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Soundwave @ Melbourne Show Grounds 27/02/09

March 7, 2009

(I know Nick did a little review, well, this is how my day panned out!)

Starting the day on main stage two was Melbourne’s Stealing O’Neal, whose cliché pop punk tunes may have got the tweenies in attendance excited for the day ahead, but not me.

I moved on to see Riverboat Gamblers, who I hadn’t heard anything of before. They were lively and energetic, more of a rock and roll band then many of the other bands. Though playing so early on in the day, they had a crowd that slowly grew, people clearly impressed by their loud and boisterous tunes.

Next band for the day was Alesana, a hardcore band from the US of A. Wheat they play is not the kind of thing I listen to, or particularly enjoy, but live this band had so much energy, getting the crowd all revved up and going crazy so early in the day. Watching them on stage, performing live was pretty exciting; there was something electric and energising about their set.

I then went and saw Ace Enders, the acoustic songs of the Early November’s frontman, polar opposite to what I had just heard moments before. His songs were quiet and calming, but played out on his acoustic guitar with a passion and fervour. He told the story of how he decided to write a small four song ep, just for sale on the Soundwave tour, indecently called the ‘Australia-Ep’, his wife standing out the back of the crowd selling them on his behalf to eager watches, who had fallen in love with his heart-felt tunes. He managed to create an intimacy with his audience, despite the rather large stage area.

Next in line was Bayside, whose punk rock set was consistent and got the crowd going, but in all honesty they appeared to be going through the motions, and bored the shit out of me. They are a band I have heard a lot of people talk about, excited to see, but I felt them to be completely over-rated and nothing special at all.

I then went to see Jack’s Mannequin. I wasn’t all too keen on this bands piano rock tunes, but what did attract me t them was their attitudes on stage, they appeared genuinely enthusiastic and excited which rubbed off onto their audience. This band did create themselves a soft spot in my heart though, with front man Andrew McMahon declaring all money made from the merchandise they sold on the tour was to then be donated to the Red Cross Bushfire appeal.

Then it was Jaguar Love, the band I was desperate to see the most! Just like two nights before, in support of Nine Inch Nails, the duo slayed it, with loud, erratic punk rock songs, dirty guitar and high-pitched vocals that could shatter glass, and drum machine keeping time! Johnny jumped into the crowd and whipped everyone into frenzy. This band’s set was electric and messy! Though it wasn’t just their official set that was the only entertaining part, but Johnny’s vocal sound check, screaming out his own twisted version of Janis Joplin’s ‘Piece of My Heart’ across the audience, and testing his keyboard out with the intro of ‘Laser Life’, a popular tune by his and his guitarist’s ex band, Blood Brothers. It was awesome to see this band again, closer to the hectic action.

I then hung around to catch Straylight Run. Their set was calm, but had this silent energy, grabbing and holding the audience’s attention, and smiling at frontman John Nolan’s passionate performance of his well-written indie pop songs. The three-piece played a consistent set, light-hearted and engaging.

Next was New York ‘metalcore’ band Every Time I Die. This band is lumped into a crowd who’s music I don’t dig all that much, but for some reason, this band sticks with me and I love them. Standing at the back, with a view of the whole stage, I was blown away by the tangle of booming drums, southern rock guitar riffs and enigmatic front man Keith Buckley’s perfectly flawed vocals. Their raucous filled the giant shed in which they played, everyone watching what was occurring on stage.

I was then taken to see the Audition, something I wish to never have to sit through again. Boring. Boring. Boring, pop punk, like a thousand band before, and most likely a thousand bands to come, nothing special at all.

Next was From First To Last, a band who has taken their sweet-ass time to make it to our shores. After five years and multiple line-up changes, they finally made it and played a brutal set with clashing guitars, deafening bass and manic drums, with a set spanning across their three albums, pleasing every era of fan. Much like my love for Every Time I Die, the 16 year old me came alive when watching this punk rock band play right in front of my face.

During a bit of a lull I went for a walk, catching a couple of songs of Billy Talent’s set on the mainstage. While I think this band is fun, with very catchy songs, it wasn’t that that made me stop and listen, but what front man Benjamin had to say. On hearing of the Victorian bushfires all the way in Canada, he head many stories on how everybody, not only the Victorian communities, but Australia as a whole, band together to raise millions to go towards rebuilding people’s lives. He spoke of how he found this inspirational. I cried. I’m emo. Lucky it was an appropriate setting.

I moved on to catch Say Anything, a rock band from L.A. I think front man and brains of the operation Max Bemis is a real dick, but he has a knack for writing songs about sex and drugs and all that fun stuff, with a novelty-like twist, that kept everybody entertained and laughing.

Playing on stage three was Alkaline Trio, a band I have always been curious to see live, though it was just like listening to the albums, they were good but not great, though Matt Skiba’s voice was spot on, haunting as it floated across the main area.

Finishing my night was Saves the Day. I understand that this band has been around for a very long time, influencing many, many bands along the way, but to be honest I just didn’t feel it, and didn’t see anything particularly special about them. This is likely because I missed out on what was happening with music when they started, but I just don’t see anything particularly ‘ground breaking’ about their pop punk tunes today. Their set was consistent and obviously entertaining for fan, but for me, I was indifferent and a bit bored.

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