In what may very well be the final installment of the annual heavy rock adventure we know as the Soundwave Festival, this years lineup is only half way through and has so far been a fair blend of younger and older acts.
Numbers, at least early in the day, looked average for the first day of the event but by halfway there seemed hope of a decent house. Amidst a sea of assorted alternative hairstyles, black band t-shirts, and of course the sweltering heat synonymous with Adelaide’s summer music festivals, punters braved 40 plus degree heat to see 40 bands vie for attention at Bonython Park on Saturday.
Texans Nothing More were an early standout, cranking it hard and brushing off the Adelaide heat as ‘almost as hot as Texas’.
The Bennies were having a blast on Stage 4 and, as always, had more fun than their audience.
UK lads Lower Than Atlantis gave a slightly more chilled set on Stage 1, but Deathstars (Sweden) were a surprise find. A hybrid between Rammstein and Rob Zombie, their act (and music) was a great theatrical experience and they played hard!
Hollywood Undead started to draw a larger crowd as punters slowly filed through the gates, whilst Ne Obliviscaris smashed out a hard and heavy set over on Stage 3, which I called the Dark Stage due to the more hardcore acts performing over there.
A quick glimpse of Emilys Army was a nice treat under the shade of the massive trees, and their fun Cali-punk style is slightly reminiscent of very early Arctic Monkeys. They all looked like they were 16 or younger but were tight and played well.
A quick bite to eat from the reasonable selection of overpriced food vendors between the mad shuffle between stages led us to One OK Rock, an outfit from Japan that were quite popular considering it was their first time in Adelaide. These guys ‘went all Samurai’ and gave it their all in true Japanese style.
We caught the latter end of Le Butcherettes from Mexico, who were elegant in their summer dresses as they ground through their garage punk set and were disappointed that we missed most of them- they’re totally cool!
Back at the ‘Dark Stage’, Terror Universal were spooky in their stage masks and their music had death metal written all over it. The sound at this stage is by far the best, as it doesn’t clash with the other stages and the acoustics just seem to work.
While Fireworks and Crown The Empire were playing the smaller stages to hot, appreciative crowds, Gerard Way (ex My Chemical Romance) had a decidedly pink theme to his show on Stage 2. From his pink tie to his Pink mascot Lola the monkey, it was basically 50 Shades of Way!
The most intriguing and entertaining act of the day so far though, goes to Steel Panther, who’s performance is so politically incorrect it’s hilarious. Singer Michael Starr’s assurance that it was ‘OK to show your boobies’ encouraged some young ladies to do just that, and their songs ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Gloryhole’ contained lyrics, which I can only attribute to the singer’s love for felines belonging to females. These guys just came to party!
Sleepwave, a relatively new group from Florida sounded awesome and had good old tight, guitar driven rock! Fear Factory had a large crown on the Dark Stage and delivered a colossal wall of sound while playing a mixture of their older and newer songs.
Possibly the most best dressed band of the day were The Interrupters, who were looking sharp in their white shirts, skinny ties, and thin braces. They dropped a welcome ska-bomb on a now cooled down crowd, as the sun gave a temporary reprieve and some cloud cover helped take the sting out of the scorching heat.
Another highlight were Antemasque, comprising of ex Mars Volta members Omar Rodriguez Lopez & Cedric Bixler-Zavala. I’d always thought that Omar has a stage presence that resembles Robert Plant- maybe it’s his vocals or just his persona, but definitely not his large head of curly hair that must have been feeling the effects of the heat.
The Color Morale were kicking ass on Stage 5 and were genuinely grateful to be here. Lead singer Garrett Rapp has such an inspiring, positive message he gets across to his listeners that it’s hard not to like these Mid-Western US guys.
Icon For Hire’s cute singer burst on stage with belting vocals and the band had an interesting mix of electronica and hard rock.
There was a massive tsunami of sound coming from behind us though, and it was impossible not to hear Ministry serving up a barrage of their finest industrial metal as they literally gave the crowd a ‘Punch In The Face’ as their song of the same name so eloquently puts it.
On Stage 1 Incubus were drawing the larger numbers, but while they were in fine form it was likely that the numbers were swelling to secure a good spot for Soundgarden who were to come next. This brings me to the next act…Soundgarden. The grunge scene would never have been complete without them, and from the opening riff of Spoonman it was clear that these guys still have it! In more or less the original lineup, Cornell’s vocals haven’t changed a lot, and although he’s a little older and greyer, guitarist Kim Thayil is still a master of the grunge solo.
Falling In Reverse and He is Legend, although both quite good, were competing with Soundgarden for an audience, and with Dragonforce over the noise. Dragonforce had the dark Stage under a trance as they kicked out some serious metal guitar licks- these guys are a more PC version of Steel Panther sans lycra!
Clear favourites Faith No More were whom most people came to see though, evident in the swell of punters who’d massed Stage 1 to score a good vantage point. Their stage setup up was pure white, with more floral arrangements than Elton John’s mansion! The band wore white almost Indian style kameez shirts and beads, perhaps part of their whole ‘spiritual journey’.
Mike Patton was brilliant as usual, and served up hits like Epic, Last Cup Of Sorrow, Midlife Crisis, and of course Easy to the by now rock-weary crowd. They were a standout and sounded as awesome as ever.
New Found Glory were blessed with a large audience, there to receive a good dose of pop-punk treatment with lead singer Jordan Pundik working the crowd and getting up close and personal. And yes, the ‘Dark Stage’ wasn’t giving up without a fight either, as Lamb Of God destroyed what was left of that stage, as they were louder and harder than those who went before them.
It’s only day One, and the Glam ‘Rock Journo’s’ have had a huge day covering today’s acts, and we get to do it all again tomorrow……….!
Review by Dazz Hassan
Tickets are still available for Day 2!!