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Event Coverage

Last week, I posted videos of the first batch of 10 bands from Day-1 of Australia’s SoundWave Festival . This week, it’s time for the Day-2 contingent, with more rock, punk and metal acts to satisfy your urge for all things heavy and live. For various reasons, I could not attend both days of the festival, and it was this Day-2 group that best satisfied me personally. Of course, posting all of the bands that I saw would probably cause a riot at Sputnik, so hopefully the diverse range of bands seen below is a fair enough compromise.

As per usual, a disclaimer must first be aired for legal purposes: SputnikMusic shall take no responsibility for any motion sickness caused by unsteady hand-held cameras used in the making of the following videos. The same goes for deafness caused by varying volume levels, seizures caused by blinking lights, and blindness caused by the brightness of security vests.

And just in case you were thinking that the line-up for Day-2 looks a little thin, then please take into account that the following list of videos excludes the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Fucked Up, Millencolin, Mayhem, Of Mice & Men, The Wonder Years, Godsmack, Tonight Alive, and farewell performances from Conditions & The Swellers just to name another 10 who played on this particular day. In fact, the order of what you are about to view, roughly coincides with each band’s actual set time.…

All the way back in 2011, I posted a blog titled ‘Maiden, Slash, Slayer & QOTSA Soundwavin’ Around Oz’ that included amateur video of five acts that toured around Australia with the rock, punk and metal festival that is Soundwave. Since then, I have decided to only post lists detailing my experiences at the annual extravaganza, but all that’s about to change in a big way. With 2015’s event being held over two separate days, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to return to the blog and allow all of you to see some live footage of a diverse range of bands. And since I personally saw 10 bands on the day that I attended, then you also get to see 10 bands… TWICE OVER! This week will include the first batch of ten from Day-1 and next week I’ll be back with 10 more from Day-2. How’s that for value!?

Before we begin, a disclaimer must first be aired for legal purposes: SputnikMusic shall take no responsibility for any motion sickness caused by unsteady hand-held cameras used in the making of the following videos. The same goes for deafness caused by varying volume levels, seizures caused by blinking lights, and blindness caused by the brightness of security vests.

And just in case you were thinking that the line-up for Day-1 looks a little thin, then please take into account that the following list of videos excludes the…


The temperature was rapidly falling, dipping well below 0° Fahrenheit, with the wind chill shooting even further into the negatives as the tall buildings lining Main St. in Worcester, MA funneled the stiff wind down the street’s narrow corridor. Fitting weather for a metal show, indeed. In fact, New England seems to always conjure up something interesting to welcome Swedish melodic death metal titans Dark Tranquillity to the area, as last February when they played the very same venue it so happened to dump 2 feet of snow only a few hours after the show ended. This time there wasn’t any snow, just an icy chill that signaled not only Dark Tranquillity’s presence, but also the long-awaited return of Insomnium to North America. I missed their last stop in New England in 2007 when they played at a now-shut strip club in my home state of New Hampshire to support Above the Weeping World, so seven years later I certainly wasn’t going to miss this tour.

It’s arguably the greatest melodic death metal duo in the world, making this tour arguably the greatest melodic death metal tour ever, so I eagerly awaited the show. Before the doors opened at 6:30 I walked a few blocks down the street to the local pizza place to get something to eat, and to my giddy dismay I recognized two familiar faces as soon as I walked in the door. Insomnium vocalist Niilo Sevänen and guitarist Markus Vanhala were sampling some mediocre, greasy…

For the majority of the year, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is a placid hub of serene wildlife and meditative arrangements located in the heart of the Bay Area city. At around 1000 acres, it’s easy to get lost in one garden or traverse a series of trails and meadows and totally forget the fact that you’re in one of the more claustrophobic cities in the country. Since 2008, however, the three-day Outside Lands Music and Art Festival has transformed the center of the park into a massive combination of live music, artisan cuisine, wine and cheese pairings, a plethora of local craft brews, and a surreal array of the kind of weird art you’d expect from San Francisco locals.

Peaking with an estimated 200,000 ticket holders and over a hundred performers, the 7th edition of the festival was the largest (and most crowded) yet. Given how integrated the experience has become – with the new “GastroMagic” area that showcases celebrity chefs, local restaurants, and sports its very own stage, along with separate areas entitled WineLands and BeerLands – Outside Lands is now, more than most festivals, a unique celebration of the city it calls home. Instead of divvying it up into its component days, then, here are 30 things I liked.

