PART 2 – Soundwave Brisbane Festival Diary – LiQUiFY sends in our mystery festival veteran to report back on the ups and downs of the second day
After yesterday’s abysmal effort (mostly from myself, with the exception of Marilyn Methadone Manson) it was time to refresh and step up a notch. A slightly better plan was kicked off today by some fresh potato pancakes, delicious free-range cluck rocks and cold water, lots of cold water. I’ve been to the city now, replaced my ill-fitting hat with a new one for $3 from Big W, got new camera battery and some shorts to replace the old ones which had a terminal vertical arse rip in them. So far so good. Off to that bloody pub again.
Yeah now we’re talking, sitting early on with a salty old seafaring mate Red Mick the pirate. It’s tall stories and discussion about another mate who only made it half an hour yesterday before being dragged off by the boys in blue to be strip searched, nay to return – the life of revolutionary lawlessness in his cosmos continues. Great beer, a JD, some Coronas – flowing good times.
Upon entry there’s a slight plan in place to actually catch some bands today, I have my gorgeous girl with me and she’s carrying no emotional scars from the previous day unlike I. No wasted time, no drink lines, just a fresh slate ready for our masterpiece. It could end up looking like one of those Pro Hart carpet commercials though, we’ll wait and see. Ducking and weaving we’re straight in for band one, after smashing some more liquid things down our gullets.
Heaps of fun. You can already see this band is about to get you stomping and jumping. From Florida and featuring metalcore band Underoath’s frontman Spencer Chamberlain, the band is frothing on their first trip to Australia and first ever show in Brisbane – it shows. They’re killing it, as much as any early band can. Not usually my cup of tea genre-wise, they’re surprisingly tight and sound pretty good. It’s weird seeing a band that has the potential for 20,000 people playing to a few hundred, but a worthy start – sample their song Paper Planes below.
They thrash few a few songs as my girl downs a small plate of Govindas from the nearby stand. I’ve found some crazy Mexican Guaranzos stimulant drinks for $5 over there, I think I’ll introduce them to Viktor and Vladimir later, they should get along great. Oh yeah, back to the music. There’s only so much I can watch of Sleepwave before we are beckoned by the imminent arrival of the next band on our list.
Gawd Dayam! It’s been a few years between sets for me and this band. Last time I saw them, their singer Burton had reserved a seat next to him for this ‘Aussie’ in the mess hall at some bizarre French rock festival we were both at. He’s a really nice person, well at least he was to me the few times we have hung out before – very accommodating and gracious personfella which only cements the respect I carry for the band from my many years as a fan.
The first song erupts and away we go, the industrial apocalyptic noise, ‘bada bada bad’a on the double kicker like a defibrillator to your chest – now we are talking. Not quite the drummings of France though where I saw them with big Gene Hoglan on the kit – the veritable godfather of the double-kick. Hoglan’s been out for a while, in his stead nowadays is Mike Heller, who’s got plenty of credibility and raw ability to be here. He’s as casual as they come, a pure metronomic machine on the drums, and more than capable of doing this music justice.
The thick crowd become thicker and thicker as the band blasts through a classic Fear Factory menu of harmonic and pulsing metal. These guys were pioneers in this genre and still dominate with their unique blend of crunching and soothing sounds.
I look up and see festival cornerstone Duane flying across the lids of the crowd, full mohawk and his trademark purple and green punk get up – this instantly provokes memories of Livid days past and the mayhem he and I have shared in over the years. Duane loves to test his infectious personality, stoke and kung fu cat-like skills every year on the crowds and what better place than here, and now, at the Fear Factory set.
The pit gets kind of rowdy, but I still think these kids just don’t turn it properly on. Perhaps I am jaded, spoiled even – it’s at this point a stunning realisation arrives; the new generation have lost a little off the top and don’t cut it in terms of their looseness and expression of freedom. TV commercials, overt police-state like security and bad reality TV have left them fearful and diminished in the mosh. They are still having a lot of fun though. Maybe I’m actually corrupting my own perception because of my perched view, and it’s just because half of the pit is older guys like me, who just don’t give a fuck anymore and would rather stand there on the fringe and shove people into the middle. Damn my dickey knee, dodgy shoulder and bad attitude – legacy items inherited from a partial life of debauchery and mischief no doubt. I don’t think anyone was injured today.
