Photographer Report: SOUNDWAVE 2010
Faith No More, Jane's Addiction, AFI, Alexisonfire, Paramore and many more...
Photo by Sophie Jane
Have you ever wondered how the other half live? We're talking about Australia, the land that reasonable gig ticket pricing forgot (and according to some, a lot of touring bands...). While we're freezing our asses off, they're basking in the sunshine - and sunshine means festivals. In Australian Summers, if you like your alternative rock, you can't afford to miss the biggest event on the touring calender - Soundwave. It's a touring festival that's grown so big over the years, it's spawned the traditional Sidewave off-dates, giving those who can't afford to hit the main dates a chance to catch some of their favourites live.
This year's festival had a stonking lineup, with Faith No More's first shows on the continent in nearly thirteen years, along with AFI, The Get Up Kids first Aussie shows since getting back together, Alexisonfire and more. The perfect opportunity, then, to find out what it's like to do a festival where the chances of you needing your wellies halfway through are about the same as Refused reforming.
Sophie Paterson headed down under to check out SOUNDWAVE 2010 to find out how festivals Aussie-style compare to those back home, and to find out whether Coconut Water stalls really make up for a lack of ice cream vans...
SOUNDWAVE 2010: SYDNEY
Alexisonfire (with Chris #2 from Anti-Flag), Paramore, Placebo, AFI,
Jane's Addiction, Faith No More
Eagles Of Death Metal, Paramore, The Get Up Kids, All Time Low, Anti-Flag,
Escape The Fate, Him, Faith No More
Faith No More, Neil Hamburger, AFI.
Sunday 21st February
East Creek Race Track
Soundwave...?! Should be re-named HEATWAVE! We didn't make it to the festival site at Eastern Creek Race Track until mid-afternoon, partly because of the weather; partly because of just how far out from the city the site was and the almost hour wait for a shuttle bus to the site. The "no shade" warnings at the site weren't very encouraging...
We caught the last half of Alexisonfire playing one of their old favourites, 'Waterwings (and other poolside fashion faux pas)'. It went mental, lots of circle pit action in the crowd, despite the intense hot weather! 'This Could be Anywhere in the World' got the best reaction, especially when Chris Barker (aka Chris #2) from Anti-Flag joined them onstage to sing it [See the Melbourne gallery below - Ed.], but its unlikely that anywhere else you'd find George Pettit in only a pair of boxer shorts with the Canadian flag on the back and front, his hairy belly stuck out over the heads of the front row fans when he went and roared down the mic into the crowd over the barrier for 'Accidents'.
By the time Alexisonfire finished (closing with 'Happiness By the Kilowatt'), the poor young Paramore fans were begging for cold water to be sprayed all over them, chanting the band's name over and over again and wondering why they were so late coming onstage. They've had a long wait. Paramore were supposed to do the first proper Soundwave tour in 2007, but had to pull out to finish recording Riot!, the album responsible for their shows at arena size venues, and touring the world more than once before they all turned 21.
After a 45 minutes delay (due to the band's equipment truck traffic getting into the festival), they own the stage for the ten song set. Hayley Williams is so delicate looking and petite, she's like a little precious porcelain doll that you want to wrap up and place into a pretty gift box - but then she would rip herself out. "This is gonna be great, this is SO amazing..." Hayley repeated that kind of sentence in between most of the songs. She has more energy performing than some of the male rock singers I've seen live, though even she was getting a bit out of breath, mainly from the heat. In the place of Josh Farro, back in the US planning for his wedding, was Justin York, brother of rhythm guitarist Taylor York, but it made little change. Paramore had drawn the biggest audience at the main stages that afternoon. I've been to loads of festivals worldwide over the last 15 years, but I don't think I've ever seen so many dazed out and overheated people get carried over the barriers into the pit by security. The heavy amounts of pouring sweat didn't phase many of the dedicated Paramore lovers throughout the performance. I had some loud guys next to me shouting, we love you Hayley! so much that one of them literally lost his voice by the time the band were gone.
