Soundwave 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2014: Part 1

The Story So Far @ Soundwave 2014, RNA Showgrounds, Saturday 22 February 2014

Soundwave 2015 is less than a month away [at least it was when I first starting drafting this post, showing just how slack I’ve become in recent times] but as no one has asked me I’m guessing that I won’t be photographing it this year.

I’ve photographed the last five festivals – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 – for The Vine but since Fairfax sold the site the new owners have looked to turn the site into another one of those sites that copies and pastes the same stories from other news sites and social media in order to create content, while coming up with very little of its own stories. I guess without Fairfax’s backing there’s little money to invest in the site but it’s a shame. There’s been next to no music photography on the site since the takeover: I think the last one might have been Splendour but (as in previous years) that opportunity went to someone from Sydney/Melbourne [of course within a day of starting to draft this they put up some Laneway photos from Sydney and have just put up some Drake photos from his Melbourne show].  I don’t really see the logic because, as I’ve argued here previously, you could write a first-rate review or conduct the most amazing interview and I’m probably only going to read it once. However, I could put up a rubbish gallery (not that I’d really be wanting to) and even if you click through the first couple of photos, I’ve got more page hits than most writers. To be honest, I hate that approach and find it dishonest, which is why when it comes to be own galleries, I make them accessible without having page click through them.

Soundwave is always the most full on of the summer festivals. The size of the site and all those stages means being constantly on the go to cover as much as possible. It’s the festival with the worst morning-after feeling and usually takes a few days to recover, especially if it’s been a hot day, which it usually is. 2014 was another one of those baking hot and sunny days.

Following on from Laneway 2014, Soundwave 2014 was another day of camera issues and my main lens not wanting to focus on anything, just endlessly searching to focus even when lights were good, there was no dry ice and there shouldn’t have been any problems. By the time it got to the pointy end of the day, it was worse than ever and a slight miracle that I came away with anything. I can remember standing in the pit for Green Day (who we got one song for) and it wouldn’t focus on anything but then behaved itself for those few short minutes. A year on and there’s been no change. I really should sort it out as neither of my main lenses are working properly but they both need to go to Sydney and I need to try and find a definitive quiet time in the year for this to happen. Maybe I’ll try for May/June as that’s always the quietest time for shows in Brisbane.

If there’s one thing you can rely on with Soundwave, it’s that no matter how early you get there, they’ll be issues with the media passes which mean you miss some of the bands at the start of the day. 2014 is no different, with names not on the media list and needing to chase up PR people to come and sort out the passes. Late entry sadly means no Amon Amarth and their Viking ship set-up

It’s amazing that Biffy Clyro are on so early, the first band of the day on the main stage, given they headlined Reading/Leeds above NIN in August. Considering how much shit there was from bands unhappy at their allocated playing times that bands were actually dropping out of the festival, it says a lot for them.

I’ve no idea who Mayday Parade are but they sold out a sideshow at The Tivoli so I end up taking the long way around to Stage 5 via Stage 3 and pretty much wish I haven’t as Mayday Parade are another one of those terrible modern metal bands.

After having the mandatory early-in-the-day reconnaissance walk around the site to check out the stages, I take a few photos of Defiler from the crowd but nothing good enough to be worth showing the world before a quick couple of songs of Less Than Jake. Maybe it was just me, but I was finding the lighting really hard to deal with; all backlight causing flaring, no front light to light up the band’s faces.

After checking out The Story So Far (another one of those bands) I head over to Stage 6 and check out The Defiled. They’re interesting to photograph, especially the keyboard player, who throws his keyboard around, and keeps raising it, stand and all, over his head. The downside is that Stage 6 is virtually pitch black and the camera settings are in places that just aren’t conducive to taking good photos. The unholy trinity of high ISO, very low shutter speed and large aperture still not being sensible enough to get a decent exposure under the circumstances of an energetic rock band playing on stage.

Part of me really regrets missing out on Bon Jovi’s Suncorp Stadium show a year or two back. They were just one of those bands from my teenage years and the obligatory teen metal years. I even wrote off my first car while New Jersey was playing in the tape player. Estranged guitarist Richie Sambora is playing in the heat if the early afternoon sun and I only get to see him for a few songs so miss out on anything from the ol’ days which I’m assuming gets saved for nearer the end of his set. Unless he’s doing that thing where you completely ignore your music from a previous life to concentrate on the new songs.

If you were to do that poster thing that recently happened with the Reading/Leeds bill for 2015 for the 2014 version of Soundwave, you’d be in trouble. At the time I did actually go through all the profile pictures on Soundwave’s website and based on those band promo photos think it was something like four female performers on the whole bill, and maybe only one or two female singers. It’s little wonder that metal has the issues it has when it comes to gender balance. Being one of the those very few female singers, I go and check out Nostalghia, who’s a lot better live than she sounded in her Youtube clips. I really had hoped that Babymetal would play Soundwave in 2015 but it didn’t happen. Maybe 2016?

Mutemath seem like an odd choice for Soundwave. Didn’t they play Splendour at some point. The drummer is magnificent, the rest of the band less so.

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