Sunday, February 24, 2013

Soundwave Festival 2013

So today I attended my first Soundwave Festival, and it was the biggest so far and it felt it. Apart from a couple of hiccups, my day went off with barely a hitch, and was more than enjoyable.

My chauffeur for the day Kearo and Jordan showed up at the front door at 8.45am, and we were parked up and heading for the entrance by 10.40am. The walk around ANZ Stadium however is not short (it can be timed at about 16 minutes, as was to be proven later that night), and when we arrived shortly before 11.00am we were surprised to find the gates open, and no lines to get in. The boys told me that last year it took them about an hour to actually get inside, so at least that problem appear to have been rectified.

We had a little walk around to see where everything was located, and even bought the first alcoholic drinks for the day, before heading over to Stage 3 for the first set of the day. Dale met us there, and we finished off our drinks before realising that the first band had actually cancelled three weeks beforehand (their drummer was not touring, the first of many). Once this was discovered, we headed over to the pavillion shed - which really was just an enormoous shed - where Stage 5 was located, to get a look at Fozzy. Though the sound seemed to get a bit lost within the confines of the arena at times, the band gave a great performance, and showed why they are so popular here in Australia.

Fozzy playing "Enemy", Soundwave 2013

From here it was over the main stage in ANZ Stadium, where Anthrax was to play their 45 minute set. Anthrax was also without their drummer, Charlie Benante, who had personal problems in the States, so John Dette was filling the role. As always they were great. It is amazing how good Joey's voice still is after all these years, and the band showed great energy throughout. Finishing with "Madhouse" was just brilliant, but 45 minutes isn't enough. Hopefully they'll tour again soon.

Anthrax Full Set, Soundwave 2013

Tomahawk was the next band on the adjoining stage, a band I knew nothing about. However, once Dale had told me that it was the band fronted by Mike Patton, I was intrigued enough to stay and see what they were like, while Kearo left to find where Jordan had ended up after Fozzy.
I think "eccentric" might be the best term to describe Tomahawk. It was all very experimental and free-form exploration kind of stuff, apart from two songs which hailed back to the best of his Faith No More days which were great. Dale and I both agreed that apart from his great albums with FNM, Mike has probably been involved in half a dozen bands and numerous more albums - and from all of that, you could compile a 'best of' album that would rate with the greats,while the rest is pure garbage. Such is the mark of 'greatness' I guess.

Tomahawk playing "Flashback", Soundwave 2013

At this point I left Dale to head back to Stage 5 to check out Orange Goblin. It was 2.15pm, and I was not to see Dale again, nor Kearo and Jordan until we met up again at the car just before 10.00pm. Until then, I was on my own...

Orange Goblin, back in "The Shed", as I came to dub the Stage 5 pavillion, was great. Sure the band got lost again at certain times - and whether that was the P.A. or the sound engineers or just the venue for the stage itself, I don't really know. What I do know is that the band put on an awesome performance, and the songs were strong and impressive. I have noted that I need to chase up some of their music in the near future.

Orange Goblin playing "The Fog", Soundwave 2013

Between bands I got to catch up woth Holzy, which was good. We got to swap band info, those we'd seen, those we'd heard would be worth seeing, and even some family chat. As I think it has been at least 12 months since we have seen each other, the 15 minutes was too short but fully worthwhile.

Orange Goblin was followed by The Sword. Again the sound wavered between great and average, and I found the first two songs to be average. But, once they warmed up they proved themselves to be better than that - in my opinion, not as good as the previous band, but still above average in this respect.

The Sword playing "Freya", Soundwave 2013

From here I made the trek back to the main stadium, where Stone Sour had hit the stage. I had only recently acquired this band's latest album, House of Gold & Bones Part 1, and while it wasn't exactly my favourite style of rock/metal, there was enough there to suggest I wanted to see them live. And what I saw, for the most part, was good. The rock ballads of course don't sit well with me, but the harder stuff was played well, and Corey Taylor does have a unique voice. Whether I follow up on the band inthe future will perhaps depend on whether or not I run out of oher options to chase.