The hottest part of the day was almost over by the time Placebo came on, but I lost count of the amount of delirious looking people around me and saw a few fans pass out. I first saw Placebo in a small club venue called Alleycat in Reading, and it's impressive that this band are still around after 15 years - especially with all their past dramas of drug use, rock 'n' roll debauchery and going through three different drummers. Even Brian Molko still looks just the same! "This can be anything you want it to be about - just as long as it's not about breakfast cereal!" announced Brian before 'Special K'. The lack of audience participation from Brian was a bit of a let down, even though he's never really been a talker during shows. The most we got from Brian came during 'Meds', when he got pissed off by some reporter in the pit apparently filming, and he threw water over them. My highlights were 'Every You and Every Me', 'Bright Lights', 'Infra-Red' and 'Taste In Men'. I was really hoping for a real treat to a Placebo old favourite like 'Nancy Boy' or 'Bruise Pristine', but no chance, as the set was mostly a showcase for recent album Battle For The Sun.
For What It's Worth
The dirt all over the place by the main stages became a real problem for everyone, and by the time AFI got onstage I was already thinking of how relieved I would be to get back to the hotel and have a shower! However, my joint favourite San Francisco Bay Area boys (the others being Faith No More) brought out the energy all over again once the worst hot sun of the day was fading away. By the second song, 'Girl's Not Grey', I just wanted to be in the crowd. Davey Havok is one of my favourite frontmen, always moving around the stage with total enthusiasm, no matter what the weather is and is very expressive. I was thinking Davey's very tight black jeans were going to rip any second! After a rather motionless, tame audience watching Placebo, the circle pit action really got going again during 'Death of Seasons'. Like myself, I got the impression that the fans were wanting more of an AFI greatest hits setlist, rather than a showcase for new album Crash Love - though they did a surprise old school AFI track, 'Love Is A Many Splendored Thing'. Hearing songs like 'Love Like Winter' and 'Silver and Cold' was rather amusing, as everyone felt like they were in a huge sauna!
Soundwave is a very small festival compared to what we have in Europe. Only one day in each city means no camping facilities or any entertainment after the last bands are finished. The fans are just there to watch the bands and everyone goes home way before midnight - that's it. Sydney seemed a lot more conservative than any other festival I've been to in Europe, too. I never spotted anyone with neon face paint on like we see at festivals in the UK. Not a silly fancy dress costume or novelty hat spotted anywhere! As for backstage, there is no guest area or VIP enclosure, just the artist catering area with dressing rooms - which in Sydney was a drive away from the main stages - and there was certainly no party onsite afterwards. In fact, it was the main stage entertaiment that was the party!
The sun was setting as Jane's Addiction came onstage, Perry Farrell walking on armed a bottle of red wine. The skin tight pants and pelvic thrusts theme that Davey Havok showed off carried on, with Perry stutting and thrusting around the stage in full glory to 'Up The Beach'. Jane's Addiction's live shows have always had a theatrical element to them. At one point, two Japanese geisha girl style dancers appeared onstage, wearing wigs, see-through while tops and stickers on their nipples. They held up a large red blanket, which Perry Farrell stood behind. At 50, Farrell still looks and sounds fantastic. He sipped out of his bottle of wine, then teased and canoodled both girls either side of him while singing 'Three Days'. It was quite a memorable scene. It was by far the most sexy rock 'n' roll performance of the day and the most artistic. Dave Navarro, shirtless for most of the performance, wore more make up than any of the girls I saw in the audience. 'Ted, Just Admit It' and 'Stop!' were fabulous, but the best song of the set for me especially was 'Been Caught Stealing'.
Up The Beach
It's unlikely you'll see a sushi stall anywhere at European festivals, or even a stall selling natural coconut milk, as I found walking around Sydney. In the severe hot weather, I was suprised there was only one ice-cream van around that was anywhere near the main stages (apparently there were only two on site)! I waited half an hour listening to Jimmy Eat World, and they were a good replacement for My Chemical Romance. However everyone was impatiently waiting for Faith No More, running an hour late after Paramore's delayed set.
After second hottest festival I've ever attended (not including Coachella in California) it was a relief when Faith No More finally walked on. Mike Patton is to music projects what Lady Ga Ga is to stage costumes - always changing and trying out new things. Having been an epic "Pattonite" since around 1991, Faith No More have always been one of my favourite rock bands. The June 2009 reunion shows in the UK were emotional, but I was very excited for the Australia shows, and from the moment 'Reunited' started it was like Download 2009 all over again.
