Soundwave Melbourne 2010, Royal Ascot Showgrounds – Festival Review

March 1, 2010

Gig/Concert: Soundwave Festival Melbourne
Venue: Royal Ascot Showgrounds
Date: 26 February 2010
Headliners: Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction
In one word: Belter

The Aquabats at Soundwave festival, Melbourne, 26 February 2010 - photo by Kimberley Paterson, Music Vice

Whereas Big Day Out contained a grand mix of what can only be described as bogans in Australian flags, Soundwave contained a much wider array of people such as emo bogans, metal bogans, ska bogans and punk bogans and of course obese chick bogans; but that’s OK, they’re generally nicer and I saw a lot less trouble throughout the day.

I made it into the venue worried if I was going to miss Gallows and when I got to stage 6 I noticed no ginger singer up front so I assumed I’d missed them until I saw a flash of orange and ink standing on some people at the back of the crowd….oh yes, this is what I’ve been wanting to see!

I’m not much of a mosher but I threw myself into the circle pit and nearly lost my hat 20 seconds in, what a feeling seeing such a great band and being surrounded by guys covered in blood and sweat. The crowd-surfing was insane and the energy went over the top when the band played “In the Belly of a Shark” and human pyramids ensued.

Soundwave Festival, Melbourne, 26 February 2010 - photo by Kimberley Paterson, Music Vice

Human pyramids at Soundwave

Up next Sunny Day Real Estate played a good set to a small crowd on the main stage. I’m obviously aware of them from Kerrang’s bleetings over the years and of course Nate Mendel’s membership of a much more famous band.

After over an hour queuing for an ATM and food (I know, I’m an idiot) I caught Eagles of Death Metal from the side of the drinkers area and how I got in there sans wrist band I don’t know. Their crowd was reasonably big but their show was somewhat clichéd and uninspired with the usual bullshit rock n’ roll call and response stuff which got tiring very quickly.

Glassjaw played a tiny show to no more than a few hundred which I joined just in time to hear that famous song, the one that was called….err….oh…hmm never mind. I’ll be honest I never liked them in the first place and found their set weak and plagued by bad sound and an uncharismatic performance by Detective Daryl Columbo or whatever his name was.

Clutch on the other hand were a pleasant surprise to me who only attended to rub it in his girlfriends face, opening up with some bluesgrass rock n’ roll and then moving towards their more traditional droning they played an excellent set which was one of my favourites from stage 4.

After some considerable in-head arguments I went down to see Reel Big Fish and as cheesy as they are, they were one of the best bands of the day. I had a great laugh singing along to old songs I used to love and witnessed the band playing the same song in country, death metal, punk and rock and roll stylies.

If anyone heard Rolo Tomassi’s Hysterics album they’ll know I and the minuscule crowd there were in for an epiphany of the loud variety. Eva Spence moved around like an awkward robot stripper and sang like a sea-lion car alarm (ow! ow! ow!) to the brutal electro art-grind behind her, the energy they omitted was just fantastic and I can’t wait to see them play their own club shows one day.

Placebo played a surprisingly bad set, well when I say bad I don’t mean it was bad but disappointing for the kinda guy like me who wanted to hear old songs/ the festival best of. Despite this I still enjoyed them but poor Brian Molko didn’t look too healthy these days.

For the brief amount of time I saw Meshuggah they played a hellishly good set, brutal as fuck and inside stage 4 the sound was thunderous albeit plagued by muddy echoing.

I witnessed AFI out of curiousity and came out very impressed as they took to the stage in black and gold with young David Havok looking very healthy dressed like Elvis in his gold lame jacket. “Girls Not Grey” got the biggest response of the day and although I wasn’t a great fan at the time I still sang along like a total bellend.

Anthrax played to a thunderous roar and were surprisingly low down on the bill where I would say Trivium should’ve headlined then Scott Ian et all just below. It was the same in the case of the punk stages where Gallows played second in the morning to the biggest crowd I’d witnessed all day. Anyways, Anthrax were as fantastic as you would imagine and truly amazing to see such legends of their genre in action, Soundwave really got it right bringing them over.

Jane’s Addiction were just fantastic also, maybe not a band I’d ever listen to nor claim to be a fan of, I enjoyed their show immensely and attending with an uber fan I caught their whole set. Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro have such a fantastic chemistry on stage it was truly a delight to watch…even if this reporters eyes averted to two tied up Asian burlesque dancers…oocha! The show ended on a nice moment as the sun set with an acoustic version of the classic “Jane Says”.

The Aquabats played an absolute belter of a show full of audience participation, an alien Cyclops in a foam suit, a beach party and MC Bat Commander doing an impossible looking backflip at the end of the show.

Jimmy Eat World played the classics but were no replacement for My Chemical Romance which I imagine would’ve been insane – the insult to MCR’s fans was also rubbed in by still leaving their name on Soundwave merchandise. I don’t think were was one person who couldn’t enjoy “The Middle” here tonight and I had a great time singing along to a teenage classic.

With Big Day Out last year it was Fantomas and their incredibly weird set to a tiny audience and this year we’re at Soundwave with Faith No More with an incredibly big crowd playing all the classics like “Epic”, “Easy”, “Midlife Crisis” and even a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface”. Personally I’m not a fan of Faith No More’s more traditional songs and enjoyed thoroughly the weird bits albeit being left disappointed by the lack of nudity or Mike Patton eating his shoelace.

The addition of chatroulette on the big screen was another symbol of how groundbreaking and perverse the ever creative Mike Patton is and how important he still is to music today. All in all, I had a great day and kudos to the Soundwave guys for making the show run so smoothly and for the most part lacking any trouble, and the security staff were also extremely respectful of everyone – bring on 2011!

© Danny Crombie, Music Vice

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6 Responses to Soundwave Melbourne 2010, Royal Ascot Showgrounds – Festival Review

  1. Rory on March 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

    “I wasn’t a great fan at the time…”

    “Young David Havok looking very healthy dressed like Elvis in his gold lame jacket”

    No kidding.

  2. Euge on March 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Aquabats killed it!

  3. Brioney on April 12, 2010 at 6:53 am

    What, no Paramore? D:

  4. Josh on April 12, 2010 at 6:56 am

    Hey, awesome review. I’m the guy in the august burns red singlet in the human pyramid photo, is there any way I can get the full sized photo off you?

  5. Reece on April 13, 2010 at 1:23 am

    No Alexisonfire, really? They were the best band at soundwave in Brisbane, well them and Reel Big Fish. Mind you the reviewer said My chem would have been better than Jimmy Eatworld

  6. Danny Crombie on April 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Josh – email me at and i’ll mail it to ya when I get back home.

    Reece – Not an Alexisonfire fan I’m afraid and just to clarify the MCR comment was meant in the way that although I much prefer J.E.W and despise MCR they were in no way a suitable replacement for the band that would’ve easily pulled an insanely big crowd based on all that black parade crap.

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