Gig Reviews

Soundwave 2011, Sydney Olympic Park – 27/02/11

This is Christmas for punk and metal fans.

Soundwave is over fifty acts which is any angry young mans wet dream. Seas of black flooded Olympic Park with grey skies overhead it felt like a religious experience was about to take place.

First improvement at the new venue was getting in. Gates open over an hour before the 1st band and it took a lot less time to get in. AJ I think you should keep it here and not Eastern Creek. Secondly, the sound wasn’t great across all the stages but with more stages, more shade, more bars and more food, it was a better venue to stage one of the best music festival.

Every Avenue were pop punk fantastic, and being drunk at 11 is cool if you’re in a punk band. Trash Talk were brutal, intense and hectic. Singer, Lee jumped in the crowd, in the circle pit and up in the grandstand. It was exhausting just watching Trash Talk. Renown for their short songs (last album Eyes & Nines clocked in under 18 minutes) they covered a fair bit of their discography.

Feeder showcased their new album Renegades. They came across well up on the main stage. Set highlights Down At The River, Right Way Home and Renegade.

I caught the end of The Starting Line. Good melodic punk rock will have to check them out. Gaslight Anthem. There was no way they would be bad in my books. The sizable crowd who watched agreed. A high energy set from the boys from Jersey. The smile never left Brian’s face and the whole band had fun up on stage. Taking tracks from the last two records American Slang and The 59 Sound including a brand new song unveiled for Soundwave.

Sum 51 packed the tented Stage 3 (the punk stage) full of girls screaming to their catchy pop punk. Good live sound even if though it was too sugary and inoffensive for my liking. In contrast Devildriver were brutal like a bomb explosion for the ears. Not for the faint of heart, Dez Fafara led his group through a blitzkrieg set of fan favourites mixed with the newly released Beast, which was well received.

Millencolin played Pennybridge Pioneers in full and it took me back to the year 2000 shouting every word and loving every second of it. It was great to hear my favourite Millencolin record live. A huge turn out even on the side of the stage with many of the days performers trying to catch a piece of their set. Shows the popularity of these Swede punk rockers.

With Murderdolls canceling their sideshow, (due to Joey playing in in 2 bands this tour and wanting a rest. As I discovered on Tuesday, they just wanted to see Social Distortion!) this was the only show we got and they made it worthwhile. Good mix of both albums that came across live well, even if plagued by the sometimes dodgy P.A on Stage 4 (the metal stages).

Primus returned to our shores for the first time in over a decade and the obscure three piece funk/jazz/rock fusion were well received paying an alternative festival. Les Claypool looked like a Harry Potter, if Harry ditched Hogwarts to smoke joints and play wicked bass. Les is the best bass player ever. He gets sounds out of that thing that it wasn’t designed to make. Focusing heavily on their most popular and more live friendly release Sailing The Seas Of Cheese, I hate to say I really wasn’t in the mood for Primus today. Sad, as they are a band I’ve always wanted to see.

I had to take the opportunity to see my first black metal band in Dimmu Borgir and was completely entranced. Symphonic black metal that actually sounded good live, which surprised me. The music drew me in to get closer to the stage. I wanted to leave to see other bands, but couldn’t. One of the highlights for me. And I was impressed that they were smart enough to not wear all black leathers in Australia. But the weird white, almost out of space thing was interesting.

Catching the end of H2O and it was good old fashion New York hardcore. Obviously the highlight that got the pit into a frenzy was I See It In Us and Guilty By Association. The Amity Affliction tore it up on Stage 6 (the hardcore stage) with the Grim Reaper making an appearance and went crowd surfing on a actual surfboard! Much to the disgust of security who had a tough time on that stage all day keeping kids from crowd surfing and getting over the barrier. Their set was heavy on last years Youngblood album. Veara really nailed that New Found Glory style punk rock. Sadly, a small crowd because of a little band on Stage 4 called Slayer.

The kings of thrash/death metal were one of the headliners and who most people wanted to see. Even if you were a casual fan like myself, just to see the legends of metal and brutal it they could be live…..if we got to see them. Slayer ended up no showing the event. Tom took ill and was taken to hospital. The stage was pelted with bottles and cans from angry fans disappointed they weren’t seeing their beloved Slayer tonight. What it did mean was I got to see a bit of New Found Glory again.

Dressed in matching basketball tops New Found Glory were like a released caged animal with energy. They are a great energetic live band, who can get a crowd jumping and singing. A band to really get you dancing is the Mad Caddies. Ska, punk, dub and dixie all rolled into one. They achieved what I think may just be the world’s slowest circle pit during Weird Beard, a fitting pirate sea shanty number.  (This years Soundwave theme was pirates). Classic Caddies tracks like Drinking For 11, Road Rash and Contraband were the highlights of the set.

Queens Of The Stone Age were great warming up the crowd for Iron Maiden. I wish I didn’t like the band but their songs are too good to write off. A nice best of set with all their hits to satisfy the fans.

Iron Maiden. Iron fucking Maiden! Never thought I’d see this day. I loved them as a teenage kid first getting into heavy music. My best mate was a Metallica fan, I was an Iron Maiden fan and we used to try and convince the other our band was better. A five minute video introduction before launching into the title track of the new album Final Frontier. There it rolled on with classic heavy metal. 2 Minutes To Midnight, The Evil That Men Do, Fear Of The Dark.

The six guys showed a ton of energy and fitness levels to run around like that for two hours. It was Adrian’s birthday so the crowd sang him Happy Birthday. Bruce ordered people up out of their seats and Steve’s left foot was stationed on the fold back speaker as always. Even Eddie The ‘Ed’ came out and terrorised band members before picking up a guitar and cutting a solo.

The only criticism is the fact there was only a handful of old songs but an encore that kicks off with Number Of The Beast and Hallowed Be Thy Name, you’re always going to win!

That was Soundwave 2011 for me. A great day to be a fan of punk and metal music! Unless you’re a Slayer fan, then the day just kind of sucked for you.

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