Amidst the controversy of punters storming the stage and one band decapitating an effigy of our esteemed Prime Minister, Nev Pearce gives us the low-down on Soundwave 2014 and exactly what you missed.
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Hands down Soundwave is the best festival in Australia! Even with the drama of certain bands pulling out this was by far the best year yet. The line up just worked, even with the odd clash here and there, I still had a hell of a time. I ask myself and people I know every year, how are they going to top it? Yet Soundwave Touring always come back with a bigger and better show every damn time without fail.
The Porkers – Kicking off the day on the main stage it was great to see Australia’s ska legends return in such a big way. Pete Porker and crew know how to get the party started and there was no better way to get things rolling than a set from the legendary Porkers. If you weren’t in the pit dancing to this, you have no pulse.
Amon Amarth – The anticipation from the crowd for the Swedish Viking metal band is intense and one of the most talked about of the day. With a giant Viking ship dominating the stage, the band rip into to their set and take no prisoners. They have simply come to conquer and they do it with ease. As each song progresses the crowd becomes increasingly ravenous and once it’s over you can still feel the explosive energy from their loyal fan base.
Mushroomhead – It’s been a long time coming for the industrial metal band from Cleveland USA to tour here and they do not disappoint. Mushroomhead manage to deliver one of the best sets of the day. As a long time fan it was a dream come true to witness a set filled with classics such as Before I Die, Sun Doesn’t Rise and Solitaire Unraveling. We were also treated to a brand new track off their upcoming album Righteous And The Butterfly with guest vocals by Unsaid Fate singer Jackie LaPonza. Judging by the crowd response to Mushroomhead’s set, it’s a safe bet they will return, which makes this fan extremely happy.
The Black Dahlia Murder – This band does not mess around and manages to put on one of the most energetic and brutal shows you will ever see. For 40 minutes this band doesn’t stop moving and the pit from an outside perspective is, in a word, terrifying. A personal highlight from their set was Goat Of Departure from last years Everblack – brutal stuff!
Testament – “Are you ready to rise up?” yells frontman Chuck Billy as the legends of thrash rip into Rise Up from their Dark Roots Of Earth album. Chuck knows how to work his crowd and they love every minute of Testament’s performance. The band’s set up is over the top, rivalling Amon Amarth’s war ship with two skull emblems spewing out smoke from the mouth – you don’t get any more metal than this. They also have over sized guitar picks signed by the band that they frisbee into the crowd. Thrashtastic fun and a damn killer set from one of the best live bands around.
HELM – Having found out the morning of the gig they were playing, Gold Coast band Helm take to the stage and do their home town proud. This is a band that has worked extremely hard over the years and deserve to be on the line up. Their set is extremely well received by the crowd and it would not surprise me if they were invited back to a Soundwave lineup in the near future. Great stuff from a much loved Gold Coast band.
Darkc3ll – Having spent the last few years touring their arses off and making a name for themselves in the Australian scene, industrial juggernauts Darkc3ll take to the stage and show that they can hold their own against the big boys of the tour. They are another Queensland band that deserve a place on the main stage in years to come. Darkc3ll have worked hard and deserve to be on the Soundwave tour. Keep your eyes on these guys!
Gwar – One of the highlights of my day and one of the best live bands you will ever see. Having been slaying world stages for 30 years, this is only the second tour of Australia and the fans (including this one) are clearly nuts for them.
There is simply no way you’d be bored with Gwar (pictured), with all the blood, guts and onstage slayings of Tony Abbott, the Queen and other crazy characters from the slave pit crew. Gwar not only get you moving but also entertain like no other band. There is also something hilarious about watching not only the crowd, but also photographers, getting sprayed in blood and filth while trying to take shots of this band and having the time of their life doing it (you’re a trooper Amanda Brenchly!) Let’s hope that they come back again soon to slay some more – the only way Gwar know how.
Filter – As a long time Filter fan it is heartbreaking that the band only get to play four songs due to technical issues, and you can see that main man Richard Patrick is feeling it too. But as short as the set is they do not hold back and give 100% for their fans. Opening with Trip Like I Do and We Hate It When You Get What You Want from their latest album and following it up with a personal favourite Jurrasitol, the band ends their set with Hey Man Nice Shot from Short Bus with a special appearance by an unknown guitarist with only one hand. To witness this is nothing short of inspiring and makes it one of the best and touching moments of the day.
Alice In Chains – Another highlight of the day and one of the tightest sets I have ever seen. The last time we saw Alice in Chains in Australia was at Soundwave 2009 after the release of their comeback album Black Gives Way To Blue. Something feels different seeing them this time though as it seems the band is more comfortable being back up there as one of the most legendary and much loved bands from the 90s. William Duvall is one hell of a front man and has been accepted with open arms by long time fans after the passing of singer Layne Stayley and fills those shoes perfectly. Opening the show with classics Them Bones and Damn That River it sets the scene for one of the most memorable shows of the day. Having not forgotten where they have come from the band dedicates Nutshell to the late frontman Layne and original bassist Mike Starr who passed away in 2011.
This is an emotional and moving tribute and it was hard to find a dry eye in the D (I had dust in my eye I swear!) Along with playing many classic songs from their back catalogue, Jerry Cantrell and crew add in a few new tracks from their most recent album The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here which fit perfectly in with the older material. If you missed Alice then I feel sorry for you.
DOWN – This is one of the most anticipated sets of the day for many metal heads. Legendary frontman Phil Anselmo has his fans in the palm of his hand and gives one of the best performances of the festival. He also dedicates Hail The Leaf to Brisbane band Portal who he says gave him a personal performance only a few days earlier. Down are the masters of what they do and did not disappoint the legions of fans who waited most of the day just to see them.
Glassjaw – Sadly I missed most of their set but got there just in time to hear Pretty Lush off Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence. From what I caught the band were in top form and hopefully they will be back at some stage for their own tour.
Devil You Know – “Do you guys remember me?” Howard Jones asks jokingly. The crowd sure do and it is great to see him fronting a killer new band featuring drummer John Sankey (Devolved, who started on the Gold Coast) and All Shall Perish guitarist Francesco Artusato. Even though the album isn’t released yet, the band play a blistering set giving fans a preview of what’s to come from their soon to be released debut. We are sure to see big things from this band in the near future. Devil You Know are the goods!
Living Colour – “Give us a break we’re old!” laughs singer Corey Glover as the band are doing a quick soundcheck, which just amps the fans up even more. Once they do kick in, Living Colour have more energy than some bands half their age. The musicianship in this band is mind blowing and everything you have ever heard about them live is true.
The fans themselves are a mix of young and old, musos and general punters. But you can pick the guitarists in the crowd when Vernon Reid starts shredding up a storm (and a lot of them were still trying to pick their jaws off the floor after each song).
Living Colour are having the time of their life, you can see that even after so many years in the game they still love playing and interacting with their fans through music. While the band didn’t have time to play their massive single Love Rears It’s Ugly Head they did of course play Cult of Personality which resulted in an eruption of cheers and applause.
While many other people were watching Green Day or Avenged Sevenfold I personally couldn’t think of a better way to end the day and I would happily make that choice again. Living Colour are the real deal.
Overall it was an amazing day and the best Soundwave yet, but just when I think they can’t top it they do time and time again. If this year is anything by then next year Soundwave is going to be the festival to end all festivals.