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Review: Soundwave Festival, Brisbane

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Soundwave Festival, Brisbane
28 February and 1 March 2015
Review by Callum Doig

Soundwave Festival returned with a massive change of pace for frequent punters and newcomers by turning into a 2 day festival in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Headlining the festival were Soundwave newcomers Soundgarden and The Smashing Pumpkins, and coming back for their second ever headline slots at the festival were Faith No More and Slipknot. Joining the bands on the festival included Marilyn Manson, Slash, Antemasque, Incubus, Steel Panther and a whole lot more. Rocking up for my second Soundwave show in Brisbane as a Melbournian local was another great experience for myself and no doubt the same for others.

Day 1

Starting off at Stage 4 were Michigan quartet King 810 who pulled off an interesting 50 minute set to warm up all the punters waiting for their favourite metal bands. Being their first time in Australia, King 810 gained a warm welcome from Brisbane by sharing their haunting stories from ‘Killem All’ up to their last song ‘Fat Around the Heart’ with Brisbane. With plenty of moshers in the pit, and a handful who were familiar with their tracks, King 810 brought quite a promising show as the opener for Stage 4.

Seeing the first few minutes of Floridian alternative metal quintet Nonpoint were also very interesting to witness as they pulled in a fairly larger crowd of those who were waiting for Killer Be Killed to perform. Unlike their first show in Melbourne, there were no interruptions or stuff-ups during their set, and Nonpoint managed to show off great quality onstage with songs such as ‘What A Day’, ‘Pins and Needles’ and ‘The Truth’. The band’s reincarnation of their old nu metal tracks became a blissful sound to those all across the fields of the metal stage.

Gaining an earlier set as they clashed with Slipknot, The Smashing Pumpkins and Fall Out Boy in Melbourne, Canadian Hardcore Punk band Fucked Up gained a large crowd amongst Brisbanian punters the second they opened their set with ‘Son the Father’. Vocalist Damian Abraham had a constant habit of getting on and off the stage, getting into the crowd and give sweaty big hugs to the people around him along with sharing the microphone with them on Fucked Up favourites such as ‘Sun Glass’, ‘Queen of Hearts’ and ‘I Hate Summer’. Damian also showed he was a known figure of having a killer time and for being known to not give a fuck by wrapping the wire of the microphone all around his face, picking up fans and carrying them on his shoulder or squeezing an orange’s juice into his mouth. Being on an earlier slot gave people waiting for other bands to check Fucked Up out, and each person watching their gig smiled brightly throughout the set. With top notch instrumental quality from the band, Damian’s ecstatically aggressive vocals and some crowd participation involved, Fucked Up were no doubt one of the best acts to have witnessed throughout the first day of Soundwave in Brisbane.

The one band you could easily tell was going to gain a large audience in the afternoon was American supergroup Killer Be Killed. With the members of Mastodon, Soulfly, Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan together as one, the band unleashed all chaos opening with ‘Fire To Your Flag’ from their debut self-titled release. Performing at ten song set list throughout their show, KILLER BE KILLED had fans coming from different sides of their fan base from Mastodon to Sepultura wrecking everyone in the pit and singing along to each and every lyric in their music. Greg Puciato did his duty on and off guitar between tracks, as he did his signature move by jumping in and crowd surf during ‘Face Down’ and ‘Fire To Your Flag’. Max Cavalera, Troy Sanders and Greg Puciato all coming from big name bands obviously knew how to put on one crazy set, and with each and every song they executed was done perfectly with hardly any faults within their hour set.

Having Godsmack in the country for the first time ever was of course, a ridiculously exciting thing to happen for the long time Aussie fans. With a new album on the shelves along with a handful of previous albums in the catalogue, Godsmack shared mostly from ‘1000hp’ and a few tracks from every other album. Frontman Sully Erna said to the crowd that he thought that local Brisbanian girls are hotter than the rest of other Australian girls, but he also facetiously said that Brisbanian girls are also the bitchiest. It was pretty easy to pick up that Sully and the band were wondering whether or not Brisbane fans knew much of their music, and considering the amount of people who rocked up to their one hour set, Godsmack fans screamed their hearts out to tracks like ‘Cryin’ Like A Bitch’, ‘Awake’, ‘Speak’ and ‘I Stand Alone’.

With Crossfaith turning up the electronics and metalcore on Stage 5, the Japanese quintet brought Brisbane to their knees before getting to leap into a pit of jumping fury. Having they made their first appearance at Soundwave 2013, it became clear to everyone who attended that they would gain a massive crowd, which of course, they did. From hardcore dancing to wall of deaths, CROSSFAITH had every crowd member lose their shit along to ‘Monolith’, ‘We Are The Future’ and a whole lot of other crowd crushing Crossfaith anthems.

