Monday, February 28, 2011

Want every last little light in New York City

Now, Soundwave. Where to begin?

When I woke up to the soothing sound of rain, things were already looking more promising than last year. I had secured provisions of water and a bag of lollipops, crammed a light jacket and umbrella (and book) into my trusty bag, and organised a ride to Lidcombe station around 11. A train arrived as soon as I got there, and within ten minutes I was shuffling through the gates. Everything worked so well, so smoothly, no major lining up anywhere. Brilliant. They did make me throw out my umbrella however, so that was a bit lame. After all, last year it was our only shade, but thankfully I didn’t actually need it this time. It was also broken, otherwise I’d have been much more annoyed.

So, all things told, I managed to arrive one song into The Starting Line’s set. Stage 3 was in a ‘tent’, hot but out of the glare/rain. I counted that as a win. It was the first time I’d had the chance to see Kenny Vasoli and the guys, and it was easy to see why they have such a die-hard fanbase. When they all cleared out, I moved in and managed to secure a spot at the front for The Gaslight Anthem. It was everything I could possibly have hoped for. I really just adore this band so much. They’re up there with Green Day and Brand New as my all time favourites. The set was hopelessly too short, but as I’m catching their sidewave anyway, I could live with that. The great thing about TGA being on so early was that I already felt like the day had earned its worth, and everything else was just secondary.

So with my minimal expectations already well exceeded, I set off and had a look around to get my bearings and figure out where everything was. It was good circular set-up, and seemed to manage the crowds well-enough. There were a lot of people of course, and even though I knew heaps of people attending, I didn’t see a single one of them. Don’t know why that always surprises me, but it does.

Getting my pop-punk fix, I saw We The Kings on stage 5 next. Their energy was catching, and the crowd were certainly loving it. I was surprised by the strength of Travis’ voice, especially since I have found out that both he and Dan are sick. You couldn’t tell by their performance. I’m a little tired of bands voicing their desire to sleep with everyone (The Maine did this as well), but that’s just me getting old. The crowd still cheered.

By this point, my company texted to alert me to their arrival, and I set off back to stage 3 to intercept them. This failed but led to a funny moment where I was standing around wondering who was covering Sum 41, only to realise it was in fact Sum 41. You just never know. Anyway, figuring I’d meet up with them at some point, it was off to the main stages in the showgrounds to finally see Bullet For My Valentine. Oh Matt Tuck, I love you and your (for some reason rather hilarious) accent. This actually all worked out rather well, as I found M and N waiting when I arrived. They were there purely to watch Thirty Seconds To Mars and wanted to get as close to the stage as possible. Neither had been in a mosh before, and we had to get through almost three hours of headliners in Stone Sour, Primus and Slash. But hey, it’s an experience, and everyone’s gotta mosh sometime. So with vague warnings and telling them to brace themselves, I led the way into the front section. The BFMV fans were clearing out or shuffling left to stage 1, so we got to the front with no trouble.

What followed was an agonisingly long wait. The Primus fans behind us kept yelling at Stone Sour to shut up (quote of the day definitely goes to the dude yelling “You’re not fucking Foreigner!” when they played their new single, cause it was kinda Foreigner-y) and then Primus came on and utterly bewildered us. What IS that? Seriously. I don’t get it at all. So much repetitive noise, it was torture. The most baffling part was how many people were so into it. And they were really, really into it. It nearly broke me. Longest. Set. Ever.

Seeing Slash was pretty cool though, it is Slash after all. Both Sweet Child of Mine and Paradise City went off. The sun had appeared at this point and it was becoming a little uncomfortably warm; a crush had settled into the mosh, including your standard contingent of 16 year old fans who would later be lifted out; and the world’s most annoying couple decided to come jump around and push and shove and generally be those people everyone in the mosh pit hates with the fiery strength of a thousand suns. Now I know that when you’re in the mosh, personal space doesn’t apply and you can’t expect not to be pushed about or whatever, but common courtesy can still apply. And so it is with no shame whatsoever that I say I got a huge thrill when, later, another fed up mosher picked her up and chucked her over the barrier. Her boyfriend had by this time already been removed. They were most probably wasted, and I hope that today she’s suffering from the bazillion bruises my elbow worked very hard to inflict in her ribs and lower back.

