The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

 


BLUE STEEL OVAL, PERTH WA
1st March 2010

 

Q: What’s Soundwave?
A: It’s just like the Big Day Out, but with much better bands


(read on a Facebook conversation last week)

 

It’s not until the morning of this year's Soundwave Festival that we manage to set out our plans for the day. What seemed like a few nice gaps in the lineup soon proved fantasy and we had to wonder how fast we would be able to rush between stages to miss fewer minutes of some great bands.

 

It’s hot here in Perth. It’s been hot all summer and now, as summer is sucked away into autumn, it’s back near it’s damned hottest again.

 

Despite 37 degree Celsius heat, a stage which wasn’t where the map said it should be, and security who often seemed more confused than us, Perth Soundwave 2010 got underway on time and as we queued in the beating sun we heard the thunderous, though largely generic, growly thrash of THIS IS HELL.

 

A plethora of sugar-hyped kids over-eager to start what may have been one of their first day long festivals bounced and moshed and stomped in the midday sun to these eager young scamps.

 

We had planned to catch THE CREEPSHOW early on - now, we’d never heard of The Creepshow but they were recommended last week when we were over in Melbourne frequenting a random cocktail bar before the Shinedown gig by a random and bored Kiwi waitress who reckoned that they rocked hard in a sort of Crampsian-Psychobilly type of way. After tequila it seemed like a good idea, so we promised we’d seek them out and were bummed to have missed their timeslot whilst queueing up.

 

 

Surprisingly enough, while scouring the grounds for Stage 5 we stumbled upon THE CREEPSHOW playing their last song an hour or so later than scheduled. Though we saw far too little of their set, we wished we’d heard more. The band themselves are a little tattooed-Blondie-meets-The Cramps, and they rock it up early in the already blistering heat.

 

After almost a full lap of the oval, scurrying in and out of every nook and cranny, with multiple red herrings from all but one of the staff and security, we eventually discovered the elusive Stage 5 just in time for the SHINEDOWN guys to take the stage.

 

Setlist:

The Sound of Madness
Devour
If Only You Knew
Cyanide Sweet Tooth
Second Chance

 

 

After catching the guys in Melbourne last week today is not quite as memorable an occasion. Any heavily condensed set is never going to do a band like Shinedown any justice at all, but there’s a healthy crowd and singer Brent Smith tells us this is their best crowd in Australia so far (I guess it just outstripped their headline set at The Espy). The set really is faultless as far as the essence of the band is concerned: we get the rockers, we get the melody, we get the obligatory “big hit ballad”, we get the buttering up of the crowd (the “I don’t have any doubt where the most beautiful women in the world come from any more” patter was my favourite) and in the blazing Perth sun we get Smith in full leathers whilst the rest of the band perform with shirts off. We will see more of these guys, I’m sure of it.

 

The Rockpit wander across to stage 3 for BARONESS, who remind us of Mastodon, but with more of a Kyuss-esque jam sound. ‘Swollen and Halo’, ‘The Gnashing’ and ‘Jake Leg’ hit the crowd with a bass-heavy solar plexuspunch and a wave of throbbing guitars.

 

 

ISIS were next to strut their wares on the Metal Stage. Despite being “one of the originators of the Sludge Metal [sub sub sub] genre” they were far from “compelling” (as described in the festival program) and we quickly moved to the main stage for the loved up, booty groping, New York Dolls/Primal Scream pulse of EAGLES OF DEATH METAL.

 

Ever-intense mainman Jesse “The Devil” Hughes is without his foil Josh Homme on this tour, but the band kick arse and entertain the biggest crowd of the day up to this point. Hughes flirted outrageously with the crowd with every word and gesture, and you just know he’d have us all back to his trailer later if he was able!

 

Setlist:

I Only Want You
Don’t Speak (I Came To Make A Bang)
Bad Dream Mama
Heart On
Cherry Cola
Now I’m A Fool
English Girl
Secret Plans
Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Godddam)
Wannabe In L.A.
I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)

 

Quote of the set: “They didn’t know we was gonna be this cool in high school, did they? I guess we showed some bullies!”

