Sydney Soundwave 2012

pakman2525 goes to Sydney Soundwave 2012 with his boys and gives you his thoughts on the venue and setup, plus there's some band news in there too.

This is now the third time I’ve made the trek to Soundwave in Sydney with my teenage boys and I must say that now it is at the Sydney Olympic site I am a very happy camper. If they do ever decide to pack it up and take it back to Eastern Creek, it would have to be a mighty line up to get me out there again.  I must temper that line by saying the only event at Eastern Creek I went to, the temperature was about 40 degrees in the shade (what little shade you could find) and the site was a dustbowl, getting there was a nightmare and facilities were minimal compared to Homebush, so hence my reluctance to go back.

There was a threat of rain during most of the day but it didn’t eventuate, which made for a rather muggy, sweaty affair and a lot of people not realising you still can get burnt on a cloudy day – bet there are some very sore sunburnt people next day!

Sydney Olympic Park Soundwave has only one exit and entrance which means unless you get there at the crack of dawn (or 9.00am which is close enough to dawn for me) it’s going to take a bit of time to walk into the joint.  So we got there about 10.40 lined up (and it was a rather orderly line for a fair bit), we passed our time talking about what bands we were absolutely not missing (Trivium, A Day To Remember (ADTR)), who was on the wish list (Steel Panther), who was worth checking for novelty value (Marilyn Manson) and watching the police sniffer dogs sit down beside a number of people who were then escorted away to what we could only surmise would be the back of a divvy van.  Then just as we got to the point which was furthest away and about to start the straight run back to the gate, anarchy reigned and everyone just bolted for the entrance as the first bands had commenced, 5 minutes earlier and we would’ve been close enough to the gate to make the most of it.  There are express lanes to get in, but for those who are carrying a bag you have to do the mandatory bag check which is in the middle of the route.

The setup at Olympic Park has been tweaked since last year’s event and looking at the map I had no idea if the stage setup would work with the proximity of stages 3, 5, 6, 7 and their variants.  I didn’t head down that way as my youngest and I had planned our day around stages 1, 2, 4A and 4B but my eldest son assures me there were no issues with sound bleeding in from the other stages down that end.  Some stages had some minor issues with sound; several people noted that the Trivium mix was down on the guitars, another friend said that there were issues with Strung Out microphone dropping out but on the whole sound was pretty good.

If you were wanting to go between stages, and had limited time you really needed to plan where you were going to watch the stages from so you could exit quickly:  In the main stage area getting out of the floor area could prove difficult at times as there were bottlenecks getting up the stairs to get back to the main concourse.  But overall the process was orderly and all of the crowd were for the main part courteous to all from what I saw.

There is a good mix of food vendors, drinks, toilets shaded areas for the crowds and there were a lot of people here.  The costs for all food seemed to be a steady $10 for whatever you wanted and there were a great number of culinary delights to try.  $10 seemed to be the magic number, as it was also the price for a pre-mixed alcoholic beverage, beer was slightly less. 

Security at the event seemed to be very good, even when Jeremy McKinnon of ADTR, encouraged the crowd to go crowd surfing in a slightly different way with people standing on top of those who were being rolled over the top.  Several people managed to stand successfully and every time it happened it was put up on the big screen which led to loud cheers from the crowd.  There was, what I found out to be, the obligatory “Toaster” when Slipknot were performing and System Of A Down (SOAD) reminisced about last time they were in Sydney and the multiple circle pits that were around, funnily enough multiple pits reappeared almost instantly.

Overall it was a good day and I got to see a few bands.  Stand outs for me were ADTR and Trivium.  Slipknot were a surprise for me, I know a fair bit of their work but I had never seen them live and was really impressed with their energy.  Steel Panther had the whole crowd in stitches and they are much more than a comedy act, really tight in their playing.  Alter Bridge had a surprise guest in Slash, and as with In Flames and SOAD were tight.  I caught a little of Bush, Hell Yeah, even happened to walk in to the main stage area when Limp Bizkit were playing to what looked to be a full house.  The only disappointment of the day for me was Marilyn Manson, who was either too stoned or pissed (or both) to put on a good show – even his band looked like they were embarrassed when he launched into what was one of his many hissy fits.

The one suggestion I have for the organisers is when the show is over, open up a few more exits to allow a speedier and easier departure for the crowd.