Sydney Soundwave, 28th February – 1st March ’15 – Across The Ocean

Sydney Soundwave, 28th February – 1st March ’15

It’s February 28th, the final day of summer and with the sun pounding down mercilessly it appears the season is determined to go out with a bang.

I have arrived at Soundwave and roll into the main arena in time to catch the tailend of L.A.’s partially pisstaking Steel Panther. Glammed up from head to toe, they really are eighties cock rock bundled up into one encapsulating package, both in theatrical and musical terms. ‘Party All Day (Fuck All Night)‘ says it all, enciting a bout of shameless breast flashing from a few frisky femmes.

At the polar opposite of the rock spectrum is the recently constructed Antemasque. A wall of noise leads into ‘In The Lurch‘, frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala and his bobbing black mop stalking the stage.

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Omar Rodríguez-López with his distinct jagged guitar stylings are at the forefront as the band works it’s way energetically through a fair chunk of their new album, culminating in an epic jammed out ‘Providence‘.

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Throughout the set three microphones and a drum stool meet their demise.

Seeking respite from the sun’s pernicious rays I wander inside and catch some of Icon For Hire‘s furious performance.

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The assembled youngsters are plundered with the violence of ‘Off With Her Head‘ as frontwoman Ariel stands aloft the foldback, spitting out her vocals and demanding that “Sydney make some fucking noise”. This was to develop into a catchphrase barked ad nauseum at us over the duration of the weekend.

With the sun dipping dramatically behind the grandstand, bodies scurry from all directions to greet grunge grandmasters Soundgarden.

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New album King Animal is dipped into with ‘Been Away Too Long‘ and ‘A Thousand Days Before‘ being it’s only offerings. It is the classics the masses want delivered and the Seattlites do not fail to deliver.

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Outshined‘ is pumped out early and rapaciously devoured despite a clearcut butchering of the second chorus.

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Spoonman‘, ‘Fell On Black Days‘ and ‘Black Hole Sun‘ are all part of the trip down memory lane but one of the true epics is saved for the finale. ‘Rusty Cage‘ soars and climaxes in a wall of feedback as the band exits to tumultuous adulation.

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Eluding pigeonholes and constantly keeping us guessing, Faith No More remain truly unique. Sometimes cheesy, sometimes evil but always entertaining, we are taken tonight through a cascade of nineties anthems.

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The big hits such as ‘Epic‘ and ‘Midlife Crisis‘ (featuring a bizarre ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight‘ interlude) are predictable favourites but it is the edgier moments that shine the brightest.

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Caffeine’, ‘The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies‘ and the demented ‘Cuckoo For Caca‘ are some of the ingredients of a volatile set.

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The highlight however, is a spine tingling version of the rarely performed ‘Zombie Eaters‘. New track ‘Superhero‘ is played and I hear a nearby yob drunkenly yell “play songs we know!’. Where’s he been the last hour?

No Faith No More show would be complete without some Mike Patton antics and tonight they included a megaphone been lobbed into the crowd as well as the successful incorporation of a massive “cunt” chant slotted into ‘Digging The Grave‘.

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That was an eyebrow raising way to finish the day.

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The first act I catch on the second day is the aptly titled Fucked Up.

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The no nonsense punk rock these Canadians punch out basically serves as a soundtrack for frontman Damian Abraham’s ludicrous antics. From the opening of the set the man is into the crowd and there he remains till the end.

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Audience members are molested and random objects headbutted, the lack of glass allowed inside the venue means his usual blood loss is reduced as smashing plastic cups on your head doesn’t quite have the same effect.

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Also indoors it is time for a splash of Japanese industrial metal. Bounding individually onstage like superheroes, Crossfaith are indeed a sight to behold.

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Diminutive bassplayer Haroki Ikegawa bangs his head so hard I half expect it fly off into the crowd. Full throttle riffs and tighly choreographed stage moves are in abundance – everything about these guys is extreme. I wobble back out into the daylight as if concussed.

