Perth, Australia's Soundwave Festival Report
Band Photo: Hatebreed (?)
The SoundWave Festival rolled across Australia this southern hemisphere summer with dates in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. While billed as an "all day rock and mayhem experience", headliners Deftones and +44 (a band made up of former members of Blink 182) meant the festival was always going to attract a diverse audience. The inclusion of Suicidal Tendencies, Hatebreed, The Bronx and Terror in the lineup ensured a healthy metal contingent was in attendance.
The official web site stated that the capacity of each venue was around 10,000. If this was the case, the Claremont Showgrounds, where the Perth show was held, was not filled to capacity. This meant that the crowd around each of the three stages (one indoor, two outdoor) was quite small - more so considering the licensed areas were fenced off some distance from each stage. The thin crowds meant members of some of the bands playing early sets could be seen wandering around throughout the day, chatting to fans and checking out the other performances.
Juliette and the Licks
Wherever they go, much of The Licks' crowd are no doubt there to find out if actress Juliette Lewis can actually sing and if the band can actually play. The answer to both these questions is definitely yes. Given the early timeslot, The Licks were playing to a small crowd on the main indoor stage and even though most of the punters weren't really getting into their particular brand of indie rock, they exuded a ton of energy and enthusiasm. Juliette can wail and while her kneepads were probably not necessary, they put on a good show.
Definitely one of the highlights of the day, The Bronx's performance nailed the spirit of the festival. Singer Matt Caughthran spent more time out in the crowd than on the stage, rolling out a long microphone lead at one point to cross the 50-odd metres to the licensed area, where he climbed the fence and sculled a beer before returning to perform the rest of the song - an action which made him quite popular with the punters. Guitarist Joby Ford came out on stage wearing a sheet over his head and a head towel, and walking with the aid of a stick. He played the entire show seated in a wheelchair - the victim of some kind of pelvis injury a few days earlier. Fortunately for fans, his injury did not seem to dampen his enthusiasm or affect his playing.
Terror delivered an intense set, and like The Bronx, took audience participation to the next level, actively encouraging stage divers. "Come on up, these bouncers are cool as shit", pronounced frontman Scott Vogel at one point, much to the dismay of the small security team in attendance. The invitation was taken up by a few of the audience, the experience all the more bruising given that much of the area in front of the stage was uncovered bitumen.
Hatebreed are brutal in the true hardcore tradition, with shout-along anthems that get everyone joining in. Their Soundwave set featured songs from last year's Supremacy as well as older classics including Perseverance, Live For This and the fists-in-the-air finale, I Will Be Heard.
In a display of extreme commitment to their fans, the entire band reappeared in the signings tend mere minutes after leaving the stage, enthusiastically chatting with sweaty fans and signing CDs and t-shirts.
Mike Muir was meant to be in the signings tent in the afternoon with the other band members, however sickness in the camp preventing them from coming out. Fortunately they were still able to play their 8pm timeslot.
Surprisingly the band, all wearing the signature Mike Muir bandannas, set up their own equipment and did their own sound-checks. When the lights went down and Cyco Miko burst onto stage, it was with all the manic force of old - he really hasn't slowed down at all over the years. Launching into a top-speed version of You Can't Bring Me Down, Muir raced from one corner of the stage to the other like a madman, streaming incomprehensible tirades between songs to the crowd, who cheered anyway even if they didn't catch most of what was said.
The ST set ended with more crowd participation - Mike inviting all punters wearing the band's merchandise onto the stage for the final song. 30-odd fans then had the 10 minutes of their lives jumping around on stage with Mike and the other band members.
As the headline act, the Deftones attracted the largest crowd of the day in the main indoor area. Through heavy smoke and eerie lighting the band emerged to start off with Be Quiet and Drive, moving through a selection of songs from their back catalogue but playing only one song from the newly released Saturday Night Wrist, the first single Hole in the Earth. Frontman Chino Moreno's unearthly howl was unleashed at several points, much to the delight of the crowd, although there was some confusion when he threw in a bit of a Justin Timberlake song during Around the Fur.
While not the most metal act of the day, the Deftones' performance was electrifying and mesmerising - a fitting end to the Soundwave Festival.
Kay Smoljak is an Aussie photographer, geek, metalhead and goat aficioado who is currently hiding out in Berlin. She blogs sometimes at enter the goatlady.
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