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DaveyBoy's Soundwave Festival 2011

March-4 2011, marked the 3rd time that Mrs. Boy & I have attended the Melbourne leg of the annual SoundWave Festival, and just like the previous 2 years, it was a fantastic day which provided tremendous value for money. For the first time I can remember for an Australian summer festival, the weather was actually quite cool, with even a mid-afternoon shower eventuating. The always fun train ride to the Showgrounds progressed smoothly, as did entry & the usually hectic morning merchandise purchases. As many of the larger bands playing on the main stages this year were metal acts, I found myself at the smaller indoor stages for most of the day, and no more than 10 people deep from the stage. Overall, it was another great day with practically nothing to complain about. These are the bands I saw in the order they played:
1Veara

The Georgian quartet were almost the perfect start to the day, since they were short, sharp & energetic. With hardly a wasted moment, Veara kicked immediately into gear & didn't let up until their half hour set was over. For an opening act, the crowd were livelier than expected, and it seemed to be appreciated by the band who responded with a solid performance of their heavy - but very catchy - pop punk (try not singing along to 'My B Side Life'). The lead singer actually reminded me a little of Tom DeLonge in looks, but with a better voice.
2Bayside

We caught a couple of songs from The Staring Line, who seemed to be enjoying their time back on the road, before seeing another band that we had caught at the Sidewave 3 days earlier; Bayside. Since Breathe Carolina had just finished their set with a "We don?t give a f**k" chant, Anthony Raneri introduced his band as "We are Bayside & we do give a f**k". As always, the NYC quartet were simply phenomenal live with guitarist Jack O'Shea once more showing off his axe-wielding skills. A real bonus for us was that they played 'Masterpiece' & 'Carry On', 2 tracks which were skipped at the Sidewave.
3Anberlin

With the metal stage switched outdoors this year, I was initially a little worried about the acoustics at the indoor stage at which Anberlin (& later The Gaslight Anthem) would play at, but there were no concerns to be had at all. The Floridians drew a larger crowd than I had expected & gave another excellent performance that concentrated heavily on their rockers (with 'Godspeed' & 'The Feel Good Drag' being the highlights). Seeing them here now actually means that Anberlin is the band I have seen live the most! Today, I'd rank them as the 3rd best of the day.
4We The Kings

Speaking of larger than expected crowds, it seems the incomprehensible charting of 'Check Yes Juliet' in Australia 3 years after it was originally released brought out all the teenage girls for We The Kings. Their set was predictably high on catchiness and had most singing along to every word. To give them credit, their performance was really solid and despite his continual reference to it being "evening" when it was in fact 2pm, front-man Travis Clark worked the crowd very well. He even played a song acoustically, which is not always the norm for such a band playing a festival set.
5Dommin

At what was quite easily the smallest crowd we saw all day (there would have been no more than 200 there), watching LA goth-rockers Dommin play was a comfortable experience. Those that bet $1 that the 4 members would be all clad in black, may collect their $1.01 now, while Kristofer's chin-long fringe was in full effect. Musically, they were pretty sharp, with the keys appropriately clanging loudly in the mix. Kris's vocals were a little inconsistent as he seems to often get far too close to the mic, while the Nirvana medley they performed was simply misguided.
6There For Tomorrow

Following a half hour lunch break where we caught a glimpse of I See Stars (who still look as if they're all 15), I was looking forward to watching There For Tomorrow as I thought they could be the real wild-card of the day. As it turned out, they were good, but nothing more than that. Playing 2 new songs may not have helped, and you can see the potential in these guys, but it just didn't all come together on the day. It's difficult to put my finger on why, but it seemed as if they played it all a little safe. 'Pages' sounded excellent though.
730 Seconds to Mars

I was planning on seeing Sum 41 at this time, but Deryck contracted pneumonia & they couldn't play, so I had to put up with Jared Leto & his fabulous blue jacket on the main stage. During their headlining show I saw last year, his shtick came off as crowd-pleasing entertainment. Today, most of it came off as lazy. He literally sang about half the words to each song. Even guitarist Tomo looked disinterested. Most of the crowd ate it up though & it was a genuine surprise to see so many other bands side of stage. Bring Me The Horizon's Oli Sykes looked such a pleasant little man standing there singing along to "The Kill".
8Slash

