Soundwave Festival, February 2010, Eastern Creek Raceway, Sydney
With this year’s headliners being the reformed Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction with all original members up-on-stage, along with the usual abundance of over 40 diverse acts from genres such as emo (Sunny Day Real Estate), hardcore (Gallows), pop-punk (Paramore), love metal (HIM), stoner-rock (Clutch), grindcore (Meshuggah) and many others, Sydney’s leg of Soundwave is a festival chock-a-block full of musical highlights, extreme weather conditions, innovative head-attire, dust, queues and an easy-going and laid-back crowd.
For the second year, Soundwave’s venue is Eastern Creek Raceway that allows for plenty of space – six stages of music, bars, rides, eat streets and the much-needed festival friend (& enemy later on in the day) – rows and rows of portaloos. We start our day off entering the lush grassy field of stages 1 and 2 where Eagles of Death Metal was revving the eager crowd with their charismatic rock, including their hits, ‘I Only Want You’ and ‘Cherry Cola’. Walking over the grassy-green hills (which unfortunately don’t last long) to stage 4 to get into the groove of Clutch with their power-boogie crossed with stoner-rock. Frontman/guitarist, Neil Fallon amps the welcoming audience up with a bunch of favourites such as “Power Player”, “One-Eyed Dollar” and “Electric Worry” and claimed the extreme heat was “too much for this sensitive East-Coast guy”. Clutch always impress me with their wit, humour and kick-arse live show and I can’t wait to catch them again at their sideshow.
With the afternoon heatwave at its peak, the only choice to be made was to find a spot to sit and retain energy for the rest of the day, so we waited around to see the blokes from Anvil. Subjects of the recent ‘Anvil’ documentary, the heavy-metal band plays a long set yet the story of their 30+year journey is far more inspirational than their actual tunes.
I make the trek back over to the main stages (1 & 2) for Alexisonfire but since the running times were behind schedule missed them. Back for some Meshuggah with their abrasive, structured experimental metal, where the Swedes are perhaps more suited to later on in the day or a dark venue. Frontman Jens Kidman with his trademark growl prowls across the stage and the drummer, Tomas Haake (known for his outstanding technical abilities) keeps the fans happy.
With the sun and heat thankfully diminishing, I, once again make the trek back over for British band, Placebo. No strangers to Australian audiences, the band pump out a combination of favourites, old and new – “Every Me, Every You”, “Meds”, “Special K” and finishing with “Taste In Men”.
Successful veteran punk-rockers, AFI are up next and boy, do they deliver! The main stage area is teaming with fans and audience sing-alongs galore! The band’s set-list is a combination of their hits and a few new songs in there as well.
Taking the opportunity to grab something to eat before Faith No More, we took a walk down what we tagged Eat Street, which had the usual festival-fare plus some extra choices, such as vegetarian food from the Hare Krishna’s and wacky slices of fried potatoes on a stick.
Opening with their intro tune from their album “Nothing’s Shocking” Perry Farrell and his Jane’s Addiction band-mates, including founding bassist, Eric Avery serve up a huge plate of their iconic alternative rock. With one classic tune after another – “Mountain Song”, “Three Days” (with accompanying burlesque dancers), “Ocean Size”, “Stop!”, “Been Caught Stealing” and closer, “Jane Says”, the boys from Los Angeles with their captivating rock poses, tight leather pants and edgy swagger awe those older fans and impress the younger crowd with their ferocious and tight set.
To close 2010’s Soundwave more musical heroes up next – Faith No More – yes, the version of the 1990s FNM were back, without guitarist Jim Martin. The band reformed in 2009 playing dates and festivals in Europe and finally it was our turn. Opening with a comedic rendition of the Peaches and Herb song, “Reunited”, the band, dressed in suits with Patton in a very shiny number, carrying a walking cane and mimicking an elderly man. Throughout, Patton reminds us of his wit and sense of humour, egging the person in charge of the water fountain cooling the pit, to spray him as well, no doubt causing the on-stage production crew to have mini-heart attacks. The band delivers all we want to hear and more, replete with Patton’s trademark powerful vocals, Roddy Bottum’s keyboards and Billy Gould and Mike Bordin controlling the powerful rhythm section – “Land of Sunshine”, “Be Aggressive”, “Evidence”, “Surprise! You’re Dead”, Commodores’ cover “Easy”, “King for a Day”, “Epic” closing with their one and only encore of “Stripsearch” and the classic (yet rarely played) “We Care A Lot”.
Overall, Sydney’s Soundwave was an enjoyable day with a schedule that sees it impossible to see every band you would like to catch, giving many the opportunity to see bands you only dream of seeing – the organisers still have a few niggling issues to improve on – further support of our local acts, more recycling and rubbish bins, options to escape the harsh sun and sorting out good transport and parking, once this happens the festival will take the top spot of the festival calendar for the year. See you down the front for Soundwave 2011!