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Soundwave 2012 Review

It's that time of year, again. Soundwave is an Australian music festival that attracts big names, across nine stages, and is the must-do event for metal fans locally. Last year I was at the front for Iron Maiden, and this year, I headed off again. The bands do concerts between the event, called Sidewaves. Last year I saw Rob Zombie, this year it was Trivium and Slipknot. They put on an amazing show, as always. Sadly, the Iron Maiden presale was split across two nights, so the night before Slipknot and the night I was in Melbourne before Soundwave, I needed to get up at 3 a.m. to buy tickets. But, I am in the pit for Dallas and Houston, so, well worth it.

This year, I had a plan of what bands to see. Soundwave has two big stages for the main bands, two smaller stages for the metal bands, and then two sheds with smaller stages and one with only one stage. So, for most people, Soundwave goes like clockwork, one stage ends, and the one next to it, starts. Sadly, this year they had barriers between the two main stages, so it was not possible to just slide between them as we did last year. No matter, we had no interest in Saves the Day/Pinkerton, who were truly awful. We were at the front, waiting for Steel Panther. I've never seen them, and they put on a good show, with an amazingly large turnout for that early in the day. I think Steel Panther could tour Australia on their own, no problem. There was a disturbing number of people near us who seemed more excited at the prospect of girls taking their tops off than the band themselves, but everyone got what they wanted, and it was a good show. My friend caught a pick, they say "Please return to Satchel of Steel Panther," which is funny.

Lost Prophets were not as bad as the first band, but that's all the praise I've got for them.

Alter Bridge are brilliant. I notice they play a ton of PRS guitars, which is very cool, and they are just brilliant. I cannot wait for the new Slash CD, Miles just has a great voice, even if he looks like Catweazle.

At this point, I hoped to check out Turasis, but we just didn't make it. We ended up seeing a bit of Coal Chamber, getting some merch and some food, and then being unimpressed enough that we drifted back to the main stage for Bad Religion. Bad Relgion had to end their show 10 minutes early because of something dangerous on the stage. I don't know what it was, but during Limp Bizkit on the stage next to that one, there were people on top of both stages, tying things down.

Limp Bizkit are awful. Sorry, but they are. The only interesting bits where when a girl who was dancing on a raised section that had an exit sign on a pole, invited speculation as to her profession by the way she climbed the pole and hung upside down. The interesting bit was when she got off it, and it fell down in to the crowd. Shortly after, Fred Durst said something about us "all looking out for one another," and then proceeded to tell us about a girl called Jessica who died at a Melbourne Limp Bizkit show about six years ago. They pulled down their banner for one that said "Jessica" and put her photo on the jumbotron. It kind of added to my thoughts of "what moron put a free standing sign on a platform where it could fall on the crowd," especially given the overall added security from last year, and the layers you had to pass through, including passing by public indemnity statements in huge letters, to get to the barrier. The next band was Marilyn Manson, which is who I'd really gone back to the main stage for. His second song was "Disposable Teens," and I tried to get in to that, but the truth is, he seemed very off his face and completely chaotic. We left after three songs. We headed back to the metal stage for Mastadon, but got there too late. We saw Lamb of God and got to the front For Black Label Society. Now, I love Zakk Wylde but, I have to say, BLS songs do all sound the same, especially live, and while they are fun, there's not much there that lifts them above other bands. And, when you get a 40 minute set, surely you can dispense with the 10 minute solo, especially when it's not terribly musical, just the same pattern played fast up and down the neck. Zakk, attend a Slash concert, and listen to how a musical free form solo sounds, but remember, even Slash doesn't do that stuff at a festival when he has limited time.

By this time, Slipknot were playing the main stage, and System of a Down were being set up as headliners. On the metal stage, it was Unearth, Watain and then Machine Head. Much as I love Machine Head, I headed to one of the smaller stages, to see Black Veil Brides. I think the organizers completely misunderstood how popular these guys are. They were playing in a sheep shed that was the size of a bigger club. Most of the bands on these stages seemed to be hardcore punk, Black Flag wannabes, although Turasis did play there earlier in the day. Unlike the main stages, which run like clockwork, this stage was way late. Your Demise played 20 minutes over, despite all their songs sounding the same, and not in a good way. The Cro-Mags played the stage next door while we moved to the front for Black Veil Brides. I remember the Skid Row guys saying they were in to the Cro-Mags in 1990, but for all that, when the singer said "Let's show those metal guys how it's done," I knew I was not in Kansas anymore. They were OK, in a samey, basic sort of way. Black Veil Brides took the stage 20 minutes late, and left 10 minutes early, so they did a 30 minute set, not an hour as advertised. So, we only got six songs, but it was definitely the highlight of the whole festival for me. The place was packed, but I think me and my friend were the only people over 18, and certainly males were very much in a minority. Everyone seemed to know all the songs, and to be very much in to the show. Black Veil Brides look like Motley Crue in 1984 and they even play BC Rich guitars. I bet most people in the audience have no idea who is being referenced, but it made for a very visual show, and they sounded great. After 30 minutes, we were covered in sweat and shuffling out while "The Used" started their set to less than half the people who had been in for Black Veil Brides.

We headed back to the metal stage, and heard Machine Head do "Unto the Locust," which was a win for me. They sounded great. I wished I could have seen them in a Sidewave, if I lived in Melbourne, I'd have been at shows all week. This year's lineup was not the equal of last year, but Black Veil Brides made it for us, and we still had a great time. I'll be back next year.

Reader Comments (5)

Awesome review, Christian! And that pic makes me want to see Black Veil Brides even more! Thanks!
March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Hey Metalboy. I suggest seeing them in a smaller venue while you can. They DOMINATED the stage and based on the number of hardcore fans there, I'd say they are headed towards bigger and better things. If they can make it last, is something else again, but my money is on them.
March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Gotcha, Christian. Good tip. I checked their site. Nothin' happenin' in the States right now but I will keep my eyes out to see when they're comin' around.
March 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Hey, just curious... Did they play any covers? I realize it was a short set, so I wouldn't think so, but just thought I would ask anyway.
March 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Hi there,
I went to Soundwave this year too, and thorougly enjoyed the BVB show as well. You're spot on about your review of other shows (particularly Manson, gosh, he was so off his face) and DEFINITElY spot on about how Soundwave organizers underestimated the sheer mass of BVB fans. Black Veil Brides have such a big fan base, surprisingly so for a band who has never toured in Australia before! Even though I think the singer (Andy) was pretty drunk, I appreciated their energetic and engaging show.
Ps. I was an over 18 there so don't feel too alone..
March 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

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