Soundwave Festival 2015 Brisbane: A Weekend In Review

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Now that Soundwave has come to a close, we have to continue on with our real lives. This weekend I was at Brisbane Soundwave Festival which was running back-to-back with Sydney Soundwave.

Day One

The turnout is decent. The crowd was mostly well-behaved and I am excited to see a few must-see bands.

First band of the day is Dayshell. I lined up at 10:45am to make sure I would get in on time to see the band play at 12pm. The band started off strongly, but Shayley ran out of energy far too quickly. The performance had peaked around the middle of song #2.

I catch a glimpse of a couple of songs from King 810. For a band that cops a lot of hate from the metal purists, they put on one hell of a good show. They sounded tight, they sounded like their recorded material and I was not disappointed. In-fact, I wish I had caught them from the beginning.

In-between all of the bands, I sip $4 bottles of water. It is hot outside, so thank fuck I bought tickets for the entire weekend to The Comfort Zone which would prove to be a nice little resting place in-between bands.

Speaking of which, although The Comfort Zone was nice and dim-lit, as well as there being no crowds – it was very underwhelming from a food and drink selection point-of-view.

There was limited food choices in The Comfort Zone, far greater choice outside in the sun (if you could be bothered to venture out between sets).

For the $50 I paid for two days access, the water was still $4. The food incredibly overpriced, it seems paying for access does not give you an advantage of cheaper food or drinks. Ironically I would go on to discover a place called Michael’s Steamed Dumplings near stage 5 where you could buy $2 bottles of water (the same water being sold in The Comfort Zone).

Paying for The Comfort Zone was worth it alone for the fact you get to sit on an actual toilet and not a portaloo. Did I mention the incredibly cold air conditioning and comfortable chairs?

Okay, rest over. Lets go see some more bands. Notably absent from the festival is Australian flags and Southern Cross tattoo’s, then I remember I am at Soundwave and not Big Day Out.

I catch the entire set of Animals As Leaders. These guys are seriously very skilled at what they do. Tosin Abasi the lead guitarist of the band is very polite when he speaks. I guess you could call him a djentleman? crowd interaction is kept at a minimum (understandable given some of their songs go for 7 minutes).

For a band that does not have a vocalist, Animals As Leaders rely on Tosin’s guitar work (mostly) to do the singing and it works so well. The audience were circling around in their pits and strong-arming one another in the sake of all that is music.

Did I mention how hot it is? Time to head back to The Comfort Zone. What? I have some time to kill before the next band and I don’t want to pass out from heatstroke (I try and avoid spending hundreds on bottled water). Ironically I end up slamming down a couple of cans of Canadian Club and Dry at $10 a pop while I decompress in The Comfort Zone.

Okay, rest is over. I then waltz over to Confession and catch a couple of songs before they wrap it up. Crafter is getting old, he can still carve it up, but their performance was not that impressive. The lack of clean vocalist for the clean heavy songs was noticeable. While Crafter replaced the clean singing parts with his trademark growl, it was not the same.

Hot damn, it’s warm out here. Next up on stage #5 after Confession is Crossfaith. This metal band from Osaka, Japan absolutely fuck shit up. They have the stage presence thing down to an art. At the beginning of the set they come on one at a time introducing themselves in true Japanese boy-band like style and then shred it up.

The lead vocalist regularly commands the audience to split apart for a wall of death, constantly demands a circle pit and even though it was hot, the crowd obeyed every command. A perfect show. These guys are entertaining and very good at what they do.

As Crossfaith wrap it up, it is time to start venturing over to the main stage to see Manson. I take a seat this time in the grandstand. I glimpse about 3 songs from Papa Roach, for a band that are getting on with age, they can still put on a great show.

The ending track Last Resort was disappointing, you could hear the struggle with the screaming parts. The band were also playing in a different tuning, so it sounded lower and in my opinion, not as good.

It’s Manson time. He comes onto the stage dressed in his trademark Gothic apparel, the band is also equally matched with Manson’s attire. The show sadly is a let-down. Not a complete disaster like his 2012 Soundwave performances, but still not good.

Manson kept going off the stage after almost every song. He made a remark about how he had to go see his “sponsor” after going off one time. Judging by the fact the first two songs were decent and then he seemed to spiral into a state of disillusionment, I am guessing he was taking something back stage.

As his set went on, he got even worse. At one point he was lying across some speakers yelling incoherent lyrics to his songs, then dry-fucking the ground. Occasionally flexing his muscles. It’s evident Manson has reached a point where he no longer needs the money nor gives a fuck really.

The highlight of Manson’s set was when his microphone holder which was a massive blade was used to puncture a plastic bottle and then he proceeded to cut it open. Holy crap, he uses an actual sharp blade as a microphone holder? Awesome.

Once Manson finishes his drug-fuelled rambling performance, I decide to go see Of Mice & Men instead of staying for Slash on stage two. I’ve seen Slash before, he is good, but Of Mice & Men will be a mayhem fuelled show, so I decide they’re the better option.

As always, Of Mice & Men do not disappoint. In-fact, they’re better than they were last time they played Soundwave. Bassist and clean vocalist Aaron Pauley actually sounded really good, in comparison to last time I saw them, he sounded atrocious.

The show is energetic, there was a certain buzz in the room and a great vibe overall. Lead vocalist Austin Carlile commands the audience like puppets.

The big ticket item Slipknot hit the stage. The show-grounds arena part is packed. There is no getting in or out of here now. I find myself closer to the back, getting to the front proves to be an impossible task. Nobody wants to move, everyone wants to see Slipknot.

