Monday, March 3, 2014
Certainly the recent announcement that this latest edition of Soundwave was to be the last has marked 2014 as a bit of crap year for music festivals in WA, but the crowd – mostly in black, mostly tattooed – who descended on Arena Joondalup were determined that send-off be a bang, not whimper. Early numbers were high, with even those acts scheduled for before noon drawing respectable audiences and by the time the headliners hit their respective stages, the party was well and truly on.
The UK’s Heaven’s Basement blew out the cobwebs of any sleepyheads with an in-your-face energetic performance more suited to 11:30pm than am. Displaying stylish hard rock power as they threw all the right rock shapes and set the bar high early on, it’s good to see the future of classic rock in such assured hands.
Florida funsters Less Than Jake endeared themselves to the early crowd by the simple expedient making fun of a girl who had the temerity to text through their first couple of tracks, then encouraging the crowd to form a circle pit around a guy in a sombrero. Sometimes it’s the simple things.
Nevada-based heavy metal rockers Five Finger Death Punch graced the stage with not even a second to think, initiating an explosive start with Under N Over It, clearly crowd favourite with the high intensity riff-to-riff outbursts instigating one hell of a mosh, setting the stakes high for the remainder of the day. Led by Ivan L Moody’s killer guitar leads and hypnotic vocals, the obsidian metal rockers breezed through the tracks Hard To See Your Side, Burn M.F. and Bad Company. Though the early timeslot seemed a tad mundane for the punch provided by the group that deserved a longer set closer to the headliners.
The Mark Tremonti/Myles Kennedy dual guitar assault of Alter Bridge was as heavy as any of the metal bands playing Soundwave today, delivering riff after crushing riff to the slowly livening crowd braving the 30-plus-degree sun. A brooding Blackbird features some blistering playing from Tremonti, and they finished an excellent set with the monolithic Isolation and a long squeal of feedback.
Poor Richie Sambora was an odd choice for the tour, a man out of time and out of place. His set started with a ill-chosen cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and then headed south, taking in a range of borrowed tunes and Bon Jovi standards. It was an uncomfortable, awkward experience, and many of the mercifully small crowd drifted away before he finished.
Local lads Chaos Divine had some big shoes to fill, subbing in for the mighty Volbeat at the last minute. Still, they managed to win hearts and minds by delivering a ripper cover of – of all things – Toto’s Africa. There’s nothing quite like the sight of a few hundred metalheads signing along to that hoary old slice of sentimentality, and it was easily one of the highlights of the day.
Panic! At The Disco warmed up Stage Three for the Korn and Avenged Sevenfold to come, a mild break on stage acts before the heat was turned up again for the headliners. The set featured Time To Dance, The Ballad Of Mona Lisa and their debut single, I Write Sins Not Tragedies, where the crowd responded in a fun all-out singalong, ending the set on a high, in comparison to the slow start.
It’s been a while since hearing from Pennywise but their presence on stage was like they never truly disappeared. Led by Zoltan Teglas, the Californian punk-rockers featured an array of old-school tracks including Same Old Story, Pennywise and Fuck Authority that sent the mosh into all-out true punk-rocker style chaos.
Black Veil Brides showed exactly what their hype is all about with a magnificent set – despite the minute stage they were relegated to. The small room grew hotter than a furnace, the band and enraptured fans bonding in sweat and heavy glam metal through Nobody’s Hero, Wretched & Divine and A Thousand Yesterdays. Like most people, we’re suckers for a good cover, and they don’t get much better than their killer take on Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, and Perfect Weapon finished a near perfect set.
Alice In Chains tore the main stage a new one with their grunge anthems, singer William DuVall sounding uncannily like the band’s late founder, Layne Staley. An hour isn’t long to cram your career into, but they balanced old and new well, with Check My Brain and Hollow standing tall next to a superb closing trio of the hypnotic and mystical No Excuses, Would? and Jerry Cantrell’s reliving of his father’s Vietnam horror, Rooster. Light on chit chat and flash, it’s a lesson in monolithic groove and all about the music.
