Dear diary, mood: Joaquin Phoenix

The last few days I’ve been irreconcilably depressed; under the weather and without shelter. I don’t know what’s got me down. Sitting here, just me and my mind, thinking about this Russian all girl Euro-pop group who exist despite having no sex appeal and who look strong contenders to win Eurovision. The largest land mass in the world can’t come up with something better than 8 geriatrics lipsinking to Aqua songs? It just proves that pop-music invariably needs a gimmick to hold the attention of consumers. I’m imagining their pyrotechnic live show right now as I sit watching the hair on my legs grow one eight of a millionth of a millimetre each minute: their oestrogen supplemented performance setting heads a—wagging; merkins thrown onstage in a pique of offhand interest and energy- the most movement their demographic has shown since the last time their catheter was changed. But I don’t know why I dwell on these lass’, set to Susan Boyle the world. I’m probably just jealous because I have neither an image nor a vagina and thus am unable to sing pop tunes and have people clap and throw their pity my way. As the girl from The Ring would say, oh well.

I’m hungover so I’ll spend the day recovering the only way I know how: going around to orphanages and psychologically traumatizing the curs, diffusing some of my pain on to them via unreasonable sadism. Commencement. My gilt words dancing an inimical Charleston through their malleable minds, sending furrows like horrid rabbit warrens into youthful foreheads. Seeing the tears run down their coal darkened faces just makes my heart leap, my feet kick, and the tide change in my belly. Alcohol always makes me violent.

But in reality, I’m going to sit around watching old episodes of Las Vegas from like 2005 and constantly wonder whether I’m hungry enough to stomach food or not. Last night was hectic and I’m feeling the results like an evangelist feeling the Lord’s presence. I saw Hallower and Good Will Hunting. Helped cheer Northlane to an encore. Got reprimanded because there’s “no kicks” allowed in the pit. Resisted a full-fledged Big Ed Deline moment when my friend was kicked out of the club unjustly. Came home and vomited a handful of times in the sink. Woke up in a pool of self-disgust.  ‘Twas a bitchin’ night. The spirit of the bloodthirsty North is stewarded in this fey Irish body, it appears. My liver got more action than Ryan Gosling’s dick and I do feel like bragging.

Anyway, Las Vegas is the perfect over-polished tonic my body needs at this point- the cleverly convoluted plot lines and interweaving character ark, Big Ed’s avuncular dominance, Danny and Nick’s showmanship and competitive machismo, the bewbs. Lots of bewbs. More DD’s than the dark cellar where Magic: the Gathering is played. I mean, the production flatly endorses voyeurism, with the initiation point for almost every story line either Big Ed’s surveillance room, or some cooze’s whimsy. All the tanned, lissom bodies that look like home, if home was a better place. I might not understand the inner workings of the nested or visiting Nevadan, but I do understand that sex=consumer attention/awkward moments of furtive parent/child eye-contact. And ‘Television’s hottest drama’ wears its denim, button-covered cameo jacket with pride: Buble, Baldwin, Paris Hilton, Snoop, Sly, John ‘I like to watch’ Lovitz. I feel like I’ve died and gone to slightly outdated pop-culture heaven. It really is a TV party tonight.

Anyways, my head has started to spin and I know of no remedy apart from a line of credit I can squander on aspirins and teeth whitening. See you poolside.

Moar Soundwave

I studiously ignore Shadows Fall, Meshuggah, Wednesday 13 and A Day to Remember to wait amongst the sweaty, hirsute, painted zealots crowding the barrier at Turisas. I’ve caught wind of a rumour that their eminently danceable cover of Boney M.’s incendiary 1978 pop tune ‘Rasputin’ will be making an appearance late in the set and boy am i looking forward to a blood plasma disco. Props to them also for having the only fiddle/guitar duel of Soundwave 2012. Classic hits (“Battle Metal”, “To Holmsegard and Beyond”) are echoed in a throaty, adrenaline high as the crowd surges forward, crushing the first 3 or so rows of people (of whom i am one) and esclatating the temperature/whipped-hair-sweat coeficient to dangerous highs. Their sound is just as molten as it feels in the trenches; the Fins taking us to war and back.

I really want to see Underoath but i must crush my 16 year old self’s soul into the dust, like so much protoplasm lost across the Great Line. I’ve promised a friend i’d see Motionless in White about the same time and, whilst i’m not chomping at the bit, I am excited to see how their gothic blend of metalcore goes down with the kids.

