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Live Review: Halloween Hysteria was spook-tacular!

5 April 2022 | 2:47 pm | Doug Goobanko
Originally Appeared In

If we can have Christmas in July, why can't we have Halloween in April?

(Christopher Roese)

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Review by Doug Goobanko, Photos by Christopher Roese

If we can have Christmas in July, why can't we have Halloween in April?
Well that's exactly what we had on Saturday! In a now all too familiar tale, lingering border restrictions and lockdowns in 2021 forced Halloween Hysteria to postpone - but the wait was worth it.

Spread across three indoor stages at the Mansfield Tavern - The Faction Sports Bar, Sounds of the Underground Garden Room & the Rebel FM Rock Arena - punters had plenty of rad acts to choose from the get go.

The set times & changeovers were generous enough to those looking to run around and maximise their overall band intake - I’ll be honest though, sometimes a set slaps so hard it breaks your internal clock, so while I didn’t catch them all, it was definitely a show to remember.

It was awesome to see people dressing up for the substitute All Hallows Eve - some evil clowns & zombies romping around in the pit - but for those who didn’t we had Lola Ebola at the ready with the corpse paint & Day of the Dead masks, which ended up looking even scarier after a day in the mosh.

First cab off the rank, Wildheart brought The Faction stage to a rolling boil. The sports bar may have been the smaller of the 3 rooms, but it only intensified the ripper show these boys put on.
Frontman Alex Best wasted no time jumping straight into the crowd for their first song, stirring the pot & stoking the flame. 12.53pm: I hear my first squealing pinch harmonic of the day and suddenly this beer just tastes better? With their thick metalcore riffs & melodic hardcore choruses, by the end it was official - Drop A is for Awesome.

Time to check out what the Rock Arena stage has to offer - Brisbane stalwarts Flangipanis put their best powerchord forward on the main stage and gave us all the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 vibes we know & love. Girt by a sea of merch tables spruiking their finest (mostly) black & white wares, the scene was set for a day of spilt drinks and yelling “hell yeah” at your mate when the song you were hanging out for gets played.

Back in the Sports Bar, locals Diskust got the memo that it was a Halloween festival, with a jigsaw puzzle of cloaks, leather masks, wild dreads & fluro nylon shirts to keep us all guessing.

Moving into the Garden Stage, which was anything but tame, I finally got to catch Apate in all their glory. Off the back of 2021’s release RAGE, the 5-piece’s aggressive vocal attack and rattlingly low-tuned guitars kept the punters bouncing on their feet from go to woe. The old school, wood-paneled aesthetic of this function room may have felt a little bit like flipping through my parents' wedding album, but it really just served to remind us that it doesn’t matter where you’re getting your noisy future-core, as long as you’re getting it.

‘Riffs? Yeah I can get you some riffs mate. Get double parked on Jack & Coke and follow me’ said the voice in my head, as I dived back into The Faction snakepit to get down & dirty to Sydney lords Bare Bones. Their strings were still filthy with southern charm after their Gold Coast warm up the night before, and with frontman Tom Kennedy’s hearty screams & skinsman Chris Blancato’s two-step attack, if you weren’t banging your head, you should probably see a doctor. 

All that moshing really gives you an appetite, so I figured it was time to order some food at the bar - turns out I had joined the hive mind, so by the time I had just about finished my long awaited burger & fries, She Cries Wolf came storming onto stage. There I stood, sauce-faced, as I copped the full brunt of this Brisbane freight train. It was the return of ever dangerous guitarist Daniel Belic, this time on bass. Sporting an even bigger weapon than before for him to swing carelessly around the stage, the crowd risked it all, clawing for the mic to get their guesties on classics like ‘Chapter II’ and ‘Baal’. Inexplicably, by the end of the set, my face was clean. Spooky.