Demanufacture’s Replica erupts towards the end and by now things are getting a bit frantic. It’s good to see some bodies smashing into each other and a lot of crazy people soaking up this monumental band. Today is already one-up on yesterday thanks to Fear Factory.
How many times can the same people start another band and play the same music and still get booked for main stages at festivals? Infinitely it seems if you are these guys. At The Drive In and Mars Volta staples Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala are back doing nearly the same shit, and it still sounds good.
Despite RHCP’s Flea doing the bass on their first recording, there’s no sign of the Point Break star today, but the band is if full flight nonetheless. Searing and swinging sounds, vocals that mix multigenerational influences into soaring rock licks and a smothering of emotive, near-psychedelic harmonics devour the crowd. The ladies like this stuff, that much is apparent.
We’re in some kind of trance now, smashed up on vodka and music, a few of us floating on some other all-sorts. Gearing up now for the last stretch of madness as the sun begins to fade across the RNA grounds. It’s such a special time to be there at that place – the afternoon sunset over the old pavilion is timeless and arouses the senses, for the night awaits and the fun begins.
Hang on wait a second. All this talk of Chris Cornell is just a little too preemptive, we’re not finished smashing things yet. Fuck yeah, the original brain destroying legends, Ministry, are about to dump their full load back over on the metal stage. We hit it despite a few of our girls silently protesting. You want to see this, they want to see that, that’s all good and well but … Ministry wants to see you!
As we arrive, it’s like a tractor-beam from some fringe future planet of conspiracy and devolution. The band is destroying this place, as they can and they do so often. Full set with the visible onslaught of costume coupled with the sickest metal and a face-melting display of synced up video on a massive screen, pulsing away in a kind of omnidirectional eruption. The imagery is spectacular, destructive, provocative and strobes at a rate that would see healthy kids erupt into fits.
Fuck how many times can you forget how good this band is and always have been, only to rediscover them again and again. People are getting stupefied and loose, some people are freaking out, we got to get to Soundgarden. That’s it we’re leaving. Oh just wait a … FUCK NO! There is no way we are leaving this!
The last ten minutes of their set goes from full berserk to extreme next level, as we witness the full force of this mighty band unleashed upon our senses. There are no words for how good this band is, and not many new bands that compare. So glad we stayed, witnessed this band smack everyone in the face.
There’s not much anyone can say about Chris Cornell and his band of brothers that hasn’t been told, but we’ll give it a go. So epic to see one of the great grunge bands that shaped decades of music. It’s also so many years between shows for these guys and me. They blast and hum at the same time.
Floating over towards the main area – it’s a spine-chilling reminiscent moment, taking me back to Festival Hall and the last time I saw them, some time in the 90s. Can’t be sure exactly when, but it was something else. I know tonight will never match that old stuff.
Speaking of that old show, it was one of those things, a moment in time etched forever in my mind. I’m crowd surfing all over the shop, sloshing away and sliding back and forth before I am launched over the crowd barrier, forward and upward. Crunching down I land on the stage and look up. I am at the feet of Chris Cornell, he’s standing there, arms outstretched, screaming away in the middle of Jesus Christ Pose. I’m losing my shit, just frothing. Chris looks down at me, I up to him. He’s looking at me, wailing on the mic, staring at me in his own Jesus Christ Pose. Time stood still for a moment, and was broken only by the large hand on my shoulder, from the huge fucker security guard reefing me back. He tosses me sideways. They didn’t sneakily choke you out, bash you or bend your arm back then, they just fucken threw you – 20 feet at times. Out, over, away, and up, you always got chucked by a very large man at the Hall.