The legendary guitarist was up next with his band, which included AlterBridge vocalist Myles Kennedy. Slash's set contains many highs & many lows, and I bet you can all guess which songs fall into which category. I think only one track from his solo self-titled LP got a good reaction, while even lesser-known Gunners songs went over well. Played 3rd last, 'Sweet Child O Mine' simply went off, as did one ladies top for most of the song. And set closer 'Paradise City' was a sing-along of massive proportions. Being picky, Slash should move around the stage a little more since most people were there to see him & not his band. Still, it was a pleasure to see him strut his stuff.
9Foxy Shazam

As there was a 10 minute overlap between Slash's set & Foxy Shazam's, I rushed over hoping to not miss much of the crazy sextet from Cincinnati. When I first caught sight of the band, front-man Eric could be heard, but not seen. Then 2 legs appeared from nowhere. Apparently he decided to sing while doing a headstand. Then keyboard player Sky started climbing underneath his instrument. Seriously, it was mass pandemonium as cartwheels, somersaults, crazy stories & cigarette eating ensued! Oh & all the while, some great music was played too, although it was often difficult to take it all in. Relying mainly on their newer tracks, those which showcased Sky's keys & Alex Nauth's trumpet playing, fared best. Extremely entertaining.
10QOTSA / Rob Zombie / The Maine

With an hour or so spare & some further food needed, we decided to do the rounds & catch a few songs from a number of bands. First up were Queens of the Stone Age on the main stage, and while I am not as big a fan of their desert rock as people would expect, you could tell they were playing tightly. Next up was Rob Zombie, more for the light show than anything else. The big fella seemed to be having fun running all over the stage, while his fans lapped it all up. And then it was The Maine, but unfortunately most of what we saw was the band bringing some girl up on stage to help them sing 'Girls Do What They Want'. That says it all really.
11The Blackout

Having been surprisingly impressed by the Welsh post-hardcore sextet last year, I was once more looking forward to catch up with The Blackout's live show. And it seems the guys just keep getting better, both from a musical & entertainment perspective. It took all of 2 minutes for Sean Smith to head into the crowd & drag his mic cord as far as it could go, while later in the set he had a hilarious one-sided conversation with fans waiting for Mayday Parade on the opposite stage. Smith has also continued to improve his singing, as he & Gavin Butler duelled away, allowing the others to concentrate on the music. 'Save Our Selves' & 'I'm A Riot...' were highlights, while a new song sounded extremely tasty. 2nd best act of the day!
12Mayday Parade

I just realized how many acts from Florida were at this festival. Anyway, Mayday Parade were ok, without setting the world on fire. They surprised me by playing more songs from their earlier releases (not necessarily a bad thing) rather than 'Anywhere But Here', with both the drummer & bass player failing to fill Jason Lancaster's shoes. Most disappointingly, there was no 'Miserable At Best' & for some unknown reason there was no 'Get Up' either. And the most annoying thing about this band live is the f'n ridiculous constant swinging of their guitars. They'd be better off concentrating on putting together a few chords me thinks.
13The Gaslight Anthem

And so to our final - and best - act of the day; The Gaslight Anthem. I was skeptical about their live show since I have heard mixed feedback, but they impressed the hell out of me. And I'm not even certain I can properly explain why. Despite the rather large audience, it just felt really personal & intimate. Before a guitar had even been strummed, Brian sincerely dedicated the set to a local venue they had previously played at and was soon closing down. From there, the band was all business, yet also looked to be having fun with smiles planted on their faces between songs. Everything was spot on musically, but most impressive were the tones of the guitars, lending some of the slower tracks extra character. Brian also sounded great, although for the more casual listener it would have been nice if he was a mixed a little higher for those all important lyrics. It is only personal preference which makes me choose 'Great Expectations' as the set's highlight. Simply awesome & I can't wait to see them perform a longer set.
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