And so it was that I journeyed to Perth for the final Soundwave festival of 2014 and possibly the final Soundwave in Perth ever. Here follows a review of sorts of the day.
First off, heavy metal fans are lovely. Seriously, they may not look it, but I’ve not met a friendlier bunch. Happy to spend time in food queues chatting, several were very complimentary towards my kilt and I wasn’t the only one wearing one! Sadly I didn’t think to get a photo with him, nor of the woman with the Game of Thrones/Ramones mash-up shirt. One bone to pick though, many attendees seemed to think that taking rubbish to bins was as exhausting as climbing Everest, given the vast amounts of garbage strewn about the venue. Whoever was set up to clean the venue afterwards, you have my sympathies and respect. You deserved to be paid far more than whatever you got.
Secondly, as comfortable as a kilt is, a sporran isn’t exactly made for moshing. It holds a wallet and keys securely, but it’s about crotch height and bounces about a bit, so yeah… Not painful, but definitely noticeable. That and the tassels on mine sounded like a bad horse trotting sound effect. It was like doing a radio play, but instead of a pair of coconut halves all they had was a Scotsman. Moving on…
The writer post show.
There was also one mother of a line to get in, which stretched for at least a kilometre around the venue. So, while it took almost half an hour to get in, I did get to hear snippets of Amon Amarth and the Porkers’ sets while slowly winding my way around the block. After an amusing moment when security started to ask to check my pockets and discovered I didn’t have any, I headed straight for the Porkers. Sadly (or thankfully) they were minus their infamous mascot the Porkman, best known for drenching himself in VB and going crowd surfing. Still, for first cab off the rank (A bloody horrible position for any band to be in), they did well.
Fun Fact: I touched the Porkman once during a crowd surf many years ago. I washed my hand.
They were just as I remember them, playing songs about beer, psychotic girlfriends, beer, going out and drinking and beer. There may also have been a song about beer… Full points for keeping the crowd going, given though, as singer Pete Porker mock complained, most of them were waiting for the following band. They ended with an announcement that as their festival was over, they’d be sidestage if anyone wanted to sell them drugs. C’mon guys, it wasn’t even noon.
Then it was time for more water before Nancy Vandal, who were as gloriously stupid as I remember. Highlights included the debut of the bonerphone, a combination dildo and musical instrument and singer Fox Trotsky’s observation that “Every time I yell thankyou the audience feels it needs to clap, good work.” The set featured such NV ‘classics’ as There’s no I in Rock, Piss on my Weetbix (Introduced as ‘another of their food songs’), Frenzal Rhomb were better when Ben was in the band, Death Metal Song (aka SATAN IS TOPS!) and When I Squeeze my Nose I sound like Axl Rose, which prompted Trotsky to bring out some ”stadium rock pyrotechnics straight from Paul Stanley’s collection”, which turned out to be 3 sparklers duct taped to his guitar and which proved almost impossible to light. They ended with ‘Move Over Satan’ and brought a much needed sense of humour to the day.
Stadium rock silliness at it’s finest
After a bit of wandering through the merch stands (Which had not a single Skindred shirt to be found, a point I’ll come to), it was time for Testament, who didn’t disappoint at all. Chuck Billy’s roaring announced their arrival and the band was in fine form. It doesn’t get much better than seeing Into the Pit live, does it? Their set culminated with Billy urging the crowd into a Wall of Death, which is basically splitting the audience down the middle and having them smash into at each other full speed, like two very hairy phalanxes. I have this little thing called ‘low tolerance for pain’, so I was happy to escape it. Even more so, when waiting in the food queue afterwards I was told a guy had fallen out of it and immediately vomited. Charming.
Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy trading riffs
The break between the bands was spent in the food queue, then it was time for GWAR, whose set was interrupted by the arrival of PM Tony Abbott demanding it be shut down. I don’t know how many in the crowd got singer Oderus Unrungus’ roar of ‘You’re nothing without Costello’ before Abbott was decapitated, but I did. Sadly I was well up the back and really, without being able to see them there’s not much point of seeing them live, which also meant I missed them mutilate Queen Elizabeth. They hadn’t run out of stage blood though, drenching the first several rows, which made it very obvious those who’d been in the crowd and I’m sure caused a lot of confusion for the first aid crew.
More wandering resulted in catching the last chunk of Filter’s set and I was lucky enough to hear all 3 of their songs that I know (Trip like I Do, Take a Picture and Hey Man, Nice Shot). So, yay me! I also hadn’t planned on catching the last chunk of Pennywise, but what I did get was a few songs and a meandering discussion of some cops the band they been drinking with (And who apparently do cocaine, though that was quickly denied).The older I get the funnier I find ‘society is trying to bring us down’ songs, but I can’t deny the emotion behind Bro Hymn, dedicated to several late friends of the band.
I was feeling kind of rubbish at this point, which could be been the heat, or the thing I’d eaten that sort of resembled a hot dog. Skindred fixed all that, with an explosive and downright awesome set. Hitting the stage to a funked up Imperial March, they proceeded be the band of the day. Singer Benji Webbe, of the ever changing sunglasses, was in fine form encouraging, nay DEMANDING, that the crowd get up and dance. Yes, at times it was more abusive than encouraging (He really didn’t like the left section of the audience), but it got a response, so who am I to argue? We also got a plea to support live music and buy a t-shirt, which I would have done had any been available. Their set ended with the now traditional ‘Newport Helicopter’, which had everyone in the crowd removing a piece of clothing and swinging it about like loons. Oh, and there was a cheeky burst of Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better as they left the stage. Gotta love a healthy ego.
Benji says jump, YOU JUMP.
Rocket from the Crypt were next door and while I hadn’t planned on watching them, I’m a sucker for a band in matching stage gear. They did their thing with class, their singer remarking that “It’s an honour to play so close to the toilets” and that he didn’t know any of the other guys names, as they’d answered his Craiglist ad. Good fun.
The it was time for the mass exodus to see Rob Zombie, who’s stage was decorated with massive posters of vintage horror films, a huge King Kong looming over it. A hint Rob: don’t start bitching that your hotel room was bigger than the stage space after your first song. A couple more songs of his and that was it for me, as I wanted to beat the crowds leaving. Yes, I’m old and have a low tolerance for crowds of drunks.
In round up, I present the following:
Was it a good day? Hell yes.
Should I get a better camera? Most certainly.
Do I still prefer smaller gigs? Very much so.
Would I recommend it? Yep, it was a great experience. I’m not in a rush to go back, but I still had a lot of fun.