Thursday, February 27, 2014

21st Wedding Anniversary

Today Helen and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. As a way of marking the occasion I posted the following on Facebook:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Josh Starts His AFL Journey

Josh had his first official training for AFL this afternoon. I think he enjoyed being a part of a group, a team, and learning some new skills, and finding out how tiring it is going to be.

First training. Josh is in the green T-shirt
The best part for me was about halfway through the training. While the other boys had been getting high balls to mark, Josh had been getting grubber balls, probably because he was a new boy, and one of the smallest on the field. He was finally given the chance to take a mark which, after all of our kick-to-kick under high balls, he took easily, and then calmly slotted the goal over the mark, and his coaches were not only surprised but pleased with. It was great to see Josh getting high fives for his efforts.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Alice in Chains Just Awesome at Sidewaves

This evening I took Helen to the lovely Enmore Theatre to see the Sidewaves show for Alice in Chains.

We headed up from home just before 5.00pm and arrived at our parking at about 6.20pm. We walked up to Enmore Road, and found a mexican place called El Cuervo Cantina. They had $4.50 margeritas which Helen found to her liking, and also had Chimichanga for the first time with beans, which looked pretty god. However, it was not as good as my beef fajitas - HOT beef fajitas too, they really brought the spice. Great stuff.

Walking Papers
We arrived at the Enmore just after Walking Papers started their set. They had a great sound, and it was great to see Duff McKagan again. The drummer was good, but his kit was amazing, just a fabulous sound he got from it. I'd love to have had a go on it.

Down was on next, and while they were not overly to Helen's taste (she appreciated the guitarists - and they were good - but she couldn't come to the vocals) they sounded 100% better than the last time I saw them when they supported Heaven & Hell on their tour to Australia. Phil Anselmo's ego still ruled the show, but his band was terrific.

End of Down gig, with roadie's and kids all taking over the instruments.

Alice in Chains were amazing, carrying on from their gig on Sunday. Their sound was just incredible. Mike Inez and Sean Kinney were as solid and sensational as always. William DuVall' s vocals soared, while Jerry Cantrell was superb. His guitaring is still such a highlight.
All of the songs off the latest album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here sounded so much better live, but Helen remarked on how they just lack that spark that the older material has. They don't have the same vocal harmonies as the they did when Layne Staley was co-writing the songs, and they lack his unique vocal abilities. They sound great, but they don't have that affinity with the old material. It's not meant to be a criticism, just an observation. But when you hear songs like "Man in the Box" and "Rooster" and "No Excuses" and "Down in a Hole" and "Would?"... well... it was amazing. "Rooster" and "No Excuses" brought tears to my eyes again, just thinking of the waste it was when Layne died so young. Madness.

Oh, and of course, there was the standard meeting-up with Dale Clark after the gig had finished. It is almost uncanny how we always seem to find each other during a gig, even if we haven't shown up together.

Helen and I don't get to go to see bands together very often, so this was a great night.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Soundwave Festival 2014


Today I was off to my second Soundwave Festival, this time as a lone wolf. Well, it wasn't going to be that way, but my erstwhile companion Bono, who on hundreds of occasions has failed to show to events for a multitude of reasons, once again managed to find a way to miss out on an event. This time it was his back giving out on him once again. Oh well. Onward we go.

I drove up surrounded by a galaxy of music from my iPod, singing and banging without a care in the world. There is a lot that can be said for driving on your lonesome in the car, and being able to play your own music at your own volume without having to compromise either.

I arrived inside the Homebush setting before 10.30am, and immediately went to the beer tent to grab my first beer of the day. I can honestly say that it was the best way to start the day, and it barely touched the sides.I grabbed a second, and walked around the whole setup to familiarise myself with where all of the stages were, and how long it would take to get from one to the other. Then it was time to head to Stage 4 for the first band on my list for the day.

