On Christmas Day I opened a card from my Dad and a photocopy of a Soundwave ticket came out. My brother got the same thing. I double-checked with Dad that there were real tickets at home with him, and when he said yes, I let myself get very excited. The festival was in Sydney Olympic Park and had an amazing line-up, some bands I was most excited for were: Sum-41, Garbage, Metallica, Blink-182 and The Offspring.
We were in the park by about 11:30 and already hot and hungry. After a gozleme and a cider I was ready to go. Th abundance of gozlemes at Soundwave made me wonder if the Turks knew their traditional food would eventually become so popular at festivals. Whether they predicted it or not, I’m certainly glad gozlemes have become a reular festival-food as they make it much easier to be a vegetarian at an event. Any alternative to pluto-pups is always welcome.
Enough about food, let’s talk about music.
We set up at Stage 2, the stage that played most of the bands we were there to see. Dad had brought us to Soundwave mainly to see The Offspring. He has been a huge fan (a fandom that my brother and I inherited) for a very long time. The Offspring were the very first live band I ever went to see (I was 13) and we saw them again at Soundwave in 2008. After the 2008 Soundwave, we had all agreed never to again be at the front of the stage for the headline act, as when all the other bands finished, everyone came to see The Offspring and nearly crushed us to death in the process. As it turned out, this vow is something that’s easy to forget after 5 years and some good music.
There were some serious safety measures at this stage though. There were 2 stages in the one stadium – A and B – and the area immediately in front of them was barricaded off. To enter you had to go through turnstiles and had to show you bag to security people. We had some problems getting in as under 18s weren’t allowed in this area, a measure that was only introduced this year, so Zac at 17 had to stay outside. Linda had a backpack, which also wasn’t allowed in this area, so we all grabbed some seats in the shady side of grandstand and watched the early bands play and the crowd grow.
There were some problems with the order of line up as Soundwave had played the night before in Brisbane. All the people in the bands flew down to Sydney, but their gear had to come by truck. It all sounds a bit tight on time, but ok, however when it floods at Kempsey (a key point between Brisbane and Sydney where there also happens to be a great pie shop), some problems occur. David and I went down into the mosh area to watch a band called Flogging Molly. They were amazing. The band got on stage after a but of a delay and the lead singer announced (with a wonderfully thick Irish accent), “We’ve had a hell of time a time getting here, and these aren’t even our instruments, but it all makes it worth it to be here with friends.” The band (which included a violin and accordian as well as guitars and drums) launched into an awesome mix of Irish and punk music. The crowd didn’t just jump up and down, and the skank pit was just pushing people, people actually danced to the lively tunes. If you have never heard these guys, check them out. They have become a regular for me on Spotify.
After dancing in a mix of painful heat and rain, we headed back up to the grandstand. A delicious strawberry and kiwi cider later, I was back at the stage with Dad and David watching Sum 41.
I was quite the fan of Sum 41 in high school, and live they had as much energy as I imagined as I was listening to Does This Look Infected? when I was 14. Heaps of girls (and some guys) were being lifted onto people’s shoulders. I was so lucky that I was with my dad and my brother, as each were kind enough to go through some pain and let me see over the whole crowd. I could see everything! The crowd stretching back, the faces of all the band members and all the instruments. It was such an amazing experience. I didn’t realise how close we were to the stage until I was atop David’s shoulders – without sweaty backs and clumps of hair in my face I could actually really see the band.
After Sum 41 we took a quick dinner break before getting ready for Blink 182. I had chips on a stick. The sun went down and the crowd got thicker and sweatier.
Dad, David and I did exactly what we said we wouldn’t do again. The we were, in the thick of the mosh, right before a huge band were about to come on. Everything seemed fine, and then came the surge. A whole bunch of people who decided they weren’t close enough to the stage seemed to think they would remedy this by condensing everyone in front of them. The main difference this time was that David was 18 rather than 13, and taller than most of the crowd. I am still pretty much exactly the same size as I was 5 years ago… but keener to put p with some pain for music. We got pushed forward, then from side to side. I nearly lost my bag, but managed to manoeuver it off my shoulder and shove it under my shirt. David, Dad and I were all separated, and not really enjoying the absence of personal space and abundance of other people’s sweat, but hey, it’s a festival, these things happen. Blink came onto the stage and opened with Feeling This. It was hard to enjoy the music and avoid being punched in the face or trampled at the same time – but we managed. Dad got pushed into the skank pit and got it all on video, then David went in. After a few songs Dad decided he wasn’t really enjoying being crushed and so headed out of the crowd. David and I stayed in because as much as I wasn’t enjoying the pain, I liked the atmosphere. After a few songs a managed to find an area with a bit more space – I probably had a few mm around me! I think the pushing stopped when all the idiots who came late and wanted to be at the front finally got there. As it was a little calmer I got up on David’s shoulders and sang along to All the Small Things. It was awesome. as I looked around at all the faces of girls sitting above they crowd they were on top of the world, smiling, singing and dancing up there. When you looked down all the guys had the same expression – an intense concentration and tenseness through their whole bodies. I felt sorry for David, but I definitely appreciated his selflessness.
When Blink wrapped up with Dammit, we started to shuffle over to the other stage, hoping to find dad before the Offspring came on. Only a few seconds after Blink ran off the stage, so before anyone had a chance to surge, sway or crush the crowd, The Offspring came to life with Gonna Go Far Kid. They had so much energy it was amazing. I just got the feeling that they loved what they were doing and really wanted to be there. The whole show was amazing, and up on David’s shoulders while they were playing “Got to Keep em Separated” I may have made eye-contact with Dexter. I’m not really sure if it actually happened, but man I want it to have!
After an amazing set of old and new music, absolutely full of awesomeness, David and I headed out of the stage area. Paramore came on (now last because of the way they line-up had to change due to flooding) and we had to find dad, Linda and Zac at our meeting place. The floor was covered with cans and loose sections of flooring (the stadium floor had been covered with this lego looking stuff to protect the grass from being ruined under feet in the rain, but people had taken it apart and used it as make-shift skim-boards on the wet ground). David slipped over and so did I, our legs dead after hours of jumping (David was especially dead as he’d had a whole person sitting on his shoulder several times). We found everyone without too much hassle and decided to leave straight away to try to avoid terrible traffic in the parking lot. We enjoyed the excellence of Paramore on the way out, and still buzzing, heard Metallica playing from another stage as we went to the car. It would have been great to stay longer, but the 15 minutes early we left probably saved us an hour and a half. Considering we all had work the next morning, this was pretty valuable. I don’t go to concerts or festivals often, and after an event like this I don’t know why. The sweat and squashing is really part of the experience. It’s amazing, it’s draining, it’s worth doing. I’m looking forward to next time!