Live Review: Soundwave Festival 2010 – Brisbane

Review: Hannah Collins

Click image to view photo gallery
Jane's Addiction
[Photo: Stuart Blythe]
  For the many festival’s we’ve attentively followed in the last year or so, I hope I’m not going to cop to much backlash for saying that Soundwave is now, pretty much, the festival to be at, particularly if you indulge in music of the ah, heavier nature. They’ve marked their territory well, and will be hard to compete with in coming years after continually displaying such high levels of organization and forward planning, with larger than life line ups to match, last year

featuring headliners Nine in Nails, and Alice in Chains, this year the newly reunited outfits Jane’s Addiction and of course, Faith No More.

Ticket sales at the door had prices marked up by over 50 dollars from the original price, but it didn’t see people back away from the queue. With a line up like today’s, I wouldn’t have been backing away from those prices either, had I’d have been stupid enough, not to buy a ticket during one of the previous releases.

Walking the streets of Brisbane’s fortitude valley on the morning of the event is galvanizing. The streets are flooded with waves of charismatic show goers of all age’s shapes and sizes. The crowd’s equal to what you may see before the opening day of the Ekka; Brisbane’s annual Royal show.

A quote taken from the Official 2010 Soundwave homepage reads as follows;
“One of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, the pyramids have baffled archaeologists as to how those huge chunks of rock were assembled together some 2500 years ago.

Following its most successful year, we are hoping that in years from now, folks will look at the 2010 Soundwave line-up and wonder how so much ROCK from around the world was assembled together in 5 cities across Australia.”

Wonder, we have.
Thankyou, venue organizers for being clued on. The layout is fantastic, although at times hard to negotiate the maze of alleyways between stages. Six stages actually, grouped, to a degree into musical genre, ample drinking space sectioned off adjacent to the stage fronts in some areas, multiple food stalls, toilets (although having to deal with a regular peak hour rush) are in most corners of the venue, no shortage of fresh air, no one telling you not to smoke outdoors and no one trying to flog off the merch at prices higher than negotiated rates! Bing!

LifeMusicMedia Photo Galleries of Soundwave Brisbane – 2010
Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010
AFI, Alexisonfire @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010
Paramore, Placebo, Taking Back Sunday, Clutch, Meshuggah @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010
Creepshow, Sunny Day Real Estate, Baroness @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010

As announced by Soundwave organizers the day before the event, it’s unfortunate that Closure In Moscow, the only Australian band on the bill, have been cut from the show/s.. Contradicting statements are released by both festival organizers and band alike… resulting in a little public confusion as to why exactly they aren’t playing. It’s disappointing. They’re relatively new to the scene and somewhat unknown so having them tour with Soundwave would have been a big plus to both the band, and most likely the festival itself. Either way, any thoughts of negativity evaporate as quickly as they came, and checking the venue map once through the cattle blockade at the entrance see’s us heading over to Stage4, just in time for Baroness.

Playing over 250 shows a year in their early days has truly prepared them for them for days like today. Tight and true, John Baizley’s haunting vocals and backing guitarist (joining the band in their later day’s) Peter Adams’ and his imposing riffs seem to be the pick over Gallows, heard to have started their set in a less than wondrous fashion on Stage 5, in a matching time slot. Many a Gallows fan negated their choice of view, and headed over to Baroness just in time to catch the later half of thier set.

I break after the first couple of songs to get a beverage, it’s been a while since I parched my thirst and the day is hot… first error on my part, was getting stuck in the bar line only to realize I still didn’t buy drink tickets. Dah. Quickly relocating I sort myself out and end up with a couple to take away. Back to the stage, it’s good to see that as far as stage four goes, the possibility of rain was anticipated and the bulk of the grassy area leading up to the stage front was covered in plastic mats, pieced together like some kind of jigsaw puzzle. Their purpose; To protect all from the mud that may appear later on.. Remaining inside the over 18’s section wasn’t really an issue, at this time of day it’s barely 1pm and the stage area isn’t overly crowded. Plenty of light makes it easy to see the band from a distance, and sound equipment was picked well, carrying the bands intonation over many an eager listener.

