Counter Revolution @ Festival Hall, Melbourne (30/09/2011)

It was a pretty miserable day in Melbourne and as I walked to Melbourne’s Festival Hall, I couldn’t but chuckle to myself. I mean… it seemed only fitting considering the controversy that has surrounded Counter Revolution in the last few months. With the festival being downsized from a full multi stage event to a dual stage show, which then again got downsized due to poor ticket sales, now the festival was spared the bad weather as a result of it’s reduced surrounds.

Hellogoodbye were the first band I saw on the day and if the calibre of artists to follow were anything like them then it looked to be fantastic day of music. Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn got the crowd moving early on, but it was Touchdown Turnaround that proved the standout of the set. With banter reduced to a minimum the boys from California (pop) powered their way through their 40 minutes and before too long it was all up and we were left to question why they didn’t get a later spot and more time to play.

Make Do and Mend then played to a fairly apathetic crowd, which was quite disappointing. On the back of last year’s excellent End Measure Mile, the band put on an impressive, if not underappreciated set.

Next came the first of two ‘supergroups’ in The Damned Things. With members ranging from bands such as Fall Out Boy, Every Time I Die and Anthrax, they were expected to put on something enjoyable. Unfortunately, as can be the case with such formations, they lacked cohesiveness and ultimately didn’t quite deliver.

In contrast, Funeral For A Friend put on one of the most solid sets of the day, despite a few technical difficulties. Several line-up changes over the years haven’t hindered the lads from Wales who seem to go from strength to strength. A terrific performance was rewarded by a passionate audience and several of the biggest circle pits witnessed during the day, as the more mature side of the audience relived their teenage memories through songs like Escape Artists Never Die and Streetcar.

Sadly Set Your Goals followed by playing a fairly forgettable set and they wrapped up, I thought it a good time to skip out for a bit in order to catch a solid dinner before the evening run of bands to finish off the day.

A parma and a few pots later I arrived back at the venue midway through Face To Face’s, who did nothing to make me regret my decision. They had one of the smaller crowds of the day and while they played a solid show of pop-punk hits, it was lost on the majority of punters who spent the set camping a spot for Yellowcard.

In Yellowcard’s defence, they played a set worthy of such a generous crowd. Having not been on our shores for 4 years, they certainly had a lot to prove. Opening the set with For You, and Your Denial off of their most recent effort, When Your Through Thinking, Say Yes (their first output together after a 2 year hiatus), it was clear that they had come back with a renewed sense of energy. Despite this, it was 2003s feel good album Ocean Avenue that got the most attention from the Floridian 5 piece. Way Away and set closer Ocean Avenue were best received during a thoroughly enjoyable set.

Taking time during the set to catch his breath and have a quick word with the crowd, front man Ryan Key made mention that the band are set to tour Australia again next year. On the evidence of this showing, they have more to give and the prospect of seeing more of the new songs live as well as a few gems from their back catalogue is something to look forward to.

Young Guns were the next band to grace the ‘side stage’ and much like those who came before them, they got a less than positive reception. For a band as unknown as they are over here, they were billed quite generously and they knew it. That aside they put in a fantastic effort and as their set progressed, it was clear they beginning to win over more and more punters. With a handful of EP’s and just the one record under their belt ( All Our Kings Are Dead ), the young English band proved themselves and in the process garnered more than one new fan.

No strangers to the Soundwave scene (having been on the line-up twice before), All Time Low were up next and I’m pretty sure every girl in the room was front and centre to bear witness. It became apparent very soon why; the cocky team of Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat really knew how to please their crowd. Often telling them that they are pretty or cute and more than once during the performance asking them to take their shirts off, something that was much obliged with several bras ending onstage just a few songs into the set.

Playing songs predominantly off their newest LP Dirty Work which came out only a few months ago, All Time Low powered through a 1 hour set that was nothing short of entertaining… cheesy stage antics and all. With a stage presence not dissimilar to Blink-182, the foursome made jokes about sex, drugs (the narcotic, not the band as Alex pointed out) and pretty much anything else that popped into their heads.

Finishing up with Dear Maria, Count Me In All Time Low showed us why AJ keeps booking them to come back here; they put on a consistently high quality performance.

D.R.U.G.S. were the penultimate band of the day and turned out to be one of the surprise hits for many in attendance. The ‘supergroup’, fronted by Craig Owens after he was let go by Chiodos, only managed to squeeze 6 or so songs into their short but sweet 30 minute set but to be honest, it was all they needed to prove their point. Though playing like veterans, the group have in fact only been a band for a little over a year.

Songs like Sex Life and Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm off their self-titled debut worked a treat and a guest performance by Story of The Year’s vocalist Dan Marsala topped off a near flawless set.

With D.R.U.G.S. departure from the stage it only meant one thing. After a long day it was finally time for Panic! At The Disco and they brought their A-Game. Fittingly opening the set with recent single Ready To Go (Get Me Out of My Mind) Panic let us know from the get go that they were here for one thing, to put on one hell of a show.

Playing a set consisting mostly of material from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Vices & Virtues (6 songs featuring off each during the set), it was nice to hear a change in the middle with Nine In The Afternoon off their sophomore album. The simple but upbeat song turned out to be a great break in an otherwise full on set.

Surprisingly one of the more memorable moments in the set came with a cover in the form of The Darkness’ I Believe In A Thing Called Love. I thought it a strange choice when announced but it turned out to be a perfect fit for them. Brendon Urie’s vocals were an ideal match and the ‘rock opera’ feel of the show carried across despite the difference in genres.

Finishing off a long day with New Perspective into Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…) Panic left the stage to perhaps the biggest applause of the day and looking around, I saw nothing but happy faces. Despite all the shenanigans related to the festival and the negativity it has received, Soundwave are to be congratulated for continuing forward with it. While we are unlikely to ever see a Counter Revolution-type festival from him again, it was good to see that AJ Maddah can organize a smaller scale festival without the many clashes associated with the regular Soundwave tour.