Soundwave Sydney, Eastern Creek Raceway – 21st February, 2010

Some were up at the crack of dawn, some hadn’t slept from the night before. As we piled out of the endless procession of buses, a wave of black t-shirts, long hair, piercings and tattoos descended upon Eastern Creek raceway. It was our Christmas day. The holiest event on the calendar. It was Soundwave.

First to kick things off was local act Heroes For Hire who managed to attract a decent audience for 11.30 in the morning. For good reason too – they were good. Pop punk at its best, it got the feet moving and set the day up nicely. They also did a nice job covering the world’s most annoying song ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by Wheatus.

It Dies Today kicked off stage 4 with their brand of metalcore, creating a frenzy in the moshpit as they played tracks off last year’s album Lividity. Rolo Tomassi started off the action on stage 5 with their unusual, genre defying sound. Male/female twin vocal attack that scream and screech with music that can go from brutal hardcore to synth driven electro and back, all in the space of about 30 seconds. The crowd loved it, even if I found it disjointed and difficult to listen to.

Gallows were one band I was looking forward to. Having canceled their tour last year to play at Soundwave this year, there was great expectation and despite the early spot, they didn’t fail. Wasting no time in their aural assault, the band spat out tracks from last year’s critically acclaimed Grey Britain. Tracks like ‘Black Eyes’ and the renamed ‘Sydney Is The Answer’ carry across live and the older material got the diehard fans singing and dancing up a storm. The Gallows also got the first circle pit of the day.

Taking Back Sunday are a band I have always wanted to like but could never get into, so I figured I’d give them a go and watch the set. While they played what the crowd wanted to hear, the likes of ‘Cute Without The E’ and ‘Sink Into Me’, I was still left a little underwhelmed. Motion City Soundtrack were in the same category. Played with a ton of energy and passion, but the songs seemed to fall flat over the searing heat draining the crowd.

Axl Rose once described Eagles Of Death Metal as the “Pigeons of shit metal”. A harsh statement but maybe not so far off the truth. The sleazy rock numbers lacked imagination. Maybe Boots Electric needs Josh Homme to give the band some substance, because it was lacking today

(I happened to thoroughly enjoy the Eagles tongue-in-cheek cock rock shenanigans. Their cover of ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’ was great, but everyone’s entitled to their opinions – Ed.) .

Another band I was excited to see on the bill was Canada’s Alexisonfire. Having rated Old Crows/Young Cardinals as my favourite album of last year, I braved the killing heat and sun to see them rip through 45 minutes of post-screamo punk. Delivering tracks from older releases with only ‘Old Crows’, ‘Born And Raised’ and a massive singalong to ‘Young Cardinals’ coming off the last record. The tragedy at the Olympics a few days prior didn’t stop George and the boys gave it their all in what was now reaching 40°C. (In a side note, credit to security for spraying water all around the D barrier and filling up everyone’s water bottle to keep people hydrated.)

Reel Big Fish have been playing music festivals for longer than a lot of the people that were watching them have been alive. They know how to put on the best show in the shortest time slot. Barely pausing for breath, the band played a bit of a greatest hits set that even got this reviewer into the moshpit for the first time in many years during ‘Sell Out’. By this stage finding shade had become the sole mission of most punters so I had to sacrifice a chance to see Anvil to put up with Placebo. To give them credit, the crowd loved it and band didn’t miss a beat. But I would’ve preferred to see anything else but them.

After seeing AFI play pretty ordinarily the last time they were out, I was hoping they would redeem themselves. From the moment they kicked off with ‘Medicate’ right through to closing with ‘Miss Murder’, the band performed one of the best sets of the day. Pulling tracks from their last three releases only, the band played with renewed energy and vigor. Songs from album Crash Love like new single ‘Beautiful Thieves’ and ‘Veronica Sawyer Smokes’ were met with huge singalongs. The crowd were in raptures for old favourites from Sing The Sorrow like ‘Girls Not Grey’ and ‘Dancing Through Sunday’. Davey Havok sang and screamed his way through the set. Hunter wore a groove in the stage running back and forth and Jade jumped and sprung around the stage like he was on a trampoline.

With the main stages running overtime I had to choose between seeing Anti Flag again or Jane’s Addiction. I had to see Jane’s Addiction. Perry and the boys put on a hell of a show. There was the theatrics from the front man; a couple of girls, near topless, dancing on high risers at the back of the stage; there were classic Jane’s Addiction songs ‘Stop’, ‘Three Days’ and ‘Been Caught Stealing’. And thankfully, nothing from that horrible Strays album from a few years back. My personal highlight was hearing one of my all time favourite songs, ‘Jane Says,’ played live as the set closer. Awesome.

Jimmy Eat World stepped in last minute for My Chemical Romance who had to pull out under doctor’s orders. What we got was more than a replacement act, we got the best Jimmy Eat World could offer. Like with Reel Big Fish, we got a bit of a greatest hits set, that’s what the 10-12,000 strong crowd wanted to hear. It needs to be pointed out that by this stage a lot of people were just keen to see Faith No More and probably wouldn’t have cared too much for Jimmy Eat World, but I think they won some people over with a solid set. Closing with the infectious ‘The Middle’, frontman Jim Adkins commented that “this is one of the best shows we’ve ever played.”

Thirteen years ago Faith No More last toured Australia. I had an opportunity to go but passed it up. “They’ll be back again” I said. Six months later and they split. So now that they are back, I get a chance to remove a regret in my life. Starting off with a nice song about reuniting, the band kick straight into ‘Land Of Sunshine’. Delving deep into the catalogue, songs like ‘Surprise, You’re Dead’, ‘Midlife Crisis’, ‘Gentle Art of Making Enemies’ and the iconic ‘Epic’ entranced the crowd that were almost spent after a long day. However, they found the energy to jump and sing along to ‘Ashes To Ashes’. Watching 15,000 move as one is an awesome sight. Mike Patton was on fire and circled the stage like a man possessed. Puffy and Bill looked like kids again, happy to back playing music together. Coming back for an encore and playing almost two hours, Faith No More owned Soundwave and it was just the way it was meant to be.

If you still haven’t had your fill of the Soundwave festival, check out Anette Geneva’s photo coverage of the day here.

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