Soundwave 2011 was all in all a fairly damn exhausting festival, featuring many ups and downs. The excellent venue change was combated by overpriced mid-strength drinks and even more over-priced food. And the bands? Ahhh, the bands…
I arrived right at the start to check out Feeder. Was good fun, there was next to no one in the crowd when they started but by the time they were done there were a couple of hundred people there who goaded them into playing ‘Buck Rogers’. Lead singer “You’d better sing along to this one because we’re playing a pop song at a heavy metal festival”. Quality stuff.
Post Feeder it was time for The Gaslight Anthem. Packing out the tent at stage three, Gaslight put on a decent set, pretty tight but not totally engaging. The crowd loved it though. The setlist was weighted heavily by songs from their third album, which I think is their weakest by a good margin. Played a new song which I thought was even weaker still. Spent a fair part of the set laughing at the three people in front of me who were dressed/dancing like they should have been at Parklife. Awesome Fluoro.
Went for a wander and came back in for the last five odd songs of Sum 41. Tent was absolutely packed, which I’d put down to no one else of note playing at the same time. Set could be summed up as crowd loved the old stuff, completely indifferent to anything new. Fat Lip singalong was excellent fun though, especially as I was hanging out with mates from high school.
Millencolin then came on and played what for mine was the set of the day. ‘Pennybridge Pioneers’ played (nearly) in full from start to finish. Their 40 minute set time meant they had to cut ‘Highway Donkey’ from the set as the album clocks in pretty much bang on forty minutes. Playing ‘Pennybridge’ meant that come time for set closer ‘The Ballad’ I had to quickly run as far away from the stage as I could because that song is so goddamn sad. That poor poor kid, being last selection for some non-descript ball game. Heartwrenching stuff. (Side note: Me and my mate went to the artist signing later in the day and had a chat to them and asked them why they cut ‘Pepper’ from the set, and they were like “We didn’t, we cut ‘Highway Donkey’!”. We felt like noobs. Totally nice guys though.)
Post Millencolin, I purchased a $10 Kransky (which was 100% a hot dog) and sat down to watch Primus. That shit was way too weird so I quickly bailed. Then went for a wander around the grounds before ending up at Dimmu Borgir. Dimmu were awesome, half for their skills & brutality and half for bringing the Norwegian black metal lulz.
After perhaps six songs of Dimmu, my mate was very keen to go check out Slash so we popped along to the mainstage for some aural pain. Slash is an excellent guitarist and an amazing person purely for the fact that he’s still standing. Unfortunately he’s not good enough to carry a band, especially when that band is filled with absolute plonkers. The lead singer reminded me of Steven Tyler’s retarded younger brother trying to do an Axl Rose impression and the rest of the band were complete tools. When they started playing ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ I remembered how much I hate Guns ‘N Roses and begged my mate to leave.
Leaving there early meant we were able to catch the first three songs of Social Distortion (fine, but indifferent) and Ill Nino (hilarious) before the mighty Slayer were set to perform. As people turned post Ill Nino to the adjacent stage containing absolutely no equipment it was obvious something was amiss. After 15 minutes of waiting Andrew Haug bravely apologised to the crowd for Tom Araya’s inability to perform that afternoon due to being sick. This started a minor barrage of cups and plastic bottles being thrown towards the stage, though the onslaught surely would have been greater had it not been Haugy up there delivering the bad news.
The Slayer setback meant I was free to check out Zack De La Rocha’s new group One Day As A Lion. Though slightly tentative going into it (mainly due to the fact that the band has only released one twenty minute EP and they were playing a forty five minute set), the band managed to bring a fresh new sound championed by De La Rocha’s charismatic, energetic rhyming.
One Day As A Lion let way for Queens Of The Stone Age to serve out a quality set of high calibre rock and roll. Josh Homme certainly knows how to bring the swagger and Joey Castillo may be one of the most rocking drummers in the world. The set won nearly the whole crowd over, the exception being the bogan Maiden fan in front of me who would yell at the screen any time Homme would appear and yell openly at Dave Grohl that he was terrible. Mistaken identity fail, human being fail.
QOTSA’s exit meant only one thing: MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN! The crowd were eagerly packed in awaiting the metal legends and after a short introduction video the band hit the stage, bursting straight into ‘The Final Frontier’. And oh sweet Jesus, how lame it was. If I wanted to see a bunch of old men embarrass themselves I would go and visit my grandfather at his nursing home. But I don’t (because it smells terrible), and as a result couldn’t get away from Iron Maiden fast enough, and subsequently left Soundwave even though there were many excellent bands still to see.
On the way home I found out I share my birthday not only with Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, but also footballing disgrace Kevin Muscat, the lead singer of the band Hatebreed and alleged terrorist David Hicks. August 7th: The day of the scumbag.
- Thomas Grealy