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan / Samantha Saturday

1. Short of Kacey Musgraves, Run the Jewels likely had the best set of the day (and about as far apart as


Photo by Kevin Bronson

Sunday is when the choices really start to gnaw at you. Choices like: “do I really need to wake up in time to see Surfer Blood at their surprisingly early Outdoor Stage time,” (no) or; “will this beer bong really help me reach my goal of not being utterly exhausted as I leave for the festival?” (yes). It’s also the day when the thought of braving particularly large crowds doesn’t hold quite the appeal it used to. While I was jazzed to see Los Angeles production duo Classixx at the Mojave, the filled-past-capacity mass of hollowed out youths and individuals fresh off two days in the hazardous waste dump that is the campgrounds on a Sunday made it a short set. Better were Starfucker, who, playing on the Outdoor Stage, made up for the searing heat with a wide expanse of glass to collapse on while watching their spacey brand of indie-pop. A relatively mundane, if nevertheless very catchy, band, Starfucker stepped up their festival game with a wide array of costumed freaks running about and several dozen blow-up dolls sporting impressive erections that they released into the crowd.

Photo by Koury Angelo

A double-punk bill of Frank Turner and Superchunk followed in the Gobi tent. While I’m not a big fan, Turner’s energy was…

Photo by Brian van der Brug

The worst part about Coachella 2013 was easily the dust storm that turned Sunday into a set piece from the Depression and choked the life and easy visibility out of a struggling Red Hot Chili Peppers closing set. 2014’s storm wasn’t nearly as bad; for the most part, walking around during the day Saturday felt like you were travelling on a strange, ominous alien planet, the sun reduced to a weird, haunting half-light and the wind picking up curlicues of dust seemingly at random while bits of sound escaped intermittently over the fields. That creepy feeling was magnified by the fact that everyone seemed to be running from one destination to another, as if constantly striving to avoid the almighty wrath of the weather gods/the narc chasing them. It was how I imagined walking on Mars might be, if everyone on Mars was really, really fucked up all the time.

Of course, God being the sick bastard that he is, Saturday turned out to be my favorite day of the festival. When you kick things off with a blogger’s wet dream of Foxygen, Ty Segall, and CHVRCHES on the Outdoor Stage, it’s easy to ignore the fact that your choice of t-shirt and board shorts for the day will prove quite uncomfortable against pelting sand and an insidious wind chill. Like Friday’s HAIM set, Coachella is made for a band like CHVRCHES,…


Photo by Dana Distortion

It wasn’t the shift to two weekends that convinced me, nor was it the prevalence of EDM as a driving force in lineup selections. It wasn’t the 2012 rainstorm, the first in Coachella history, or the 2013 sandstorm, or the (slightly more tolerable) wind and dust that marred this past Saturday. It wasn’t even the waves of heat that fried me Friday like an egg as my nails curled inwards to the sound of Grouplove’s vocalist butchering Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” as 4:00 turned into 5:00 at the main stage – the performance artist/Grouplove superfan doing a bizarrely well choreographed dance with a staff, and the internal debate of actually exerting myself in the unholy temperatures or ritually murdering everyone in the band being the only things occupying my otherwise exhausted mind. Friday, mind you.

This explains a lot (Photo courtesy of Esquire)

No, these are all the things we’ve come to expect at Coachella, the beautiful scenery made hazy by the weather and the bands determined to make their own legend notwithstanding. It was more the press releases I received every day informing me of the latest updates at the festival, groundbreaking events like: “Fergie and Emmy Rossum, who had both stopped by the Samsung Galaxy Owner’s Lounge yesterday, came back to cool off…

Have you ever been nervous before a gig that you have attended? Sure, there’s always some nervous energy, or even some nervous form of excitement if you’re looking forward to the act(s)… But I’m talking genuine nerves here. Because it happened to me for the first time a week or so back. New York funk-metal quartet Living Colour have always been one of my favourite bands, and I unfortunately was not in a position to have seen them live during their ‘90s heyday. So I was never going to miss them on their first visit to Australia in well over a decade.