Thrash Metal tyrants Exodus was yet another act that tore open another one for Brisbane. Though it surprised me how there weren’t as many as I had expected to see them after Godsmack, but Exodus had a large group of loyal old and new fans support and completely lose their shit during their one hour set. With a mix of old and new material from ‘Bonded By Blood’ (which happened to now be 30 years since it was released) up to their latest release ‘Blood In Blood Out’, Exodus turned up a whole series of crazy old school metal antics that remained alive in the spirit of their fans. Though the band’s main man guitarist Gary Holt showed up, the band showed that their stand in guitarist had the right tools to show that he was a great replacement for Holt.

Judas Priest also gained a massive amount of fans watching them perform 80 minutes of pure classic metal. Opening the set with the first verse of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ playing in the background got the whole crowd singing along in preparation for what Priest had to offer. With a new album on the shelves, Judas Priest performed mostly from ‘Redeemer Of Souls’ with a large range of classic metal anthems that were written by the Metal Gods that included ‘Devil’s Child’, ‘Victim of Changes’, ‘Jawbreaker’ and ‘Stained Class’. Rob Halford and the rest of the band managed to get the whole crowd singing along to many of the fan favourites without even trying to get a word out of them, no matter what the track was. Guitarist Richie Faulkner performed a range of flawless solos in place of KK Downing, and the man really showed how well he fitted in to PRIEST. When one encore wasn’t enough for the crowd as JUDAS PRIEST had played ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ and ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’’, drummer Scott Travis teased the crowd with the intro to ‘Painkiller’ when trying to get them to chant “Priest!” right before he and the band shredded right into the whole song.

With Slipknot opening up with ‘Sarcastrophe’, that was the one moment where all insanity broke loose in every Soundwave attendee there. Slipknot had an equal amount of songs to perform from each album of theirs from their debut up to ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’. No matter what Slipknot wanted the crowd to do, every word of theirs was their crowd’s instant command. Corey had moments of interacting with the crowd whether it be helping him with the intro to ‘Custer’ or crouching down before jumping as high as they could to ‘Spit It Out’.

Day 2

With Day 1 in Brisbane down, there were quite a lot of attendees who still felt dead from the day before. Their weariness wasn’t getting the best of them as there were still plenty more bands to see for the second day of Soundwave. Melbournian Grindcore maniacs King Parrot served as the opener and the biggest wakeup call for everyone at Stage 4 with a number of comedic and brutal traits that they brought along with them, with Slatts wearing only board shorts and stating alongside Youngy that Sydney and Coffs Harbour were better than the Brisbanian crowd. The band threw in a mix of tracks from their EP and latest album ‘Bite Your Head Off’ and some newer material with titles such as ‘Hell Comes Your Way’ and ‘Home Is Where The Gutter Is’. King Parrot’s onstage performance was incredible as always, and managed to pull in a bigger crowd than the next band that played after them.

Nothing More were a very interesting act for those who were not all that familiar with them. The band shared some well-executed songs such as ‘Christ Copyright’, ‘Mr. MTV’, ‘Jenny’ and ‘This Is The Time (Ballast)’, including a 5 minute bass solo from three of the members on the one 5 string bass guitar, where they would flip the bass around on a platform and spin it around. Though NOTHING MORE’s crowd wasn’t as big as King Parrot’s, those who missed them definitely missed something really big from the band.

Another local act from Melbourne Ne Obliviscaris, who became the first band to be announced on the Soundwave 2015 lineup, put in all of the blood, sweat and tears to give their debut at Soundwave a really good shot. Considering how long their songs are, they managed to slip in three tracks from their latest release ‘Citadel’ and one from ‘Portal Of I’. Seeing Ne Obliviscaris in a different part of Australia for me was kind of exciting, as I got to see how devoted their Brisbanian fanbase are towards the band. NeO’s set was 40 minute flawless one that still showed their country how amazing their live recitals truly are. With Soundwave, it was definitely a good warm-up for the band as they have some other big festival slots overseas in the next few months.

Terror Universal’s crowd turnout happened to increase quite fast as they came onstage. As the band has only one EP, they still had some good material to share with the crowd as each member came from bands such as Ill Niño, Machine Head and Soulfly. With some tracks from their debut EP, Terror Universal included a cover of Rob Zombie’s ‘Superbeast’ as the band’s set closer, which I will say was performed quite well.

If there’s one act that has influenced a countless range of bands (that includes Fear Factory and Ministry) in the years of their formation, it’s Godflesh. The industrial duo had a more intimate turnout compared to the previous bands on Stage 4, but their loyal fans showed their love and appreciated every minute of their set. Not being all that familiar with their music, I could actually see how their music has become influential on the industrial genre, and it was definitely refreshing to hear and see Godflesh as they ripped out tracks such as ‘Like Rats’, ‘Christbait Rising’ and ‘Mothra’.

