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The Sights of Soundwave

[i]Just as a warning to you — the reader — that this blog took me somewhere between 3-4 hours to write, so free up some time before you attempt it or do a search using your browsers’ “Find” command for a band name if you’re looking for a blip about them in particular.[/i]

This is a Soundwave:


Yesterday in Sydney, however, this image turned to this…


…because the Soundwave Festival came to Sydney with acts lined up such as the Deftones, Thrice, Flyleaf, Hatebreed, and many more all divided up on three stages.

Now would I normally pay to go to a gig like this? Fuck no. I’d ask for a media pass. Alas, I didn’t even know the concert was on until my brother had told me that our drummer Boris had dropped out and would I like the ticket (for free).

Okay. Don’t have to tell me twice. I’m going.

The terms and conditions for this Michael Chugg Presents concert seem to be a bit sketchy, though. Not too intelligent people managing it, I imagine. We were not to bring any “professional looking” or “semi-professional” cameras with. So I called them up… and they were about as helpful as a monkey who treats bananas like crack and is in a banana & meth factory (where the fuck do I come up with this stuff?).

So I decided to bring the old Coolpix 5700 and a battery pack.

Strangely, when my brother, Sam (friend of my brothers-who-is-a-girl), and myself got there, the search of our stuff (which especially in regards to the camera I was told would be at the guards’ discretion) was pretty fucking pathetic and I really could’ve gotten in with my D70 and 50mm lens, probably even a kit lens. But not willing to chance it because I was really on my brothers’ clock and the ticket was free, it was more an issue of fuck it, so I went in with the 5700 in my little Nova 3 camera bag. I had ponchos for myself and my brother and the camera, battery pack, and spare CF cards (as you do).


In fact, the whole issue of searching your stuff was apparently supposed to be a big deal, especially in wake of Good Vibrations with so much drugs getting into the festival. Obviously, this was all a lot of talk since the searching of bags was less tight than how they check my bag at K-Mart.
Not that I’m complaining, but if you’re going to be making a fuss on how you’ll be checking for drugs and what not, why don’t you actually do it rather than make a fuss. Mind you, it’s a rock concert. Seriously, how the hell do you stop drugs at a rock concert? It’d be like stopping the rock. You know you’ve got an impossible drug enforcement task on your hands when even the rock musicians are yelling out for people to throw bags of weed and cocaine on the stage.

You should know, also, that the day wasn’t exactly the most spectacular weather-wise. It was overcast, drizzling, wet, rainy… everyone was going to get wet in some form, whether they were creaming themselves with [i]”Oh my God! There’s that rock star I want to fuck!”[/i] or when the heavens decided to open up and empty themselves upon us.

[i]When it rains, it pours. Not over the dam, of course, but out when there’s a rock festival, everyone’s gonna get wet. Even those who wear ponchos.[/i]

So we got there a bit late as Mike was sleeping in (no worries, but we did miss his friends’ band) and we headed straight for Flyleaf.
Or we thought we did anyway, catching a brief glimpse of listening to Juliette & The Licks, the band front-lined by Juliette Lewis. I’ve gotta say for her sake, she’s gotten a lot better since [url=]Strange Days[/url] when she was far from all that good. Back then she was decent, now she’s not bad. Keep at it, Juliette.

Flyleaf weren’t too bad either, or at least they weren’t for the two or three songs we caught up with.

I’m probably going a bit too fast or a bit disjointed, but I’ve never had to describe a rock concert festival in an article or blog entry before, so for those you didn’t go, let me explain where it was, what it looked like, etc.

The event was held at Sydney Park, that park at the end of King St. in Newtown as it crosses with Alexandria… basically at St. Peters station. It doesn’t actually seem like the right place for a concert and… it isn’t. The layout is clumsy and small and festival-wise, it feels like a sardine can compared to the venues like Centennial Park, Homebush, or The Domain, one of which they probably should’ve used.