A midafternoon downpour cools us all down and to the backdrop of grey clouds and sporadic lightning Papa Roach take the stage.

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Singer Jacoby Shaddox seems to have taken a liking to the word “motherfucker” and utilises it every few seconds, usually after instructing Sydney to make some fucking noise.

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Whilst it seems a tad excessive the ardent fans punch the air in unison and singalong to the likes of ‘Face Everything And Rise‘ and ‘Getting Away With Murder‘. The sun defiantly protrudes back through the grey in time for the intense closer ‘Last Resort‘.

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On the outskirts of the stadium’s dancefloor a loose cannon repeatedly runs slides and falls on the wet surface, amusing those awaiting Marilyn Manson. It’s a good effort considering how difficult it can be to make goths laugh.  Right on cue the sun disappears and ominous clouds return as the set gets underway.

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There is something a little odd about a dude well into his forties still gothing up. Regardless, he is still revered and delivers all the big moments fans are craving.

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Disposable Teens‘ and ‘The Beautiful People‘ get the crowd surging but the choice of inserting two covers so close together (‘Sweet Dreams‘ and ‘Personal Jesus‘) seems an odd one, given the limited set length.

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Wandering back into one of the sheds Vegas four piece ‘Escape The Fate‘ are quite adamant that Sydney needs to make some noise. To stress the point they too are calling us motherfuckers. I haven’t been yelled at like this since I was a kid.

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In amid the cock rock theatrics, death screams and bombardment of samples, I’m pretty sure I heard drummer Robert Ortiz dedicate ‘Ten Miles Wide‘ to someones penis.

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Is there a more physically recognisable guitarist in the world than Slash? Most likely not. Donning the patented top hat and sunglasses we are treated to an axe shredding masterclass.

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Predictably it is the monumental Guns ‘N Roses moments that rule the roost. An early rendition of ‘Night Train‘ gets the blood pumping and down the back end of the set the biggest crowd participation of the entire festival is reserved for ”Sweet Child O’ Mine‘ and closer ‘Paradise City‘.

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Vocalist Myles Kennedy does a fantastic job putting his own touch on these songs and scores extra points with his polite “Good evening Sydney” making a pleasant change from having naughty words screamed at us. For nearly the entire set Slash says nothing, letting his guitar do the talking before a heartfelt expression of appreciation at the end.

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A show dipped deeply in nostalgia has left us all smiling.

Slipknot rehearsals must be a logistical nightmare, being that there is nine of them, at least three of which spend most of their time airborn.

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They claim the prize for the festival’s best stage setting with among other things, a frightening image of ‘The Grey Chapter‘ adorning the rear wall. Opening track off that album XIX provides backing music as the masters of masked mayhem take the stage and rip into the cleverly titled ‘Sarcastrophie‘.

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Not too many dull moments with these folks, as evident with the dual flying percussionists. ‘Vermillion‘ triggers off an extra layer of chaos, with a barrier collapse resulting in an unfortunate delay. A breath is taken and the brutality resumes, ‘People=Shit‘ driving home the show.

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Somewhat more sedate over in a back corner, Billy Corgan and his dramatically revamped Smashing Pumpkins take us through to stumps.

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Cherub Rock’, ‘Tonight, Tonight’ and ‘1979‘ hint at an old school set but a sizeable chunk of ‘Monuments To An Elegy‘ get an airing tonight.

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The set ends where it started, back in the nineties, with ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings‘ getting pulses racing. Tonight Billy has a suprise up his sleeve, as Marilyn Manson joins the stage for ‘Ava Adore‘.

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Then it is all over, this onslaught of all things loud and heavy.

We join the throng trudging off to the train station, eager to get home for some well earned rest.

It has been a massive couple of days.

Photos: Benon Julius William Otto Koebsch

Gavin Stocker

Gavin Stocker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Outside of Across The Ocean Gavin Stocker writes, records and performs music under the moniker of P Truck.

He can also be found clinging to his youth on a skateboard or wandering aimlessly through the bush.
Gavin Stocker