Festival Review: Halloween Hysteria III (Finally), Brisbane Australia, 2/4/22

After several false starts due to the rampaging pandemic, the punk and metal festival, Halloween Hysteria, hit the ground running with a sonic boom last weekend.

Some of the best punk, rock and metal bands from across Australia joined with a stellar local lineup for Hysteria Mag’s rescheduled annual Halloween Hysteria festival.

Over 30 bands performed across three stages at the Mansfield Tavern. The Rebel FM, The Faction and Sounds of the Underground stages were the platforms for a plethora of heavy-hitting Aussie talent.

Thanks to Hysteria Media, Punktuation Magazine had the punk bands covered with punk reviewers Tracey Moyle and Natalie Blacklock ready to review.

Punk rock trio Something Something Explosion has been working tirelessly since their days of playing almost every support slot at The Spotted Cow in Toowoomba. The band, who now calls Victoria home, couldn’t hide their excitement to be back in Queensland for the third attempt at this iteration of Halloween Hysteria.

Grace Drummond something something explosion
Grace Drummond Something Something Explosion Credit: SSE Facebook

Charismatic frontwoman Grace Drummond kicked off the festivities, taking command of the small but energetic crowd. They ripped through opening tracks, including Disappointment, which Drummond explained was “a song about how my mum wanted me to be a primary school music teacher and I don’t want that”.

The set gained pace with the heavy-hitting Gasoline and the Bodyjar and Blink-182-esque stylings of Burn It Down. They closed their set with the emotional Bennett’s Song, allowing for a moment of quiet reflection.

We Set Signals opened the Sounds of the Underground stage with a ferocity and passion that this punk/metalcore band have become renowned for. Their local popularity was evident in the impressively populated room ready for one of the days opening acts.

Opening to the gathering crowd like they were opening a stadium show, vocalist Nick Wilkinson pulled the room in for the ride from the first number. WSS played through their popular tracks, dedicated fans joining in. The band belted out The Disconnect, Meet Me At The Starlight Drive-In and Remember Me, amongst other fan favourites. The crowd’s vocal cords were nicely warming up for a day of live punk and metal.

Halloween Hysteria III
We Set Signals © Tracey Moyle.

Flangipanis have become a staple on the local punk scene, entertaining fans consistently for over a decade.   Their stage presence reflects their years on the scene when they take to the Rebel FM main stage. Their punk ethos runs through their veins, and the crowd are fans happy to be there.

Vocalist Jodie Flangipani (Lawlor) works like a seasoned pro for the crowd. With covid still causing havoc, the band announced a fill-in drummer, one of many replacements for the festival.

The tracks are quintessential punk, short, sharp and loud. They know they are there for a short time, but the band make it worth the while, fitting in as many tracks as possible for their allocated slot.

Flangipanis. Photo © Hysteria Mag

The intros are short but say it all: “This song is about consensual sex with Dana Scully, This song is about Stupid Queensland Cops, This song is about fuckheads”. The crowd lap it up.

Back at the REBEL FM Main Stage, the ever-provocative and always entertaining These New South Whales were front and centre. Not just a band but also the stars of their own “semi-real” Mockumentary series on Comedy Central, which tracks their day-to-day lives as a band.

Since forming in 2011, the band have developed a solid and dedicated following. Wearing significantly more clothes than when they played at BIGSOUND 2019, the band got right into their set with Space In Hell and Remote Control before frontman Jamie Timony got his rig out for You Work For Us and the short, sharp No Bridge Left To Burn. Concluding their set with the catchy back-to-back of Cholesterol Heart (God Bless Ya) and Nerve 2 Reverse saw a quality moshpit moment take over the Rock Arena floor.

Halloween Hysteria
Halloween Hysteria Photo: Alex Nisiriou / @nisi.pix

Known for their infectious riffs and high energy, Bare Bones were ready to make some noise. Competing with the NRL game on the screen at one end of the Sports Bar wasn’t going to be easy, but these lads sure knew how to demand attention. New single, House of Static (the 2nd single from an EP to be released this year), set the bar high early, as the band honed in on their signature guitar-driven hardcore punk sound with frontman Tom Kennedy delivering an intense performance that ebbed and flowed seamlessly between melodic and scream.

Death Bed Visions encouraged the crowd to get moving, and closer, Crawl The Night blended some good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll with a catchy AF chorus, showcasing just how far the band has come in the decade they’ve been making music together.

Melbourne outfit LOSER definitely lived up to the slogan emblazoned on the t-shirt sported by frontman Tim Maxwell; ‘Stadium dreams on a bedroom budget’ as they exuded raucous, raw energy, recreating the quintessential slacker punk-rock sound of the 1990s.

Looser by Wild Rose Pictures
Looser © Wild Rose Pictures

Featuring frontman and guitarist Tim Maxwell (Apart From This / Grim Rhythm) and Craig Selak (ex-The Bennies) on bass, the lads had The Faction stage pumping as they smashed through a strong opening section featuring Mindless Joy, Get It All Out, and All The Rage, before Maxwell broke a string.

The day was quickly saved by Grace Drummond from Something Something Explosion, who lent the band her guitar so the show could go on. Tracks including Up All Night and Time Won’t Wait were a clear hit with the crowd – even Domestic La La boss and Violent Soho guitarist James Tidswell was partying down the front. Closing their set with self-titled track and certified banger Loser, it’s evident that LOSER is in it for the long haul – and we’re so damn keen!

Stepson took over the main stage. The ferocity of a Hardcore/metalcore influence takes this genre-melding band to the edge of chaos. With Covid running rampant through the country, their guitarists were down with the spicy cough. But in this tight music community, there are always fill-ins to make sure the show goes ahead.

