It was the battle of the music festivals this past weekend in Sydney. Soundwave vs Future Music. Rock vs Electonic. For me, Soundwave won. Out of 73 acts split across three days I made it to 11, quite small in comparison to other festival goers.
Day 1 started at 2pm. While waiting for an act on stage 2, I had a perfect view of stage 1 and saw Japanese emo, rock and heavy metal band One Ok Rock. Now, some bands are not exactly on my radar and I always love discovering music that is new to me. So I was really happy to catch their set and found their music great!
My Chemical Romance’s former frontman Gerard Way was one of the few solo artists to play the festival. The band went their separate ways in 2013 and Way released his debut solo album, ‘Hesitant Alien‘, a year later. Way walked onto the stage, where a pink monkey banner was placed for Way’s set, looking dapper in a black suit, purple shirt and blue tie while his touring band ‘The Hormones’ were dressed in white shirts and black dress pants accessorised with ties – all this a far cry from My Chemical Romance. They opened with ‘The Bureau‘ before playing through other songs from ‘Hesitant Alien’. After thanking the crowd for being there and showing fans the colour of his socks for they day, he introduced ‘Drugstore Perfume‘ telling fans it’s about moving out of home. He closed the set with a cover ‘Snakedriver‘ by The Jesus and Mary.
It was then over to stage one for Steel Panther. Heading into this I was aware of the band, seen merchandise and advertisements over the years, but had never heard a Steel Panther song. So I took the opportunity to check them out. Now if you’ve seen a photo of the band you’d think they’ve been around since the 80’s and are still living out the dream. You would be wrong. The band formed in 2000 under Metal Skool and released ‘Hole Patrol‘, their self produced debut album, in 2003. In 2008 they made the change to Steel Panther and never looked back. Releasing ‘Feel The Steel‘ a year later, released another two, and now, ‘All You Can Eat‘ being their latest.
Their onstage persona is 1980’s stereotypical glam metal with outrageous, sometimes controversial, humour filled lyrics – mostly sexual. They played through hits like “Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World“, “If I Was The King” and “Girl From Oklahoma” which proceeded a “hair solo” from bassist Lexxi Foxx. The band wanted to break the record for “most boobs shown at Soundwave”, we still don’t know if Sydney broke the record. “17 Girls in a Row” gave female fans the opportunity to get on stage and up close and personal with the band, many trying to get the perfect on-stage selfie. They interacted greatly with the fans and their jokes broke the barrier between the band and the fans. They closed with their first single under the name ‘Steel Panther’, ‘Death To All But Metal‘. The band put on a great show and were the highlight of my Day 1. It wasn’t what I was expecting and I’m happy about it. They were fun, entertaining, and had great energy!
Next was Monuments. Lead singer Chris Barretto dedicated the set to the late Leonard Nimoy. The band played 7 tracks off their two albums, the second to be released mid-year. Their vocal melodies were intriguing and reminiscent of Ancient melodies. They kept the crowd entertained, including the audience when it came time to create circle pits.
Falling in Reverse played for 40 minutes at stage 3 to hundreds of adoring fans. The band played tracks off their three records, opening with ‘God, If You Are Above …’ from their latest, ‘Just Like You’. Fan favorite ‘Fashionably Late‘ showcased lead singer Ronnie Radke’s stage presence through changing mannerisms to distinguish between himself and the cheated on ex. Before playing the final song of their set, The Drug In Me Is You, Radke told fans to “sing along like its the last time you’ll ever hear it live cause who knows we may never be back, I might end up back in jail.” The band gave a great energetic performance!
We only caught part of Soundgarden’s set, but it did not disappoint. They got the crowd moving with their endless array of hits, closing stage 2 on day 1 with 1992 hit, ‘Rusty Cage‘.
Day 2 for me kicked off at Stage 2 with Aussie band Tonight Alive. Having seen them play live before, I knew they would put on a stellar show. This time was even better than the last! The Sydney locals played through all their hits and fan favourites. Bringing back songs they haven’t played in years like, ‘What Are You So Scared Of?‘ and ‘Lonely Girl‘. They then went on to play three Rage Against The Machine tunes including ‘Killing In The Name‘, ‘Know Your Enemy‘ and ‘Guerrilla Radio‘ in which they were joined by Bert McCracken, lead singer of The Used. Before playing the final song, lead singer Jenna McDougall told the hundreds of fans in the audience that in two days time, they would be leaving the country to record their third album. Their final song of the day was of course one of their most well known hits, and the lead song for The Amazing Spider Man 2, ‘The Edge‘, sending fans into a frenzy.
