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Live Review: Soundwave Festival

Thursday 28 February 2013

Live Review: Soundwave Festival

Sunday February 24, Sydney Olympic Park 
Photo credit: Ken Leanfore 

by Poppy Reid at The Music Network 

As the sound of guitars and distortion merged between stages and the hot steam rose of the thousands of heads at Olympic Park yesterday, it was easy to forget the plethora of surrounding blemishes in both the lead-up and the day of Soundwave Sydney 2013.

To all the detractors and naysayers who blame Soundwave Touring for the drummers who pulled out or didn’t make it, for the floods that forced Garbage off the bill and changed set times, or even for the security who let people hiding flares in their bags into the grounds - condemning promoters who put Metallica, Linkin Park, Blink 182 and A Perfect Circle all on the one tour only makes you a part of the problem.

Here’s a few reasons why TMN found the tenth edition of Soundwave the best yet.

Periphery:

In 2011, the Washington D.C. band performed in a living room, with kids stretching back so far as… the kitchen. House shows may be common in the U.S. but here’s a band who wouldn’t change their energy with their surroundings. FrontmanSpencer Sotelo was the antithesis of cool, his blue-mirrored sunglasses and dopey dancing were equally matched by his fans, some of whom were gathering bark and throwing it into the air.

The Wonder Years:

For fans of twee, short beards, pop punk, the eponymous, early ‘90s television show and universal acceptance, you can’t go past The Wonder Years. Performing tracks like Summers in PA, Living Room Song and Came Out Swinging, the band had their modest crowd singing and hugging in the rain; a sight apparently so adorable that frontman Dan Campbell needed to grab his iPhone and capture it – for his mum.

Billy Talent:

Canada’s most flamboyant punk rock band last toured with the festival in 2010 and now with an extra album up their fans sleeves (2012’s Dead Silence), Billy Talent were as on point as ever. Tracks like Fallen Leaves and Devil On My Shoulder sounded as crisp and trained as they did on their respective records. This was made more astounding by the fact Billy Talent were one of the few bands on the bill to have their gear stuck in flooded trucks, they, along with Sum 41 and Flogging Molly were forced to hire all new gear for the day.

Sleeping With Sirens:

Hearing the Florida band wax lyrical about unrequited love and broken hearts, mixed with frontman Kellin Quin’s seraphic vocals should have been enough for fans at Stage 3, unfortunately the last few tracks were shadowed with crowd members throwing Coke and water bottles onstage. “We want you guys to song along,” said Quin. “In between throwing.” Finally Quinn’s beat boxing inRoger Rabbit (from 2012 EP If You Were a Movie, This Would Be Your Soundtrack) the track he dedicated to “all the pretty Australian girls,” calmed their throwing arms.

Sum 41:

Pop punk mainstays Sum 41 knew exactly what a festival set was about: All killer no filler (pun intended). The Canadian band performed well-known tracks likeIn Too Deep, Fat Lip, Still Waitingand thankfully little from 2011’s Screaming Bloody Murder. Pint-sized frontman Deryck Whibley honed Johnny Rotten with his leather vest and bright red hair, but unlike the Sex Pistol, he invited a few of his zealots out from the heaving mosh onstage. The cover of Queen’s We Will Rock You was more awful than awesome but was a testament to the band’s modus operandi of getting their crowd to make waves.

Slayer:

Slayer win the award for Best Shameless Self Promotion. A few bands on the bill sported their own logos but each member of the thrash metal legends donned their merchandise; utterly understandable considering the current 360 deals artists are signed on to.

With the recent firing of drummer Dave Lombardo, the good men over at Anthrax leant their own fill-in Jon Dette to the band. Slayer are renowned as one of the leaders in their genre, a rookie drummer couldn’t have even stunted the performance; thankfully Slayer’s level of tension and demonic demeanor mastered every faster-than-fuck riff with ferocious charm.

Linkin Park:

A meticulous setlist, smooth sound and more heart than any other act we caught, Linkin Park were the standout performance of the day. Taking us through their weighty back catalogue with tracks like Somewhere I Belong, Waiting For The End, Breaking The Habit and One Step Closer, the band didn’t treat us like another leg of a festival stint, it was as if we’d all spent our hard-earned money on The Living Things Tour. Chester Bennington halted the set at one point after someone caught his eye in the crowd.

“Somebody's fucked up down here,” he said. The band anxiously waited until the fan gave them a peace sign before moving on.

The band were also the chosen slot to reveal the comeback of the Australian Vans Warped Tour. Revealed on the side screens, the skate-punk institution will grace our shores this December.

Metallica:

As a headliner, there are a few responsibilities you must endeavor to adhere to. Your lights must not be outshone, your sound must trump your predecessors, your back screen footage should take your crowd on a journey, and your setlist should be lengthy and all encompassing. If it weren’t for the dingus who endangered the crowd and the band Bring Me The Horizon with his slippery fingers and a flare, Metallica would have knocked this one out of ANZ Stadium.

Opening with The Ecstasy of Gold and Hit The Lights, complete withbacking film from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Metallica wasted no time cementing their place as the Kings Of Metal.

“Do you feel good?” yelled James Hetfield. “I feel fucking great let’s see if we can make it better!”

For a two-hour set, the furious four knew how to make time fly. The ‘Metallica family’ united and refrained from whining when they played one new track. “See that wasn't so bad,” laughed Hetfield after Broken, Beat & Scarred. The band performed a rousing instrumental tribute to late bass playerCliff Burton and honoured current bassist Robert Trujillo who marked his tenth anniversary with the band this year.

Metallica kept their audience in pieces and their legend in tact. To end a Soundwave Festival with such a behemoth act discounted the fault-finders and confirmed the live juggernaut’s place as Australia’s biggest live music event.

Check out TMN's Soundwave Sydney Live Gallery.

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