Only being able to be in so many places at one, it’s hard to decide who to check out next. Considering Isis, Clutch, Anvil, Meshuggah, Anthrax and Trivium are all playing on the same stage in such an order, my choice to remain at stage 4 is decided not only by the line up, but the fact that the venue seems fuller than it should be, and negotiating my way around this joint will loose me some valuable listening time, as many a poor attendee found out later in the day.

Isis approach their set as only they know how, with repetitive evolutionary structure. They’ve been around for over a decade and still hold relatively original line up, an affiliation quite apparent during any of their live performances. Remaining relatively still as they play, the progression and build up throughout songs creates a stir amongst the crowd. With track lengths, on average longer than most of their rivals, they lull us into a prog metal fantasy world during tracks like “Transformation” and “In fiction” only to beak it away slightly between songs, most blended into one another in a very traditional progressive fashion.

Meanwhile, at stage far far away, aptly street named the kiddy stage (Stages 5/6) for it’s display of younger, faster and less experienced, but no less entertaining acts such as A Wilhelm Scream (USA), Architects (USA) and Dance Gavin Dance (USA), the mosh is literally thriving. Non violent and maybe a little bit premature, it’s all a bit of Soundwave fun!

Back on stage 4 Clutch begin to entertain the masses with their original punk/stoner rock from Mayryland USA, more recently moulding their sound and adding some aspects of conventional blues, they bring it to the stage at breakneck speed. Picking up the tempo after ISIS, the area directly in front of the band becomes more and more clustered. Forming in 1990, these guys are also well weathered when it comes to knowing exactly how to indulge their audience, and in between classic tracks such as some ex 1998’s rock driven funk album “The Elephant Riders” and others taken from a more recent “Strange Cousins from the West”(2009), singer Neil Fallon appeases the audience a bit of punk rock pun.

Sexually orientated Eagles of Death Metal front man Jesse “The Devil” Huges” does much the same across at stage 2, enticing the house to participate with sing alongs throughout their choruses, letting the audience take over in parts of songs like “I got a feeling”.

Alexisisonfire rip apart stage one, audience beckoning for more with the end of each finely defined piece. Not as long standing as some of today’s outfits they play with a lust felt thunder; tight, fast and loud. Looking over to the pit you can clearly see why some of their previous gigs, have ended with a few injuries, as many a man jumps for his life in a sea of black. Dallas Green and his honest melodies don’t fade away into the afternoon, chorused by the screaming raspyness of George Petit they run though all the favourites spanning every release they have inclusive of singles like ”Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints”, “Crisis”, “Young Cardinals”and a song that hits the ground running like few that have come before it…”Accidents” during which the Petits taunts the house to sing the backing chorus as loud as they can.

Meshuggah erupt like a volcano back at stage 4, opening with “Combustion”, a muddy combination of blast beats, polyrythyms and sludgy bass work. By half four the sun is beginning to subside, but the atmosphere is more heated than a nuclear blast. Everybody’s a little loose, and the mosh for the Swedish experimental gods erupts during “Combustions” late guitar climax, a high pitched scaling solo stalling only for moments before Kidmans primitive growl pierces the ears of all in reach. They showcase many of their prime tracks inclusive of some old favourites from 1995’s “Destroy Erase Improve” and their last collaboration “Obzen”, a set most disappointingly lasting only half an hour.

It’s bloody hard to see anything at stage front now unless you have either a pit pass, or are part of the security team, so we settle into our fate of being able to listen to the remainder of the set only. Every where you go it’s shoulder to shoulder, and phone reception is non existent.