 

EODM play an infectious hard rocking and danceable set and are solidly entertaining, but you can’t help wondering how big this band could be with a few more killer songs the calibre of ‘Cherry Cola’ or ‘I Want You So Hard’.

 

AQUABATS are on the side stage looking like blue-clad Wiggle-ninjas, but their poppy punk is teenage virgin hijinks compared to EODM's Hughes's experienced and confident lothario - no contest!

 

 

We head back to the Metal Stage for CLUTCH, who proved one of the surprises of the festival in probably the hottest part of the day. They’re a great tight band, southern liquor and stoner rock tinged and hard as nails with a rolling groove and a corrosive bluesy edge.

 

 

Rockers like ’50,000 Unstoppable Watts’, ‘Promotor’, ‘Immortal’ and the ball tearing ‘Struck Down’ punch the over-heated crowd in the guts and pummel them while they’re down.

 

PARAMORE bounce around the main stage, exciting a mainly younger throng with their infectious and boppy hard popping rock tunes. They obviously have huge potential and will be back in town before too long if the reaction today is anything to go by.

 

Setlist:

Ignorance
crushcrushcrush
That's What You Get
Looking Up
Careful
Let The Flames Begin
Pressure
For A Pessimist I'm Pretty Optimistic
Decode
Misery Business
Brick By Boring Brick

 

ANVIL draw a big crowd to the metal stage in the sun – probably as many eager fans, as those curious to see “that band from that movie”, and those hoping to witness a train wreck.

 

 

Luckily for those of us who have followed the band since their first few albums, the latter are out of luck as the band rock hard old style. Lips pulls out all the stops – talking through his flying V pickups, playing a scorching solo in ‘Mothra’ with a vibrator, “recharging” by sticking his live guitar cord on his tongue – promoting a screech of feedback, and introducing his best friend Robb Reiner for an extended drum solo in ‘White Rhino’.

 

 

I’m not usually a fan of extended solos of any kind, especially in such short sets as is the norm for a festival gig, but Reiner’s drum mastery always blows me away - it’s a privilege to see him in action again and a highlight of the day.

 

Setlist:

March of the Crabs
666
School Love
Winged Assasins
This Is Thirteen
Mothra
White Rhino
Metal On Metal

 

 

By the end of their set, those wanting front row for a train wreck have given up or been converted, the sun is starting to take it’s toll, and Shane & Trulie need cold water and a sunscreen top up, while Mark has moved on to catch the androgynous industrial glam of PLACEBO.

 

These guys were slick and rocked it much louder than I imagined. Whilst Placebo may not be everyone’s cup of tea as a casual observer, if you can put up with Brian Molko’s nasally voice then you were in for a treat.

 

 

And that, in a nutshell, is the best thing about festivals like this: you get to see and sample a heap of bands you never otherwise would have, and you find out that YES - it is good… like a “try before you buy” deal. This set makes me want to go out and grab a ‘Best of’ CD tomorrow.

 

Setlist:

For What It's Worth
Ashtray Heart
Soulmates
Every You Every Me
Breathe Underwater
The Never-Ending Why
Meds
Song To Say Goodbye
Special K
The Bitter End
Bright Lights
Trigger Happy
Infra-red
Taste In Men

 

Meanwhile, Swedish metallers MESHUGGAH had overcome technical problems, started half an hour late and were forced to play a cut down set. Belying their super-serious avant garde/mathcore reputation, the band appeared to be having fun on stage – singer Jens Kidman caught a red bucket hat with corks hanging off it which was thrown onstage, and wore it for the rest of the set. The moshpit was anything but flippant though – as intense as we’ve seen at a Soundwave.

 

The ANTHRAX saga of the last year has been almost as soap opera-filled as Aerosmith’s, what with John Bush’s reluctant return after the Dan Nelson fiasco, and rumours that the Nelson recorded album “Worship Music” was to be released as-is, was to have it’s vocals re-recorded by Bush, that Bush would write all-new lyrics, and then (more likely) that Bush may or may not decide to rework the entire album with the band if and when he chooses to.

 

 

On the strength of today’s performance the future of Anthrax looks infectious – the intensity is palpable, the moshpit is heaving (security pull bodies out regularly as the sun slowly sets), and bassist Frank Bello is so incensed by his faulty monitor (roadies change it mid-set) that he takes all his aggression and annoyance out on a crowd eager to lap it up.

