Soundwave, Australia’s yearly metal-fest, wrapped up its Melbourne leg at Flemington Racecourse on February 28th.
First up, I traipsed over to the main stage to see Richie Sambora who greeted me with the obligatory “wassup Mel-born?”
With a backing band that included would-be Michael Jackson and sometime Alice Cooper guitarist Orianthi, the former Bon Jovi guitarist Sambora played a bunch of originals from his 2012 album ‘Aftermath of the Lowdown’ as well as Bon Jovi hits like ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ before closing with ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’.
Opening with the frantic ‘Second Solution’, The Living End were up next on the second of the two main stages. The crowd flocked to The Living End who tore through hits like ‘Roll On’, ‘All Torn Down’ and ‘Prisoner of Society’. It is great to see that the ‘End haven’t lost their mojo.
Arriving just in time to see the infamous Tony Abbott decapitation, Gwar were certainly a sight to behold. Not one for the kiddies, they provided a highly entertaining set that featured frequent cussing, elaborate costumes, hundreds of litres of fake blood and a T-Rex.
Much of the rest of my day was spent hopping from stage to stage, catching one or two songs from a bunch of bands. Placebo played their usual nasally alternative rock. Blues-infused stoner rockers, Clutch, sounded great in the tent. Pennywise are as energetic as ever pleasing the crowd with hits like ‘Same Old Story’, and A Day To Remember impressed us ‘oldies’ who’d never heard of them.
My first full set of the day came when Alice In Chains graced the main stage. I’ve loved these guys since I was a kid, and although they are sadly without original vocalist Layne Staley, replacement William DuVall adequately fills his shoes. Some even suggesting that he could be better and more together than Layne ever was.
Their set featured so many classics it is hard to pinpoint a highlight. ‘Them Bones’ ‘Man In The Box’ and ‘No Excuses’ were all incredible, and new hits like ‘Check My Brain’ faired well against the old hits. But it is hard to go past hearing the menacing bass line of ‘Would’ for the first time live. It definitely took me back to my younger days when Jerry Cantrell had more hair.
Continuing with the nostalgia, I raced over to catch Korn’s set after hearing that they had been on a roll recently. The rumours were correct! Even their new dub-step infused tracks sounded great on stage 3. ‘Shoots and Ladders’ and ‘Freak On A Leash’ were definite crowd pleasers, but hearing ‘Blind’ live for the first time since I was an angsty teenager brought back a flood of emotions.
I checked out bits of Green Day and Rob Zombie. They both sounded great. Green Day dropped a few classic hits from Led Zep and AC/DC into their set. Rob Zombie gave the audience their theatrical moment of the day with ‘Dragula’ and ‘More Human Than Human’ crowd favs and his cover of Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ a real surprise.
The 2014 Soundwave Festival did not disappoint. Legions of black-clad, metal, rock and punk fans flock to the event year after year, and although this year’s event was smaller in its calbre of bands and attendance compared to last year’s Metallica year, it is still a great festival. Sadly it doesn’t look like Perth will be getting another Soundwave next year and Adelaide is also in doubt. It’s a shame because it’s a great event on Australia’s festival calendar.
• Cash bars
• The dual stages that meant there was rarely a break between bands
• People watching
• Militant security enforcing ‘no smoking’ in bar areas.
• The complete lack of signs that said ‘No Smoking In Bar Areas’
• The slim alcohol percentage difference between a beer and a Smirnoff does not justify a $3 price difference.
Soundwave Remaining Dates
March 1 – Adelaide, Bonython Park
March 3 – Perth, Arena Joondalup
Stay updated with your free Noise11 daily music newsletter. Subscribe to Noise11 Music News here