Mentions of the hot weather were almost after every song, especially 'Land of Sunshine' (most appropriate song of the day!), Mike and Roddy asking if everybody was okay. Somebody threw a white lace petticoat onto the stage during 'Evidence' and Patton picked it up, unfolded it and wiped the sweat from his face with it! The audience loved the fun cover of 'Poker Face' before 'Chinese Arithmetic'. During Easy, Patton asks security to spray him instead of hosing down the front rows - "Hey asshole, hey you fucker - spray ME!" - and he gets soaked. With his black shirt drenched in sweat and water, he still did the same stage moves as he always used to in the 1990s. Bending over and moving in circles rapidly, especially during the most heavy songs like 'Surprise! You're Dead'. As expected, the loudest cheers were for hits like 'Epic' and 'Ashes To Ashes'. Patton stayed well behaved in Sydney - compared to Brisbane the night before, when during the performance of 'Just A Man', he took over a big screen camera, opened his pants and took out his dick ! Encore was outstanding with 'Stripseach' and 'We Care A Lot'. They were meant to be finished by 10pm, but it was after 11pm by the time Faith No More had left the stage. A great day, but never before have I been so desperate to rush back anywhere to wash off and soak my feet in ice cold water!
FAITH NO MORE
Faith No More, Neil Hamburger, AFI
Melbourne Festival Hall
Faith No More, Neil Hamburger
Melbourne Festival Hall
I woke up aching all over that morning, from Mike Patton landing on me when stage diving the night before at the Festival Hall [see the FNM Melbourne Report], but I was determined to enjoy Melbourne Soundwave no matter what. I certainly didn't expect it to be as hot as it was in Sydney, as Melbourne had been much cooler the previous two days - but it turns out it was just waiting for Soundwave.
This time I decided for a difference, and although all the bands I liked best were on the two main stages, I watched some of Eagles Of Death Metal. The crowd seemed uninterested and the moshing hadn't started yet. I'd watched Paramore in Sydney and they were doing the same set, so I limped to the nearest other stage which was Stage 3, or "The Punk Stage".
Walking around, Melbourne Soundwave was a better experience than Sydney. There was plenty of shade and the organisation seemed better, too. There was seating all around Stage 3 and loads more free water all over the place, and fans seemed more happy to be there. I noticed a more hardcore kind of music fan in Melbourne, more punks and rockabilly tattooed festival goers than at the Sydney Soundwave. Two girls dressed up for the festival, Dita Von Teese pin-up style, told me that in Melbourne there is more of a scene and people tend to make more of an effort to be noticed at festivals and gigs. Certainly the Melbourne crowd was more varied and I met quite a few fellow Poms.
At Stage 3, The Get Up Kids were doing a short soundcheck before playing. Opening with 'Holiday', Matt Pryor and Co. look like they're enjoying themselves more now than before their split, when I saw them at the now defunct Bizarre festival in Germany in 2002. The crowd in front of Stage 3 was very small and most of the people in the front row were positioned ready for All Time Low who were on next, but it was great to hear fun songs again, like 'I'm a Loner Dottie, I'm a Rebel', 'Red Letter Day' and 'Ten Minutes'. They didn't do live favourite 'Campfire Kansas', but they did do their cover of The Cure's 'Close To Me', which I love.
All Time Low soon followed. Sorry guys, but as bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn were nu metal in the early 2000s, for me personally, All Time Low, You Me At Six, Paramore and all these other similar young pop punks arising are nu emo. While the banter between singer Alex Gaskarth and guitarist and back vocalist Jack Barakat was great, the funniest moment was when some girl in the crowd threw a fake breast onstage. Alex picked it up and said it was the most disgusting thing he's ever seen and didn't understand why anyone would throw a fake boob to them. "This is getting to be like a fucking Motley Crue concert!" said Alex, as more things got thrown, mainly underwear and even a white bra with messages written on it in permanent marker made out to all the band [See the photo gallery - Ed.]. All Time Low got the real Soundwave party started in Melbourne and by this time the audience by Stage 3 was twice the size as it was when I arrived.