 

 

Setlist:

What Doesn’t Die
Got The Time
Caught In A Mosh
Antisocial
My Safe Home
New Noise
Madhouse
Only
Bring The Noise

 

 

Bush admonishes all to call in sick to work or school tomorrow, jumps offstage and prowls the barrier, and makes the older songs his own as usual – making it even more impossible to understand why they ever bothered with their inevitably doomed reunion with Belladona. Let’s hope we get this album sooner rather than later!

 

JANE’S ADDICTION are the surprise of the day for Mark - I am transfixed by the performance and so glad I cut the end of Anthrax to get there to see the full set. I must admit to never really being a particular fan of the band. Sure I loved their classic third album “Ritual de lo Habitual” and their reformation platter was OK - but live these guys are a revelation.

 

Setlist:

Up The Beach
Mountain Song
Ain't No Right
Three Days
Whores
Been Caught Stealing
Summertime Rolls
Ocean Size
Ted, Just Admit It...
Stop!
Jane Says

 

 

The twilight slot just adds to the magic as they dive into a set that gives off a very Doors-like vibe: semi hypnotic, beautifully cascading rhythms reach out into the fading light.

 

Perry Farrell is much larger than life, and with a bottle of red wine in hand he controls the stage from the off. He is at times poetic, at others a little obtuse and at occasionally just out to get a reaction.

 

 

“This is the home of Heath Ledger, and Naomi Watts” he confirms, “Perth - where the radicals gather” is a bit of a strange opening gambit but when he follows it up with “I just want to fuck” you know it’s going to be a fun ride.

 

“What are we waiting for” he extols us and it is enough to make you think you really oughta go out there and do something. He is persuasive and he makes it sound so simple! When he tells us he wishes this time could last for ever then adds “Well let’s try to make it last 3 days” you know what comes next.

 

A punter throws cheap sunglasses on stage and Perry asks for something a bit more expensive, “maybe some Louis Vuitton?” Someone throws a thong onstage with impeccable timing. “No not Louis the thong” Perry screams!

 

And in the fading light, Farrell’s presence just grows. He jumps around the stage and swings from side to side and sings and calls out. I feel moved to dance (and believe me: I never dance).

 

 

There is more wine for the pounding ‘Ocean Size’ and the backing dancers shimmy about in their grey flamenco sleeved jackets and the shortest dresses known to man. Mesmerizing as the sexy dancers are, it is just another layer to the spectacle.

 

Eventually the dancers disrobe and end up in a sort of see-through white bordello waiting room costume and writhe to the music as ‘Stop!’ cuts the air.

 

Davy from AFI joins the show for the penultimate song, and then it’s a drummer’s paradise when the guys from AFI and Faith No More get on stage to help Dave Navarro drum us out.

 

This is a truly memorable night in Perth and Jane’s Addiction have opened these eyes wide!

 

A lot of people have opinions of TRIVIUM, and even though I am certainly not the biggest thrash fan in the world they are a band I constantly enjoy, this being my 6th Trivium concert. These guys on their day are pretty much faultless new trash and if there is one fault it is that they seem to be so stung by the Metallica-lite criticisms that they play little off the magical “Crusade” album these days. To be honest they are wrong: they just have that standard late eighties thrash sound that they managed to make their own unlike some of the generic screamers earlier today.

 

 

Buoyed by a very large crowd and the fact that this is their last date of the tour Trivium pull out all the stops and actually surpass last week's great show at the Espy. These guys do their best work under the cover of darkness and the much cooler temperatures ensure a good injection of energy without the risk of sunstroke.

 

‘Anthem’ and the thunderous closer probably take the cake - it's a great set and the few there that haven't seen the guys in action before will be back for more. Next year, guys?

 

 

Setlist:

The End of Everything
Rain
Drowned and Torn Asunder
Like Light to the Flies
Throes of Perdition
Down from the Sky
Anthem (We Are the Fire)
Slave New World (Sepultura cover)
Shattering the Skies Above
Dying in Your Arms
A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation
Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr

 

We caught a few tracks from JIMMY EAT WORLD whilst reclining on the grassy knoll in the dusk. They’ve been brought in at the last minute to replace My Chemical Romance, who pulled out due to singer Gerard Way’s “severe vocal issues”, and their brand of punk-lite indie-pop keeps the crowd happy and bouncy – but you can’t help but think they don’t belong this high up in the bill, despite the instant recognisability of their best song, ‘The Middle’. If only they had a few more as good to back it up with.