The first band of the day at 11.00am was Amon Amarth, a band I had flirted with for one album back in 2008 (Deceiver of the Gods) and had not taken to, and thus had left alone until this day. However, the great thing about Soundwave is seeing so many bands live, and getting a better handle on what they are like. I was also greeted by the visage of Steve Holz who had also ventured to theis stage early for the festivities.
Amon Amarth was on so early as they had brought their Viking Ship stage set to Australia, and they needed the time to put it together. And the band was - fabulous! The band itself was terrific, the duelling guitars just brilliant, and the vocals were so much better than I remembered from my short stint listening to them on CD. By halfway through the set, I found myself wondering how I had missed this when I tried them out. No doubt my mood wasn't set for death metal at the time. I was very impressed by the end of the set, at which time I tweeted:

Amon Amarth - Father of the Wolf

From here I had to make a couple of stops. Firstly it was time for a toilet break. Secondly it was up to the Utopia Records tent to purchase a cap (yes, amazingly as it sounds in this day and age, I actually forgot to bring a hat with me. Thankfully I had suncream on to get me through that first couple of hours) and a stubby holder (yep, forgot that too). As always, Utopia was able to satisfy my needs in this respect.

Thirdly, it was time for another beer, as I then headed down to Stage 6 to check out half of the set by August Burns Red. I have never pursued these guys, but Kearo highly recommended them, so I thought I's better give them a shot. Opinion? Yeah, they weren't bad, but their sound was swirling in the cavernous shed, so I probably didn't get the best impression. Next time perhaps.

Terrible photo of August Burns Red, but at least I was there...
From here it was back to Stage 4 to get in a little Five Finger Death Punch, a band I had only heard recently in my trawling of Soundwave acts to see who I should go and see. In the process I managed to get through all of their albums, and found a lot of it to be terrific stuff. This was backed up by their performance here as well. An excellent set, with Life Me Up a highlight for me.

Five Finger Death Punch - Full Set

Next up on Stage 4 was The Black Dahlia Murder. Now most of their stuff that I have heard has been just a little extreme in the vocal department for my tastes, and though i did enjoy their set, it didn't change my opinion that it would be difficult for me to get into their music on a full time basis. Still, it was good to see them, to hear them in that live setting.

Steve and I watched most of this from our vantage point up as close to Stage 4 as we could get, as we awaited the beginning of Testament. I have been waiting the better part of 30 years to see Testament live, not just after their awesome early albums like The Legacy and Practice What You Preach and Souls of Black and Low, but also recent albums The Formation of Damnation and Dark Roots of Earth.      

And they did not disappoint. What a show. Fantastic set list, led brilliantly by Chuck Billy, as well as the twin guitar gods Alex Skolnick and Eric Petersen. Great to see Steve DiGiorgio back on bass guitar, he looked to be having a ball throughout the gig. And Gene Hoglan was just awesome on the drums, great to see the legend there as well. It was great to hear "Rise Up" and "Into the Pit" especially, and would really loved to have heard much more. If only I could get to that Sidewave on Wednesday! Brilliant set.

GWAR was just hilarious. Some technical hitches saw them start some 20 minutes late, and we saw the band wandering around trying to fix the problems before they had donned their character suits which was pretty funny. Then when they started, it was on. So much fake blood, spraying out over the front fifteen rows of people (while Steve and I had positioned ourselves perfectly that none of it reached us, by about two rows). I'm not sure I could ever actually sit down and listen to their albums, but the show was funny, and the musicianship was good. When they brought out the Tony Abbott mannequin and then cut off his head when he 'cancelled' the show, the crowd went wild.


From here there was a bit of a shuffle, as we had been on our feet for about five hours by now, so while hearing a bit of the Volbeat show that had started on Stage 4A, I got myself a kebab (which was fine, but they wouldn't give me both BBQ and chilli sauce, and it was about half the size of a normal kebab, and cost over ten bucks, as well as a 300mL Coke for $5!!!), and we then took the chance to sit down in the shade, and hear a bit of Panic! At The Disco coming from Stage 3. Now there is a band that has taken on the emo craze, and yet there was something about them that I didn't mind at all. If only time had allowed a longer hearing than two songs.

