Review: Pandemonium Rocks 2024 @ Caribbean Gardens (Melbourne)

Wheatus at Pandemonium Rocks at Caribbean Gardens (Melbourne) on 20 April, 2024 - image © Chris Dy
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

New rock festival Pandemonium Rocks was not short of recent headlines And speculation after the departure of some international bands.

The festival has seen it all, yet Pandemonium has forged ahead despite the current economic crisis and a string of other festival cancellations.

Saturday (20 April) marked the first event of this festival of rock legends at Caribbean Gardens in Melbourne, which will continue through to Sydney, Gold Coast, and Brisbane with a side show held in Newcastle.

Loaded with iconic acts like shock rocker Alice Cooper, Blondie, Psychedelic Furs, Wheatus, Wolfmother, and Cosmic Psychos, sadly US rockers Palaye Royale had to pull out last minute due to the devastating cancer diagnosis of their mom. Local heroes Aimee Francis were able to join with short notice and made their mark onstage as the opening act.

When I arrived at Caribbean Gardens, the weather didn't look really promising; overcast with a chance of rain. Yet there was already a long queue, young and oldies who've stayed young at heart wearing their favourite band shirts, some carrying their camp chairs and blankets – I knew this would be a chilled, sweet, little day out.

Aimee Francis
Aimee Francis - image © Chris Dy

First up was Melbourne based Aimee Francis & The Midnight Hours, who've previously supported Daryl Braithwaite, Steel Panther, Baby Animals and others. With their bubbly personality and their motto "a little bit of rock, bit of country, a whole lotta heart," definitely started this festival on a great note.

A lot of festival goers were already in attendance and for people who did not know them will know them now, their sound waves running through the bodies in the crowd creating a sea of tapping feet – to be honest, it was great to see.

Cosmic Psychos were a treat. With their punk-rock hymns like 'Nice Day To Go To The Pub' or when asking where they were, someone said "Scorseby" that led into the next song: "ahhh, you mean 'F...wit City'," the crowd showed significant enjoyment rocking out to their songs.

Wolfmother - image © Chris Dy

Next up was Wolfmother; the set list included hits like 'Woman' and 'Joker And The Thief', with younger folks in the crowd rocking out, while others sat comfortable in their chairs nodding their heads to the beats and riffs.

My surprise act of the day was Wheatus. While so many only know them for their hits 'Teenage Dirtbag' and 'A Little Respect', their sound seemed flawless, rocking the stage and made me wonder, why did they not get bigger? As soon as 'Teenage Dirtbag' hit people from far back were rushing to the stage to rock out to this classic.

British rockers The Psychedelic Furs were on next. By this time, Caribbean Gardens was turning darker by the minute as the sun set, so their sound matched the mood, tranquil, with Richard Butler's smoky voice reminding me a bit of David Bowie. It seemed more of a chilled set, to sit back, relax and sit on a glass of wine.

Blondie - image © Chris Dy

Blondie was one of the bands many people were waiting for. With 'Hanging On The Telephone', the seed to a great one-hour gig was planted. Other bangers were played like 'Maria' and 'Rapture'.

Debbie Harry, who was dressed in green, was moving, singing and engaging the crowed. Like some others, Blondie was not short of little technical difficulties, which did not seem to fuss the audience, who danced all set long.

Who else would be better in wrapping it all up with a theatrical performance like no other than shock rocker Alice Cooper. As the curtains opened, the first thing you saw on the stage banner was: 'Banned in Australia, Alice Cooper.'

Seeing Alice Cooper for the first time, the show was a spectacular extravaganza. Bangers like 'School's Out' and 'Poison' made this a must sing-along. People were rocking out, most deserted their comfort zone (camp chairs) to get closer to the stage. Start to finish was a treat not only to the ears but also eyes.

Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper - image © Chris Dy

- written by Chris Dy

More photos from the festival.

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