So we’re here, tonight and they’re on the main stage. Never the same, but still so good. Chris Cornell seems to have aged only half a year for every year of his adult life, what a cool thing to be blessed with. The band seems sort of disinterested in the show but are still nailing the songs. Rusty Cage turns it all up a few notches but it ebbs and flows. Cornell starts to work up a sweat and finally gets right into it.
Matt Cameron is on the drums – Matt has also been the long-time drummer for another all-time grunge band, hitting skins for Pearl Jam for a very long time. He’s a great rock drummer, really puts his heart into what he does and thumps the kit.
They close out the set in fine form, with Chris Cornell jamming his guitar into his pedal array and forcing an eerie crescendoing feedback for the last few minutes. He’s shaking it, wobbling it, forcing the system to go spaz and spit out all sorts of squelching and squealing. Rock and roll baby, although I know one thing that could have perhaps better been put in that time space.
There would be no Jesus Christ Pose tonight though, after the set it sinks in, delivering a huge disappointment for this sentimental bastard. My self-centred thought pattern is short lived though when it resonates that it’s all my own disappointment – that this band can do whatever the fuck they want and they owe nobody anything. Actually it’s really cool that they do this, it must be sickening to play the same song for nearly a quarter of a century and try to find the energy to make it work every night. Soundgarden was very cool, killed it anyway!
FAITH NO MORE
Faith No More, again. A few years ago I was certain we’d never see this band again, not since their split way back in 1998, and with the many band members’ side projects and the obscure offshoots that Mike Patton was up to and in to – in fact that the band had been on one extended hiatus to another for over a decade, with no sign of return. In 2010 the reformed band graced Soundwave here for their first Australian show in many years – by the end of the year I had seen them 3 times on 3 different continents, even getting out backstage and on stage (at the back) with the band in Spain, eventually hanging out with the band in Hollywood for a brief bit. Still can’t get enough of them, well yet anyway.
Surprise! You’re Dead! Fuck they sound so good – strong where it counts, soft where it counts. Mike is angry but contained, letting out his energy in bursts and then calling it back in but again, something is lacking. It truly seems that the change in format to a two-day festival, coupled with Brisbane being now last instead of first on the bill, has had a significant impact on the way the bands are playing in Brisbane.
Megaphone in hand, Mike performs killer song after killer song, the band is oddly framed by a wall of floral extravaganza and flare, placed strategically in front of them, I’m presuming to block the up-close photographers from getting anything usable. Assuming Mike Patton has had his fill of photographers over the years. With a new studio album, the first one in aeons, coming out in May, he better accept that the lens will be trained on him for some time to come.
The medley of songs is still sublime – they’re still perfect, yes, it’s true … and the music certainly shaves a decade or two off my own midlife crisis, at least temporarily, although my crisis really isn’t a crisis, it’s just the onset of cynical-old-bastard-who-has-seen-too-much syndrome. My cup is beginning to fill as far as live music in my life is concerned.
Epic early, stretched towards the end – again another band that looks a little strung out but are battling hard, forging an amazing set nonetheless and giving the punters a show. As it did the night before, they pull up short, stride off stage with 6 or 7 minutes to go. Nothing alarming happened, nobody threw a shoe or can at anyone, they’re just visibly over it and Mike seems keen to wrap it up and get the fuck out of this country. Faith No More version 2.0 is actually at version 2.7.9 or something now.
I’m kind of glad it’s over too, I need to wind down the vodka machine now and slowly sink back into the reality of living in the South East. The mundane world of shithouse politicians and corporate dictators, fascist parking officers, fuckwit drivers, crowded surf breaks, power bills, no clues and bad news on the TV. At least I’ve got a headful of great music, a few new things and am about as satiated as one could expect from such a weekend. My wallet is bone dry though and when I shout into it a long bouncing echo returns back – it got double-dipped on more than one occasion.
People thought illegal or cheap downloading would make music free. Certainly doesn’t feel that way for this supporter of live music and touring bands. Enjoy it though, pay well for it, smile and know that you helped pay for the future of festivals and massive live shows – and that’s something worth having in our lives//