Once we had eaten, Steve bade farewell, off to find his other bands for the day. I returned to Stage 4 and watched the end of the Volbeat set (not bad - Rob Caggiano still has it, even though he has left Anthrax) and to get my first sighting of Trivium live. Nope, I wasn't disappointed, except for the fact that I would have liked to have heard more. Their setlist covered their career, and they were impressive, even through some sound issues, similar to what Killswitch Engage had faced last year.

From here I moved into the main stage for the first (and only) time of the day. I was beat, and found a good seating position to rest my weary legs. Alice in Chains came on at 5.00pm, and were spectacular. It was great to hear all the great songs again, and William DuVall's vocals soared in the stadium gig. After 20 minutes of resting I hopped up and made my way back in closer to the stage, where the sound was even more impressive. The band was just terrific, and I left this hour gig not only satisfied, but eager for the Sidewaves I was attending in two days time.

Alice in Chains - Man in the Box

Now I had a date with destiny, another band that I had waited since my mid-teens to see live, and it was about to come true. Stiff Little Fingers were on the bill over on Stage 7, and I got there a little early to make sure I was up near the front. When I arrived, there was maybe 50 people there, but by the time they came on stage, there was closer to 400. And they were just brilliant. They played all of their hits, they played new songs, they didn't muck around between songs to make sure they got as much in as possible, and it was LOUD! I was just stoked to be there. Brilliant. If I could have watched them again I would have. It was a dream fulfilled, and despite the excellent sets and bands during the day, this was the number one moment for me at Soundwave 2014.

What more was there left for the day? I could have ventured back to the metal stage down at Stage 4, where Devildriver and Mastadon were set to finish the night, but I wasn't sure whether I wanted to hang around that long. I did move down to Stage 3, where I caught the second half of the set by Soil, and they weren't bad. Not someone I would likely follow up on, but they were enjoyable enough, and had good banter with their crowd. I then watched the first two songs of Rob Zombie's set, at which time I convinced myself that nothing was going to match what I had already seen, and so I headed back to the car and headed home. Being a Sunday night also encouraged this, and getting home at 9.15pm on a worknight turned out to be the best move.

I had a great day, and again saw some great bands. I do think that if I do it again next year that i will take some time off - absolutely the Monday, and maybe a couple of other days in which to go to Sidewaves shows without having to worry about getting up for work the following days. We'll see...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When Bands Forget Who Their Real Employers Are

It's pretty obvious that with all of the bullshit that is going on over the Soundwave Festival that takes place over the next week or so throughout Australia, that there are bands out there that have forgotten who it is that makes them who they are, and also makes them the well-off musicians that they are. Ego takes over, and there is no doubt there are some massive ego's out there in this industry.

There is always more than one side to every story, but really, how hard is it to remember that no matter what petty differences and arguments may occur between band and promoter or band management and promoter, bands only survive on the goodwill and support of their fans. And if you piss your fans off, then you pretty much shoot yourself in the foot.

I have bought and own every album Megadeth has ever released, the first half of their discography in more than one format. I have their DVDs and their VHS videos before that. I have the great ones, as well as the crap ones such as Risk and the recent Super Collider. I have suffered from other Megadeth last-minute tour pull-outs of Australia, most famously the day before I was to see them for the first time on the "So Far So Good... So What!" tour in 1988. One fricken day before, they cancelled. Then they cancelled again on the "Countdown to Extinction" tour. Any published excuses? No. Just live with it Australia, Dave isn't coming and isn't saying why.
Now, I have been lucky enough to see Megadeth five times. Others have not. There will be kids out there who were pumped to see a legend act such as Megadeth for the first time. And now they won't. Apparently (but not confirmed) because the promoter wouldn't apologise.