As expected, the band put on a great show. Corey Taylor sounds really good, the band behind him sound tight as well. Considering how long they’ve been playing, I would be surprised if they didn’t have their material down-pat.

There was flames, the lighting was great and it was a very entertaining headlining set. I didn’t stay for the whole thing so I could leave before the crowd rush, but I say most of the set and they were great as always.

A solid start to Soundwave Festival 2015 in Brisbane. I am really looking forward to the final day, I feel as though the lineup is stronger.

Day Two

I get to the festival a little later, but just in-time to see Lower Than Atlantis. I had heard a couple of tracks before heading to the festival, but wow, these guys put on a great show. The audience was small, but they were one of the first bands to play on the main stage.

After seeing Lower Than Atlantis, it’s break time. Did I mention how good the real toilets are and the air conditioning? After a couple of drinks in The Comfort Zone which isn’t as dim-lit today, I head over to Ne Obliviscaris.

Damn. These Melbourne metallers play a flawless set. For an Australian band not known by a lot of people, they pull a decent (and very active) crowd. Their songs are complex, intricate and their timing is perfect. The violinist is very talented, his live performance meeting his recorded stuff and even at times eclipsing it.

For one of their final songs, they play one movement of a 23 minute song. Ne Obliviscaris are easily one of the highlights of the day so far.

One of the acts I wanted to see was Gerard Way (the former front-man of My Chemical Romance). Don’t judge me, his solo material is quite good. Seeing him play it live though? Even better. Given his time in MCR, Gerard definitely has a loyal following and has crowd interaction down to a science.

The day is way hotter than it was on day one, so much so, that every band who played throughout the day would remark how hot it was. Gerard was the first to say something but as he put it, “It’s hot, but I’m wearing a suit, I’ve got sunglasses, I don’t give a fuck!”.

Maybe I’m a pussy, but this heat is really getting to me. Wanting to get my moneys worth I head back to The Comfort Zone for a little rest in air conditioning and a couple of Canadian Club & Dry’s. I see a sign that says, “heavy beer $8” which turns out to be Carlton Draught, I’ll have a couple later on.

Before too long, it is almost time for Antemasque. Comprised of former members of The Mars Volta, I eagerly await what kind of show they will put on like a little school girl frothing at the mouth after taking some bad acid.

I catch a glimpse of Steel Panther finishing off their set. They didn’t sound as bad live as I thought they would, however, I still think they’re a bunch of wankers.

They managed to pull an absolutely massive crowd though. One of the biggest crowds I saw for a band playing during the day in that hot sun. People are curious of the gimmick I guess.

As expected, a whole bunch of women mid-way eagerly got up on stage to show their tits. What possesses women to do it who knows, but I am sure the guys in the audience appreciated it. I wasn’t there for that part.

As Steel Panther finishes Antemasque assemble on the stage. Front-man Cedric Bixler-Zavala commenting on the massive drove of people leaving Steel Panther banters with them, “Hey! where are you going? We like Panthers too. We’ve got panthers and we like steel!” – before blasting into their frenetic high-energy set.

Best performance of the day definitely goes to Antemasque. Wow. Cedric (of The Mars Volta and At The Drive In fame) tore the main stage up. They played an hour set featuring a 23 minute version of track Providence (I filmed it). Half of which was comprised of guitar soloing from Omar who is very talented.

Once Antemasque coming to an explosive finish, I head over to see Monuments on stage #5. If you ever get the chance to see Monuments live and they put on even 10% of the show I saw them play, you are in for a treat. Hot damn.

They sounded impeccable live. The lead vocalist’s vocal delivery was second-to-none, the band behind him playing their discordant brand of djent like they’d been playing it for 20 years.

The smell of weed is in the air, much to Croom’s approval. The band blitz through a mixture of new and old. Ending their set with their classic track The Seduction.

Following Monuments is dirty southern rockers He Is Legend. This is their first show in Brisbane in 8 years. While Schuyler definitely sounded tired and his voice not being able to hit the notes he once could, it was a great show. Finally getting to hear material from It Hates You and new album Heavy Fruit. The crowd is small, but receptive.

After He Is Legend, I head over to the stage #3 tent to see The Aquabats.

If you have not had the chance to see The Aquabats, then you are missing out. They might not be the heaviest or even most talented band on Soundwave, but they are definitely the funnest and most entertaining. Playing all of the classics, the band definitely did not disappoint.

The highlight of their performance was definitely Pool Party which saw the band invite Patent Pending, Fireworks and numerous other band members up onto the stage for a “photo with Brisbane” then large bouncing balls full of water were thrown into the audience for that pool party feeling.

There are not a lot of bands out there who can get the entire crowd dancing like The Aquabats can, nor can many bands say they’ve turned the audience into pool party attendees either.

Okay, it’s headlining time now. I decide to see Lamb of God as I know Faith No More will be packed out. I saw FNM a few years back at Soundwave, so I knew what to expect.

I’ve seen Lamb of God live before as well during their own headlining set a few years back. They were as great as always. A tight set, with Randy commanding the audience into a frenzy telling everyone to “fuck this place up” – briefly Randy gets the audience to yell out fuck after saying how good it feels to say it.

The band play all of the classics and new tracks, then it is time to leave.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why Soundwave is Australia’s premier metal/rock/alternative and punk festival. It has the best mix of old-school and new-school. There are not many festivals where you will see people over the age of 40 mixing with 20 year olds.

No mishaps except for what apparently happened at Tonight Alive, but with exception, it was a flawless and extremely well-run festival.