(Omg, walking from one end of the showgrounds to the other is like being caught in an asteroid belt of pulchritude. I feel drastically inferior and shamefully hideous amongst these muscle-bound, buxom, tanned advertisements for God’s existence. My Quasimoto Complex always flares at summer festivals where you can see more flesh than if John Candy were in G-string. I want to go sit in a dark room and wash myself compulsively. But i don’t because…)

Motionless in White are about take stage 7 and lay a hefty breakdown at its fringe-donning cerebrum. I get ready to defend myself as i look around and see all the immaculate mascara and surmise that most of the people surrounding me have come to see one band, and one band only today (and it’s not The Pretty Reckless). Chris comes onstage and the cheer his gaunt visage creates reinforces my conviction that teenage elbows will be thrown. Opener ‘Abigail’ goes down like a flaming Zeppelin right into the ground swell of turbulent celebration. Every lyric capable of being chanted, screamed, chorused or spoken is, in a wonderful stridor that will blow the MIW ship back to Australia soon, most likely. The band, in full force, manages to dynamically bolster the melody and dissonance of their show with a visceral live presence that somehow manages to excite and calm simultaneously. I feel like a houswife with a Mills and Boon erection.

For a while i bounce around like i’m on the kind of drugs my father explicitly told me not to bring. You don’t need perfect pitch to tell that In Flames are note perfect over on the bigger stage, but the hordes of people deter me from sitting through their set. Back over at stage 6 i catch Biohazard jamming to a good sized mosh pit, but leave expeditiously. They seem to be having major technical problems. A persistent screeching, which maintains about 3 times as long as you would think it possibly could, is followed by an accidental unplugging that has eardrums howling throughout the conclave. I promptly leave, talk shit with some friends, and eat a tasty hotdog before crowding close to see In This Moment- mostly because all of my female friends say the singer is hot. And when girls compliment other girls, you know a weird Chimaera awaits. Well, it turns out they’re all truthful because this lass, in her revealing burlesque-wear, is smoking. Add to this her dulcetly howling voice and my knees go so weak a gay friend has to rescue me from being trampled. I’m carried away before i gauge their sound. Apparently it’s like, phallus worshipping metalcore or something, according to my saviour who wants to go see Limp Bizkit and what i think is the biggest anticlimax of the day.

I’m really far away from Fred, both spatially and wavelength wise. At the back of 15 thousand people, Limp Bizkit sound like a geriatrically torpid cover of themselves. What i hear is: Baby scratch from the DJ, a south Jersy accent shouting “Fock” or some nonsense. a drop-tuned chug-a-chug, and someone remarking on what Wes Borland is wearing. Apparently it was good if you were close, but i’m skeptical. Highlight of the set is when some drunk soubrette clmbs a pole, rapidly pursued by a bouncer and the pole collapses, mirroring a dying erection as we all realise a drunken flashing has been stifled.

I’m racing through the rest of the day because that’s how the afternoon felt, and it’s what i’d do if i were writing this like an impressionist. Tons of people say Kittie sound sick, then do a double take when they realize it’s an all girl band. Enter Shikari pack stage 6 tighter than it has been all day. It seems like everyone at Soundwave is in the shed right now watching the London lads partying. A bunch of people moan about them not playing “Sorry, You’re Not A Winner” and completely disregard the rest of their set, which is logically organized albeit heavy on new material. When they finish up (all over our faces), there is a raucous chant for an encore, which, i feel like a curmudgeon for saying, i do everything to stop, bar actively assasinating kids in neon merch.

See, I’m waiting for the little know Kvelertak to finally showcase some black-metal, stoner rock, punk hybrid to these chumps. Despite a meagre following, they play one of the set’s of the day. Their idiosyncratic sound translates perfectly to the live environment and has head bangin’ ubiquitously. They play like 10 thousand people are watching -stage diving, climbing on shit, headbutting microphones. It’s glorious and uplifting to watch.

