Everyone has that moment, where they do something outside of their norm. For some people this is actually turning up to uni lectures, or taking a few minutes to talk to the weird lady with the cats next door (I won’t throw them at you, I promise). Mostly this is a good thing, but sometimes it is just terrible (like watching Britney Spears music videos online).
On Monday, I stepped outside my comfort zone into the record breaking heat, and joined hundreds of other Perthians at Claremont Showgrounds to watch the end of the Soundwave tour. And I’m glad I did.
Overall it was an experience I don’t regret (and definitely won’t forget). Honestly, I was getting tired of seeing Angus and Julia Stone play at every festival I attended. Luckily, they were no where to be found here. As was my sunscreen apparently - my red nose, chest and arms can bear testament to this. (I’m also just going to leave a little note to myself here: Even a hipster hat is better than no hat).
Getting onto the grounds mid-morning, I decided to go check out the Denver duo Breathe Carolina first as I had heard some good things about them. I was glad to find they didn’t disappoint. The combination of their uplifting electro-pop sound, and the energy at which they played drew a large crowd. As hands and fists were pumping the air, I noticed that it was of course mostly an underage crowd (which makes sense - only the young ones have that much energy to thrash around in the heat, with no cover). Memorable moments included their popular cover of Jay Sean’s “Down”, during which the singer scaled the stage scaffolding, before climbing down into the crowd.
After the underagers dispersed, I stuck around to watch Bayside for a bit. I stayed long enough to fall in love (more than a bit) with lead singer Anthony Raneri’s voice, and marvel at the band's live energy, before heading to the other side of the grounds to catch the rest of the Less than Jake set. Having heard of the band but never listened to them, when I found they had a horn section I wished I had gotten a little closer. Highlights of the set included when they got the audience to Ska dance, and played the theme songs from Spongebob, and Scooby Doo.
Due to Sum 41’s last minute dropout from the show (which a lot of people still seemed to not know on the day), Less than Jake played a longer than usual set leaving little time until The Gaslight Anthem hit the stage. Being a favourite of fellow AU Reviewer Simon Clark, (who shares a scarily similar taste in music to me), I was excited to watch them play. I could see why he liked them - lead singer Brian Fallon’s voice had a husky memorable quality, and most of the songs had a good complexity. After a while, the set seemed to be a bit repetitive though. The band played well, but they weren’t exceptional.
I then trekked down to watch The Rocket Summer. One of the benefits of heading back to this stage later in the day, was it was getting cooler, so the little cover wasn't a huge problem. A day after the event, I still feel undecided about The Rocket Summer. Bryce Avary wasn't lacking in enthusiasm - his songs were also largely catchy and melodic. But his voice began to irritate me after a while. When he told the audience he was going to write a new song "on the spot" (by playing, and then looping each instrument) he didn't really achieve the spontaneous feel I'm sure he was aiming for. While a good performance, it seemed a bit like he was trying too hard.
I've been hearing a lot about Mad Caddies, as they are a favourite of my boyfriend's. I am pretty pleased to say, that they were one of my favourite acts. They played a versatile and energetic set, which featured some great live musical moments. My favourite part was when they brought out the banjo. The crowd enjoyed the performance - nearly everyone participated in some way, whether they were singing along or dancing. Who knows, maybe I've found another way to get my boyfriend to dance. An interesting thought...
It seems festivals bring out the crazy in people. Trying to avoid eye contact with people dressed as giant cats, wearing giant black capes or just donning really furry boots (not sure if they frightened me, or if I wanted to join them), I went to watch the first half of the Thirty Seconds to Mars set. In true fashion, the purple washed stage looked like something maybe out of....mars. What appeared to be wind chimes (but as I found out later, were lighting refractors) were hanging from the ceiling. Jared Leto was clearly a crowd favourite as the area was packed - around me I could hear whispers of people wanting to catch a glimpse of his face. From what I heard, he played a great set and the sound worked fantastically with the acoustics of the surrounding area. When a girl in the crowd flashed Jarod he quickly told her "Oh we don't want any of that". Props to him - more than I can say for some of the other acts..
While I didn't get to see much of Oxford band This Town Needs Guns, I was impressed with what I did see. They played some great songs, which had that perfect mix of rock, and memorable lyrics. They were clearly a great band, but it seemed they were still unsure about their success. I could almost imagine the singer turning to us and saying "what the hell are you all doing here?" After they finished playing, they called the the audience rad (in those awesome English accents), and said "thanks for coming to watch us and clapping and stuff". Definitely a band I'll be keeping my eye on. I stopped by Pennywise for a little while, but the most memorable part of the show for me was watching security trying to stop people jumping up on the barricades. Also that they dedicated a song to the Libyans.
My first thought upon seeing Foxy Shazam was, this was a really odd collection of individuals. Well that, and Eric Sean Nally reminded me a little of Austin Powers. I'm not really sure where to start this band. Their songs were great, full of pop angst, powerful vocals and melodies. It was a bit of a strange experience watching them though - from the way they all danced during the songs like they had epilepsy (kind of like being danced at), to the bizarre stares the keyboardist gave the audience all the time, while stroking his keyboard with his foot. The audience also learned that Nally had spent five years in prison for killing a dog. For those who were even contemplating it, we were told that he would kill anyone who tried to bite his son. Always good know.
Queens of the Stone Age, from what I saw played a great set to a very dedicated fan base. The weather was starting to get cooler here, so I was grateful to be in a larger crowd. While I didn't know many of the songs or the names, I really enjoyed watching them play - it was fantastic to watch people doing something that they're really passionate about. The only reservation I have about them is that I found them a little creepy - especially when they did nothing to discourage the flashing girls in the audience (but the opposite). They may be creepy, older guys - but they play some damn good music.
For me, going to see Iron Maiden was more about the experience. I knew very few of their songs, but I went, I saw, I liked. Me and hundreds of other people. At this point in the night, it was getting pretty cold, and my legs were pretty sore. So I tried to enjoy what I could. I have to say, they had a good eye for theatrics - the crowd really enjoyed the giant alien coming out to fight the band.
The glowing eyes of the alien were starting to freak me out after a while, so I decided to go check out the end of Third Eye Blind on my own. Pretty good timing on my part - I showed up in time to watch them play "Semi Charmed Life", which was a pretty awesome end to the night for me.
All in all Soundwave, you did not let me down. I think I may just buy a ticket next year.