Regardless, the basin of the park is fenced off and three stages are setup. As you enter from the security checkpoint, the first stage to your left and ahead of you is Stage 1. Stage 1 is where all of the big bands that most people will give a shit about are going to play. Thrice, +44, Deftones, Juliette & The Licks… they all played on Stage 1.

[i]The Deftones played on Stage 1 as they were the headlining act.[/i]

To the immediate right of Stage 1 is Stage 2. They’re technically connected and there’s what looks like a loading tent in the middle of both to allow the musicians to come on and off stage from behind and pass to either of the stages when necessary. Stage 2 is for the bands that are either unheard of are just beginning to make themselves known Down Under. Bands like As Tall As Lions, Angelas Dish, and Trial Kennedy played on Stage 2.

Then you get to walk a bit to the right. You walk far enough to Stage 3 which is literally at the edge of the basin that the fenced off bit of park sits in. Stage 3 is for the bands that WILL get heavy but aren’t headlining. These are the bands where even I’m not sure if what they play is classed as music. Bands like Flyleaf, Hatebreed, Sucidial Tendencies, and The Bronx played on Stage 3.

So now you know how it worked for the stages. What you should know is that lining the other end of the basin was crappy food amenities, funpark games (oh yeah… let’s win a big teddy bear!), and bushes & trees were some people sat… doing whatever it was while they sat there… sitting… and stuff.

In the middle were two things. One of those things was a series of tents selling things like merchandise, shirts, hats, Chinese massages (because when it’s damp & raining and a bit cold, the one thing you want to do is take your clothes off while some random person attempts to massage you in plain sight of everyone else…), and whatnot. The other thing was a fenced off section where people could legally drink cans of Bacardi, beers, and other things to get them intoxicated. As such, there were loads of portable toilets, the sort that would probably make [url=]Kenny[/url] convulse with fear.

Fencing off the drinkers didn’t make much of a difference though, as plenty of people were freely drinking booze and while plenty of others were smoking pot (yeah… you go no drug policy, you!) as the bands played.

As we came back from Flyleaf, we caught the remainder of a band on Stage 2, As Tall As Lions. They have got to be the surprise band for both myself and my brother. They were good. Really good. I’ve just listened to their CD and I think they’re a lot better live. They look good playing and look like they’re having fun. They sound really good, too, which I guess is most important in the end.

[i]One of the guitarists from As Tall As Lions.[/i]

When they had finished, pretty much every punk fan headed to Stage 1 for MxPx. I swear, it was a flood of Converse shoes. Hundreds of pairs. Loads of pairs headed towards the stage. In fact, the entire day was practically filled with black Converse shoes (and who said rockers didn’t fulfill a stereotype). It was almost enough for me to get annoyed at my own black Converse and want some new ones… a colour there surely no one would have.

Alas, I was stuck with my black ones, as nice as they are.

[i]A compilation of images shot on my phone camera of random people wearing black Converse.[/i]

So because we weren’t exactly punk rock people, we headed over to Stage 3 to catch The Bronx.

I was initially pretty excited after hearing only one of their songs (yeah, I’m easy like that) on the Snakes On A Plane soundtrack.

Sadly, they have got to be one of the worst bands I’ve ever seen. They’re just so uninspiring, not overly impressive musicians, and the singer — if you can call him that — was just so blah it wasn’t even funny. He also quite possibly proves the point that you don’t have to be attractive to make it in the rock world because he is quite possibly one of the ugliest people I’ve ever seen before.

It’s like he’s walked into a doorload of doors at a factory that constantly creates doors on a microsecond basis that only he can walk into.

And oh yeah… he’s a perfect role model for your children.
To him, there seems to be nothing better than losing sight of school, getting your A’s turning to B’s to C’s to D’s and then to F’s where you drop out, take up to drinking and being an alcoholic, starting on drugs, and then waking up and looking in a mirror only to learn you have no job and you suck… BUT HEY! You’re in a band that makes money for some bizarre reason so what the fuck do you care?! You can blurt this shit out to an audience and we’ll still think you’re a fucktard because… well… you are. You being in a band doesn’t change that.

