Soundwave 2010

Soundwave 2010, Perth

Last week, Soundwave 2010 rolled around to our little corner of Australia. And what a day it was – 39 degree heat (that’s Celcius – 102F for you old scale country peeps), five stages, a crowd of 35,000 and Blue Steel oval Bassendean, which only just managed to squeeze all those people in.

This was the fourth year for the festival and as in previous years, we spent most of the day in front of stage four, the metal (\m/) stage.

First up for us was Baroness at 12.50pm (i.e. just as the day was just starting to heat up). This is a band I’d been hanging out to see and they didn’t disappoint – in fact, they impressed so much we picked up their album the next day. Groovy, heavy, stoner metal (Wikipedia says sludge) with just a touch of prog. Got people moving (and the sweat starting to flow). A nice easy start to the day.

Next up were Isis, a band in much the same vein as Baroness, but turning the "prog" dial up just a bit further. They were interesting, but it wasn’t really the right kind of venue to see them in – too hot to concentrate!

Next up on the metal stage was Clutch, a band I was quite keen to see, but over on stage 3 was a band I was even more keen to see: Glassjaw. These guys are kind of a guilty pleasure band for me. I don’t know how to classify them other than "post-somthing" and maybe a bit screamo (actually Wikipedia says that they are actually post-hardcore, experimental, alternative, progressive and screamo, and who can argue with the big W?) and while normally I would be dishing heaps on bands like that, for some reason Glassjaw have always resonated with me. I have both their albums and I know every post-something screamy bit. They had broken up a few years ago and them getting back together (in some form, anyway) was a big deal, so I dragged Dave off to stage 3.

Now, stage 3 was actually undercover. Faced with 39 degree heat, "undercover" sounds like a good thing in theory, but I’m here to tell you that in actual fact it was hotter under in the canvas tent then it was in the full sun. It was absolutely cooking.

Dave zoned out a bit for a while but as soon as Glassjaw started I couldn’t pay attention to anyone else – they were riveting. Screamo, definitely. Slammin’, quite a bit. Totally fucking cool. They played all their best songs – I know the songs well but not really the song titles – plus one new song from their as yet unreleased album. Can’t wait for that to come out!

Anvil and Placebo, not really
After coming out into direct sunlight for some release from the heat (that just sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) it was back to the metal stage.  Up next were Canadian veterans Anvil.

Now, Anvil. I have not seen the movie. I probably will at some stage – people tell me it’s great – but it’s not real high on my todo list. So anyway Anvil were rocking out, old-school, and having a great old time on stage but that kind of watery metal is not my cup of tea, so we went in search of a shady spot to chill for a few minutes. We wandered down to catch a few minutes of Placebo, mostly for curiosity’s sake and also to snap some photos for Dave’s second cousin in Poland who is devoted to them the way only a 14 year old can be, then it was back to home base, the metal stage.

I have heard the hype. I have heard their albums. I don’t dislike their tricksy mathcore prog, but it’s not something I’d put on to chill out to. I saw them headline last year in Perth, and I wasn’t feeling 100% well at the time, and while I thought they were very good, I wasn’t in the mood for an all-out conversion. But today, I think I realised just how goddamn heavy they are, and after the lightweight Anvil it just seemed very fucking cool.    

Due to some messing around with equipment, Meshuggah started about twenty minutes late, which is never a good thing for a festival. At the time when their set *would* have ended, had it started on time, a stage tech appeared and tried to indicate that it was time for them to get the fuck off, but they were having none of it. They played out almost their full original set time anyway. I think I’m beginning to understand the hype.

Meshuggah’s late start and late finish meant that the next band up, the almighty Anthrax, were also late starting. These guys were probably the most anticipated band on the stage 4 lineup and all I can say is WOW.

I’ve seen each of the other members of the so-called "Big 4" thrash bands of the ’80s and ’90s – in fact, I’ve seen Metallica, Slayer, and Megadeth twice each, and Testament, which is sometimes included in Anthrax’s place, once. We thought we would see Anthrax last year at Wacken but then they pulled out at the last minute when they fired another frontman (this time it was Dan Nelson’s turn). Now that I’ve seen Anthrax I can say I’ve seen all four (although, not on the same show – although nobody in the world has YET) and die happy.