It got even spookier back at the main stage when faced with Disentomb vocalist Jordan’s onslaught of pig squeals and gutturals, matched only by the intensely technical guitar work & precise, overwhelming blast beats known only too well by the dedicated fan base of these local legends. I’m convinced all these guys are possessed because that’s the only way for my dumb kid brain to accept mastery at this level.

Back to back with Disentomb, we were treated to a genre backflip with the boys from Stepson striding out to fill our earholes with melodic hardcore singalongs. Short a lead singer in Brock Alan Conry, who was benched last minute due to the dreaded spicy cough, ‘new’ guitarist and fellow 3-named boy Nickolas Sean Farr dropped the axe to take up middle mic duties for the night. With Nick elbow deep in the front row giving out mic grabs, and the rest of the Steppy crew getting in their fair share of punk jumps & thumping chords, it was one of my favourite sets of the day.

Fangz really slapped their cards down hard on the table when they went all in on the Faction stage after dark. The Sydney 4-piece have never, and will never apologize for party-rocking and I’m not even mad about it. Mid set, singer Josh Cottreau stopped the show to climb over the barrier and bring the mosh down to the ground, sitting criss-cross applesauce while he sang the intro to their new song, before turning the party knob back to 11.5 for the remainder of the set.

JJ Speedball’s show was the barrel of throwback fun I was hoping it would be. The self proclaimed ‘Cherry Rock spectacular’ channeled the garage punk of the 80s perfectly, and if you didn’t already know the ‘South Side’ rocks, JJ made sure you don’t forget it. 

Black Rheno don’t need no bass, guitarist Nano has it covered with his thick-stringed, bottom- end baritone. Like gorillas in the mist, this trio romp around on stage belting out sludgy grooves & smashing out sweaty two-steps like they are going out of fashion. High energy to say the least, these guys really put out that ‘anytime, anywhere pal’ vibe that makes me worry about getting bombarded by bass beats when I turn on the bathroom light for my midnight tinkle. 

Back at the Rock Arena stage, Redhook were right in the swing of things when they had some brief technical difficulties - the call from the crowd for a drum solo nearly rousing an impromptu rendition of Down With The Sickness. Alas, we were only teased... until we were randomly served with the breakdown from Break Stuff in the middle of the next song! As always, this crew sure do know how to put on a show - complete with nu-metal/power pop vocals, wild sax solos & a bunch of disembodied inflatable eyeballs thrown into the mosh pit for good measure. To top it all off, Redhook ended their set by cramming as many members of other bands as they could find onstage to sing us out. 

The main event has finally arrived in heavyweight Aussie headliner Spiderbait! I didn’t really think there was much I could say about this band that hadn’t already been said before me… But apart from the mammoth display of rock showmanship, I was also heartened to see drummer/singer Kram stop the show, in the middle of a slow building jam, to check on a couple of punters in the front row, who were being pinned against the barrier and were trying to get out of the fray. With great ease, the band launched back into the middle of the song, with Kram saying “We've never used backing tracks, we’re here to play for you live!”. The band closed out their set with the one-two punch of Calypso & Black Betty, making anyone in the crowd with a voice left, well and truly hoarse.

The last band I got to see before Clowns closed out the night was King Parrot. The VB-soaked shriek fest was everything I’d hoped for out of a BirdLord set. Hard to recognise but impossible to miss, Matthew Young’s signature crazy eyes pierced the souls of anyone who could see them through his sweat-matted long hair. Bassist Slatts Slattz pranced around shirtless as usual, sporting a ‘FRONT’ tattoo on his belly, in case you were wondering. Tinnies were cracked, crowds were surfed & blasts were beaten. The diehard fans stuck around all day for the most singalong-able band in grindcore, and they proudly hoisted Youngy high above the pit at the end of the set while he screamed “Shit on the liver agaiiiiin” for their perverse enjoyment.

Well, Halloween Hysteria was better late than never, and I didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t having a blast that day, so hopefully we get to do it all again this October!