It didn’t take us long to leave The Bronx. They did have a cool banner, though. It looked like it was an anaglyph as I could see the 3D markings on it. I imagine if you wore 3d glasses, you could see some secret message like “Our lead singer is just so blech” but you’d know that the moment he walked onto stage. It’s probably just a 3d head that pops out. Hopefully not the lead singers’.

[i]+44 on stage later on in the day.[/i]

After leaving, we walked around a bit looking for food. Since the event was in Newtown, it took a bit of talking but Mike finally agreed we should temporarily leave the venue to look for “real food” on King St. rather than the over-priced bullshit they were passing off as “food” at the concert.

So we went and had some Thai food. At a Thai restaurant. Seriously, where else do you get Thai from. Christ, I don’t even know where I’m supposed to go from here.

We finished about half an hour later and walked back to see the cocky Unwritten Law play. For a band that do have a good studio recording sound, they really have a mediocre sound live. The singer really isn’t all that impressive.

[i]Above: The Deftones. I took one pic of Unwritten Law and it didn’t turn out. Don’t expect a picture of them.[/i]

So we headed to Parkway Drive, another band who I’m not sure I’d call music, but whom definitely looks a lot better than the lead from The Bronx. They also seem to play a lot better and they look more like they’re having more fun doing it. Still, not a lot to say about this mob. Not my style, I guess.

Onward to Thrice!


I’ve liked Thrice a little bit since I heard one of their songs. They seemed like they could play hard and… guess what… they could. They really rock on stage. They look the part, sound the part, and don’t come off like a bunch of inexperienced wankers trying to get by. I’ve never seen a guy in a plaid shirt rock before… but it worked. Note to self: must try it.

At one point, the stage lost all power entirely, short of four emergency backup lights. They were stuck without power and one of the songs was cut short early as everything went down. The sound crew in the tent behind us didn’t look like they had a clue, but in general, the sound crew in that tent didn’t look like they had a clue about anything in general.

Funnily, it happened the exact moment after Sam had turned around and said that the drums needed to be mic’d up more.

A few minutes of confusion by the band and stagehands and annoyance by the crowds, the power was restored and Thrice started the song again and continued playing.

Alas, they didn’t play the song I wanted them to play, “All That’s Left”.


Sam warned me that I probably wouldn’t like Hatebreed. She was somewhere near accurate but I can’t say how close.

I’m seriously surprised by them. I still don’t really consider what Hatebreed do as music as I really don’t see the point of a guitarist or bassist if you’re not actually supposed to hear any form of music, but whatever it is they’re doing, they do it well.

For me, Hatebreed are like a Spaghetti Western: I’m not quite sure if I’m supposed to take them or parts of what they’re doing seriously, but it’s still quite entertaining all the same.

Also, the lead from Hatebreed reminds me of an early Sevendust which can only be a good thing for me, I guess. For him… geeze… I might have just insulted him. I hope I didn’t. He seemed like a decent enough bloke, though I’ve obviously never met him. He was certainly more decent than the dickhead from The Bronx. Though with lyrics that involve grabbing a breast and STAB! STAB! STAB!, it makes me wonder if I’m really being sent subliminal messages by these bands to drop out of school (hard to do when you’re a Uni graduate), take up booze and drugs (too broke to do that), grab a breast (what… my own?!), and then STAB! STAB! STAB!

It’s all too confusing.

[i]The guitarist from Hatebreed looks more like he’s squeezing out something painful.[/i]

Then we went and got some coffee, and by coffee I mean really bad hot chocolate and painfully awful mocha. Yep. It’s like that.