John Bush is back in the jinxed frontman spot, possibly permanently although that hasn’t been confirmed. We didn’t get to see Bush when his other band, Armored Saint, opened for Death Angel in Perth last year, because he was sick. The band played anyway, with the bassist and guitarist taking turns with the singing and doing a really kick arse job of it too.

The first surprising thing was that he came out wearing a white Loony Tunes tshirt. Over a long sleeved undershirt of some description. While it was now past 6pm, it was by no means cool and um – white? That’s not very metal is it? That aside though, he does a fantastic job as frontman and the rest of the band were damn, damn, damn, damn good. So much energy. Scott Ian is a madman. Frank Bello is dorky cool. Charlie Benante is a machine. Nuff said.

Jane’s Addiction, Trivium and dinner
Because of the stacked up late starts on stage 4, we missed all of Jane’s Addiction. As teens of the ‘90s, we had been hoping to see them but we did catch them at the Big Day Out a few years ago so it wasn’t worth missing any of Anthrax over.  

Next up were Trivium. Not being such a fan myself, I took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat although we did see the last few songs (Dave does like them. But he has other redeeming features that make up for it, honestly). They were… Trivium. They lied about how the audience was the best one of the entire tour and indeed the loudest fuckin’ audience they’d ever heard in their entire fuckin’ lives, etc etc etc, and played lots of cheesy songs with big melodic choruses. They also threw in a cover of Sepultura’s Slave New World and it wasn’t terrible. That’s the best I can say about them.

Faith No More
Dinner ingested, it was time to fight our way down for a spot on the main stage for Faith No More. Last year Soundwave made a teenage dream come true by bringing Alice In Chains down under, and it was nothing short of an emotional experience (yes, I cried, I wasn’t the only one, no, I’m not embarrassed). This year they continued the trend with Faith No More, and band no one expected to get back together again.

Yet here they were, larger than life on stage wearing lounge suits. Mike Patton was hilarious. Those were songs that needed to be heard live. I’m sorry, but you really just had to be there.

Here’s a highlights video someone compiled from the Perth show. Watch for a couple of minutes in when Patton demands to security “squirt my ass” – so funny.


They also threw in a Bee Gees cover – I Started A Joke – and goddamn it was bloody funny.

A big shout out to all my peeps who helped make it a smashing day – Anne, who was suffering from a variation of the plague but who managed to fight her way through the day anyway; Al and his houseguest Amie, all the way from Melbourne; Mick and Mihaila, proving that only people who weren’t born in Australia walk around in 39 degree sun wearing a bikini top and no hat; Simone, who I spotted from 30 metres away by the stars tattooed on her back (I wasn’t actually looking for her either); and my gorgeous cousin Stef who was so busy being fantastic that I didn’t even meet up with her.

On the organisational front, the food situation was not the best. I had a pretty good plate of Hare Krishna food but pretty much everywhere else had huge lines for overpriced chips and not a lot else. At least two of the more interesting looking food joints were already out of stock and closed by dinner time. I drank one and a half $4 cans of coke zero – they were icy, icy cold and as such a welcome change from the litres of warm water I was ingesting otherwise but yikes, 4 bucks?

Also, the mobile phone reception was shockingly bad. This is a problem at events like this and I don’t know how it can be fixed, but text messages are pretty much the only way anyone can find anyone else and the overloaded phone towers meant that I was getting “where u? Im lhs front stage 4” messages finally coming through 36 hours later – not particularly helpful!

On the whole though, I’m very proud of Soundwave, the little festival that fuckin’ could. When we went to the first one four years ago at Robinson Pavilion there were not even 10,000 people there. Now it rivals the Big Day Out (kills it in terms of cool factor) – and without the benefit of mainstream popular bands or any of the kinds of bands that the indie snob Triple J set adore.

Heavy music, man! Right on.

~ by goat_admin on March 5, 2010.

3 Responses to “Soundwave 2010”

  1. nice nod to Glassjaw, an extreme band usually overlooked by metalheads. their show must be a killer, nice to know they’re back. thanks for the reviews!

  2. you mean… we weren’t “almost as loud” as every other crowd they’ve played to until 3rd participation song? my…. feelings….

  3. […] March I picked up the pace a bit. First I posted my review of Soundwave 2010, which was pretty epic. Although not as epic as the lineup for Soundwave 2011 – but wait, […]

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