Apologise for what? Because he put Newsted on as Megadeth's support for their Sidewaves show when they were not on an 'agreed' list of 'suitable' support acts? Because the promoter then took Newsted off the support slot, and then said it was because the band's management asked him to do it? Because the promoter put the band in shit for saying what actually happened, and not just covering it up?
Ask the fans - do they give a fuck? Do they care about how it may appear as a slight on Mustaine? No. They just want to see the band play.
But no, Mustaine's ego cannot sustain being seen to be the bad guy in this, when plainly he is as culpable as anyone else involved. So, what does he do? Well, he picks up his ball, and goes home. Announces on Facebook and Twitter that...
That's it. No explanation, no sorry, no fucking nothing. Then, on his personal Facebook page, another post, simply saying...

Then, from all appearances, despite desperate pleas from the promoter and fans alike, not another word has come from the Megadeth camp. It has just been wiped from their existence.

Well, thanks Dave. I'll be honest, and admit Megadeth was not even in the top ten bands I wanted to see at Soundwave. I have seen them before, and their latest album is not particularly good. If they had clashed with a few other bands, I would have chosen the other bands. However, what this has shown is that fans finish second to ego with him. I won't be spending anymore of my hard earned cash on anything to do with Megadeth again. Probably, he couldn't care less. But that's MY protest.

Hardcore Superstar also decided to play hardball over their timeslot.

And why did this occur? Well...

So - don't worry about the fans. If we can't play after 4.00pm, we aren't coming.
What a bunch of pricks. Don't come then. Ignore your Australian fan base, who only want to SEE YOU PLAY, COULDN'T GIVE A RATS ARSE IF IT WAS 3.00AM OR 11.00PM. If I WAS a fan, I would also be putting a ban on spending any more money on you. As it turns out, because I won't see you, you have also lost any chance you may have had of me 'discovering' you, and then buying up back catalogues of stuff. Oh well. Enjoy sitting at home doing sweet F.A when you could have been playing music for your fans. Idiots.

Stone Temple Pilots and Sevendust also called early halts to their Soundwave odyssey, at the time giving 'legitimate' reasons, though rumours have since leaked that there reasons for not coming was to do with money, or what they deemed to be the lack of it. Fine. If that is the truth, then that is a matter to stay between the parties involved. Then Whitechapel cancelled, citing the 'death of a close family member'. Another bust, but what can you do? Apparently, as many fans have decided, let's blame the promoter again.

Now we have this last little story, where a strange, unexplanatory post comes up on Jason Newsted's Facebook page yesterday afternoon.

Which again was news to the promoter.

Without knowing what the hell is going on (this is now 24 hours after this post), IF this is another pull out because of time slot...

... then, even though I have bought his EP and his album off iTunes, I will again not be supporting him any further in his career. And let's face it, after the Echobrain debacle, he is lucky I am supporting him at all!!!

No matter what, I can't wait for Soundwave on Sunday. Alice in Chains, Testament, Trivium, Stiff Little Fingers, just to name a few, are bands I can't wait to see. Egotistical bands that obviously couldn't give a flying fuck about their fans be damned. This is a super day, and I'm going to have a blast!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jess & Maddi in the S.R.C

It sounds like the title of an S.O.D album, but it's not.
This morning I headed down to school to see both of my girls get their badges, after last week having been voted by their classmates onto the Student Representative Council. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Josh Signs Up For Auskick

This afternoon Josh and I headed down to Con O'Keefe Oval to get him registered for AFL Auskick with the local Albion Park Crows Junior AFL club.

I'm not completely sure who wants it more - Josh or me. I've always said that, had AFL had a junior club in Kiama when I was a kid, I would love to have played. As it was, by the time this did occur, I was too old for juniors, and not fit enough to be playing seniors. More is the pity.