To put it bluntly, however, Living Colour are now old. Lead vocalist Corey Glover especially looks it; having transformed from the spandex-wearing, dreadlocked front-man of yesteryear into the grey-haired, grandpa cap wearer of today. The very little I had seen of them playing via YouTube and the like seemed to suggest an overly earnest show which lacked energy and relied on high – but faltering – technicality. Those around me didn’t help the predicament, with a higher than usual drunk factor and many a googling youngster asking “Who’s Living Colour”?


Well, I must have seen the wrong videos, because Living Colour thankfully blew my mind. And it didn’t take long for the nerves to be shaken out of me, with the earth-rattling low end of their set opener – Robert Johnson cover ‘Preachin’ Blues’. Talk about a band in sync! These four could all…

As the clock ticks down to the release of her sophomore record (Nocturnal; due Oct 29th on Verve), the next milestone in what has been an absolutely phenomenal year for Ms Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, the pint-sized Subang Jaya native must be feeling that life simply can’t get much better than this. And who can blame her? Just a few years ago the Universiti Teknologi MARA graduate was still playing to tiny audiences for free at humble acoustic venues in the margins of her home city. Yet, earlier this month she did no less than perform for four sold-out nights at Kuala Lumpur’s Istana Budaya, the Malaysian equivalent of London’s Royal Albert Hall. Were you to plot this on a time-based graph, the resulting curve would probably appear asymptotic.

Yuna’s decision to uproot herself to the United States, effectively the introductory chapter to her spellbinding rags-to-riches tale, has been a journey of wonders thus far. Having released her excellent debut album stateside under the Fader label (whose representatives flew all the way to Malaysia to convince her to sign for them), the Malaysian lass appeared on the radar of world-renown producer David Foster and was subsequently signed to his Verve Music Group – the same label that plays host to the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, and Carla Bruni. Her star shone brighter still when she was contracted to perform both a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” for Oliver…

Let me make one thing absolutely clear: the average Malaysian music lover hasn’t been feted like this in a long, long time, and we probably have the unlikeliest of heroes to thank for it. The recent launch of “Visit Malaysia Year 2014″ by the deeply unpopular ruling coalition, in addition to the designation of 2013 as its preparatory year, single-handedly took the country from its longtime status of international concert pariah to one of South East Asia’s premiere destinations virtually overnight. September alone will feature The Killers, Yuna, Robin Thicke, and Lamb of God (!), while October brings with it the prospect of Mew, Explosions in the Sky, Enter Shikari, Bring Me The Horizon, and also Crossfade. It’s quite a bit to stomach – and I haven’t even started talking about that mouth-watering Urbanscapes weekend in November yet. Elsewhere, the month of August has been no slouch either, as evidenced by the upcoming one-two punch of the Linkin Park and Metallica shows and, of course, the subject of this blogpost – the recently-concluded Good Vibes Festival.

For a country to whom the concept of music festivals is still a relative novelty, the Good Vibes weekend promised to be a blast from the get-go. Organized by Future Sound Asia, the festival publicly stated its aim of bringing the best of international music to the country, and immediately made good upon its promise by announcing The Smashing Pumpkins as its headlining act a few days later.…

Photo courtesy of Socale

My first experience with event production company the Do LaB came about in what I imagine was a similar way for many unfamiliar with the groundbreaking visual artist collective – the Oasis tent at Coachella, where the relentless heat is blessedly filtered through a prism of high-pressure water for a few merciful moments. People came for the hoses, but they stayed for the art, that uniquely visual spectacle that accompanies every Do LaB production in the desert and the underground acts the company usually has rocking its stages with the help of a costumed menagerie. Their ninth year at the festival was no different, with Gaslamp Killer, Kaminanda, Idiot Savant and a whole host of acts turning the art installations into a wild, somewhat nightmarish (depending on whether the light was by the sun or the oscillating lights), always unforgettable scene.

Shame on me, then, for not realizing until 2013 that the Do LaB actually curate their own festival just a couple hours south of Los Angeles. Lightning in a Bottle runs from July 11-15 at Lake Skinner County Park in the wine country near Temecula, CA, and is less a musical festival as the common summertime denominator goes and more a cultural event; a hip Burning Man without the blasted landscape and blasted hippies. It’s apparent in the lineup – a smorgasbord of Low End Theory-mainstays and buzzworthy indie pop, furious electro grooves and exotic world music, deep house…

It seems slightly blasphemous to have to type it out like this – and believe you me I’m still wincing slightly at this point – but the album that truly taught me how to love the Deftones’ music was Koi No Yokan. But while I now understand that it is far from their best work (that honour probably belongs to Diamond Eyes – cheers Greer), I think I needed the benefit of the superb range of melodies and slower dynamics showcased on their seventh studio record in order to ease myself into a band that had seemed, upon first glance, a bit too sonically uneven for me. Such a sentiment may not endear me to the most stalwart of purists, but honestly, I can think of no better purpose for an album whose title means “premonition of love”.