Stone Sour Full Set, Soundwave 2013

Following this, though, was probably the main reason I was here at Soundwave - the mighty Slayer. Sure, Jeff Hanneman may still be out with his flesh eating virus, and Dave Lombardo looks to have again been cast aside for questioning the band's money management, but still, half of Slayer playing Slayer is still awesome.
What was even better was that, if I had been given the opportunity to choose the 10 or 12 songs of their setlist that I would love to see, they played every single one of them. Awesome serlist, awesome gig. Just awesome.

Slayer Full Set, Soundwave 2013

It was time to leave the comfortable seating arrangement of the main stadium to again head out, this time to Stage 3. It was 5.30pm, and I was not to sit down again until I got into Kearo's car much later that evening. It was to be the death of my failing achilles tendon and ankle, but overall it was worth it.
On Stage 3 it was the turn of Killswitch Engage to play. I had only seen the band once, as second support to Anthrax at the Metro Theatre a decade before, and had been impressed at the time but knew none of the songs. Now I knew their songs, and was looking forward to it immensely. Disappointingly however, the P.A was shocking, so quiet that one could probably talk to the person next to you without even raising their voice. Despite this, the setlist was another where they played almost every song I could have asked for, and the band was in top form.

Killswitch Engage playing "My Curse", Soundwave 2013.

From here, things began to get a little mixed up. I decided to try and get back into the main stadium in preparation for Metallica, for which I had been tossing up all day whether or not to see them or The Offspring, whom I had never seen live. For the first time that day, I had to line up for 15 minutes to get in, at which time I discovered that all of the available seating and standing room was taken. Having walked completely around the stadium in search of a way up to the nosebleed section (which obviously had not yet been opened), I decided to go out again. I had been trying to contact Kearo and Dale by text for an hour with no response, and at that point I decided that The Offspring would be my destination after all.

With two hours to kill, I decided the head back down to the shed, and catch Fucked Up, of whom I knew nothing except some vague recollection of having been played some of their stuff in Bryn Coleman's car one day. And I was not disappointed. They are a Canadian punk band with great musicians and a lead singer who did the whole gig in the crowd, and then went around and high fived  or hugged every person who had been there to watch. His comment, "You are my favourite guys in the world. You could be watching Metalliac or Blink 182, but you're here watching us, and I fucking love you for it!" was well met by the small but enthusiastic crowd. I loved them. No doubt their raw energy would be lost on recorded music, but I'll have to get more of their stuff anyway.

Fucked Up playing "The Other Shoe" live in 2011

Following these guys was Cerebral Ballzy, a New York punk band in the more 'traditional' mold, with songs fast and furious with four chords repeating, all over in two minutes. Like The Sword earlier in the day, it took me a couple of songs to get into them, but once they had warmed up they were also a treat.

Cerebral Ballzy playing "On the Run" live in 2012

I timed my run (as best as I could with no clock, as my phone had died by 8.00pm) as best I could to get the second stadium for The Offspring at 8.45pm. Of course, the bands were running late, and so I had to put up with about 20 minutes of Blink 182 concluding their set. I don't like Blink 182, and their music and popularity was lost on me.
However, when The Offspring started, I'd forgotten how old they had to be, given their start in the business over 20 years ago. But once I'd gotten over this, and their opening song (which was off their latest album, Days Gone By, which I don't know that well) they played some of their great stuff, and they ripped it up. It made me believe I had made the right decision after all in seeing a band I had never seen (and may well never get another chance to see), and given the other two bands I had seen along the way, it made my Soundwave experience much rounder than it would otherwise have been.

The Offspring playing "The Kids Aren't Alright", Soundwave 2013

Soon it was time to meet the Kearin's back at the car (they had been squeezed into the far corners of ANZ Stadiumfor Metallica) and head home from my first - but perhaps not my last - Soundwave Festival.

Metallica Full Show, Soundwave 2013

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