The weather was perfect for the Melbourne leg of alternative rock festival Soundwave on Friday with over 40,000 punters flocking to Flemmington to see their favorite international and local acts take to the stage.
First up were viking metallers Amon Amarth. Despite their early time slot, they slaughtered their way through a brutal set which included “Death In Fire” and “Twilight of the Thunder God”. The stage set up was the best I saw during the day. with their smoking viking ship dominating the center of the stage with the amazing back drop taking the crowd back to a time when vikings reigned.
Next up were Five Finger Death Punch, a band which are slowly helping shape heavy metal as we know it today. A sea of people looked on to the stage as the band tore their way through songs both old and new. The highlight of their set was when vocalist Ivan Moody led a youngster called Brock from the crowd onto the stage to sing “Burn MF” or, “Burn Motherfucker”. Brock left the stage to a huge round of applause with Moody saying “I hope I didn’t get you grounded”.
A huge banner at stage three declared the start of the AFI, or A Fire Inside set. Greeted to a massive round of applause the band launched into “The Leaving Song Pt.II.” The set was a mixture of old and new with the band playing hits such as “Girls Not Grey”, “Dancing Through Sunday” and closing with their explosive hit “Miss Murder”.
Slightly light were Placebo, though I was far away from the stage from this one I was lucky enough to see the band play “For What Its Worth”, “Loud Like Love”, “Too Many Friends” and “Black-Eyed” before having to scramble to see Trivium back at the metal stage.
My second time seeing the band was better than the first. Up close to the stage they were energetic and the crowd loved it. A sea of hair whipped back and forward for songs such as “Like Light To Flies”, “Shattering The Skies Above” and “In Waves”. Assaulting the stage for about an hour vocalist Matthew Heafy stuck his tongue out at the crowd while guitarist Corey Beaulieu whipped his head around so fast I thought he’s almost fall over.
Next up were Baroness, who were the biggest surprise of the day. Despite technical difficulties during the show the band managed to pull off a solid performance.
Of course, nothing could ever beat the sheer prowess of Phil Anselmo, who helped shaped metal into what it has become today. Down were a highlight for the day, with Anselmo encouraging the crowd in the circle pit to “run counter-clockwise”. Banging the microphone against his head so severely it bled he encouraged the audience to clap along to the music. Storming the stage he parted the white cloud of beard belonging to Bobby Landgraf, inciting a round of silent laughter.
Wearing a shirt from local grindcore act King Parrot Anselmo gave a touching tribute to Geoff Hannerman and Dimebag Darrel during the set which finished with “Bury Me In Smoke” when members of Parrot took to the stage to finish the song.
From France next came Gojira. Nothing beats the sheer majesty of the band, who launched straight into “Explosia” upon which the crowd certainly did do some of their own exploding. If you haven”t seen them live, add them to your “must see” list.
The biggest pit of the day was for none other than the mighty Devildriver. Hailing from California the band pit frontman Dez Fafara ordering the crowd to “open the fucking pit up”.
“If they don’t want to dance push them out of the way.”
Wandering away from the metal stage after Devildriver tore up the grass of the mosh pit I found myself in front of the spectacle that is Dillinger Escape Plan. Only somewhat familiar with the band I stood wide-eyed as I watched the band play the remainder of their set, including my now personal favorites “One of Us Is The Killer”. At the close of the set the vocalist climbed the scaffolding beside the stage to salute the crowd before bowing out off the stage.
Last up were Finnish love metal band H.I.M. Having only recently taken up listening to the band it was hard to hear some of the songs over the roar bass in my ears and the sound of a thousand other voices and who sang along as frontman Ville Valo serenaded the crowd with his deep, beautiful voice.
The band finished with “When Love And Death Embrace” at 10 o’clock on the dot. sunburnt and sore I followed the punters home still stunned at the size and the sheer awesomeness that make Soundwave one of the best music festivals in the country.