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Incubus' Brandon Boyd. pic by Greg Phillips
Incubus’ Brandon Boyd. pic by Greg Phillips

Report by Greg Phillips. Pics by Greg and James Phillips
As far as weather goes, it was a hot and shitty weekend for a music festival. On the plus side, the threatened traffic nightmares for Soundwave never really happened, despite the abundance of competing activities in Melbourne and the diluted availability of public transport.  While Soundwave this year provided  an array of cutting edge metal and hard rock bands, it also offered up a good dose of 90s grunge era nostalgia.

Day one delivered some formidable company including Millencolin, Godsmack, Papa Roach and  Exodus. Fronted by Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, LA’s Butcher Babies made a heap of new friends. Judas Priest owned the rock legends spot for the day and super group Killer Be Killed turned out to be the must-see band with their awesome, early 2.20 set. Slash did what Slash does but clearly the day one crowd was here for the horror. Marilyn Manson and Slipknot were both at their threatening best. Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins provided a wonderful alternative for those who prefer their rock ‘n’ roll less theatrical.

Steel Panther pic by James Phillips

On arrival for day two, we stumbled across former My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way. Way is an acquired taste, but surprisingly had plenty of fans enjoying his brand of … well … pedestrian pop rock. Toward the end of Way’s set, attention was rapidly turning to Steel Panther’s stage preparation next door. Steel Panther play it old school, where political correctness is shoved down the front of their pants. They are just very naughty boys. What more can you say. The cheeky repartee flows as quickly as their impressive glam metal guitar licks. The crowd lapped it up. There was never any shortage of guys pumping fists and girls getting their top gear out. With tunes like Glory Hole, Asian Hooker and It Won’t Suck Itself rockin’ from the stage, it’s difficult not to grin at their retro glam pastiche.

Antemasque's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez by Greg Phillips
Antemasque’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez by Greg Phillips

Although playing a main stage, the Antemasque crowd was not as dense as it should have been. Many of the black shirted brigade had instead made their way to Stage 4 to witness a brutal set from industrial rockers Ministry. Those who chose to experience the new project for Mars Volta /At The Drive In cohorts Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, were rewarded with a stunning, energetic set of prog-punk tunes from the band’s excellent self-titled debut album. Omar is the consummate guitarist, emitting lightning fast licks one minute and with just a stomp on a pedal and a chord change, can switch the mood dramatically. As with all of Cedric and Omar’s projects, Antemasque pump frenetically, powered by the solid rhythm section of drummer Dave Elitch and bassist Marfred Rodriguez-Lopez. It will be interesting to see if Antemasque is a project the guys will pursue or invest more time in their own individual projects such as Zavala and Bosnian Rainbows.

Incubus' Brandon Boyd by Greg Phillips
Incubus’ Brandon Boyd by Greg Phillips

It was always going to be enthralling to see how California’s Incubus would go down at Soundwave and their zen intro seemed to test the most ardent metal fans. Still, there were plenty in the audience with a soft spot for their moody, textural tones and charismatic lead singer Brandon Boyd. They didn’t disappoint either, presenting the crowd with the familiar Incubus fare they’d come to hear in addition to material from their soon to be released new album.

Soundgarden's Chris Cornell by James Phillips
Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell by James Phillips

Grunge rock pioneers Soundgarden mean so much to so many and were afforded the first longer set of the day. Chris Cornell is the complete frontman, good looking, great voice and a skilled guitar player. To Cornell’s right, the band’s other guitarist Kim Thayil commands respect and not only demonstrated why he’s such a revered guitarist but was also keen to display an arsenal of beautiful looking guitars. The band powered their way through the glory days, Spoonman, Jesus Christ Pose, My Wave and Black Hole Sun. A rare outing of the their tune Birth Ritual from the 90s movie Singles, gave the audience an extra charge of energy. For some, the heat was taking it’s toll, with a steady stream of punters being lifted across the barrier and into the medical tent for attention. Security did their best to keep the front rows cool offering water to drink and the occasional hosing. For someone who has witnessed some ruthless security measures back in the day, it should be noted (and probably never been said in a review before) that the professionalism and demeanour of the Soundwave security crew was really impressive.

Faith No More's Mike Patton by Greg Phillips
Faith No More’s Mike Patton by Greg Phillips

A flower arrangement adorned the front of the Faith No More’s stage. On stage, white curtains flowed in the breeze as Patton and co casually strolled onto a scene resembling an exotic day spa. The crowd was quickly removed from any meditative state as the band tore into ‘Motherfucker’.  The first thing which smacks you in the face with Mike Patton … he with eternally mischievous look in his eyes … is that voice. The man has lost none of his power, particularly evident on the iconic ‘Epic’.  The warped mind of Patton had great joy in instigating the ‘wimmoway’ backing from the crowd for a verse of the ultra-daggy ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’ before more FNM hits came. They were all there too; Midlife Crisis, Easy, Evidence, We Care A Lot, Ashes to Ashes, Matador etc. Whatever project Mike Patton is involved in is worthy of investigation, this one however is closest to most fans’ hearts. The less-nostalgic  in the crowd had the option of finishing their day up with Lamb of God, New Found Glory or The Devil Wears Prada. As The Worm Turns completed FNM’s triumphant night out as the exhausted crowd headed for the exit. While the format of Soundwave 2016 is under review, the school of 2015 got what they came for and more.

More pics from Soundwave

Steel Panther fans
Steel Panther fans
Steel Panther. pic by James Phillips
Steel Panther preen. Pic by James Phillips
Steel Panther triumph. Pic Greg Phillips
Steel Panther triumph. Pic Greg Phillips
Antemasque's Cedric Bixler-Zavala. By James Phillips
Antemasque’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala. By James Phillips
Incubus' Ben Kenney by James Phillips
Incubus’ Ben Kenney by James Phillips
Soundgarden's Kim Thayil by Greg Phillips
Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil by Greg Phillips


Faith No More guitarist Jon Hudson by Greg Phillips
Faith No More guitarist Jon Hudson by Greg Phillips
Mike Patton by James Phillips
Mike Patton by James Phillips






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