ALL TIME LOW
Before All Time Low started, I'd been so close to fainting I had asked security to spray me over with their hoses - and I wasn't even in amongst any moshers! I saw a lot of young female fans get carried over the barriers during All Time Low's set and one poor girl looked like she was fitting.
The action got more rough 'n' risky when Anti-Flag were on. Before 'Turncoat', Justin Sane had his rant of the day, saying "there's a lot of coporate greed, religious hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia and ugly shit. Leave that bullshit and let's having a fucking good time!". Well said, and Soundwave ran with it. The Pittsburgh political punks are the rulers of circle pit encouragements and onstage rants. I think he must have asked "the biggest circle pit in the world" about five times during the set, but it made a mark, as theirs was the mother of all circle pits. It deserved awards if there was to be a circle pit competition. 'Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington DC' and 'Turncoat' were brutally awesome as ever, but their cover of The Clash classic 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' was superb. The moshing did get a bit too rough and at one point the band halted a song briefly so that a girl could be helped out of the crowd by vocalist and bassist Chris #2. Best band of the day for me on Stage 3 were Anti-Flag.
Fuck The World
I got back to Stage 3 to see the rest of Escape The Fate. From nu emo to nu screamo! I'd only ever seen the Las Vegas post hardcore kings once before live and they are always full of brutal energy. Craig Mabbitt has been the subject of harsh criticism from fans since replacing Ronnie Radke, but seeing him perform with the band in Melbourne it only left me thinking how much the fans have now moved on and welcomed Craig with open arms. He and backing vocalist and lead guitarist Bryan "Monte" Money's screams could've been heard in Sydney, oh yeah, they were mighty roars! Joined by Monte's brother Michael Money, they debuted a brand new track, 'Bad Blood' - due to be featured on a re-issued version of their second album This War Is Ours, out late April 2010. Escape the Fate are a very young band, but they were on top form and I can see a lot more happening for this band this year with all the past hassles put behind them.
Melbourne Soundwave Setlist
There's No Sympathy For the Dead
You Are So Beautiful
Bad Blood [new track on The War Is Ours reissue]
Not Good Enough For Truth in Cliche
10 Miles Wide
This War Is Ours
It was a hard decision to make, get some photos of HIM in their first three songs, or go to shoot Faith No More photos. In the end, I hung around for the first three songs of HIM, got my photos, then staggered over to the main stage for the rest of Faith No More. It's not that I don't like HIM, I did really enjoy watching 'Right Here in My Arms' and 'Rip Out The Wings of a Butterfly', two of my favourite HIM tracks. There was some great guitar action from Linde, too, but the sound on Stage 3 had been a bit dodgy all day and there were technical problems for HIM at the start. Ville Valo came onstage looking like a homeless art student, though he's still a sexy, charismatic frontman...
However, nobody ever beats Mike Patton at his own game! Could they possibly be any better than the Sydney Soundwave and the stunning Melbourne Festival Hall performances...? Well, there was some extra added entertainment as a difference. Faith No More streamed the entire show live on Chatroulette, the first time any band have broadcasted a performance on the website. We also saw random Chatroulette users on the big screens (including a penis pump and what appeared to be an S&M device of some kind), most of whom didn't seem to know what the hell was going on! There were a few sound issues and at one point Patton threw a mic in anger at a tech. For the encore the band made an attempt to communicate with one man on the screen who was logged on. "Let's have a Chatroulette moment! What's your name dude?" said Patton looking at the screen, but it was obvious he couldn't hear. "Let's call him Jorge, say hello Jorge! Do you wanna hear some Sparks?" he asked, before breaking into their cover of the Sparks cult classic 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us'. Another Faith No More dose of delight, but even with the Chatroulette screens going on, it was still no match for the unforgettable sideshows the night before and before that.
Melbourne Soundwave Setlist
Don't Dream It's Over
From Out of Nowhere
Land of Sunshine
Gentle Art of Making Enemies
Chinese Arithmetic [with Lady Gaga 'Poker Face' intro]
Last Cup of Sorrow
Cuckoo For Caca
Ashes To Ashes
I Started A Joke
Digging The Grave
King For A Day
Just A Man
This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both of Us
We Care A Lot
For more FAITH NO MORE and AFI, click here for our SIDEWAVE 2010 Report