 

The sun is down, and it’s been a VERY long, VERY hot day, but there’s still more to come, and we make our way across the oval - littered with cans and water bottles and bodies – to see FAITH NO MORE.

 

Anticipation is high for this reunion tour, and our joking about how sarcastic Mike Patton would be was answered with the first song: a cover of the 70’s Peaches & Herb disco classic ‘Reunited’. Between that and the argy-bargy at the bar (resulting in a bloody hand for me, thanks to no fault or even participation of my own except wrong place, wrong time), we knew this might be an unusual ride.

 

 

Whereas FNM’s cover of The Commodores’ ‘Easy’ was inspired and classy and sly, ‘Reunited’ is a little too knowing and arch: Patton trying a little TOO hard to be seen as not trying too hard.

 

By the time ‘Ricochet’ comes around, most of the crowd seemed happy enough to singalong, but we felt like something was missing. Knowing Patton’s penchant for perfectionism, and seeing he has long since firmly usurped the band from guitarist Jim Martin, now off farming giant pumpkins, the sound seems sanitized – neutered almost.

 

 

No doubt arch-artist Patton would argue that we missed the point, but perhaps what FNM 2010 gain in musical diversity, they lose in vitality and excitement and rock?

 

A good set, but nothing special – which, given the anticipation, means this was a let down.

 

Setlist:

Reunited (Peaches & Herb cover)
From Out Of Nowhere
Be Aggressive
Caffeine
Evidence
The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies
Chinese Arithmetic
Last Cup Of Sorrow
Ricochet
Easy (Commodores cover)
Ashes To Ashes
Midlife Crisis
I Started A Joke
Ugly In The Morning
King For A Day
Epic
Just A Man

Encore:

Chariots of Fire/Stripsearch
We Care A Lot
Pristina

 

Headlining Stage 3 was HIM, which I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for; and the new album just plain rocks so I have been hanging out to finally catch them live. If you like your rock dark and brooding, smoky and dangerous then HIM are a band to check out: but it’s not all about that, these are great songs with great melodies and insightful lyrics.

 

Opening with my favourite from the new CD they produce a flawless set of killer songs and have what starts off I thought as a relatively small but super-devoted crowd on their feet. This is music to devour, to let rip apart the sense and music that wants you to make love.

 

It’s pretty hard to pick a highlight though and whist Ville has all the young girls on the verge of disaster I can just appreciate the passion and the music. It is hard to surpass ‘Buried Alive By Love’ though and ‘Wicked Game’ that follows is unexpected and very entertaining.

 

After seeing Jane’s Addiction earlier I didn’t think they could be topped, but on reflection this was just so fucking cool it takes it. Say what you will about HIM (and I know a lot out there don’t like them or write them off as some drooling sub-goth band) but hey tonight in Perth this was rock and roll!

 

Setlist:

Like St. Valentine
Right Here in My Arms
Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly
Heartkiller
Join Me
Kiss of Dawn
Katherine Wheel
Poison Girl
Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness)
Buried Alive by Love
Wicked Game
Love the Hardest Way
Funeral of Hearts

 

Soundwave: Like Big Day Out, but with better bands? Yes, certainly, but it’s more than that. The Soundwave line-up features all the vibrancy and diversity that the early BDO line-ups boasted. While BDO leans more towards hip hop and pop acts nowadays, Soundwave proudly flies the flag for hard and heavy, indie, punky, thrashy, gothy rock n’ roll. There’s no Lily Allen here – thankfully – and the crowd seemed close to full, so the “more commercial music = more ticket sales” argument is moot.

 

And so the long, hot day drew to a satisfied close. We were spoilt again this year with many great and diverse bands, a mostly impeccably behaved crowd, and we can’t wait for next year!

 

 

Words by Mark & Shane
Photos by Shane
Additional words for Meshuggah by Natalie Goddard