I spend pretty much the remainder of the day in 6A/B, watching some quality hardcore get temple veins visibly pulsing. Hatebreed hands down have the toughest set of the day, with a moshpit that literally occurs with the first chunky note of the first chunky song. The pit looks like 40 MMA fighters throwing down. One behemoth causes about as much damage single handledly as the whole Lamb of God pit together, pin-wheeling through men, women and children with no remorse. Jasta wants to make ‘Soundwave history’ and have a huge circle pit around the mixing desk that is like 30 metres away. It happens before he even finishes his sentence. The centrifugal force sucks everyone in. My friend with a mending leg (he broke it moshing at a show late last year) starts to throwdown before i rescue him, his leg already ballooning. Later, he will tell me “the Rage” took over. Machine Head’s Phil Demmel makes a guest appearence as Hatebreed make good on their promise and “destroy everything”.

You’d think that after this anything would seem tame but no, California’s Letlive. take the stage and, after a few first song hiccups, find their stomping feet and shove them down your throat. Aalon Butler prowls the stage, a violent banshee destroying bottles and wrecking expectations. He puts his hand through the clock hanging off a side monitor and revels in a bath of tinkling glass. Bleeding throughout the rest of the set, he let’s his energy haemorrhage onto the stage. They lead us through a bunch of songs from “Fake History”, and people who weren’t previously aware, now are. Just go see them.

Your Demise are up next with a decent sized following. Their energetic set is well received but probably not as polished as usual. There’s a lot of audience particitpation, with McRae disappearing into the crowd for entire songs, being buried beneath flailling limbs and cuffed dickies. They play a little lacklustre tonight, but are certainly fun. Cameo from the stitched up and still living Jason Butler from Letlive.

When all is said and done i leave stage 6 to find that darkness has fallen. I collect my jacket from the cloak room and idly listen to two young adults talk about chemicals. Drugs or not, Soundwave this year was a bloody ripper; the elements all cohering to give a beautiful day to thousands of disparate groups, all heading home to sit and fondle the day’s memories, as their tinnnitus scores the reflection.

There you go, 15hundred unedited and under-appreciated words. Your welcome/I’m sorry.

You want a review of Soundwave?

Well, here’s a review of a peanut butter sandwhich i had for breakfast, instead.

It was a tawdry affair, the sandwich. Never had i seen a beast to rival it in terms of stickiness and unpalatability. The golden brown mess spilled from every side like the guts of a slain rabbit. I bit in, deep and hard, with a sense of aniticipation i reserve entirely for peanut butter. My eyes, alight with an unearthly shine, dim to a torpid glow. There are hard, bitter lumps. The jar has gone out of date. Or Mother has bought the chunky kind. Either way her ineptness will be punished. Severely.

But here are some notes from Soundwave 2012 anyway:

Break Even – One of, if not the first band to play on this tepid Friday morning. The early Autumn rain has dissipated by 11 and i spend 15 minutes cloaking my jacket, along with hundreds of girls who seem to be taking off scant layers of clothes to reveal even more skin for the sun to kiss. It’s shaping up to be a good day. I finally make it over to stage 6A to catch Break Even play a slightly reserved version of ‘October 27th’ to a none-the-less rapturous crowd. They seem humbled to play Soundwave as their final tour, and receive a round of applause that is only lessened by the fact that most people are still walking through the entry gates when they finish.

About 83 other bands seem to have played already, so i hastily comport myself to a bigger stage (4B) to listen to The Black Dahlia throw some adrenaline filled noise around. It’s oddly affecting seeing hundreds of people moshing to ‘Malenchantments of the Necrosphere’ in a grassy field on a warm afternoon. More tattooed arms than one could possibly imagine are already being thrown around in drunken exuberance as TBDM finish their racing set. I’ve already left though, laying serious boot-leather hauling ass back to stage 6 to get near the barrier for CKY.

U.K. punks The Smoking Hearts are playing on the oddly bifurcated stage when i arrive- their furious and destructive bar-room anthems doing little to energize this crowd. A ‘CKY’ chant breaks out in the gaps between their tunes and one can’t help but feel bad for frontman Ben Mills as he banters to an obnoxiously impatient crowd. They give it their all but can’t escape from the pall of rabid cky fans.