On the main stage at 4pm were Steel Panther – the one band who can be labelled more as entertainers than your regular everyday musicians. Opening up with ‘Pussywhipped’ the band later went into their comedic routine talking about wanting to punch One Direction in the nuts or how similar sheep’s genitalia is to human females. Performing mainly from their debut ‘Feel The Steel’ and their latest album ‘All You Can Eat’, Steel Panther had countless fans singing along to their anthem-chanting songs and heaps of chicks flashing their breasts to the band and even getting up onstage with the band. Steel Panther’s interactions with the crowd were hilarious as they said that the guys who brought their girlfriends to watch Steel Panther “fucked up” or that they stated the parents who brought their kids to watch them were really awesome, as they could learn how to have sex at an early age. Singing to favourites such as ‘Community Property’, ’17 Girls In A Row’, ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Party All Day (Fuck All Night)’, Steel Panther could always rely on their crowd to remember every lyric in every song they perfectly performed.

To see Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez jam together again in their new group Antemasque was also another highlight of the festival. With the band performing straight from their only album after forming last year, Antemasque had a very 70’s psychedelic vibe crossing with garage rock onstage. Seeing the band perform felt like I was watching a band from the 70’s come back to life, particularly with vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala having a similar presence to that Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. Though tracks such as ‘I Got No Remorse’, ‘In The Lurch’ and ‘Momento Mori’ were played in their standard length, the band’s final song ‘People Forget’ only started halfway through their one hour set, being extended to some reminiscence of Cedric and Omar’s old band – The Mars Volta.

Incubus were up next and were another highlight for me on Day 1. Brandon and his boys opened with countless fans screaming and singing along to ‘Wish You Were Here’ before going into ‘Anna Molly’ and ‘Adolescents’. The 5 piece were generous enough to share some new material with the fans where those who had yet to hear it could finally see what Incubus had been getting up to in the studio. With 11 songs to perform in an hour, Incubus had nothing but smiles and cheers coming from all over the main stage area of Soundwave. No matter the track, no matter the album, fans had the highest feeling of ecstasy spread throughout their system like wildfire. With a cool breeze settling in during their set, vocalist Brandon Boyd said he felt like he was having a ‘Beyoncé moment’ before getting into ‘Nice To Know You’. With ‘Megalomaniac’ and ‘Sick Sad Little World’ being the band’s closers, Incubus had amazed more fans new and old by the live quality of those two tracks and left nothing but great impressions from those around their stage.

90’s Grunge titans Soundgarden were the first out of the two main headliners of Day 2 to tear it up, opening with ‘Spoonman’ as well as performing a rarity entitled ‘Kyle Petty, Son of Richard’, which gained great reception from the fans on Stage 2. With ‘Superunknown’ being 21 years old, the band performed 5 tracks off the album along a balance of songs from ‘Bad Motorfinger’, ‘Down On The Upside’ and their latest album ‘King Animal’. Chris Cornell and the band didn’t have a whole lot to talk about to the crowd, other than what they went through during the time of the making of the songs they were performing. Hearing songs such as ‘My Wave’, ‘Been Away Too Long’, ‘Rusty Cage’ and ‘Ty Cobb’ were some of the best one to hear live, however the live performance of ‘Black Hole Sun’ particularly in the chorus didn’t seem to work all that well for Cornell to sing, as it sounded slightly off tempo.

The one band that was the ultimate highlight of Day 2 Brisbane for me, were the one and only Faith No More. The alternative quintet had a stage covered in white and floral decorations while the band cracked open the set with their first song in 17 years ‘Motherfucker’ before jamming out to other fan favourites such as ‘Evidence’, ‘Caffeine’ and ‘Epic’. Halfway through ‘Midlife Crisis’, the band stopped before they hit the chorus towards the ending to see if Brisbane could sing the lyrics all by themselves, and it somewhat impressed Patton and the band. The band’s most amount tracks performed came from ‘King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime’ while still playing a few from ‘Angel Dust’ and ‘Album Of The Year’. During the band’s cover of ‘Easy’ by The Commodores featured Mike Patton getting on a security guard’s shoulders and getting to ‘giddy-up’ all around the front of the stage. The band had a few different set list changes to their previous Soundwave 2015 shows, where they would perform ‘Surprise! You’re Dead!’ from ‘The Real Thing’, as well as finishing their set with two more new tracks ‘Matador’ and ‘Superhero’, a cover of Burt Bacharach’s ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ and their debut album track ‘Spirit’.

Overall, Soundwave 2015 was a brilliant way to spend the weekend, as everyone had a chance to witness more and more bands that they couldn’t see on a regular one day festival. Though Melbourne has always been my home, Brisbane has been one of the best places to attend Soundwave at. Whether the two day festival happens again or not, Soundwave won’t let us down with another fantastic lineup. If you missed out, there’s not much to worry about as a large majority of these bands will definitely be back in the future. And with Faith No More no longer doing reunion shows, and are officially back together, we can really expect a bunch of shows to happen soon.


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