On The Spot: Soundwave Festival 2014 Brisbane

After a raft of disappointing cancellations, we were all starting to wonder how Soundwave 2014 was going to finish up. Keeping a keen eye on AJ Maddah’s updates became a little disheartening: cancellations included Megadeth, Stone Temple Pilots, Sevendust, Newsted and Harcore Superstar (who we’d been waiting years to see). Still, we circled our programs, pulled on our boots, and prayed to the rain gods that the menacing grey skies would hold their rain until the end of the night. And they did. It was a mild day, with cooling afternoon breezes – a welcome combo for a metal festival. And, despite the band withdrawals, the Soundwave line-up made for a fantastic day out.

Amon Amarth

The Viking metal band, hailing from Sweden, informs us that they are ‘Brisbane’s wake-up call’. They weren’t wrong. First number, War of the Gods was good and *loud*. They were the perfect act to kick off our brilliant Soundwave’ 14 experience. With a set featuring an over-the-top Viking boat prop, the hirsute lads tore through an impressively heavy set.

Our Last Night

Post-hardcore emo darlings, Our Last Night, delivered a respectable, energetic set to their young fan base. After a rocky start, involving some tense tweeting between the band and AJ Maddah (“Have your douchebag agent email me. I’ll do my best to squeeze you in!”) the young band made it to Oz to put on a good show on day one of the festival.

AFI

AFI attracted a crowd of the younger festival goers and didn’t disappoint, pulling out all stops with their high-energy performance. The Leaving Song had the 20-somethings screaming for more and the band’s loyal following was aptly demonstrated by the massive fan turnout.

Thy Art is Murder

Sydney metal group, Thy Art is Murder, who incited fans to break the security barrier and ‘fuck shit up’ have been booted off the Soundwave schedule. How rude, even after playing in the lovely air-conditioned area indoors.

gwarGWAR

They’re here! They’re raw! They’re GWARRRRRRRR! What can I say? What a treat to see these crazy thrashers, after all these years. Looking like WoW villains come to live, Gwar delivered a typically rowdy, over-the-top show. With swords, saws, and dinosaurs, effigies of Maggie Thatcher, Tony Abbott, and various others were murdered and mangled in the onstage mayhem. Anyone in the first half of the audience was covered in Gwar gore: red paint squirted from an onstage canon and Oderus Ungerus’s oversized er…codpiece. Throughout the rest of the day, we giggled at the sight of several red-stained Gwar casualties.

Volbeat

volveatDanish outfit, Volbeat, was nothing short of phenomenal. Pumping out their unique blend of rockabilly metal, the guys completely won over the crowd. Michael Poulsen is a formidable frontman and a vocal powerhouse. Encouraging the “ladies” to climb atop their blokes’ shoulders, he interacted with fans between songs and generally charmed those in attendance. Their sound is clean and tight, and Poulsen’s vocals are faultless. Soundwave marks the band’s first Australian outing and they appeared to be enjoying every minute of it.

The Living End

What else is there to say about these Aussie psychobilly/punk legends than that they own every stage they play on. Have you ever seen a bad Living End show? No. Because there’s no such thing. Lots of old faves had fans on their feet throughout their Soundwave gig; and Prisoner of Society, predictably, was an absolute corker.

Alice in Chains

Late afternoon, we took a bit of a breather, by way of the Alice in Chains set. Longtime festival mainstays, the band never fails to deliver. With the chilled, unassuming William DuVall at the helm, Cantrell and the boys worked through old classics, including Man in the Box and Rooster. No Excuses had fans up dancing up a storm out on the grass, as they enjoyed the afternoon breeze. Definitely one of the day’s highlights.

Stiff Little Fingers

After a long wait, we finally had the pleasure of catching SLF live. Strange to see such a respected act relegated to one of the smaller stages, but it made for a more intimate, and ultimately more satisfying, experience. They put on a rollicking good show and had their older punk crowd pogoing and singing along like there was no tomorrow.  Joe Strummer tribute, Strummerville, was a cracker. Just brilliant, these Irish punk legends.

Korn

With their brilliant stage set up, Korn have every last ounce of the energy they did back in the early 90s. And they were insanely, insanely good: all power chords, explosive energy, and B.A.S.S. They pulled an all-ages crowd – packed in like sardines until the very end – who went nuts over tunes including Love and Meth and Falling Away from Me. An incendiary performance of Freak on a Leash blew our minds. We weren’t expecting it, but  Korn was undoubtedly one of the day’s top acts.

SOiL

Chicago metal outfit, SOiL, delivered a tight performance, showcasing tracks from their latest album, ‘Whole.’  The lads concluded their passionate set with a heartfelt thanks to their fans, who responded with an equally appreciative roar. Definitely a band we’ll be checking out in future.

Rob Zombie

rob zombie brissyDogged by disappointing sound dramas, Zombie and Co did their best to entertain an increasingly restless crowd. After an unfortunate false start, and apparently being without monitors throughout, the band soldiered on to give an otherwise entertaining performance. Rob Zombie, of course, is a seasoned showman, who kept the crowd in his thrall for the entire show. Encouraging the female fans to climb onto the shoulders of their strapping Aussie blokes, Zombie proceeded to serenade them with Living Dead Girl. John 5 stole the show with white-hot guitar solos and generally virtuosic playing. His rendition of Advance Australia Fair, following The Star Spangled Banner, was rewarded with deafening howls. The band played a solid set of their classics, such as Dragula, More Human Than Human, House of 1000 Corpses, and Thunder Kiss ’65. Oh, and the horror-themed stage set was brilliant.

Green Day

What nice guys the Green Day lads are. And what troupers, playing for 3 solid hours. So many highlights from their 20+ year career (can it be that long since Dookie?). They looked and sounded fantastic. Two and a half hours in and Billie Joe showed no signs of flagging. After asking a young female crowd member if she could play guitar, the band pull her up to jam with them. What an experience, to play live onstage with her heroes and be beamed across the arena via video screen. (She got to keep the guitar by the way.)

Avenged Sevenfold

Flame-shooting canons, burning gates, and a fireworks display?  Yes, please. Unholy Confessions rounded out a strong set, including Afterlife, Nightmare, Hail to the King and Beast and The Harlot. The mighty Avenged Sevenfold absolutely ripped up the stage. Not a bad way to wrap up Soundwave 2014. Not bad at all.

Bring on Soundwave 2015!