This year was no exception. While festivals don’t always have a reputation for having something for everyone, everyone’s favourite promoter and tweeter extraordinaire, AJ Maddah one-upped last year’s Soundwave line up with musical veterans, Metallica, Cypress Hill, Blink 182 and Linkin Park to name a few, who joined the modern heavyweights of the industry including bands Stone Sour, Bullet for My Valentine and Paramore for a balls to the wall show that saw over 30 thousand pour into the grounds of Adelaide’s Bonython Park like Gerard Butler’s Spartan army in 300 (on a side note, I hear there’s a 2nd 300 movie in the making and if the walk to Bonython was any indication, there’s enough well built Adelaideans who could comfortably fill the role of extras).
In military fashion, most punters set off with an early start to the action filled day, gathering on the streets and pavement to form organised chaos at the gates. Once inside it was every man for himself; well stocked bars, cool spots under the trees with friends and flashy merch tents providing enough entertainment and shade until the first bands took to the stages which were scattered around the park. Yours truly, realising just how hot this Soundwave was gearing up to be (again!), went and purchased a Black Sabbath singlet; although hard to locate in the sea of black that would soon adorn the sweaty backs of hundreds, it was worth it in the end, especially thanks to the efforts of some very cool vendors (and all the punters who know their classic metal; Saaaaabath indeed, rock on fellas!).
As the saying goes, when you’re onto a good thing. With that in mind, those with metal still ringing in their ears migrated to the main stages to welcome one of the arguably best things to happen to the industry, Anthrax. Representing a third of the Big Four presence we were graced with for the festival, including rock gods Metallica and Slayer (sadly no Megadeth this time round), Anthrax brought out some memorable classics from a three decade long back-catalogue, including the reclusive metalhead’s anthem, Antisocial and the well themed Indians, complete with Belladonna donning a traditional Native American wig for the song. While the long-term members of Anthrax were probably double the age of their audience, the band matched the energy of their fans blow for blow. Displaying the good ol’ heavy metal tradition of disregarding the rules, they cheered on the mosh pit that formed just meters away from a sign barring crowd surfing, moshing and other usual gig activities. Finalising their set with an explosive cover of AC/DC’s TNT (fist pumps, “hey, hey”s and all), Anthrax paid respect to the country that played host to them thus far.
Going from one side of the park and genre to another, next up were the bold and somewhat aptly named four-piece known as Mindless Self Indulgence. Pitched to be regulars on the Soundwave bill in future, the whacky musos held the focus of a wide audience between frontman Jimmy Urine’s entertaining monologues and the sexy displays of stage outfits from Urine’s B&W Harlequin pant suit to Lyn-Z’s punk style uniform. The respect their viewers had for them may have waned after Urine’s comment of them [Americans] killing ‘our King’, Heath Ledger, before launching into Prescription (there’s being famously controversial, then there’s just being a dick), but MSI were quick to turn the charm back on soon after, Urine cat-calling girls in the audience to the popular tune of Faggot. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye, or as some might argue, their sense of humour.
Finally, the highlight of the evening, and without doubt, a talking point for Soundwave in years to come, Metallica took to the stage. To the backdrop of a classic spaghetti western movie, the Grandfathers of Thrash Metal opened with the highly anticipated Ecstasy of Gold before launching into the not-so-expected, but gladly received Hit the Lights, especially suitable among the well-lit stage and props. Returning to Adelaide since their national tour in 2010, the spirited four-piece embarked on yet another classic set with songs spanning over thirty active years in the industry from Master of Puppets, Harvester of Sorrow, (Welcome Home) Sanitarium and Wherever I May Roam.
Having kept the fire for thrash metal burning for over three decades after over two hours of solid playing, it eventually came time for one of the biggest influences metal music will ever have to exit the stage. Leaving punters feeling hopeful for the return of Metallica and other bands to Australian soil, it was with relief and an exhausted delight that thousands exited the grounds to the sound of The Offspring’s Self Esteem, the final band for the evening keeping fresh the feeling of satisfaction at a day well played in many ways. Soundwave blues may suck, but the anticipation to see how the festival will be topped for 2014 will keep many buzzing for months to come.
Review by Rebecca Grant
Photos by Melissa Donato. Full gallery can be seen here