Soundwave Festival – Melbourne Showgrounds (04.03.11)

A sea of black, excessive hair product and copious amounts of eyeliner invaded the showgrounds, ready to get their hardcore on at Soundwave 2011. Being metal’s answer to Big Day Out, the crowds were just as massive and the facilities to cater for them hopelessly inadequate. In between waiting in line 30 minutes to get wristbands, another 20 minutes to purchase drink tokens, another 20 minutes to purchase the actual drinks and then being locked inside the fenced off bar area to finish them, 20 minutes every time you needed a bathroom and over 30 minutes to purchase kebabs (that were cold) half the day was spent waiting in queues, as opposed to watching the mammoth line-up of talent that was on display.

Lucky the rain stayed away for most of the day and on the whole the music was exceptionally good. Due to the aforementioned queuing, Leeds post-punk legends Gang Of Four were first on the menu and Christ did they deliver. Jon King and Andy Gill have still got it and they viciously stalked the stage, dancing along to their funk infused punk goodness. The band played a choice selection from their vast back catalogue including a few tracks from their latest LP Content. The only sad thing is that they were given such an early time slot, as I could’ve happily watched them play for hours, not a meagre 40 minutes.

Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde were another highlight of the day with their weird, irreverent approach to song writing and intensely awesome live show. The hardcore crowd didn’t seem to appreciate Primus and they probably would have been better served at a different event, but the Lords of Acid fuelled funk/metal/rock went off with a spectacular display which included gigantic astronaut suits looming over the band and being treated to some new material which will have the diehard fans salivating that those new album rumours are most likely true.

Next up were Yankee horrors Murderdolls who had the crowd in a frenzy with their loud, angry screaming. Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison are brilliant musician’s and getting swept up in the intense atmosphere of their live show was a lot of fun and they do perform well with the make-up and captivating presence that had the fans swooning over their every move.

Latin and metal are like the original odd couple, but Il Nino brought it to the party with their blend of Hispanic melodies mixed in with a shit load of rage. The fans went nuts for it, but I wasn’t feeling it and left for another long, drawn out food stop.

Everything Zach de la Rocha touches turns to gold and when you throw the drumming mastery of Jon Theodore into the mix, it’s very easy to see why One Day As Lion pulled in the masses. de la Rocha is easily one of the best front men I’ve ever seen, he’s passionate, engaging and fuck can the man move. In true de la Rocha style, his new group blends hip hop and rock and they had the main stages jumping around, as de la Rocha lost his shit on stage and the crowd followed suit. One can only hope they’ll be releasing more material soon, as one EP is really not enough from One Day As A Lion.

Queens of the Stoneage kicked things off in fine form, opening with “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”. Josh Homme has an intoxicating voice and it’s always a pleasure seeing him with Queens cranking out all my favourites including “Little Sister” and “In My Head”. The audience didn’t seem too fussed with Queens though, with everyone standing around stock still which was odd given the fact that their sound was amazing, their musicianship was tight and the band quite simply kick arse live. Having seen them on previous tours I ducked out of the nonchalant crowd early to check out US punk’s Pennywise in action.

The mosh was mad at stage six with the kiddies crazy dancing at risk of causing permanent damage to a few unlucky punters. Pennywise played a tight set that included an even mix of tunes from their past nine records. Singer Zoli Teglas put on a good performance and seemed to satiate even the more staunch Jim Lindberg fans with a cracking rendition of “Fuck Authority”.

Being a big fan of the 90’s Seattle sound, I made a quick dash over to catch the end of Melvins set to see if the ‘Godfather’s of Grunge’ lived up to their reputation. Not being at all familiar with their back catalogue it was a bit difficult to get into but Buzz Osborne and co. have a lively presence and not being able to sing a-long with the rest of the crowd did nothing to deter my enjoyment of the few songs I saw.

The Bronx played a ripper set. Given the general violent nature of the crowds and the many injuries I saw being sustained throughout the day, I stayed far away from the mosh, but their sound was amazing, the instrumentation was spot on with their studio recordings and they played with a fierce energy that was enjoyed by all in attendance.

The night ended with a brief stop back at stage 6 for Asking Alexandria. The English metal-core five piece were according to my mates – really fucking amazing – and I did enjoy seeing the way they blend trance and hardcore and definitely noted the intense energy of the performance, but after an insanely long day exhaustion had kicked in and it was time to find public transport before being crushed in the mass exodus at 10pm.

All in all the whole festival experience wasn’t overly impressive. The lines for basic amenities were far too long, being stuck behind a steel fence no where near the stages every time you felt like a beverage was no fun at all (it really is about time all festival’s joined the 18+ bandwagon) and the amount of people being attended to by the ambo’s for crowd surfing related injuries was utterly ridiculous. However the music was good and in the end that’s all that matters.