If anyone doubted the ability of the Pensylvanian’s to fill a room, stage 6’s liquefying heat is enough to muzzle detractors. From outspoken guitarist Chad I Ginsberg’s entry to the appearence of Bam Margera the din in my ears never ceases. They run like a laptop with new antivirus software even without guitaris/frontman Deron Miller, treating the hungry crowd to elephantine classics: 96 Quite Bitter Beings, Disengage the Simulator, Attached at the Hip, Kneedeep. After some brief banter (‘Melbourne don’t know GG Allin’), cKy even have the rogue talent and aplomb to give us a destructive cover of ‘Bite it You Scum’, with Bam helping with vocal duties. They leave the stage in a haze of bravado and a chorus of admiration, the first band today to actually seem like rockstars.

The next hour or so was spent drifting helplessly in the current emenating from the beer tent as my lost friends sang to me like sirens. After half an hour of searching it was unsurprising to find them in the 18+ section ogling the Monster girls, waiting in 15 minute lines for drink tokens, and generally ignoring Steel Panther playing to 15 thousand people a minute’s walk away. After a froff or two it’s back to stage 6 to catch local upstarts Dream on, Dreamer forcing the younger kids into have a good time and inciting what would have to be arguably the first wall of death of the day. Not even a ‘Battle Metal’ chant from the red and black painted Turisas fans can slow them down as they throw in a few hits from their “Hope” Ep to really get things moving. They take to the larger festival stage better than to a bar-room’s confines, using the greater area to play louder, clearer and more infurating to purists.

It’s lunchtime and my back feels like a scoliotic mess. I’ll finish the day (from 2:30 onward) a bit later. Keep your eyes peeled and i’ll reveal how my friend nearly died in the Hatebreed pit and who i thought really stole the show.

It’s lunchtime and my scoliotic figure is sore, so i’ll write up the rest of the day (from 2:30 onward) a bit later. S

A Night Out (may contain traces of live music)

Breaking through calm anticipation, England’s Your Demise blister onto the stage, inciting rapid mosh , literally, from the first pounding note. This crowd knew it was in for an intense performance, and never are they in a mood to dally. Within a few minutes Billboards digestion has moved from stolidly settled to distinctly shaken.  I feel air rushing behind me as the middle of the crowd opens up to reveal the true believers making shapes. By the end of the night, the energy they have laid there will cause bottles to rattle for hours on the desolate bar shelves. “Shine on” and “Burnt tongues” put skulls beneath tires as the barrier security work hard to benevolently free stage divers. Ed himself pays a visit to the plebes giving us the mic and sailing on the kinesis. Classic jams (The kids we used to be…) are thrown in with new tracks (Forget about me) giving us a taste of fresh material to be released in late March.

Californian punks Letlive. have a violent precedent to match in Your Demise’s anthemic carnage. Frontman Jason Butler challenges the charisma of McRae, doing flips, running through the crowd, diving from monitors, and finally, losing the microphone over a lighting rig at the back of the stage. I surf over the barrier and see a quagmire of people collectively losing their jellybeans. Frenetic moments (a Black Flag cover that is dedicated to “the circle pit that is about to happen right there”) are balanced with sing along honesty that reaches an apex in the family-like rendition of “Muther”. An element of charmed humbleness enters into the chaos onstage as fans echo every lyric. Butler is a consummate rockstar, manipulating the crowd; making them scream and howl like drunk porpoises. “Renegade ‘86”, “H. Ledgar” and “The sick, sick, 6.8 billion” go down like a coked up opponent, while the audience requested “Day 54” brings things to new heights. They are unstoppable and never have we seen a thing like their rapacity.

Enter Shikari come onstage whilst the darkness is humming with a “Shikari” chant; our voices all lacquered from a spontaneous group rendition of “One armed scissor” in a gap earlier. Clearly the majority of tonight’s crowd have come to see the headliners, as the sometimes timid assembly pushes in to cover every inch of space at the barrier. It doesn’t take more than a few moments for the English lads to justify this either. Their electronic sound is positively visceral here. Every melodious shard hits home in the stomach like a pristine diamond. Reynold’s banter between tunes doing nothing to calm the audience as he announces “I’m going to fuck with your minds” before a singalong  bash of new material. Fan favourite “Sorry, you’re not a winner” bursts out three songs in and really puts shit through the windscreen; those famous claps preternaturally loud. Suddenly there are the silhouettes of giants everywhere as a men and women climb onto the shoulders of neighbours to wash in the powerful halogen lights. Hands made into inverted triangles cut shapes in the night’s playdough. It’s a life affirming experience. As close to family you’ll get on planet Earth.