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Live Review: Soundwave 2014, Sydney

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Live Review: Soundwave 2014, Sydney

                                                                                                         Photo Credit: Kane Hibberd

Showcasing the globe’s most adventurous music since 2004, Soundwave pulled another explosive display out of the bag yesterday in Sydney.

After Metallica attracted much of the 250,000 punter figure in 2013, this year’s edition was always going to be the underdog. The seven band cancellations and inescapable faltering ticket sales may have made headlines in the weeks leading up to Soundwave, but as is always the case, when the first date kicks off and the unique onstage moments surge social media, the rest is drowned out by the primal shuddering of the earth carrying the weight of elephantine riffs and collective foot-stomps.

Here are our highlights, in Gen Y, attention deficit list form:

Mayday Parade
When the Florida five-piece played the first track they’d ever penned, Three Cheers For Five Years, a barefoot Derek Sanders was outshone when drummer/singer Jake Bundrick chimed in with his honeyed falsetto.

The Story So Far
Vocalist Parker Cannon, who admits to getting high before recording, had this to say:

“There are a lot of good bands here today, we are not one of them.”

“Who here is straight edge and sober? Who here is not straight edge and sober? See? Just how it should be, in perfect harmony.”

Asking Alexandria
The iron fist of promoter AJ Maddah didn’t phase frontman Danny Worsnop. Through tracks like Don’t Pray For Me, To The Stage and Run Free, the North Yorkshire stripling roused the crowd with similar comments to those that saw Thy Art Is Murder momentarily kicked off the bill. “I want some carnage I want some fucking violence,” he screamed.

The band continued the rule-bending when they finished with two new tracks from last year’s LP From Death To Destiny.

When the pop-punk band released ninth record Burials last year, most longtime zealots who were unwilling to grow with the 23-year-old band, were unappeased. The Californian quartet sensed this would be the case – perhaps because the last time we saw frontman Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget, it was with their electronic side project Blaqk Audio. AFI placated the crowd with The Leaving Song Pt. II, Silver and Cold and Girl’s Not Grey from sixth LP Sing The Sorrow, played just two tracks from Burials and finished up with Top 15 ARIA single Miss Murder.

A Day To Remember
The Florida band are any festival punter’s go-to for crowd surfing on another surfer, stomping on your friend’s face to create a four-tier shoulder ride or to watch frontman Jeremy McKinnon expertly run across the crowd inside a Zorb ball.

The band took us through their five-album back catalogue, but there was an emphasis on last year’s release Common Courtesy. However judging by the mass sing-alongs, the crowd were well dressed and impressed.

Thy Art Is Murder
After making it onto Channel 9 News for asking punters to jump security barriers and kill each other in Brisbane, the Sydney deathcore band may have toned down the language for the hometown slot, but the crowd didn’t seem affected. A heavy presence of security and police in the pit meant a fight was broken up at the first sign of blood but judging by the reaction of good-natured frontman Chris ‘CJ’ McMahon, you get the feeling the band is steadily becoming a beast not even its maker has control of.

From their politically charged, consumerist commenting, conspiracy theorist backdrop – which featured tampered MTV (WTF) and American Idol (Idiot) logos, to Jonathan Davis’ need to step away from his Giger-commissioned mic stand to use his oxygen tank, his cameo on the bagpipes for Shoots and Ladders, Munky and Head’s desperately missed back-and-forth complexity and Ray Luzier’s electric fevour on the drums, two decades out from inception, Korn are at the top of the game they created.

Green Day
Over three hours Green Day closed Soundwave 2014 in an appropriate manner only fitted to Soundwave’s legacy. Billy Joe Armstrong made sure the set was just as much about the fans as it was about career-spanning nostalgia. Three punters had made in on stage by the halfway point, and despite the band’s million-dollar stage set, an outfit change, a saxophone vs. kazoo battle between Armstrong and Jason Freese, Tre Cool’s frontman fill-in for a partial cover of Shout, a ten-minute version of Jesus of Suburbia, or the three encores, one young girl in a Panic At The Disco! shirt stole the show.

“Man, woman, shemale, I don’t care who it is, who knows how to play the guitar?” said Armstrong before making his choice.

Young Carly stepped onto the stage, visibly calmed her nerves and played the three chords of St. Jimmy with surprising ease. Afterward, she took a ‘selfie’ with Armstrong and got to keep the guitar.

Last year Armstrong told BBC Radio 2′s Jo Whiley that Green Day plan to “take a break” after the Soundwave tour.


- Poppy Reid