Soundwave Festival 2009

The Big New Thing

by Nikki Tranter

26 January 2009

Incubus at Soundwave 2008.

Incubus at Soundwave 2008.

I blame Trent Reznor. If he hadn’t signed on for Soundwave, I wouldn’t be going. And if I wasn’t going to Soundwave, I might never have discovered there’s a band in existence called The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Were I an old-school rock mega-God like Trent, the inclusion on the bill of anything sounding so tragically hip would have instantly forced me to cancel. I’ve never heard Red Jumpsuit’s music, but it’s hard not to judge, right? Just like it’s hard not to want to smack guys with too-tight jeans hanging below their skinny butts. But that’s culture, right? Ever moving, constantly changing, forcing the once hip into the remainder bin, and the once horribly uncool into the suddenly ultra-trendy. Girls’ jeans, guys? Really?

Soundwave Festival 2009: The Big New Thing

I know, I’ve officially become old. So, old in fact that my 17-year-old co-worker who is also attending Soundwave responded to my announcement I was going with an “aww” like she’d just been shown a brand new kitten.

Admitting you’re past this sort of thing is hard, so I’m choosing a different outlook next month, when I line up with kids half my age to see a band I’ve adored since before many of them were born. And my outlook is this: Soundwave is going to be like a major, outdoor mixtape made just for me by the Mystical Deciders of All-Things-Cool. I can plug in, turn on, and wander through my mixtape, stage after stage, listening, learning, and hopefully coming away with few new favourite bands. I’m hoping, too, the mixtape mentality overrides the desire to loudly scoff when walking past anyone with Pete Wentz’s haircut. Apparently there will be beer on sale, so no promises.

Shirts on sale at the 2008 Adelaide show.

Shirts on sale at the 2008 Adelaide show.

In all seriousness, the prospect of attending one of these uber-cool fests has me rather excited. It’s the first of its kind I’ve ever attended, and comes just four days after my 30th birthday. And, truth be told, there are a few bands going, besides Trent and his crew, that I’m looking forward to catching. Alice in Chains will be there, Goldfinger is playing, Less Than Jake and In Flames will be there. And Lacuna Coil, too, which means I will be sharing airspace with the gorgeous Cristina Scabbia—a thrill in itself almost too much to bear. Even if the Red Jumpsuits and their strangely-named friends (Bedouin Soundclash, Jack’s Mannequin, Forever the Sickest Kids, 36 Crazyfists, Every Time I Die, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster) don’t thrill me, I’ve more than enough to keep my uncool self satisfied.

The more I think about it, you know, the more excited I get. A day-long festival of music, with so much going on there’s no time for boredom. Soundwave, I’m told (by that 17-year-old co-worker, for one), is absolutely, unequivocally the Best of the Fests. It is, they tell me, downright sick. Its venue, its stage set-ups, its band selections, its neatly priced refreshments have come to rival Australia’s better known and longer running festivals (Big Day Out, for instance) after just a few years in existence.

Soundwave began in Perth in 2004 when it was known as Gravity Soundwave and was a musical component to a sporting event on the Swan River called the Gravity Games. After three years and three shows featuring the likes of Good Charlotte, Regurgitator, Grinspoon, Parkway Drive, Goldfinger, and Reel Big Fish, the festival moved east with events in 2007 in Sydney and Brisbane. In 2008, the fest added Adelaide and Melbourne to its stops and the big new thing was born. This year, 55 acts will tour the nation with the festival, many playing side shows in various cities as they go.

Alexisonfire at Soundwave 2008.

Alexisonfire at Soundwave 2008.

I’m going for the experience, to see Trent, and, one hopes, to discover some new music. It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be dusty, I may feel extremely ancient, but I know I’ll be a part of something. A growing something, that is set to get bigger year by year. And if the Soundwave guys stick to their Melbourne Showgrounds venue, next year everyone might just be thinking, in reference to that other fest that’s shifted itself to a veritable parking lot, “Big Day Who?”

See you when I get back for full post-show details.

Dates are as follows:
Saturday, 21 February—Brisbane
Sunday 22 February—Sydney
Friday 27 February—Melbourne
Saturday 28 February—Adelaide
Monday, 2 March—Perth

Tickets are still on sale. Visit the website for details at www.soundwavefestival.com.

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