Soundwave 2014 Brisbane – review
Soundwave is over for another year. The festival that draws a different crowd to its competitors has done it again, with an excellent balance of acts that satisfied those wanting to see up-and-coming musicians, current rock favourites and acts that deliver a dose of nostalgia to anyone in front of them.
I had plans to see Biffy Clyro, a regular festival-favourite, but the pressure Soundwave attendees were putting on the cabbies made me arrive a little later than expected, but fortunately just in time to see Tesseract almost burst my eardrums. True story – please bring earplugs if you’re planning to stand near speakers, kids. It was my first time seeing Tesseract and apart from their lead singer looking like a friend of mine, they were impressive and held the crowd’s interest.
As a brief shower pushed most punters into the stands of Brisbane’s RNA, Richie Sambora hit the stage with Orianthi. The now ex-Bon Jovi guitarist, Sambora still pulled an impressive crowd and shredded guitar solos that appeared both naturally improvised and classic at the same time. Sambora proved that he is a true guitar icon even sans Bon Jovi.
Dressed in suits that looked a little AC/DC-esque, Upon A Burning Body blasted through their set with frequent reminders for the crowd to move about rather than stand still. It almost seemed like the crowd was merely checking out Upon A Burning Body rather than stopping everything to see them and their lead singer seemed determined to make their time worthwhile. The first few rows got into the vibe once the band encouraged them to jump the barrier and shake his hand, but it was fairly obvious security did not appreciate the move.
Immediately to the right of the stage emerged four-piece hardcore group from California, Trash Talk. The band have seen rapid growth in their fanbase since being officially adopted into the Odd Future stable, most notably led by Tyler, The Creator. While Lee Spielman gave the crowd warning that they feel a little different to the remainder of the Soundwave lineup, the audience became trusting quite quickly. Spielman spent more time amongst the punters in the center of a swirling pit he created himself. After a brief 20-minute set, it was exhilarating but over a little too soon.
AFI opened their set with some classics before starting to move onto new material from their newest album, Burials. What they now lack in eyeliner and jet black hair they make up for with a performance that only a seasoned band could deliver. Havok jumped into the crowd and took advantage of their support both figuratively and literally. Standing above the heads of those who have supported their band for years is a reminder that AFI still has the youthful energy they started with, while growing into a more mature sound.
In front of a colourful, somewhat digital-looking backdrop, Placebo played their tracks with accuracy that would make anyone think they’re listening to a best-of record. They drew a large crowd, but even those that were taking a quick break to sit down and have a drink couldn’t help but get to their feet and dance to their tunes, even though they weren’t in eyesight of the band. If that doesn’t prove how tight Placebo are as an act I don’t know what does. They closed their set with Infrared, which is an odd song to end with but the crowd didn’t seem to mind.
A Day To Remember were one of Soundwave 2014’s big ticket acts and they delivered a performance that justified their place. They make their high energy songs seem effortless and it’s great to see a band transition from smaller stages to the one they dominated at Soundwave. The crowd loved being in their presence, taking breaks to snap selfies and brag about where they were.
My eternal skater soul was in full effect when Pennywise stepped out with returning original vocalist, Jim Lindberg. I didn’t see them when they toured with Zoli Teglas as their frontman last year, but I can’t imagine a Pennywise led by anyone other than Lindberg. Lindberg still has the energy he had when recording Perfect People and Same Old Story. He complimented the crowd before asking for a camera to photograph them with. I quickly offered up mine, which may have been a mistake since Lindberg takes a pretty nice picture! My days as a photographer might be numbered.
My nostalgic dose continued with Korn who kick things off with Falling Away From Me and Got The Life, both crowd favourites. These went down a treat with the diehards and set the standard for Jonathan Davis and crew. Davis’ mic stand was a sight to behold with a steel naked lady bending backwards into the microphone grip. Still sporting dreadlocks, the band doesn’t seem to have aged and neither has their ability to satisfy a crowd.
Green Day had a lot of hype surrounding their appearance at Soundwave, and while they fell short of the three-hour playing time, the crowd were more than satisfied. With a three-hour window, it seems like you would have time to play everything in your back catalogue, but a band of Green Day’s experience has to pick carefully. It seems they completed this task with ease as I overheard many people calling it a dream setlist with special mention of songs from their 20-year-old record, Dookie, being an appreciated inclusion.
My pick for the day, Dillinger Escape Plan, were a last-minute catch for me as I waited for a later band. While my mind wasn’t ready for the mathcore act, I’m glad to have been aurally assaulted by them. I’m not sure how I’ve seen so many bands without catching Dillinger, but they are raw power. I’m not convinced any of the band members are especially aware of each other as they move about and clash into each other, but they operate as a well-oiled machine that will have me as a fan from now on.
I finish my day off with Avenged Sevenfold, a band that takes the prize for most elaborate set of the day. We couldn’t enter the photography pit while they were setting up, which grabbed my curiosity. When it came time to play, the gates of hell sat centre stage with flames lighting the top and occasional fireworks shooting out at appropriate times during songs. Soaring, hard and catchy hooks were aplenty here in the company of dual guitar solos.
With a selection of bands that introduce punters to new sounds and remind them of ones they might have forgotten, Soundwave once again proves why it’s quickly becoming considered the powerhouse of Australian music festivals.
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Soundwave 2014 Brisbane review and photographs by Matt Warrell