And then we headed to +44, the band which is half or two-thirds of Blink 182… I’d never heard of them, but they weren’t bad. Very Blink-sounding. Not much had changed. The singer from +44 (who was also the bassist) was one of the only singers I’d seen all day that [i]didn’t[/i] have tats all over him, which made for a nice change. [i](Phew… neither my brother or I are REQUIRED to get a tattoo to be famous rock musicians… and here I thought the lesson of the day was that we must get 2 or 3 to get big…)[/i]

And there was another fuck-up with power at one point in +44. I have a feeling they still had power running through their PA’s or in-ear PA’s as they continued playing as if we all could hear them. But we couldn’t. About 30 seconds into starting another song while no one in the crowd could hear them, the sound started returning.

And when +44 were done and off the stage, a lot of people headed towards Stage 2 where some random band would be playing for about 10-20 minutes. They didn’t sound that good. Fairly amateurish. A lot of us stayed around Stage 1 so we could get closer to the Deftones, who would be coming up next.


Of course, it all depends on how close you actually want to get. You see, we weren’t [i]that[/i] close, and the closer you are, the more heavy and mosh-y the crowd becomes. And yet, for how not-close we were, when Chino and the Deftones came on stage, the first thing that started to happen was random people behind us started pushing us and throwing us forward and all sorts of yellow yesterdays that I just couldn’t handle.

And when you’re around that many people and you need to escape, it’s like drowning in a pool of bodies.


Try running or finding a path or moving about while people are hurling themselves forward or left and right and you’re trying to avoid them or dodge and jump through those hurdles, all the mean time you’re either gripping onto your friend and your brother is gripping onto you so you can get out and make it back to whatever the regular crowd is in one piece.

I swear, you need to have a body constructed of Silly Putty and an attention span that exists solely for jumping up and down like a lunatic to stay in that area. I had to get out. It’s not claustrophobia, it’s me not wanting to part with my goods or fall down because some prick thought it would be fun to knock me down.

So we moved away a bit. I held onto Sam and Mike held onto me. Sam pulled us out and then Mike helped lead the way into an area which was a bit more normal for me. Now I — now we — could enjoy the Deftones.

And Christ… do they [b]fucking rock.[/b]


They just really look the part, sound the part… there’s an idea I have that if a band sounds better on a recording than when they play live, the band is a load of bullshit. For instance, Unwritten Law didn’t sound all that good live, especially compared to their studio efforts, which makes you wonder how much of it is done in studio, whereas As Tall As Lions (because I’ve now listened to them) sound better live than their studio productions.

The Deftones, however, own everyone playing at Soundwave in this regard. They sound brilliant. They sound like the recording, the are playing better than the recording, they are living it up… they are really, really, really, really, really, really fucking amazing at whatever the hell they are doing on stage. People in bands need to pick their asses up and see them live because they really do rock.

While the ticket for me was free (thank Boris), I can see that if they ever came back down, I would pay to see them (if I didn’t get a press pass first). They’re just that good.

[i]This was the closest and most clear shot I could get of the drummer from where I was with the 5700.[/i]

[i]I love this shot of Chino here. I was really lucky to get it, I imagine, and then came my skills for saving a bit of it while making the black & white conversion work…[/i]

And that was Soundwave. There was no encore for the Deftones, and they didn’t play Mike’s and my favourite song, “Digital Bath”. It seems like they may never play that, and that’s a shame because it is easily one of their best.

Soundwave itself was pretty good, aside for the glitches here and there. Management wasn’t exactly impressive and I imagine it was done on the cheap to make Michael Chugg as much as possible from the rockers who wanted to see their favourite bands… but I guess that’s the price you pay for the love of the music.

I would suggest that next time — if it ever happens again — it’s moved to a location that actually can handle the sizes better than this one tried for. Regardless, definitely a good experience. I got a bit wet, but I heard a lot of good music.


[url=]The rest of the images can be found here.[/url]