Words cannot begin to describe just how awesome Soundwave was. I'm getting a boner sitting here thinking about it. Here begins the story of Soundwave:
I arrived at my hostel in Melbourne around 10pm the night before the festival. I still had an extra ticket that I'd bought, thinking I'd be able to find a friend that would want to come see this brilliant lineup of bands, but alas none could make it. I walked into the common room of the hostel, where about ten people were watching television. In a magnanimous voice I declared "I have a free ticket for anyone that wants to come to Soundwave tomorrow!" Silence. What the hell, I thought. I repeated the words Soundwave and music festival again. Silence. I sat down in my chair, puzzled. I was going to tackle Soundwave solo, the way I do things best.
After a good nights sleep I ate a hearty breakfast and caught the tram to the Melbourne Show Grounds. Instantly my eyes were pulled to the various band t-shirts, tattoos and facial hair, and I started to wonder the hell I had shaved mine the day before. As the tram grew closer to the show grounds the metal head to civilian ratio started growing in favour of the metal heads. We piled off the tram and into the entrance hall, where bags were searched in a half assed manner. The crowd pressed up against the gates leading into the park, the excitement and anticipation growing by the minute.
At 10am the gates opened and the crowd flowed into the show ground like a tsunami of black shirted destruction. I aimed directly for stage three, my plan to watch the three bands before CKY. The first one, Aitches, wasn't too bad. The second, Break Even, much better (I'll even download some of their music)! After that, the Smoking Hearts, who sucked. Then the objective: CKY. I was within meters of the stage, strategically placed for maximum mosh effect. Bam Margera opened the band when he ran out on stage, stirring up the crowd. After a few songsthey broke out a cover of the GG Allin song Bite It You Scum, and as I was filming it, all hell broke loose. I ended up right in the middle of the mosh pit. The filming stopped, and the hitting began. In a superb tribute to GG, I slammed people around as hard as I could, and they did the same to me. I left that show happy.
After that I wandered around the show grounds for an hour, stopping to sit down for a while and scarf back a surprisingly good hamburger, probably the best one I've had in Australia. I cruised to the merchandise shop and bought a red Bad Religion t-shirt, preparing for my first live Bad Religion experience. Another stop by the beer garden and I headed to the main stages, located right next to each other. After watching Alter Bridge and A Day to Remember, I strategically placed myself for Bush, making sure I was in easy distance to get into the mosh pit gate quickly before Bad Religion started. Bush was amazing, I just wish they had played a longer set. There was bigger fish to fry, however.
I flew into the mosh pit like a bat out of hell, scrambling as close as I could against the already dense crowd packed in to see Bad Religion. I've been listening to these guys dissent for over a decade, and have been wanting to see them live ever since. My dream was being fulfilled. They ripped up 21st Century Digital Boy, the Hills of Los Angeles Are Burning, Social Suicide, among others. Now this is where the only shitty part of the day came into play. The gods of anti-punk rock gathered and decided to make a steel crossbeam from the centre of the stage tear away and start flailing in the wind, threatening to drop into the crowd below. Now I'm sure everyone in the crowd would have been perfectly willing to risk this to keep rocking to Bad Religion, but the event staff thought otherwise, and the band had to quit half an hour into their hour long set. I was very sad, but still riding a high from what I had heard.
It was at this part of the day where it was obvious the weather had blessed us. The skies had been clear all day, and would remain clear until System of a Down, when a thin layer of cloud rolled in and added to the light effects, making it even more awesome. After seeing Bad Religion, I stuck around to see Limp Bizkit bust out a few songs from my youth, and had a couple of their backstage groupies bust out their tits to the crowd. Other than this, Limp Bizkit was a solid O.K.
By this time my back was killing my for standing and jumping for a solid five hours, so I retired to grab another burger, catch a quick Strung Out show, and a couple beers. From the beer gardens I watched Slipknot, too far away to see the stage clearly, but close enough to watch the big screen. This was the biggest mistake of the day on my part. I really haven't listened to much Slipknot before, but what I saw that day blew my mind. They put on the best show of the day. It was fucking intense! The massive combination of their costumes, the amount of band members, fire, and retardedly heavy music made for an incredible show, and I wasn't even in the crowd. You can bet your ass next time Slipknot is playing where I am, I'll be there.
And now for the feature of the post. For years I had been waiting, praying even, for System of a Down to get back together and tour. My prayers were answered and deified. I tried to get as close as I could to the stage, which ended up not being close at all, but fuck it, I was there. The whole stage was blacked out, a huge looming monolith set against the grey, clouded sky. The crowd whistled and cheered in anticipation, eruption when the first chord was struck by Daron Malakian. A series of the next chords revealed the song: Prison Song, lights flashing to the chords. If any of you know System of a Down, you'll know that this song is going to make for the best intro possible. And it did. It blew my fucking mind! After the third series of chords, the momentum of the song erupted and the black curtain dropped, the white strobes kicking in in a chaotic dance across the blazing, bold SYSTEM OF A DOWN letters behind the band. The whole crowd went insane, screaming along to the vocals. For the next hour and a half, our ear canals were blessed by this heavenly metal, even bearing witness to a cover of Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits. I won't go into any more details, I'll just say that they played an amazing fucking incredibly awesome godly show, and I left a happy man.