Blink 182 + The Vandals + Sharks @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2013

Blink 182 @ RNA Showgrounds, Friday 22 February 2013

Blink 182 play a rare Brisbane festival sideshow on the Friday night before Saturday’s Soundwave. The afternoon of the show takes an interesting turn on Twitter as Soundwave promoter, AJ Maddah, and Blink drummer, Travis Barker, become embroiled in a massive online spat that spans most of the afternoon. The crux of the argument is Maddah’s insistence that he was told Barker would be making the trip to Australia to play with the band, his first plane trip since the deadly crash he’d involved in a few years ago, paying a premium for all three members of the band. Only a few days before the festival, essentially the very last minute if you had to travel out to Australia to play at Soundwave, the news came through that Barker wouldn’t be coming out for the shows, replaced with a ring-in drummer that had been practicing long-term with the band, while allegedly Maddah had been left in the dark.

Who was in right and telling the truth was impossible to tell but on arriving at the Showgrounds, no photo passes have been delivered to the box office, leading to an ominous feeling that given all that’s passed in the last few hours, that all media accreditation is going to be cancelled at the very last minute. Having arrived at the box office at 5:50pm, the official line is that the start times for the bands are 5:30pm (for Sharks), 6:45pm (for The Vandals) and 8:30pm (for Blink). Even if the photo passes turn up pronto, we’ve already missed the first band of the night.

The passes turn up just after 6pm and they’re nothing fancy, just red and white check wristbands. There’s no problems getting through the entrance but when I try and get into the photo pit, security tells me I haven’t got the right pass and need a working crew laminate if I want to get into the photo pit. So it’s another hike all the way back to the box office to see if they forgot to hand out the pass we need, the only positive being another quick look at Metallica soundchecking on the main stage ahead of their headline Soundwave set the following night. The box office have nothing more to hand out but say they’ll send a message through to security to make sure that the photographers can get in the pit with their red and white check wristbands and luckily they’re true to their word and there’s no problems second time around.

Sharks start at 6:30pm, an hour after the official start time that had been published. It would be hard, near impossible to describe Sharks without using the words The Clash. The photographers get their three songs in the photo pit but then the band only play a couple more songs before finishing, playing what must be 25 minutes at tops.

It’s a quick turnaround before The Vandals start their set. Probably the most interesting thing about The Vandals is that they introduce every single song they play with “This song is called XYZ. by the Vandals”. Once again it’s a surprisingly short set that barely seems worth it, the band playing a similar 25 minutes or so to Shark’s opening set. Most of that 25 minutes is given to a fairly ordinary cover of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now”, including a segue mid-song onto ‘Waltzing Matilda’. I don’t know what it is about touring bands from overseas where they feel the need to denigrate into an ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ chant. Is this something that is recommended to them by someone Australian in their touring staff? It’s always fairly cringeworthy.

Despite an official start time of 8:30pm, Blink start bang on 8pm and are surprisingly dull. I said I’d cover the show as I was expecting a whole lot of energy in their performance, complete with jumps and jumping off stuff but there’s none of that. Although they sound really solid for a three-piece, they’re just boring to photograph, something that’s not helped by Tom DeLonge wearing a hat and casting his face into shadow.

I stay and watch more of the show after being evicted from the photo pit after the first three songs but a sudden wind gets up and it then starts to rain heavily so I decide to head off, knowing that photographing at Soundwave the following morning means a big, big day. Even as I’m leaving at 8:40pm, there’s still plenty of people coming in through the gates. If I’d paid $110 for a ticket and been told an 8:30pm start time, I’d probably be a bit pissed off to find that they started 30 minutes early and that I’d already missed half the show.

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