As I write this, Chino Moreno and co. are now on a well-deserved break after an aggressive leg of touring that saw them visit ten destinations in both Oceania and Asia. I also think it’s extremely worth highlighting out that the Koi No Yokan Tour was actually the second tour in a row in which the Sacramento band actually came out to South East Asia to perform. Now, I’ve regularly made a fuss (especially here on the Sput) about how this region as a whole isn’t really been the best of places to be in if you’re the type of person that likes to catch live shows…

I’m curious if the musician behind the Trash McSweeney alias dissociates from reality whenever he morphs into his idiosyncratic performer’s role.

Or, from a different point of view, whether or not the McSweeney persona is actually a commune of fragmented, detached personalities it has encountered over its lifespan and subsequently absorbed into some scattered, diffused on-stage character.


An argument could be made that the man behind the Trash figure has a roaring case of dissociative identity disorder to complement his synesthesia. When looking back at all the characters, elaborate stage settings, artistic canvases (human and non-human), and theatrical thematic material The Red Paintings have cultivated and performed with over the years, Trash might just very well be The Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (or some other vile character from the deepest, darkest recesses of Dr. Seuss’s mind). Oscillating to-and-fro from the aquatic to the extraterrestrial to a Japanese flair with the geisha costumes, and then incorporating elements of all three paradigms on the band’s current tour with Mindless Self Indulgence (later slated to be The Pineapple Thief when they arrive in the UK), there is a palpable bit of madness exhibited here. Look no further than the hundreds (okay, maybe “tens”) of separate Facebook pages the man’s currently operating devoted solely to this record (examples here, here, here, and here — in order, the band’s Facebook page, his personal artist page, the The Revolution is Never

Photo courtesy of Coachella

“I feel like I’m going to go home and throw up a sandbox for my small child,” Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis cracked near the beginning of his band’s closing set Sunday night. At this point the sand was less of a nuisance and more an actual hazard, whipping up into your eyes, your mouth, your nose, your ears – my friend remarked that he entered Coachella as one race and came out another. The standard festival uniform transformed from baring as much skin as possible with an emphasis on neon colors to shutting everything off with anything at hand, turning a legion of fans into balaclava-wearing music terrorists. The gum I had been gnawing on for hours grew suspiciously in size as tiny particles added a bit of extra crunch to my mouth feel. The storm buffeted the main stage, whipsawing the sound across the festival grounds and turning Peppers mainstays like “Dani California” and “Can’t Stop” into warped contortions of themselves, as if the sound guy had had a bad case of epilepsy among the fade and balance dials. It wasn’t a great loss – as far as headliners go, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the same-old-same-old, playing a strangely subdued set of hits and new songs that never really latched onto anyone. Sure, they were good – the rhythm…

Photo courtesy of the Getty

For the first time in my years attending Coachella – whether it’s because Sputnik is finally ascending to the big leagues or the organizers were annoyed at my yearly badgering – I was granted a media pass. This is not as cool as it initially sounds – i.e., I can’t go backstage or to the VIP and do coke with Pusha T,  nor can I flash my bracelet at security and bypass the huddled masses at the general admission lines. I can, however, acquire free water and fruit bars (shout out to Fruttare! your strawberry rules) at the media area, as well as use bathrooms that aren’t piled high with MDMA shits and don’t stink (quite as bad). I also got to go backstage at the Do LaB and see just how that party of water guns, painted dancers and endless, twitchy bass functions from noon to midnight, as well as check out the VJ booth at the Sahara tent, an island of sanity and artwork amidst a sea of shirtless, sweaty ravers. It’s where the VJ (video jockey) and his team work out the 3D video mapping visuals for the DJs who perform, where light shows are as integral a part of someone’s set as the music is. It’s also where women in high heels lay out on the couch and guys sip Heineken self-importantly – at Coachella, your power and coolness directly correlates with how many…

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