A considerate crowd
Soundwave’s black shirts showed their warm and fuzzy side at the Brisbane festival, writes Jade Kennedy
Warning: if you consider yourself a hardcore punk/ metal/ death metal fan, look away now because I’m about to shatter your tough-kid image. . .
The crowd at Soundwave on Saturday was, despite the black shirt brigade being out in force, the nicest festival crowd I have seen to date.
For some reason I wasn’t granted media accreditation for Soundwave, but luckily, my salvation came in the 6’ 7’’ form of Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge, who put me down as his guest for the show.
While collecting our tickets, my friend and I passed several Americanaccented, black-attired guys walking into the hotel.
‘‘ They look like they should be someone,’’ my friend commented.
‘‘ Hmm, looks a bit like Josh Homme ( Queens of the Stone Age), but too many tattoos to be him,’’ I thought to myself about one of the guys, maintaining his gaze until it would have necessitated a Linda Blair move to continue.
After a quick stop to shower and change, we made it to the RNA Showgrounds just in time to see Bullet for my Valentine hit the main stage.
Settling into the grandstands, I watched part of Des Moines band Stone Sour’s set before wandering around the site to get my bearings and find some food and drink.
Food took the best part of an hour to wait for, standing in direct sun on the tarmac near the main entry. It was here I saw my first casualty of the day – a teenage girl around 20 people ahead of me collected her purchases, took five steps towards the shade and went down like a sack of potatoes, skidding into the kerb with a sickening sound.
As friends and strangers rushed to her side, it took around five seconds before she moved, lifting her head and dripping blood from a gash underneath her chin.
This was the first sense that the Soundwave crowd was a lot softer than their reputation might indicate.
One bottle of Coke, one bottle of water, one hamburger and $ 19 later, I headed back to the grandstands to eat and take in a little of rockers Primus’ set.
With two massive inflatable MTV-style astronauts decorating their stage, I expected a little more from them ... the most visually-spectacular thing they did was frontman Les Claypool donning a pig mask for part of their set.
As Slash hit the stage, I decided to brave the mosh and head into the crowd for 30 Seconds to Mars, who were due to hit the second main stage straight after.
My second kind crowd encounter came in the form of a guy who let me in front of him in the pit, to allow me to hook my arms ( yes, I am that short) over the second barrier just in front of the stage.
The crowd went crazy for Slash’s new hits, Back to Cali and By the Sword, although it was disappointingly sung by Myles Kennedy and not the album’s original singer, Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale. But of course the biggest cheers came for Guns‘ n’Roses hits Sweet
Child o’ Mine and Paradise City, which they closed the set with.
30 Seconds to Mars’ entrance was theatrical, with a massive build-up to lead singer Jared Leto’s entrance.
Leto was an effervescent frontman, working the crowd, cracking jokes and encouraging jumping, crowd surfing and singalongs.
‘‘ I need some people to come up here. . . the next five people to crowd surf can come up here,’’ he said, inviting ‘‘ five more’’ until about 30 fans formed a jumpy little crowd behind him for set closer, Kings and Queens.
I felt somewhat like a cow leaving the mosh pit, swept along with the crowd leaving the arena in an ordered en masse.
Again, this was another pleasant surprise from the usual pushing, shoving and getting swept off my feet I’m used to at festivals.
Seeing a guy in a wheelchair being lifted by his friends so he could see the bands from the mosh pit brought on more warm and fuzzies.
Down at Pennywise’s stage, I found a chunk of concrete to stand on in order to see over the thousands of fans who’d packed the arena to see the guys from Hermosa Beach.
I know Fletcher had been a little concerned about how Aussie fans would accept new singer Zoli Teglas, but it was unwarranted as fans sang along and thrashed around in a ‘ LAstyle’ circle pit down the front.
My only scare came in the bottleneck between the auditorium and another building on the way back to the main arena, when the crowd literally swept me off my feet in the rush to get to Rob Zombie and Queens of the Stone Age.
QOTSA ripped through a blistering set, capping it off with No One Knows, mere minutes before Iron Maiden hit the stage, the main arena so packed at that point it was hard to believe anyone was even at the other stages where Anberlin, The Bronx, F*** ed Up, Polar Bear Club and Third Eye Blind were performing.
Exhausted, I skipped out on the second half of Maiden’s set to avoid a huge wait for a taxi and went back to the hotel to wait on a reply text from Fletcher, who’d wanted to catch up for a beer after the festival.
I woke up in my hotel room three hours later, after falling asleep lengthways across the king-size bed.
But I wasn’t the only one to crash after a long day – Fletcher sent a text from Sydney on Sunday, apologising for missing our beer because the jet lag had caught up with them.
To add to my woes, flicking through some festival photos, I came across the guy who’d stared me down in the bands’ hotel lobby. It had been none other than Stone Sour/ Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor. Whoops.
Photo: Flickr user Johnny Worthington