The room was comfortably full, and a mini mosh pit took some form upfront not long into the set. With punk influences stretching far and wide, Stepson has created its own brand of high octane hardcore. The fans were in full force, warming up the pipes joining in with the band hit Deeper Sleep. Stepson provided an energy burst to take the crowd through the day.

Making the trek from Sydney, punk rockers, Fangz play to the crowd adding a full dose of fun. Unlike their video for their latest track, Falling Is Pretty Normal, the band were fully clothed in their matching overalls. The boys looked like they could be there to work, but there were there to party. Getting the crowd moving, vocalist Joshua Cottreau freely banters with the crowd, taking fans into track Self Medicate.

FANGZ © Fangz Facebook
FANGZ © Fangz Facebook

Cotterau gets up on the hands of the crowd and takes the crowd back to the early days with Wastr. Pandemic restrictions feel like a distant memory. There will be no more sitting down at shows, and Fangz is making sure of it with mosh pits back in force with full encouragement from the band. The crowd are all in with One For You One For Me Fangz owned the Faction stage and filled the room as expected from a band that earlier in the year held a four-week sold-out residency in Sydney’s inner-west.

JJ Speedball hit the stage, bringing old school punk to the Underground stage. Ex Scrumfeeder, Speedball was introduced onto the stage in a way that would get any wrestling fan pumped and ready. His band was a who’s who of Brisbane music stalwarts with Tommy Kreeper (The Wrath) on drums, Kev Lemming (Stone Chimp, Eat City) on guitar and Clint Mahoney (Eat City) on bass.

Speedball’s brand of cherry rock is loaded with old school punk influence and attitude. His presence is wasted on this small stage, belting out Cherry On Top; his energy levels rival the younger bands working the stages around him.

JJ Speedball
JJ Speedball Photo: © Tracey Moyle

His music is close to his heart and his home, with tracks centring around his hometown. Speedball announced he’d be 60 next year, proving age is just a number. His energy and passion for what he does prove that music is ageless. JJ finished his set with the track Southsider holding up the giant sign prompting the audience to join in. The energy hung in the room even long after everyone left to see the next show.

The crowd were rearing to go as Sydneysiders Redhook took to the REBEL FM Main Stage. Unleashing the cathartic and vocally aggressive new single Low Budget Horror (on its first live play ever) followed by the hypnotic Cure 4 Psycho, frontwoman Emmy Mack held the crowd in the palm of her hands as she energetically bounded around the stage.

The set was jam-packed with guests as Stevie Knight from The Dead Love filled in on guitar, allowing guitarist Craig Wilkinson to whip out some sexy Saxophone on I Don’t Keep Up, spurring on a ‘saxophone circle pit’. Finishing off their set in style, members of The Last Martyr, Fangz and Something Something Explosion joined the band on stage, with a stack of spooky beach balls in hand, to combine for a stellar performance of Bad Decisions.

Halloween Hysteria
Redhook – Photo: Alex Nisiriou / @nisi.pix

Spiderbait has played more shows than all the bands on today’s lineup combined. They walk onto the main stage, chatting and sharing their gratitude for everyone. Most fans have been with them for the last three decades of their alternative/punk rock career.

Then Shazam, the show begins. The fans are there to hear the hits, and Janet gets them jumping with Outta My Head. Their songs are as varied as the fans that love them. The band are so relaxed that the stage comes across as a second home. They tell their fans, “your Fucking Awesome”. Kram riles the crowd with some ‘oh yeahs’ before heading into mosh pit to smash Old Man Sam. The old staples are there Calypso, Buy Me a Pony and Monty all bringing out the best of the crowd. Finishing the set with their smash cover of Black Betty, Spiderbait delivered what the fans expected – a killer show.

Melbourne punk rockers Captives set The Faction stage on fire, the five-piece with fill-in a bassist for the night, Hammers, Ricky T. The band had just dropped their latest album Return To Mars and were ready to play some new music to the hungry crowd.

They powered into a new track from the album, Buried & Bones, as tight as seasoned pros. They confirmed to anyone in earshot why Captives are one of the country’s fast-rising punk bands. They power through tracks from the new album, including Villian, Gold and Miles Away. Vocalist Aaron Damon is a force to be reckoned with, belting out each track with thunderous intensity. The energy in the room was intense as the band finished their set, and fans roared their approval.

Halloween Hysteria
Clowns – Photo: Alex Nisiriou / @nisi.pix

No one can question the work ethic of Melbourne 5-piece, Clowns, who’ve been peddling their unique genre-bending brand of punk rock since their inception in 2009.

Through multiple lineup changes and a string of successful albums, Clowns have become synonymous for their wild live shows and stage-climbing antics, proving not only that they’re one of the most exciting bands Australia has to offer, but they’re a band that you NEED to see live.

The last act to take on the Mansfield Rock Arena stage for the day opened with I Shaved My Legs For You before smashing through a scorching start to the set, which saw frontman Stevie Williams almost spend more time offstage than on it, as the crowd surfed the night away without missing a beat.

The band let rip on crowd favourites, including Euthanise Me, Pickle and Destroy The Evidence, which well and truly opened up the pit and turned up the heat! Frontman Williams took a moment to poignantly acknowledge how far the band and their fans had come in the last ten years before the band dropped Powders taken from their debut record ‘I’m Not Right’.

Proclaiming “We don’t do fucking encores”, Clowns closed out their set and Halloween Hysteria for another year with Never Enough, providing the crowd one last mosh, topping off a stellar day down at the Manny Tav.

Halloween Hysteria
Clowns – Photo: Alex Nisiriou / @nisi.pix

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