Dead of Winter Festival 2019

Jubilee Hotel and The Tivoli – 13 July 2019

svetlanas - dead of winter festival 2019 - photography Bec Harbour Photography
Svetlanas – DOW19 Bec Harbour Photography

The annual metal and punk festival is in its 10th year and its only bigger and better in each of its incarnations. Held at the Jubilee Hotel and The Tivoli, there were 6 stages to choose from as well as an absolute trove of bands to see.

The day kicked off at The Tivoli on the Young Henry’s Stage with Blue Savannah Underworld and the wind blowing a gale. These guys had a tambourine player (is that a usual thing or was he unable to play a guitar that day?) and were going hard in the bright windy sunshine of their 12.15 slot. Then it was inside to see Patient Lounge. I am always in awe of a band like Patient Lounge, they have absolute musicianship, but are able to windmill their hair while playing.

Next I went and saw Hammers, there was a good sized crowd waiting at the Riffs and Licks Stage, and they did not disappoint, with crowd banter and lead singer Fish crooning into his jazz styled microphone. Then it was over to the Hysteria Stage where The Wrath were sound checking. I really didn’t know what to expect from The Wrath, but my curiousity was piqued when their bass player rocked up with a double bass looking like a member of The Cure. I was pleasantly surprised by a band that sounds like the Misfits sped up.

I then went upstairs to the Drum Cartel Stage to see The Gastons – I feel like I haven’t seen them play in like an eternity and they are still a lot of fun to see live, even in a tiny function room.

The next band on my list was Whiskey & Speed on the 4ZZZ stage in the Jubilee carpark. Faces painted with what only can be described as zombie Hello! Kitty masks and Loki with his usual bright outfit they played an energetic set, complete with confetti canons and the front row of punters with glitter hats.

Then things got confusing, bands were getting delayed at airports because of the wind, social media algorithms did not help getting the message out so I missed Bare Bones and Rick Dangerous and the Silky Bantams. I caught Nick Oliveri’s accoustic set up at the Young Henry’s stage and drank a coffee from the very awesome Death Before Decaf people.

I watched the tail end of The Decline, then went down to get ready for The Svetlanas. Many of the people I spoke to were very keen to see The Svetlanas for more reasons than the music. Olga Svetlana is a photographers dream, political, expressive and punk as fuck. They brought Nick Oliveri on stage for a few songs and made him look almost harmless.

Festival favourites Flangipanis (say that fast) were next. I will never get sick of seeing Flangipanis and they suit a big stage so they can fire off their toilet paper leaf blower contraptions and throw pool toys into the crowd. They are a band that loves interacting with their crowd on their own terms.

The next part of the festival was when the serious timetable clashes were, The Go Set, Horace Bones, HITS and Blowhard. Horace Bones were the ultimate winner for me, as they were upstairs on the smaller stage I decided to get there early then go back down to the Hysteria Stage to catch the second half of Blowhard. Horace Bones had other ideas. Horace Bones are a bunch of dangerous guys in a band and aren’t afraid of a crowd that at this stage are pretty topped up. It did not take long for vocalist Oisin to jump off the stage into the crowd into a group that had been heckling him from the get go. With a mic cord and some pushing and shoving going on, the media crew stayed on the sidelines trying to capture the mayhem. This also meant that I was very late to see Blowhard and the stage area was packed.

I took a well deserved dinner break – the food options at Dead of Winter were amazing, I chose to have chips and salt and pepper calamari from the chippy truck, but there was also Greek, South American and vegetarian options.

Next was Mammal, I caught lead singer Zeke, with his current project Ezekiel Ox a few weeks earlier at the Black Bear Lodge, I wonder how many Mammal fans would have enjoyed his new band (who are funkier and sludgier if that’s a thing) than Mammal? The media pit was bedlam with nearly all photographers working the festival in that tiny gap.

Then it was back to the Jube for Bodyjar. It was my first time seeing them live, having spent my youth in a town where no bands toured. They played my favourite cover ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ and were definitely a crowd favourite.

Then it was back to the Fireball Stage at The Tivoli for COG. COG fans are everywhere at this festival and they are a popular band (on band shirt Fridays there are an incredible amount of COG shirts at my work). Seeing them live for the first time, I can see why they have such loyal fans. Their stage spectacle and musicianship is amazing. They wrapped up the Dead of Winter festival for 2019 in true spectacle.

Dead of Winter will get bigger next year and has potentially outgrown the Jubilee Hotel and The Tivoli venues. It has been 10 years in the making and is a fantastic mid-winter local festival. At no point was there any issues other than wind causing scheduling problems, and everyone was there just to have a great time and see some loud fast music.

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