Soundwave 2014 @ RNA Showgrounds, 22.02.2014: Part 3


By the time the mid to late metal scene was around, I’d long moved on. Although I wasn’t really interested, It was only the fact that I’d never seen Korn that made me go along to photograph them. Just another one for the list and another band photographed for the day. Musically I still don’t understand these sorts of bands, I guess I was just too old at the time.

If there is one band I’m looking forward to seeing, it’s the reformed Rocket From The Crypt. I stay and watch most of their set and it’s fun. Sadly they play in front of a criminally small crowd, probably the smallest of the day, at least the smallest for this tent stage. You could easily fit everyone in The Zoo with room to spare, which just isn’t right, especially with Korn playing to the masses less than 100m away.

Green Day are this year’s main stage headliners and have been allocated a massive timeslot. I guess they’ve had the mainstream appeal to warrant their top of the bill placing but again, it’s 90s rock that had passed me by at the time they were first starting out. There’s a rumour that we’ve only got one song although no one official has actually told me this. It wasn’t announced at the start of the day when we picked up our photo passes, which is normally when you find these things out. Waiting in the pit for them to start, my camera is refusing to play ball, my 70-200 main lens refusing to focus on anything, even if it’s brightly lit and shouldn’t be a problem. Come showtime, it decides to work, not perfectly but enough to get a few photos. I think every photographer gets the Billy Joe Armstrong jump shot from one angle or another, the annoying thing being from where I’m stood in the pit, I also get a healthy dose of microphone stand across the middle. Come the end of the song, PR confirm that it’s only the first song, and we all shuffle along and out of the photo pit. With the band playing for over two hours, you get to hear them in the distance whenever you’re walking between stages but it doesn’t sound very inspiring.

By comparison, Rob Zombie is a lot of fun to photograph, even if there’s some horrible red lighting that makes my camera unhappy. Musically it’s all fairly terrible sounding but at least there’s something of the old school rock star about him and his band that makes it visually interesting, something that’s at least as important when you’re tasked with photographing all these acts.

I only get to see the last song from Glassjaw while sat down waiting in the photo pit for The Dilinger Escape Plan so take a few cheeky photos.

This is the second time I’ve photographed Dillinger Escape Plan and the lesson I learn is that they’re infuriating to photograph.

When they played at Soundwave back in 2012 they played the tiny Stage 7 and within seconds of seconds of them starting to play, singer Greg Puciato had launched himself into the unlit surrounds of the photo pit and then away into the midst of the crowd. Being completely unprepared and with time being against be with the three song rule, it meant having to commit that ultimate of photographer crimes and use the pop up flash. I got a few ok shots from the experience but nothing as good as I would have liked and nothing that did a service to just how good the band were playing live.

This time around I make sure I’m ready with my flash in place, except this time there’s no rush for the crowd. The band play the much larger, much higher up the rank Stage 5 with a proper stage and proper lights, except everything is strobing and there’s a tonne of dry ice to contend with. All of this coupled with a camera that is playing up and hates strobing lights and dry ice at the best of times makes it three songs of hit and hope, with the camera’s auto focus continuing to search back and forth to find something to lock onto. In the end I take far too many photos; I think the three song rule went by long before any of the photographers started moving away. As in 2012, I end up with a few ok shots, but nothing to write home about. As is nearly always the case, I look at photos from the Soundwaves around the country from places far further south and with daylight savings and am always a bit jealous as they get the same bands playing on outdoor stages in daylight that Brisbane gets playing long after the sun has gone down or playing in dark tents. I’m living in hope that one day I’ll get to photograph The Dilinger Escape Plan under good lighting conditions and with a properly working camera.

It’s another long hike across the festival site from Stage 5, past the neverending Green Day, and all the way to Stage 4 for Mastodon. The trouble with the pointy end of any festival is that all the headline acts always start at almost exactly the same time as each other. Stage 4  is running late, they didn’t claw back any of the lost time that they incurred much earlier in the day when GWAR were really late starting, which means that despite the long walk, there’s only time for one song in the photo pit before the needing to make one last port of call for the day. It’s a shame as I really like that last Mastodon album and there’s a whole host of bands that I see play festivals towards the top of the bill, Mastodon among them, that I only ever get to see for a few songs at most and who always only play festivals in Brisbane rather than their own headline shows in the city.

The last band of the day are Living Colour. I manage to go to the wrong stage, not checking my schedule and thinking they were on Stage 6, so by the time I get to Stage 7, they’ve already started. I know someone has to play in that spot, but it seems wrong that they’re playing the smallest stage at the festival, but it’s reassuring that there’s a really big crowd there to see them. I was quite into Living Colour back in the day, at least for those first couple of albums. Saw them at a show they played at The Mayfair in Newcastle (the ticket stub is pinned up with all my other tickets in my bedroom back home; from memory I think it was £8) and went to an instore signing the day of the show to get my copy of Vivid signed. Having not seen them in over 20 years, it’s strange seeing stylish guys with crazy haircuts in the late 80s/early 90s as middle-aged men with sensible haircuts in 2014. Still sounding great though and I stay for most of their set before deciding that it’s time to go and start processing photos. Soundwave 2014 was another scorcher of a day and, as ever, it’s really taken its toll on me.

So after five years of photographing Soundwave, the run ground to a sudden halt in 2015, which was a real shame. I did try and contact Soundwave’s media people fairly early on last year to try and get them to add Collapse Board to their mailing list but never heard anything from them. No doubt I’ll try again sometime soon as it was disappointing to miss out and then find plenty of places being given accreditation for the Brisbane leg that look to have much lower readership (based on some of the generic web stats sites) than we have. There were definitely a few acts that I would have loved to have tried to get interviews with and of course I would have loved to have photographed the festival again.

The 2015 version was split over two days, with less stages and longer set times, so it looked like it wouldn’t have been as much of all-day marathon as it normally is, even with having to turn up for that second day. I think for 2016 they’ve already said that it’ll be back to a one day event. Here’s to hoping for a swift return to photographing Soundwave in 2016.

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