It’s now about half five, and Jane’s Addiction are set to play in approx. 45 minutes across at stage 1. After grabbing a quick feed to encompass my high octane diet of Dagwood dogs and corn on the cob then fueling up with a voka redbull, I make it down to the main oval just in time to see an aged Perry Farrell attempting some moves that we wonder if he truly believes to be sexy. Unfortunately for JA what could have been a classic comeback turned sour as they were interpreted as out of time, out of practice and under energized. Farrells vocals just didn’t carry the same weight as they may have 15 years ago, and many of their once monumental singles like “Ocean Size” and “Jane Say’s just didn’t project the usual amount of luster. The music produced was average and the band a little out of time, yet Dave Navarro could not be faulted. He carried them through the bulk of their set by setting the tempo and keeping it real, when all Farrell seemed to want to do was take his shirt off and rub it between his legs during verses… ????… Dude.

Having walked away from Anthrax to see them, I was completely deflated, and even managed to release a tear or two. Such was the emotional essence of the day.

Last minute attribute to the Soundwave 2010 line up and generation X Crowd pleasers Jimmy Eat World played as to be expected across at stage two, to a thriving gathering of heartfelt onlookers, chanting choruses and throwing fists in the air as the feel good rockers run though all their latest hits.

Until, Faith No More front man, Mike Patton, a past and modern day sex symbol with classic style and perpetual flair, a musical entity unto himself, walks out from behind a flowing red velvet back drop, followed closely by equal counterparts all wearing matching pastel suits of different colours. They emerge to wall of noise. A resounding scream, echoed by every person in the venue… I’ve not seen so many bodies in one place at one time all functioning in unison. It’s been such a long long, long… long long time, since Australia’s been lucky enough to play host to such a band, most appropriately labeled one of the biggest influences in modern rock history. Bordins once colourful dreads have been replaced by washes of grey, but his talent hasn’t waned. They open with a cover of the BG’s classic “Reunited”, appropriately placed, and perfectly executed. The stands are full, the mosh is elbow to elbow, sholder to shoulder and there’s a sea of people as far as the eye can see. After “Reunited” Patton takes a minute to welcome us, thank us and laugh at his own antics. The play all their best at their best proving that 10 years off the circuit has only served strengthened their musicianship, with the biggest responses eminent throughout “Epic”, “Ashes to Ashes” and a mocking cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparatzi”. Patton uses a loudspeaker to create a bit of vocal distortion at the end of Epic, lays flat on the floor during “Digging the Grave” lets out a blood curtlin scream during “Ashes to Ashes”…….and even manages to steal the camera from an unsuspecting but accommodating camera man, in order to give us a look at his member on the big screen towards the end of “Just a Man”. Unfortunately for the ladies, and many a boy down on the floor it’s only for a fleeting moment. They play another cover.. “Easy”, during which John Hudson plays a perfect solo while Patton requests that the crowd sing along. And they do… every single person in the arena. Hands are being waved side to side above heads, lighters flaming. No pun intended, the sight really is.. Epic. It’s blatantly obvious they’re here not for the money or the glory. Faith no More’s second coming is a major success.

By the time it’s over the escape from the venue amongst a throng of sweaty bodies takes it’s time. And most who would have been heading to the valley are deterred, as the two favourite local hot spots have been shut down due to either plumbung blockages or blackouts.

But it doesn’t matter. We came, we saw, we conqured and eagerly await the release of the Soundwave line up for 2011. What could they have in store for us next year?

Photo Gallery: Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010
Photo Gallery: AFI, Alexisonfire @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010
Photo Gallery: Paramore, Placebo, Taking Back Sunday, Clutch, Meshuggah @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010
Photo Gallery: Creepshow, Sunny Day Real Estate, Baroness @ Soundwave Festival, Brisbane 2010
Jimmy Eat World replaces My Chemical Romance at Soundwave Festival 2010
Alexisonfire Soundwave sideshows with Comback Kid and Anti-Flag – Sydney and Melbourne : February 2010
Clutch Australian Tour Feb-Mar 2010
Escape The Fate – Soundwave sideshows (Sydney and Melbourne) February 2010
Jane’s Addiction – Soundwave 2010 sideshows announced
Soundwave 2010 – 2nd artist announcement
Soundwave 2010 – General Public ticket announcement!
Soundwave 2010 Line-up Announced: Faith No More, My Chemical Romance, Jane’s Addiction and more!