We came, we saw, we rocked. Over two, sweaty, exhilarating days in Brisbane’s Ekka showgrounds, a monster line-up of acts blew thousands of appreciative attendees away. For us, Lagwagon was first on the programme, and they transported us back to the 90’s with their Calif punk pep. A diverse crowd turned out for this year’s Soundwave, from young teens all the way through to crusty old rockers, still giving it their all—united by their love of heavy music. Melbourne’s Confession played to a roaring throng mid-arv. The mercury peaked at 31; and, though rain was forecast, we were spared being drenched by anything but our own sweat, and cooling goodness from the spray tank volunteers who moved through the crowd throughout both days. Thanks to great planning by the Soundwave peeps, fans were able to enjoy an array of local and overseas acts, and this time without as many disappointing timetable clashes. The Vandals went off on Saturday, and had the crowd up and moving, despite the sauna-like conditions in the tent.
Out on the field, All Time Low wowed a considerably younger crowd, and singer, Alex Gaskarth, was strong in voice as well as energy. Another highlight was Godsmack’s set of faves, new and old. We’d been lucky enough to catch them on their Sidewave earlier in the week at the Tivoli, and noted that the energy at Soundwave on Saturday was noticeably higher. Papa Roach attracted an absolutely mammoth crowd, and frontman, Jacoby Shaddix, in a repeat of his Sidewave performance, worked the crowd like a veteran. We loved hearing their older tracks, as well as their latest stuff from F.E.A.R. Didn’t hurt that a huge fanbase turned out to appreciate the guys, either. Great to see. Also following a mid-week Sidewave, Marilyn Manson put in a solid performance to a capacity crowd. Good luck squeezing into that space. Although scuffles broke out in the mosh pit (reminiscent of the mid-week chaos at The Tivoli), punters came away satisfied, though ready for more.
Back in the tent, post-hardcore Nevada natives, Escape the Fate, brought out their heavy melodic energy for a mixed crowd of enthusiastic fans. Nice light show, too, btw. Another band we hadn’t seen live absolutely destroyed the stage, much to everyone’s delight. If you ever get a chance to catch LA-based Butcher Babies and their two formidable, front vixens, do it. Like a couple of manga characters come to life, they complemented one another’s powerful vocals and tore around the stage like superheroes fighting invisible foes. The crowd loved it. Nice of the girls to make a point of making crowd safety a priority, pulling up stumps at one stage until kids were safely over the barrier and out of harm’s way. Would be nice to see more of that kind of consideration for fans.
Fellow Californians, Of Mice and Men, drove the masses wild – they played for a keen, energetic crowd who were clearly thrilled to see these Billboard favourites in the flesh. Predictably, Rob Halford led Judas Priest through a remarkable and memorable set, which involved a growling Harley and dazzling stage set and effects. For our money, this was the highlight of Day 1, and it was a treat to sing along to all the old hits alongside fellow fans, young and old. Later, Billy Corgan arrived onstage with the latest incarnation of Smashing Pumpkins, and played relatively low-key renditions of old favourites, including Cherub Rock and Tonight,Tonight, as well as material from their latest album, Monuments to an Elegy. Put simply, Slipknot absolutely killed it at the end of the night, and were a brilliant note on which to end Day 1.
Day 2 brought Detroit’s Fireworks out, delivering a great set of songs that the crowd lapped up. Out on the grass, Steel Panther played their brand of camp glam metal to a horde of delighted fans (most of whom seemed to know all their lyrics). Those guys are always fun, yet also always stun us with their talent, amidst the comedy. Soon after, we dug in for Fear Factory, who absolutely blew our (and everybody elses’) minds with an a brilliant, frenetic set. Definitely one of the afternoon’s highlights. Back in the tent, The Interrupters pulled out some great ska punk and made for fantastic entertainment, before we headed for the catering tents to sample the Soundwave foodstuff. Organisers, you did a great job in this regard, also – was great to have the diversity of everything from a German Sausage hut, dedicated schnitzel tent, Nando’s, a taco joint, and dagwood dogs, all the way through to the likes of Govinda’s. And it was also great to check out all the merch tents, as well as reps from some fab causes, including the lovely Floridians we spoke to over at the To Write Love on Her Arms stall. Just…um…can someone do a bit more about garbage control and the somewhat horrific restroom situation next year?
Despite being spoiled for choice, our pick for Day 2 was the mighty Ministry, who haven’t been to Oz in 20 years! Al, Sin, and the guys are still going strong and ripped through a killer set, with a dynamic backdrop of amazing graphics and faux propaganda footage. Theirs was a mind-bending performance, on every level. Needless to say, old hand Chris Cornell and Soundgarden gave a stunning performance. What a show. It was hard to pick a winner between those guys and Faith No More, who came on soon after on the stage next door. Festival favourites, both, these bands were a mighty choice for Day 2 headliners and the crowd were demonstrably moved. Well, that was Soundwave XV. We still sort of can’t believe it’s over and are likely to be dazed for a while yet. Soundwave organisers, Brisbane salutes you. Thanks for an amazing weekend! We’ll see you next year.