Rocket From The Crypt played a set of hard edged alt garage rock punctuated by squeals of horns as the doona of twilight was pulled up over Arena Joondalup. Singer Speedo cracked jokes about his hired band between songs and kept things lively, ensuring Young Livers, Sturdy Wrists, I’m Not Invisible and Get Down all go over well.
What really sticks in the memory about the Eagles Of Death Metal set is what a love-in it was, with apparently half the bands on the tour having gathered stageside to catch Jesse Hughes and company do their thing. Hughes was feeling the love, too, name-checking Satyricon, Placebo and more in a clearly genuine outpouring of emotion that nonetheless didn’t hamper his ability to deliver kick-ass country rock jams.
The well anticipated return of metal-heads Korn was distinguished with lead Jonathan Davis punching-out and kicking every beat. Twist sent Korn fanatics into an all-out metal roar, along with Freak On A Leash, Got The Life and Blind. It was very easy to forget all else around you when Korn came to life. Davis constantly grooved and thanked the crowd, promising a swift return to Perth is on the agenda.
Rob Zombie’s stage was decorated with giant pics of old Universal monsters, just in case anyone in the crowd was confused as to who was stalking around and growling into the mic. Although the set was marred by sound issues – an extended guitar solo in the middle of the proceedings seemed to be a placeholder while technical problems were sorted out – the crowd seemed happy with Zombie’s renditions of More Human Than Human and Dragula. Zombie even belted out a bit of School’s Out, his fandom of Alice Cooper coming as a shock to precisely no one.
Most eyes were locked on ex-Guns ‘N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan during The Walking Papers set, a kicking collection of revved up Johnny Thunders/Stones bare bones rock ‘n’ roll. Singer Jeff Angell is magnetic though, and every inch the rock star, and let’s not forget drummer Barrett Martin has history with The Screaming Trees and keyboard player Benjamin Anderson thrashes around maniacally. The band were impressive as hell as they ran through Your Secret’s Safe With Me, Leave Me In The Dark and Two Tickets And A Room from their self titled debut.
Living Colour started with the grinding Preachin’ Blues, the virtuosic playing and smooth are as if nothing but their hairstyles and fluoro outfits have changed since their 1988 debut, Vivid. Dressed more like Bill Cosby than a rock star, singer Corey Glover prowled the stage like an agitated lion and stunned with his powerful vocals while Vernon Reid’s guitar playing was simply mind bogglingly unique, transforming already great tunes like Love Rears Its Ugly Head and Cult Of Personality into something purely magical. Time’s Up closed their set, with snippets of What’s Your Favourite Colour and Get Up (Like A Sex Machine), before segueing into AC/DC’s Back In Black and metal band Down taking over the instruments to finish with a stage full of celebrity admirers.
Avenged Sevenfold lit up the stage, which featured a graveyard, iron fencing, fire throwing pillars and fireworks to accentuate every breath-taking vibrating beat. The spotlight was on every member, so that it was a race with your eyes as to what to look at next. If you weren’t glued to M. Shadows on vocals, your eyes would snap to the dual-bliss of Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates solo. It was a buffet of pyrotechnics, supporting a blazing setlist featuring Shepherd Fire and Welcome To The Family, where the crowd were welcomed into the ‘Sevenfold Family.’ The night finished in with Unholy Confessions.
By the time we make it to the main stage to catch some of Green Day’s epic two and a half hour-plus set, they’ve already been playing for about an hour and we’re just in time for a run through of some of 1994 breakout album Dookie’s highlights and some teasers of riffs or a verse from the likes of Iron Man, Zep’s Rock ‘N’ Roll and Highway To Hell add to the fun. For a scuzzy little band of pop punk brats circa ’92, they’ve become immense business and millions of sales have honed their stage act, Billie Joe Armstrong playing the crowd like a fiddle. Whether he’s pulling a dude up to sing, conducting the crowd’s cheers, turning a firehose on them or firing t-shirts into the crowd with a mini bazooka, they lap it up. They go on the play tracks from throughout their career including mega hits American Idiot, Minority and Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).
Shane Pinnegar, Kristina Simich and Travis Johnson