fans and friends and just soaking it all in.
Thank you for everything Dead Of Winter. Until next year! …Now if you’ll excuse me, I shall take at least a week of recovery time.
Dead Of Winter Festival is presented by Dead Entertainment, Beats Cartel, Supercrazy and Fireball Whisky as well as support from Young Henrys, Beserk, Hysteria Mag, Via Studios, Riffs and Licks Music, Scenestr, 4ZZZ and The Drum Cartel.