Like all things in life, moshing comes with a wall. It eats away at you, and wears at you, but as soon as you get past it, everything clears and you just enjoy it. You just have to get to that point. I drank a ton of water, had even more poured over me, pushed and shoved…and then somehow, not far into 30STM’s set, I found myself having a good time. I can’t remember Jared sounding that much like Billy Corgan the last time I saw them, but he does now. And yes, he still spends more time jabbering away and getting the crowd to sing for him than he actually does, but funnily enough when you’re in the front of that crowd he’s lavishing attention upon, it doesn’t really matter anymore. Some frontmen, like Billie Joe, have the ability to make everyone feel included, regardless of the size of the venue. Jared doesn’t have that ability, and when you’re standing in the back of that gig and he never actually finishes a bloody song when you have, and it’s crass to say I know, paid him to sing, it’s annoying as fuck. But when you’re in the front lines, that’s sort of secondary and it’s just a lot of fun.

It felt like they only did about five songs cause of all the showboating and crowd shenanigans…and I’ve just realised they didn’t even do From Yesterday, my personal favourite, but what the hell (or maybe they did and I just didn’t hear it cause he wasn’t actually singing, anything is possible.) I had zero expectations of them, was just in it for my own warped sense of humour and the spectacle, and on that they certainly delivered. Plus I got to chuck one of those balloons around. Jared, it must be said, is completely off his rocker. And also far too thin – eat a sandwich dude! Anyway, despite the fact that I don’t think he can actually sing live, I found myself defending him at one point. That’s right people, it’s snowing in hell. He also won the award for man most hated by security, hands down. First he encouraged people to clamber on each others shoulders (big no-no), then he encouraged them to crowdsurf to the front if they wanted to be on stage for the last song (even bigger no-no). More people got ejected than they got on stage, and security were looking very harassed. But overall, I actually enjoyed it, and I know this is only cause I expected nothing from them. So I guess we’ve learnt that if you’re going to a 30STM gig, get as close to the front as possible, or don’t bother. Or take your ipod and listen to the songs while watching them perform? Shannon’s very good, he always does his part. As do the others. You sort of forget they’re around.

This gets the biggest write up cause it was the most major thing of the day and memorable too, as my bruises can confirm. I was still damp two hours later. You get so overheated, it’s nice to cool off, but it’s also so unexpected that you’d be standing there minding your own business and suddenly there’s water dripping in your eyes. Ah, the glamourous life of the gig junkie.

Anyway, extracted ourselves for some much needed sugar and time out, before returning for Queens of the Stone Age. Another first for me, so I’m happy with that. Josh Homme’s hair kept distracting me though, it’s so awful. He really looks his age too and I had quite the time convincing everyone that he’s actually younger than Jared Leto (look, say what you want, he looks incredible for a guy turning 40.) I thought the set was great, and hey, they played Burn The Witch which is really all I ask for. M and N decided they’d call it a day, so as they went off, I headed over to catch The Maine on stage 5. The smaller crowd was something of a revelation after the crush of the main stages, and it was a nice way to wind down. Of course the big headliner of the event was Iron Maiden, and I couldn’t end the day without catching sight of such legends – even though Mayday Parade who I love was playing on another stage. I didn’t stay for the whole two hour set, knowing I’d have enough trouble getting up for work as it was. I was home, with absolutely no waiting and no trouble, just after 9.

Overall verdict of the day? So good. So very, very good. It is amazing what a difference a venue (and overcast weather) can make. I’ve never been very appreciative of the Sydney Showgrounds/Olympic Park precinct, all the concrete and epic amounts of walking I’d done at easter shows didn’t seem particularly enticing. But after the horror of Easter Creek, and the logistical problems of Sydney Park, this was a revelation. Why didn’t they just have it here from the start? Everything works. There’s water, and showers, and tons of food. The only horrific line I saw all day was for the ATM, but really, that’s your own fault and could easily be avoided. Not to mention that the easy access to public transport makes it much easier to plan your day.

So, yes! I had a brilliant day, a brilliant weekend and I’ll post up some dodgy camera phone pics with this later. Right now, it's back to writing profiles and attempting to rehydrate myself in prep for tonight *dances off*

Edit: Photos as promised. My phone actually takes the worst photos, but never mind.

Kicking things off with The Gaslight Anthem
We The Kings getting the crowd involved

Self explanatory, really. 

Setting up for Primus. Should have known weirdness would follow.

Placing Jared's little platforms, it's a step up from the infamous 'Leto box', our measure of all grandstanding since our first encounter with his penchant from clambering on things and talking a lot. 

Chilling to Queens of the Stone Age.

The Maine drawing a crowd on Stage 5.

The sun starts to fade over the showgrounds (and QOTSA).

Music: The Queen of Lower Chelsea - The Gaslight Anthem

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