So yes, Josh was certainly shepherded in the direction of AFL as a winter sport. Rugby League was never going to be an option, and though soccer is fine, it was not really something I wanted to watch every weekend. So we've gone for this.
We'll see how things go. Though I don't mind (particularly) being involved, I don't want to get to the stage of being a necessary item every week. Coaching? No thanks. Occasional helper at training? Yep, i can probably do that. What i most want to see is Josh being involved in a team sport, and learning the skills required to be good at it. Can't wait to see how it all pans out.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Swanning With the Swans

This afternoon, pretty much as soon as our feet touched the floor at home, we were off to Myimbar Oval at Shellharbour, where two of the Sydney Swans, Tim Membery and Lewis Roberts-Thomson were doing a kick-to-kick and meet-and-greet with kids from the Shellharbour Swans Junior AFL Club.
Now of course Josh is going to play for the Albion Park Crows Junior AFL Club, but we went over (as did several others) anyway.

We played kick-to-kick for about an hour on the field, and Josh got his ball signed by LRT, which he thought was pretty special (even though he is a GWS Giants fan first and foremost).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Resting Day

I stayed at home today, in essence to look after Jessie, whom the doctor had said should not go to school today with her tonsil stones, but it also worked well for me with my cold. Today it really hurt my lungs each time I coughed, because I had coughed so much yesterday it had made my body sore from underuse. Ridiculous.

Having packed off the other two to the bus, I took the chance to introduce Jess to a couple of movies I felt she was now old enough to watch.
The first was The Truman Show with Jim Carrey, which she enjoyed, and I liked watching once again. The second was a classic - Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I told her I had first watched it when I was ten years old, so she should see it. Not sure she got all of it, and she was a bit taken aback when I kept quoted the lines word for word before they appeared on the screen, but I think she enjoyed it. having not watched it for probably ten years, so did I!

The Scorchers played the Hurricanes tonight in the final of BBL03, with the Scorchers deservedly winning their first competition having lost the first two finals of the revamped T20 format. I also managed to get another jump on Tom Waterhouse, having taken a multi of the Scorchers winning, and the Wanderers and Roar drawing in the A League - which they did, 1-1, paying odds of $7.50. Thanks Tom.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gary Moore Day

Feeling even worse than yesterday today. This cold has gripped me a little tighter, and the coughing and spluttering is worse. Got told by at least four people to go home, but... well... Helen had called at 8.00am, saying Jess was crook and wasn't going to school. Which meant that she would have to stay off work again. So I couldn't do anything constructive at home, but at least at work I could do something.
Of course, Helen called again after midday to say Jess had tonsil stones and wouldn't be able to go to school again tomorrow. Which means I will be at home with her tomorrow. Which, in reality, is not a bad outcome for me with the way I feel today.

It is three years today since Gary Moore was found dead in his hotel room, an untimely death of one of my favourite guitarists and artists. So once again it was time to trot out all the best of his albums for listening again, to remember his great stuff. Memories of the great man. I even granted to listen to some of his blues material.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

BBQ Day at the Young's

We all headed over to the Young's home in Haywards Bay this morning for a family BBQ with the Jukes family as well. Our three family's all get on well together, with Brody Young, Rohan Jukes and Jess all in Year 5 together, and Brock Young, Lauren Jukes and Josh all in Year 1 together, while Maddi is in Year 2 and Thomas in Year 7 means they are all very close in age.

A 10.30am start is quite early, but this didn't stop the first beers being cracked soon after out arrival. The day was a belter, and the kids spent more than half the day in the pool. The girls also decided the pool was the best place to drink and gasbag, while Gary, Richard and I made sure no one was going to steal the table. We had also brought over the kids scooters and Jessie's bike so all the kids could ride around the streets of Haywards Bay, without getting into too much trouble.

Lunch was, well, extremely well catered, with steak and sausages and lamb and chicken and salads and rolls, and anything else you could think of. Once this was over, the kids headed back to the pool. Late in the day it turned out to be not such a great thing for Maddi, who pretty much had heatstroke by the evening.
We hadn't intended on staying all day, but as we did make it to dinner time, there was still plenty of leftovers to attack for that meal. We finally headed home with an unwell little girl at about 7.30pm.