Faith No More, Mike Patton
Faith No More, Mike Patton JAY CRONAN

Soundwave 2010 hits Birsbane

IT’S AMAZING to think that Soundwave in Brisbane is only a few years old. The last few were big; but this was the biggest yet.

A couple of the early acts really proved their worth – RX Bandits, Taking Back Sunday and The Long Island Natives all thrilled the crowds, with frontman for the Natives, Adam Lazzara doing some weird stage stuff, including what seemed like a Michael Hutchence-inspired death-wish.

US progressive metal group Baroness gave their first-ever Australian performance belting out some of their imaginitively-titledsongs from their latest Blue Record, A Horse Called Golgotha and Swollen Halo, as well as Isak from the Red Album.

Alexisonfire drew a huge crowd for a daytime audience, with their music seeming more cohesive and tighter than in the past. Stage 4 saw Clutch slam out their southern blues and classic rock, but even they paled in comparison with the incomparable Paramore.

Paramore was definitely a highlight. The tiny but hugely talented Hayley Williams held all of us in the palm of her hand while she jumped around the stage in her leopardskin tights, proving why the band is so popular in Australia even though this was only their second visit here.

Williams’ soaring voice hit the high notes every time, and the band seemed to enjoy their set as much as the audience did, saying several times that they wished they could come here more often.

Stage 4 presented some amazing acts, including Sweden’s Meshugga, one of the heaviest bands of the day. The ground all but disappeared under a sea of moshing bodies.

Placebo’s original trio is now six, and they offered a bit of respite from some of the heavier music, particularly with the high standard of sound reproduction – which wasn’t always the case. There were a few technical hitches, with Stage 5 being plagued with sound problems, but Placebo’s professionalism and high-quality visuals made them definite crowd-pleasers despite the problems.

Splendour’s loss after Jane’s Addiction cancelled in 2009 was Soundwave’s gain, with that band appealing to all ages. Dave Navarro’s bare chest got a workout on the huge video screen, while Perry Farrell worked up the mosh pit crowd into a frenzy. Their rendition of Three Days had everybody singing along.

The only thumbs-down moment of the day occurred when Mike Patton from Faith No More asked: ‘Are you still feeling Bristastic?’, to the less-than-impressed audience. Bristastic?

The line-up this year was amzing – AFI, Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate, to mention just a few more of the big names that let it rip on the Soundwave stages.

Impressive too, was the fact so many of the Australian bands measured up so well against their overseas counterparts.

The line-up was strong and the performances didn’t disappoint, even though some of the overseas bands were knocked out by the steamy Brisbane weather. Gallows frontman Frank Carter expressed disbelief a few times at the muggy conditions of the day – but he should have been in the crowd by the time the concert ended.

At least this year, unlike Sydney’s Soundwave where punters suffered under full-on sun with no shade provided, the sky was cloudy with the odd shower to keep conditions bearable.

It’s hard to imagine how it could bigger or better next year. A few less technical glitches, and more shade could provide a more conducive atmosphere, but overall Soundwave has proved itself as a major player in the festival calendar, and is here to stay.

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