As the day draws to an end on another Soundwave festival, I can only come to the conclusion that poor emo kids were not meant to suffer this way. And once an emo kid, always an emo kid, somewhere deep inside, where your aversion to sun and predisposition to skinny jeans stands as proof.
Now I know I've complained about Soundwave in the past, but today...well, today really gave it all some perspective and it was by far the most gruelling of the lot of them. That is not to say that we didn't have a nice time (by surviving), but just that it was a rather epic fail all round and have finally put the nail in the coffin of my festival attendance. Never, ever again. Not like this. No way.
First allow me to set the scene. Eastern Creek Raceway hosts the event, a race circuit in the West, about 40kms from where I live. Only about a quarter of this is actually used for the festival, sadly not the quarter that includes the 4,000 seat covered grand stand, but that is neither here nor there. There is no shade in this chosen quarter, only lots of loose grass and dirt. Today, it was reportedly 35 degrees celsius, though I suspect it was hotter in direct sunlight. Thousands attend this festival, most of them black clad, asymmetrical haired kids whose pale skin has probably not seen such vicious sunlight since the last festival they attended.
My adventure started at 10 as I arrived an hour early to our agreed meet time due to overestimating how long it'd take me to get there. The line for the parking lot was already terrifying so instead I followed the lead of many who were already there and parked outside the venue perimeter on the grass. I had a book and was so quite content to sit in my car and read as I awaited Lizzie's arrival (I had both our tickets), or when it got too hot in the car, to lean against it and read. However, as soon as Lizzie came into the vicinity it became clear that this might prove more problematic than one would have expected because as it turned out, in 20 minutes she had moved only about 10m. I consulted my street directory and figured it would be more productive to just walk to her and then wait with her, as opposed to sitting around outside hoping she one day arrives. So, armed with this plan, I set off. Ooooh, what an amusing little trek it was. Traffic was absolutely gridlocked, and by that I mean Doctor Who 'Gridlock' girdlocked. The further along the road I got, the more people would yell at me that I was going the wrong way. Three quarters into my journey, I became everyone's favourite traffic reporter, with people asking me how far it still was, what the conditions were like, and what my recommendations were. Three kilometers later, I found Lizzie about 500 meters from where she was when I had first started walking. I felt like I knew every person on the road by then, it was kind of funny. Now let no one say I hadn't done my exercise for the day.
Anyway, it was so agonisingly hot by this stage, I spent most of our drive with my door open to get some sort of breeze through the car - consequently it's the side of me that was hanging out of the car that's sporting my only slightly red patch (on my hand, no less.) It was much better though, sitting and chatting and lamenting our inevitable fate of dying of heatstroke, than sitting alone in our various positions so I think I made a good call walking out there. I also made a brilliant call wearing my cowboy boots, definitely the perfect footwear for all my shenanigans - like tracking through knee-length grass, and mud. However, the epic traffic jam of doom meant that it took us almost two hours to cover the same distance I walked in little under an hour. The parking was an epic mess and in all the drama just to get into the place, we missed Sunny Day Real Estate and Taking Back Sunday. Though we did get free ice-cream, which helped balance some homicidal urges.
It was now 1.30. The heat of the day was at its peak, and already several places were out of water. This, in my opinion, is unacceptable. If you are organising an event, you should be prepared to have enough water for an army. That is the one thing you are guaranteed to need, especially since this is summer in Sydney. I wish we had night or winter festivals, life would be much simpler. The water thing was an escalating problem throughout the day, there simply was not enough to cope with demand. Whenever Lizzie and I braved the lines to try and get something to drink, which we managed a whopping two times, I'd buy two things (water and coke/lemon juice) just to be prepared. It was so hellishly hot, and dusty, and dirty, and uncomfortable, and gross. The heat presented a rather unique problem because as you tried to apply sunscreen, it would simply sweat off before your skin had a chance to absorb it, and then coat with dirt, leaving these gross little patches. It really was just....ugh.
My umbrella, which I had packed on a whim, was our saving grace. We set up camp at a fence facing the main stages but out of the crush, and covered ourselves the best we could. There we stayed, for better or worse, having lovely little chats and having quite the amusing time people watching. The overabundance of pink/red/burnt skin made ours ache in sympathy - especially those in interesting patterns such as fishnet - while we amused ourselves by observing the comings and goings of the ice delivery truck (which you are not allowed to take, so by the by) and the overwhelming numbe rof police - in cars, in vans, on bikes, on motorcycles, on horse back, on foot, in helicopters, bus-loads, lions and tigers and bears oh my! My favourite thing of the day by far was the people who, in an attempt to make their own shade, begged cardboard boxes from the concession stands and made holes in the top, so effectively walking around all day with boxes on their heads. It gave a whole new meaning to the "put a bag over your head" thing. I found it highly amusing.
During all of this, I managed to see Placebo and AFI (well we also saw Eagles of Death Metal, Alexisonfire and Paramore but only because we couldn't be bothered moving and I was waiting for the aforementioned two to get on - the main stage, in typical Soundwave!fail, was running an hour and a half behind schedule.) They were both fantastic and I was very pleased to finally get to see them live. Davey Havok was in fine form, posturing away. He really has an amazing voice. Though it is kind of funny to see him actually look like a guy for a change.
Of course, our main draw card MCR had pulled out a few weeks ago due to Gerard's vocal problems, so we had Jimmy Eat World in their place. They didn't seem to compare well to the rest of the bands that had played, with the sound being a bit dodgy and Jim Adkins not really being up to the vocal standards of say Davey and Brian Molko. He makes up for it with conviction, but by this point I was feeling less than well (I had dragged poor Lizzie all over in search of a coke to combat my building nausea) and we were both just tired and dirty. So after discussion, we decided to cut our losses and left early. I was so ecstatic to come home to mum's lasagna and a warm shower. Oh to be clean, to be clean! I don't think I've ever been that dirty in my life to be honest. There was one moment where I looked at my hands and was just completely disgusted by myself...I hate being dirty *scrunches nose*
Conclusion: I had a good time socialising and listening to some great music, but the organisation yet again let the whole thing down. They simply are not equipped to deal with what they have, and especially on days like today which are just so hot and uncomfortable.
Gigs are a bit of a gamble, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But people like us, we're just not cut out for standing around in the heat and the dirt all day, and we set ourselves up with terrible odds. I don't think I'll do it again. And I really mean it this time. I'd rather pay extra and go to a series of sideshows, than subject myself to this sort of self-inflicted torture.
I'll edit this later to include some random pics I took on Donna, but now I really need to sleep off this epic headache of doom. Back to work tomorrow *sigh*
Edit as promised:
The wonder of the festival food line.
Umbrella...the greatest hero of them all!
Footwear of win.
Blessed night could not arrive soon enough. Cue collective sigh of relief.
Music: Come fly with me - Frank Sinatra