Soundwave @ Bonython Park, Adelaide (27/02/10)


Soundwave has done it again, for the second year running, they have smashed all comers and delivered the best festival line-up of the Summer. With a line-up boasting re-formed legends, punk rock stalwarts and plenty of up and coming talent the anticipation for SW 2010 was huge. Although not a sellout, apparently festivals in Adelaide only sellout if there is a mediocre lineup, and despite the extreme heat the punters had turned out in force to witness a day that promised a lot and delivered even more. The other ‘Big’ festival should really take a lesson from SW on how to deliver a decent festival lineup.

The lead up the festival has not been without its dramas with the highly fancied My Chemical Romance pulling out, but being replaced by the ever popular punk legends Jimmy Eat World and the he said, she said battle that resulted in Closure In Moscow being unceremoniously dumped from the tour.

As I wandered down to Bonython Park I was surprised to see that the stage configuration had completely changed from previous years, I assume in an attempt to stop the sound interference experienced between stages in previous years. I arrived just after midday and encountered a small and quickly moving line, after reading about the lines encountered in our bigger cities, I guess this is one of the few perks of living in little old Adelaide. As soon as I’d walked through the gate it became apparent that not only had the stages changed, but the whole area was about twice as big and crowd was massive.

The first band on my ‘to see’ list was A Wilhelm Scream. Having seen these guys before and knowing how good they are I was a little surprised to see them billed so early. The boys from Massachusetts didn’t disappoint putting on a high energy show for the growing crowd. A short sharp 40 minute set meant it was all over before you could blink, but songs like The King is Dead and I Wipe My Arse With Showbiz still had the crowd kicking up a shit load of dust, a practice that would become one of themes for the day.

Next up on the same stage was You Me At Six. I hadn’t heard much of these guys, but I was in the minority with quite a large crowd gathering round to catch their set. The UK boys followed on from where AWS finished off with another high energy set with plenty of crowd action. Their latest single Underdog was a crowd favourite as was The Consequence.

The extreme heat mixed with dusty mouths ensured beers sales were up and it wasn’t long before I too was waiting in the bar line. The new setup for this years SW worked much better than previous years and made getting around much easier and all but eliminated sound cross over. Everything about this year’s Soundwavewas bigger and better, even the toilets weren’t a complete disgrace.

Next on the hit list was Anvil. Lets face it, if it wasn’t for Sasha Gervasi’s documentary this band would still be forgotten and there is no way they would have played today, but the documentary was made and despite many of the kids not being born when Anvil originated the buzz and anticipation for their set was equal to that of some of the bigger bands on the bill. The men entered the stage and looked every bit the 80’s genre that they represent. These guys were the surprise of the day for me, they were brilliant. The love for what they do is so apparent and their humbleness is refreshing amongst the diva antics of many rock stars. Lips at one point claiming to be a metal fan just like all of us and couldn’t wait to get out amongst the crowd and meet fellow fans. I cant imagine many front men admitting that.

I did however cut my Anvil experience short, I had to get across to catch ska legends Reel Big Fish. RBF have a massive following in Australia and the big crowd hanging to see them was testament to that. They came out and opened with Your Guts (I hate em) which set the tone for the set and got the crowd dancing. The highlight of the set, for me, was the piss take routine they performed about being Master’s (*Metallica* style) of every genre bouncing from ska to metal to punk to disco to country before launching into their classic Take On Me which left the crowd sweaty, exhausted and with dust in their lungs.

After RBF it was time for the big names to do their thing. I made my way to the main stage for the first time for Placebo. A massive crowd had settled in and they were not disappointed. Brian Molko, despite his outburst at a previous show, seemed in good spirits joking about the ridiculous heat and feeling like a baked potato. From the opening verse of What Its Worth to the final chords of Taste in Men the boys were on. The band were tight, the sound was excellent and crowd loved every minute of it. Highlights of the set were Every You, Every Me which came surprisingly early, but not surprisingly had the massive crowd in fine voice as did Meds and Special K that came a little later on. Placebo really set the scene for the finals acts and the bar was set rather high.

AFI were next to hit the stage and did the kids come out in support. Opening with their latest single Medicate, the energy on stage was high, and the energy in the pit was higher. AFI played predominately newer stuff only venturing pre Sing the Sorrow on one occasion I think, but the young crowd didn’t seem to care. Highlights were Girls Not Grey, The Leaving Song Pt 2 and Dancing Through Sunday which had the crowd going mental. AFI put on a no nonsense show barely stopping for breath let alone for witty banter. The set was finished with a 3 punch combo of Silver And Cold, Love Like Winter and Miss Murder which left many a punter drenched in sweat, gasping for air, yet still begging for more.

I then quickly run to the metal stage to catch metal legends and members of the infamous big 4, Anthrax. Although I only caught the last couple of songs it was clear that Scott Ian’s boys still have it. They were in blistering form and metalheads were out in force in support. Hopefully the Big 4 tour that is being billed in Europe later this year makes its way down under.

Following one of the legends of thrash were the torch bearers for a new generation of thrash bands, Trivium. Despite regular drummer Travis not making the trip, Trivium were at their brutal best. Their set, most of Ascendency (no complaints here), was incredible and had the strong crowd going nuts. From the opening of The End Of Everything to the end of Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr it was blistering on stage and complete carnage in the pit. Matt and the boys barely stopped for the whole set and gave little chance for the crowd to catch its breath. With a set that included Rain, Drowned & Torn Asunder, Down From The Sky and A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation there was no let up in the pit, not that the pit-dwellers would want it any other way. For me, they were the highlight of the day, bloody awesome!

It was then back to the main stage for the ever popular Jimmy Eat World. It’s been a long time since JEW have played in Adelaide, BDO 03 I reckon, and the reception they received was huge. You couldn’t get anywhere near the front with many punters also vying for the nest viewing point for the headliners who would follow. JEW wowed the crowd and apart from the few MCR shirts I saw wondering round I think most were happier with the replacements. JEW played an excellent set including Big Casino, Pain and 23, but the big sing alongs came for Bleed America and their closer Sweetness.

Then it was time for Faith No More to hit the stage. It quickly came apparent that a lot of people have waited a long time to see these guys with a huge crowd flooding to see them. The fitting opener Reunited set the tone and showcased the impressive light show that was in store. Mike Patton, cane in hand, showed why his is regarded so highly as a front man and proved to all that he still has it. Referring to the crowd as skips, Mike lead us through an impressive list of FNM hits as well as an interesting cover of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. The highlights of the set were, no surprises here, Easy, Ashes to Ashes and Epic (which truly lived up to its name). Unfortunately the show could not go on for ever and it wasn’t long before the Mikes men were finishing up with This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us, taking a bow and exiting. As FNM left the stage, I couldn’t help but think this could be the last time we get to see them is Aus, well Adelaide anyway.

As the masses filed out, the buzz was still high, could we have just witnessed the best festival in Australian history. I’m sure it will be debated, but it would have to be right up there. Kudos to you Soundwave, bring on 2011.