All Time Low flew on to stage and jumped straight into their hit Lost In Stereo. The band said they think this’ll be one of the craziest shows they’ll ever play, knowing a storm was coming, making a deal with their fans that “if it starts to rain, you all get naked.” The fans did not keep their end of the bargain. Five songs into their set and it was over. The rain had ruined their equipment and the organisers of the festival told the band they need to stop playing for the safety of themselves and their fans. All Time Low promised to be back, and they delivered. They returned to stage for an acapella sing-a-long of ‘Weightless‘ with their drenched fans who were still braving the rain. They also covered Queen’s classic, ‘We Will Rock You‘ and with that their time slot was over. It was time to bid them farewell once again.
While waiting for Marilyn Manson at Stage 1, I had a great view of Papa Roch at stage 2. The band delivered a great set playing songs that beautifully represent their back catalogue with songs like, ‘Face Everything and Rise,‘ ‘Blood Brothers,’ ‘Forever‘ and closing with ‘Last Resort.‘
Knowing Johnny Depp had previously played with Marilyn Manson and featured as a guitarist on his version of Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain‘ from his 2011 album, Born Villain, I thought maybe, just maybe Depp would join him for the final day of Soundwave here in Sydney. Unfortunately for Sydney siders, Depp attended the Brisbane sideshow. Manson strutted on stage with blue and white make up smeared across his face for the first song of the set, ‘Deep Six‘. Manson shocked fans with his microphone that morphed into a knife and smearing his own blood on his face multiple times, telling fans “I brought the rain and the blood, you bring the screams”. ‘The Dope Show’ sent fans into hysteria, being one of Manson’s most popular tracks to date. His cover of the Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)‘ had the whole venue singing along, whether you were there for Manson or not. Manson closed his set with ‘Irresponsible Hate Anthem,‘ leaving fans wanting more.
Slash took to the stage with his collaborators Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. The legendary guitarist blew minds with his musical skills, playing through his tracks with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, ‘World on Fire,‘ ‘Avalon‘ and ‘Bent To Fly‘, his own such as ‘Starlight,‘ ‘Back From Cali,‘ and ‘Ghost‘ and of course Guns ’n’ Roses classics ‘Welcome To The Jungle,‘ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine‘ and ‘Paradise City.‘
U.S band Of Mice And Men opened their set with ‘Public Service Announcement.‘ I think their fans created the most circle pits throughout the whole of Soundwave. The band played through tracks from their three records, the latest being ‘Restoring Force‘. After telling fans they’ll be back soon, lead singer Austin Carlile told fans, “I don’t like speaking so I’m gonna stop and get back to singing,” before playing their final song of the night, ‘You’re Not Alone.‘ The band put on a great show without any gimmicks that many artists rely on these days.
While many choose to spend the last few hours watching Slipknot play, I decided to follow my inner punk rocker and see Fall Out Boy, and I’m glad I did! The first time I saw them live was their last Australian tour in 2013 and it was one of the best gigs I’ve been to. I joined forces with my friend, also a major FOB fan, and together we made it to the front of the mosh, literally an arms length away from the band. The lights came down and the screen lit up.
Within seconds FOB had hit the stage straight into their hit ‘The Phoenix.’ The crowd screamed, cheered and chanted. ‘I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me’ was followed by their latest single ‘Irresistible’. Then it was time for some nostalgia. Fans sang belted out out ‘This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,’ one of FOB’s biggest hits which was followed by the anthemic ‘Alone Together’. They played through favourites like, ‘The Kids Are Alright,’ ‘A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me,”‘ before playing their contribution to Disney’s Big Hero 6, ‘Immortals,’ followed by ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy.’
The screen behind the band displayed awesome visuals, in ‘Uma Thurman‘ displaying an old Hollywood heroine. The title track of their latest album “American Beauty/American Psycho” was the next song of the night, preceding the ever so popular ‘Dance, Dance‘. ‘I Don’t Care‘ gave the audience another chance to chant along during the bridge with lead singer Patrick Stump. Bassist Pete Wentz then told fans of the fable about the Frog and Scorpion before leading into their 2013 mega hit, ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up),‘ and with that they left the stage.
The crowd started to sing, chant and scream the vocal intro of ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)‘ as well as, “one more song!”. The band then emerged from backstage telling fans: “God you’re loud!” Before jumping straight into ‘Centuries.‘ Then came one of the most defining songs of Fall Out Boy’s career, ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs.’ Sadly, it was time for the last song. The band thanked the crowd before playing one of their older tunes, ‘Saturday,’ with an illuminated Australian Flag on screen that morphed into the Australian Aboriginal Flag. Fans went crazy when Wentz jumped off stage and into the crowd, high-fiving fans, holding hands and rustling one crowd surfers hair as they came towards him. All in all it was my highlight of the festival. The boys played a tight set and really delivered for their fans. Can’t wait for them to come back!
Soundwave 2015 was two days of pure rock and roll entertainment!