Come Soundwave Festival time, you just know there are going to be sideshows jam-packed with
bands that you’re unlikely to see on any other bill at any other given time during the year. But due to the tight schedule that Soundwave operates with, there are only so many days (four) that the touring bands can play sideshows to their more die-hard fanbase. So how do you fit 70-odd bands into 4 nights in Melbourne? You load up venues with 3, even 4 bands from the bill and book every major venue and every back alley pub with a stage for those 4 nights to accommodate as many bands as you can. So tonight at the famed Gershwin Room at the Esplanade Hotel, three of New York Hardcore’s finest set their sights on destroying everything within its four walls. From the shitty wallpaper and the black-painted windows, to the PA, nothing was being left to chance.
Vision Of Disorder ordinarily wouldn’t be third in line at a venue such as this, but given the bands that they shared the stage with, it’s a proposition that they just had to deal with. Given the early time slot, and with punters still gaining entry, the band played to a filling crowd, but nonetheless an underwhelming one, not that you could tell by the performance. The New York natives – out of the scene for such a long time – put in 110% for their 30-minute allotment, and with pulverising tracks such as Suffer, Hard Times and Through My Eyes, the ones in absentia were the ones missing out. Closing with a jackhammer finale of DTO, Vision Of Disorder certainly pleased the early crowd.
Madball certainly needed no introduction to the hardcore fanbase in attendance. Having been around for the best part of 25 years, they solidified their status as one of the leading exponents of brutal hardcore many moons ago. What was evident was that for a large segment of the audience, Madball were the headline act. Vocalist Freddie Cricien’s animated stage presence meant that the energy projected from the stage inspired the same energy levels from the pit. Ferocious circle pits seemed constantly in action, whilst the steady bombardment of bodies launched from the stage meant that if you didn’t keep your eyes up, you were likely to cop a stray boot or fist to the face as a result. Beast and Heavenhell kept the more recent fans happy, while brutal assaults like Pride (times are changing) saw chaos rule the room.
A noticeably thinner crowd greeted Sick Of It All, and thoughts of them being outplayed again by their well-credentialed supports seemed a distinct possibility. Their shows with Agnostic Front last year, which they also headlined, saw Agnostic Front take the spoils on a points decision, but tonight, in terms of performance, Sick Of It All certainly took the cake. It’s Clobberin’ Time got the ball rolling early, with a flurry of fists and feet blurring the most at front and centre, but the thinned-out crowd meant that a stage diver would meet with the floor more often than meet the awaiting hands and unsuspecting heads of the front few rows.
A Month of Sundays, Uprising Nation, and a rendition of Rat Pack (performed as a special request by a girl named Sharnie, who was invited to the stage to perform vocal duties) were all given vital cuts. The wall of death, commonly seen going from stage right to stage left, was instead given the front-to-back treatment due to the confines of the Gershwin Room, during mega moment Sanctuary.
As far as triple headers go, this line-up of New York Hardcore’s finest was a brutal assault on the senses. For those seeking another bout of heavyweight hardcore, their chance at Soundwave Festival on Friday is just around the corner.