Saturday, the second of March saw the baton officially change hands. 40,000 punk and metal fans turned out to trump the dismal 17,000 the Big Day Out managed to scrounge together just over a month earlier.
A number of solid performers kicking the day off early to a small crowd. The day didn’t really start, however, until Anthrax hit the stage and upped the energy levels and brought a more professional sound to the festival. Stone Sour lifted the sound quality again, though their melodic sound gave the crowd a break from the intensity, even sounding a bit safe compared to the rest of the lineup (not that you would have known judging by the crowd’s reaction.)
The Mike Patton-led Tomahawk had a not-altogether disappointing crowd of supporters gather for their set, but the majority of the assembled collective clearly didn’t know what to make of the abnormal rockers. (To be fair, it wasn’t like there were many other bands whose lead singer was standing behind a computer controlling loops and vocal effects for a fair chunk of the set.) Despite Patton’s complaints about how ‘fucking hot’ it was, it took them a little while to warm up but once they did, as Patton himself said, they showed that they ‘weren’t bad for a bunch of old fucks.’ With that platitude, and some mid-set commandeering of the water gun (turning it both on himself and a few select fans), he pulled the crowd together and they rocked their way through the rest of their set, before finishing up with a remarkably authentic rendition of 82 year old George Jones’ country ballad ‘Just One More’, which in Patton’s hands at time sounds like a pirate sea shanty.
Kyuss Lives! made the most of their last hurrah before they change their name to Vista Chino due to ongoing legal issues with former members, Josh Homme and Scott Reeder. Facing a difficult playing time earlier in the day, they failed to really engage the crowd though didn’t care too much about changing this given their lack of connection with the crowd. Despite that, musically, Kyuss Lives! played a rollicking set that made their connection with Josh Homme clear for all to see. Musically excellent, it was disappointing that for many this was a forgettable part of the day.
Sum 41 played a classic set, pumping the crowd up with favourites Fat Lip, Still Waiting and In Too Deep. No frills, energetic punk rock from a very tight group, the crowd grew and they lapped it up. There’s not really much more you can say. One of the day’s highlights.
Blink-182 have been through a period of flux of late, breaking up, recording with separate groups, regrouping and releasing a much more mature sounding album in 2012’s ‘Neighborhoods’. It was always going to be interesting to gauge the group dynamics as their reunion tour wound its way through to Adelaide. There were a number of difficulties with sound, particularly vocals, that affected the at osphere early on. Once these were sorted out the group hit their stride, striking up their usual teenage banter. On stage the absence of original drummer Travis Barker didn’t seem to affect the band too much, with replacement Brooks Wackerman (Bad Religion) performing with energy and power. The same can’t be said of Tom Delonge’s vocals, which were very weak and inconsistent throughout the show. Mark Hoppus covered as much as possible but there was only so much he could do. Classic tunes, Dammit, Josie (everything’s gonna be fine) and What’s My Age Again, were all very well received and made. The show worth it for many punters. New tunes didn’t make much of an impact on a crowd who for the large part had obviously not paid much attention to the band since 1999’s Enema of the State. There was also a stark conflict between the more mature lyrics on the group’s latest album and the incredibly immature stage banter they keep up. Unfortunately the group appear to be struggling with trying to grow up but also keep their fans happy and the balance wasn’t quite right today.
Garbage pulled a significant crowd to their mid afternoon set. Judging from the makeup of the assembled throng and their apathy towards Shirley Manson’s onstage antics, it appears most of them made the trek over in order to avoid seeing Linkin Park. With the exception of those at the very front of the D, this appeared to be eating and drinking time for the majority of the crowd and Manson did little engage them otherwise in her onstage efforts. At one point she appealed to the girls in the crowd to take up an instrument or a microphone and bring some more female presence to the festival. Fair point. However, then ruined entirely when the reason she gave for girls doing this was so they could be one of only 2 or 3 girls backstage with James Hetfield and all the other hot guys. Good one: Shirley Manson, the new face of feminism. An average effort all up.
Metallica: They stride onto the stage and you know what you’re in for. You know what they do and you know they deliver. Just over 2 years since they last rocked Adelaide at the Entertainment Centre (with their Death Magnetic tour), Metallica were back to play a rock show of the more standard variety. Them up front looking out at a sea of sweaty faces clad in black. With that setting, they played a rip roaring set, filled with some unusual choices (The Thing That Should Not Be and Motorbreath) and with those you would always expect: (Master of Puppets, The Unforgiven, One, Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman.)
I must admit, heading to The Offspring was a difficult call to make. On one stage, Metallica was already killing it, rocking without abandon, but with flames and fireworks. On the other, a group I appreciated as a young ‘un but have increasingly lost touch with. It was the right call to make though. For all of Metallica’s power and precision, by this point in a day full of metal, a chance to take the foot off the pedal was fantastic, as was the huge smile left on so many faces but the end of their upbeat and fun set. Cranking out the hits, especially towards the end, where we went from ‘Why Don’t You Get A Job?’ to ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’ to ending with a pumping rendition of ‘Self Esteem’, The Offspring had everyone on their feet, smiling and singing along while they engaged in a healthy dose of nostalgia. The perfect ending to an amazing day of music.
From the beginning of the day, it was apparent that many people were setting themselves up at Stage 1 for the whole day and it wasn’t hard to see why: Anthrax, Stone Sour, Tomahawk, Kyuss Lives, Slayer, A Perfect Circle, Blink-182, Linkin Park and Metallica on one stage is a lineup that is worthy of a festival in itself. Throw in the vintage punk-rock of The Offspring, Sum 41 and a stack of other quality bands and if it all came together, this was always going to be a huge day and reveals the single biggest reason behind Soundwave’s success this year. As Soundwave organiser AJ Maddah himself explained in an interview with Andrew Haug: “Soundwave is an international festival, and we book international bands … The story is they need to be professional bands that are bands for a living and are doing it seriously … they understand how to behave backstage and how to behave in front of the Metallicas of the world.”
Soundwave views itself as a music festival. An interesting distinction from the attitude the Big Day Out has taken for a number of years as an opportunity for a bunch of yobs to get drunk and a bunch of kids to try and look cool for each other. Not saying there weren’t a bunch of people drinking heavily at Soundwave, but by-and-large they were people watching a music festival who happened to be drinking. Beyond that it is important to mention the abundance of grass at Soundwave this year.
I’m not sure how it happened, but Maddah and co. managed to cultivate, what compared to last year was, a veritable jungle between the main stages. Whilst only being a smaller area, it was amazing how much of a difference it made to the usually barren desert that is Bonython Park at Soundwave time.
What more is there to say in the end, like the photo above shows, Soundwave 2013 transformed the typically desolate Bonython Park into a regular Garden of Eden. With so many world-class acts to love and so much on offer, the only negatives were having to choose between what’s on and having so much trouble trying to think who they should get next year.
Hats off to you AJ and the crew: We don’t envy the job you have of trying to top this year!