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Soundwave 2014 @ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

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From the massive line up of international bands to the sunburnt faces and sea of King Parrot shirts, Soundwave proved once again why it’s the juggernaut of Australian heavy music festivals. With 12 stages, over 90 bands and an expected crowd of over 42,000 for Melbourne alone, punters are claiming this as the best one yet. Heavy’s resident rock expert, Anthony Moore, and metal connoisseur Josh Voce, both attended and have made some scrupulous observations

Josh Voce: Masters of Vikingdom, Amon Amarth, opened Soundwave with a ferocity which would have given a tremble to the likes of Thor. The stage set up consisted of a large medieval boat and alternating stage banners. Although it was only 11:00am in the morning, Amon Amarth made it seem as though everyone was getting set to sail off the coast of Mordor at the stroke of midnight to do battle. A superb start to the day.

JV: Mushroomhead unfortunately encountered many mike problems through their set. With so many people on stage all doing different things, it was somewhat forgivable that the sound was atrocious. They had clearly done their research though as they garnered an Aussie, Aussie, Aussie chant.

JV: I stayed for one and a half fingers of Five Finger Death Punch. One finger was enough for me. They seemed to represent more of a fairy tap than an actual punch. Over at stage 7 was August Burns Red performing their stuttering rhythms with precision. The red rager crowd complied with said rhythms and displayed some serious energy.

JV: Tesseract were ethereal and their ominous intro was followed by some djenty goodness. A substantial drop in insane crowd surfing and hardcore moshing occurred between them and August Burns Red, but that’s alright as they are a listening band, and people were listening.

JV: Soundwave Death metal representatives The Black Dahlia Murder slaughtered the crowd with some no nonsense down to business fast paced high octane metal. Trevor Strnad got the crowd moving with his two handed fist pumps whilst Ryan Knight’s tasty solos sadly went unheard due to a bad mix.

Anthony Moore: It seems that Graveyard’s popularity in Australia was very much underestimated with their side show at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar selling out in six hours as well as the massive turn out early on for their Soundwave set. Full of perfect Sabbath-esque riffs and vibe though it’s the strength of guitarist / vocalist Joakim Nilsson’s range that really impresses with comparisons to Robert Plant and Ronnie James Dio.

JV: Thrash metal legends Testament brought the goods by the bucket loads. The relatively short 40 minute set saw them cram in the classics such as “The Preacher” and “The New Order” as well as a handful of songs off their latest album, Dark Roots Of Earth. Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy are still looking righteous after all these years.

AM: Nostalghia were an unexpected treat when walking past. A captivating and emotional electronic, experimental gypsy punk three piece with vast haunting atmospheres. Ciscandra Nostalghia’s vocals sit somewhere between Kate Bush and Amy Lee (Evanescence).

AM: ) Mutemath’s upbeat and melodic rock had fans dancing and those that didn’t know them couldn’t seem to leave their grasp. It’s a bit cliché when drummers pour water on their kit so when they hit the skins it shoots up in the air, but when Darren King did it the lights hit the drops and it exploded like fireworks and who can’t help but love a drummer that has his headphones literally taped to his head!

JV: Gwar. Fake blood coming out of a fake penis. Tony Abbot beheading. Amputation of the Queens breasts. Swinging the royal baby by its umbilical chord. Weird looking loincloth wearing stage guy helps shove pole up random Scottish cops ass. And a T-Rex. Nothing out of the ordinary for Gwar.

AM: Sometimes timetables mistakes (the official program vs the iPhone app) can work out for the best. I went to see ††† (Crosses) featuring Chino Moreno (Deftones) but Pulled Apart By Horses came on. They are a grab you by the jugular high energy punk rock band that never let you go for the entire set. A definite highlight of the day.

JV: Black metal legends Satyricon enjoyed a tightly packed crowd under one of the smaller tent stages. Their highly synchronized headbanging and simple stage set up was all the crowd needed to enjoy a solid set of legendary black metal.

JV: Baroness sadly got the worst of the technical difficulties for the day, having to cut their set a song or two short. Once the sound was sorted though they played a flawless set and all instances of technical difficulties were forgotten.

AM: “If you’re gonna do it, do it live on stage or don’t do it at all.” Clutch don’t just say it, they mean it. They’re one of the tightest bands in the world playing straight up no bullshit rock’n’roll with a live show second to none. It’s always interesting to see who is watching sidestage at festivals, Clutch had members of Eagles Of Death Metal, Rocket From The Crypt and GWAR (in full regalia).

AM: A band that the main stage suits perfectly is Alice In Chains, who got labelled as grunge when it exploded although they’ve always been so much more including metal and acoustic elements as well as such an honest emotional depth to their music and lyrics. Although not the main vocalist, guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s vocals are just as impressive as the guitar riffs we know in classics like Man In The Box, Them Bones, Damn That River, No Excuses, the haunting Rooster and I have to admit that Would? was the first song on the day that got me singing out loud.

JV: Down, highlight act of the day. Metal master Phil Anselmo commands a crowd like no other. The second he steps out on stage he instructs the crowd to start an “anti-clockwise circle pit, none of this new school bullshit.” The ex-Pantera frontman even sported a King Parrot shirt, a teaser of things to come. King Parrot hopped up on stage to join Down for “Bury Me In Smoke” at the end of their set. At this point, Down had completely stolen the show from anyone else that had played before them.

JV: Heavy Issue 9 cover band Gojira played with immensity the size of the great beast himself. The French stalwarts were as spectacular as expected. Lead singer and guitarist Joe Duplantier commandeered the crowd and harnessed the raw power of reptilian lizard and suave Frenchman.

AM: Psychedelic doom band Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats put on a solid set of head swaying acid induced heavy grooves; another band whose popularity may have been under estimated in Australia and will hopefully come back soon for a headline tour.

JV: Professional circle pit starters, DevilDriver, did what they do best, circle pits. The biggest of the day. Dez Fafara comes in a close second after Anselmo as the most commanding frontman of the day. Crowd favourites “Meet The Wretched” and “End Of The Line” garnered insane moshpits with Dez regarding Melbourne as “easily the best so far”.

AM: In a mountain of heavy bands you always have to keep a little time aside for some sexy boogie rock. The Eagles Of Death Metal never disappoint with the smooth and sassy banter between songs from Jesse Hughes to their arse swinging guitar riffs.

JV: Melbourne’s King Parrot was blessed just days earlier with a prime time slot at this year’s Soundwave, and they definitely took advantage of it. The crowd was just as big as some of the international acts earlier in the day and vocalist Matt Young did his trademark crowd surf whilst singing, bassist Slatts remarks “oy, come back here. We still need that c**t.” A great send-off to them before they embark on their first ever American tour.

AM: Living Colour blend old school funk with punk roots and more and it was a privilege to finally get to see some of the worlds most talented musicians live on stage. They played such a powerful set including favourites like “Ignorance Is Bliss”, “Middle Man”, “Cult Of Personality” and “Love Rears Its Ugly Head”. The highlight of the set was when Down (minus Phil Anselmo) came up during the “Times Up / Sex Machine” extended jam and took over their instruments!

Highlights and Lowlights
Highlights: King Parrot up on stage with Down. King Parrots set. The hilarious costumes some people wore, ie. Pink onesy, oldly fashioned grim reaper outfit.
Lowlights: Sound at more multiple stages. NO sound for first 2-3 minutes of King Parrot.

Highlights: Graveyard, Pulled Apart By Horses, Clutch, AIC, Absolutely everything about the legendary Living Colour!
Lowlights: The price of alcohol, the price of hot chips, the price of… well everything.
Missing so many more great bands!

Photos By John Raptis

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