It’s pretty clear that the Soundwave festival was Australia’s choice for summer festival. With over half of the dates selling out (and the other two getting pretty close to it) it was obvious that the overflowing lineup of nearly 100 bands was nothing to sneeze at. I got there fresh and early in the morning to beat the queues, yet when we got there the line was nothing short of two hundred metres long, and it just kept on getting longer and longer as each second went past.
After venturing around, orienting myself with the locations of the 7 different stages, I decided to check out the main stages. One thing worth noting is that the D barrier seemed ridiculously small, and it was easy to predict that there would be some very livid Slipknot and System of a Down fans who wouldn’t be allowed in there at the end of the night due to the sheer lack of space.
As I was waiting for Saves the Day’s double set, I was being entertained by how much Hyro da Hero was tearing up the neighbouring stage. He barely stopped jumping at all during his set, and he was keeping the crowd alive with his amusing banter. “Hey, all the ugly people in the crowd be quiet!” was followed by confusion and silence to which he responded with “Wow, there must be a lot of ugly people down there.”
As the glisteningly sweaty Hyro da Hero walked off Saves the Day walked onto the stage with a massive backdrop that simply said PINKERTON between two lines, said their greetings and started to play Weezer’s “Tired of Sex” – the first song off the latter’s classic album Pinkerton. It’s been said by Soundwave promoter AJ himself that he tries to book Weezer each and every year but frontman Rivers Cuomo always turns him down, so it’s no surprise that I had butterflies in my stomach when I heard that Saves the Day was doing a double set at this year’s festival – half an hour covering Pinkerton in full, and the other half doing original songs. The band couldn’t have done a better job at recreating the album, as they played it from start to finish without stopping. After the last few notes of “Butterfly” finished ringing out, an energetic “one, two, three, four!” came from the drummer as they burst right into their second set. At the same precise moment, the PINKERTON backdrop was released, revealing a second drop with SAVES THE DAY in the same typeset.
I wandered around to the several stages following Saves the Day and managed to catch a few minutes of the Black Dahlia Murder (who must have been in some sort of breakdown because for a good couple of minutes there was a constant pounding of a double kick pedal) and locals Heroes for Hire who seemed to be throwing a party of their own.
As I was walking around, a certain band caught my eye. I looked at my timetable and saw that they were called River City Extension and they seemed to be way too indie to be on this festival. There always seems to be just one band that never pulls a crowd more than 50 due to their complete lack of fitting in. In the past there have been bands such as Jaguar Love and This Town Needs Guns who fill this description, and despite being completely unknown to the Soundwave population, they still manage to get billed. The eight piece played Grouplove style sounds infused with folk which almost certainly turned stomachs of the metalheads walking past. They still played to their hearts content despite a small attendance and were one of the highlights of the day.
Fast forward to later in the day where synth-rock favourites Cobra Starship were playing their hit “Hot Mess” as I sifted through the many teenage girls happily singing along. Frontman Gabe Saporta is well known for his ‘stylish dancing’ above all else, but still managed to have some good banter. He mentioned to the crowd that “Cobra Starship is your guilty pleasure, and that’s why you’re all here” before bouncing into the song “Guilty Pleasure”. He was right, though, as I felt somewhat wrong being there but was still enjoying it.