Soundwave 2011 @ RNA Showgrounds, 26.02.2011: Part 3

The late starting Bullet For My Valentine means there’s not enough time to head over and photograph The Gaslight Anthem on Stage 3.  The size of the festival is even bigger than last year and with the stages all starting within 20 minutes of each other, photographing a band and then moving on to get to another stage in time is almost impossible for half of the stages.  Like me, the majority of the photographers seem to be sticking to the main two stages and stages 4a and 4b and over the whole course of the day I just don’t have enough time to photograph anything at Stages, 3, 6, 5 and 5a.

So I stick around the main arena after leaving the Bullet For My Valentine photo pit and wait for Stone Sour.  All I know in advance of seeing the band are that it’s ‘the guy from Slipnot’s other band’, which is a bit of a surprise when they play a couple of power ballads in their set that  Bon Jovi would be proud of; from memory I think one of them sounded like Always.

Primus are a band I just have never got.  I saw them a long time ago (probably 1992) at a club gig supporting Jane’s Addiction, when Jane’s were supporting Ritual De Lo Habitual and didn’t think much of them.  Too much slap bass, too weird but also trying too hard to be so, and not enough songs.  It’s scary writing this and suddenly realising that that was 19 years ago.  But anyway, 19 years on I still don’t really see the appeal, unless you’re a bass player and/or a fan of bass playing.

One of the other photographers (sorry, I can’t remember who) recommended I photograph Dimmu Borgir.  Despite me not knowing a single thing about the band, I was sold on the description I was given about the outfits, make-up and making an effort, so head back over to Stage 4 after having watched a bit of Primus’ set. I don’t really take in any of Dimmu Borgir’s music, too busy trying to take photos.  Sometimes with metal you never know just how serious it’s meant to be taken, if at all, or whether everyone is just in on the joke.  Some bands are just too ridiculous to be taken totally seriously, even more so in the sunshine of a hot summer’s day in Brisbane.  But at least Dimmu Borgir are entertaining on stage, as indeed are almost all of the bands playing at Soundwave, which makes a difference from a lot of the indie shoegazers you get at the likes of Laneway.

Photographing Dimmu Borgir is so much fun I lose track of time and suddenly realise that I’m running late for Slash back on the main stage.  He’s already started his set by the time I get into the arena and by the time I make my way through the crowd and into the pit, I’ve already missed the whole of the first song.  When I get myself sorted I find that my camera has decided to play up and is having difficulties focusing, and lose even more time sorting that out and then swapping between lenses, realising a zoom lens isn’t the best option when Slash is teetering on the edge of the stage right in front of me.  If Dimmu Borgir were owed some respect for braving the heat all dressed up, at least they had the benefit of some shade, whereas Stages 1 and 2 get the full force of the sun.  His band might only be into the second song but underneath his obligatory top hat, Slash is sweating buckets.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of the Soundwave review, I first saw Guns n’ Roses at Donington in 1988, when they were second on the bill to the headlining Iron Maiden.  The last time I saw the original line-up of the band was at Gatehead Stadium when they were touring Use You Illusion, with support from Faith No More and Soundgarden.  Although I guess I always think of Slash as he was in the Ross Halfin photo on the back cover of Appetite For Destruction, time waits for no man and Slash is looking old and has really put on the pounds.  He can still play though, even though he looks uncomfortable in the heat and is breathing hard. As expected, the G n’ R classics he plays today, all from Appetite Nightrain, Rocket Queen, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City – receive an ecstatic response from the crowd.  I do find it weird the level of antagonism leveled at Axl Rose for touring under the Guns N’ Roses moniker and performing the same songs, whereas Slash meets with universal adoration.  Is it all in a name?

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