Soundwave Sydney 2013 – From the Perspective of a Garbage Fan
I didn’t take many photos throughout the day. It was rainy, so I didn’t want to take my good camera, and I was trying to conserve my phone battery.
Yesterday, the media [well, Music Feeds] were quick to label Garbage ‘divas’ after their Soundwave performance was cancelled. I think it’s unfair to comment on the situation when all the info you have comes from AJ Maddah’s twitter account, so I thought that today I’d write about my experience of the festival, and how this disappointing news was broken to myself and the other Garbage fans waiting patiently in the mosh pit at stage 2B.
I arrived at Soundwave sometime after 1:30pm. The plan was to buy a pair of sunglasses [mine had broken in transit], grab some food, and then float around for the first couple of hours, checking out each of the stages. Well, I managed to get some sunnies and a cup of hot chips, and then it started to rain. Luckily, I’d thought to bring a raincoat with me. With my plastic coat on, I walked into the arena where stages 2A and 2B were located, and watched the crowd in front of the Vandals disappear into the stands. It was towards the end of their set, and the D was practically empty, so I decided to walk on through and check them out from a little closer to the stage.
As the rain subsided [for the first time], The Vandals closed their set with a cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. It was good fun, and the [small] crowd were loving it. It was at this point that I overheard people talking about the Sharks missing their set earlier in the day. My phone had already lost reception, so it was sitting in my pocket on airplane mode. I was pretty much unplugged.
Between the Vandals and Flogging Molly, I had intended to leave the D and continue exploring, but I ended up finding a couple of Garbage fans who’d already staked out their places in front of the stage. They seemed like pretty decent people, so I decided to join them. The 2A/2B line-up was pretty decent, anyway, and it was nice to have some Garbage-loving company.
Flogging Molly‘s set was pretty short. With borrowed guitars and fiddles, they played a few songs acoustically, and apologised for the truck problems that were in no way their fault. Considering the circumstances, they played well and put on a decent show. Next up were Billy Talent, who were playing in front of us on 2B. I read on Music Feeds this morning that their bassist’s guitar was borrowed from their driver, and that they’d dropped into Billy Hyde Music on their way to the festival to buy a cheap Fender. That Fender was smashed to smithereens at the end of the set, so I’m glad to read that it wasn’t one of the borrowed instruments. For a band that I wasn’t familiar with, I found Billy Talent to be quite impressive and really enjoyed their performance.
Between Billy Talent and Sum 41, my three fellow Garbage fans and I reapplied our sunscreen, and shared some Pizza Shapes. With only three bands to go, we were starting to get excited. A man came out on stage [was it Mr Maddah himself? I don’t know] to make an announcement. What he said was that Sum 41 were up next, and that the rest of the bands would be continuing as we’d been told. He listed Paramore, Cypress Hill, Blink 182 and The Offspring, but failed to mention Garbage. We figured that it must have been an oversight and nothing to worry about, and discussed our relief that this trucks-stuck-in-flooding crisis was apparently over.
The map. Two arenas – that’s how big this festival was!
Although I’d been looking forward to their set, I found Sum 41‘s performance to be underwhelming. It was nice of Avril’s ex-husband to invite fans onto the stage to dance along to their music. But, aside from that there was nothing special about their set. Still, it was better than what was to come…
While Sum 41 were playing 2A, the D in front of 2B was quickly filling up with Cypress Hill fans. These guys were keen. They didn’t mind interrupting Sum 41’s set with their chants of “Cypress! Cypress!”, and they all wanted to be at the front. Gripping the barrier, we Garbage fans held on for dear life.
Thankfully the crowd wasn’t too rough, but that didn’t stop the Cypress Hill set from being quite difficult to get through. The band themselves admitted that they didn’t really belong on the line-up, and I really think putting them on one of the slightly smaller stages [rather than 1A/1B] was a mistake. Still, we survived. We’d been standing on this barrier for hours now, continually being sprayed with hoses, and praying that the crowdsurfers didn’t kick us in the head [thankfully they didn’t], and now there was only one band to go. One band, and then Garbage. Or so we thought…
The Soundwave man [who’d done the previous announcement] returned to the stage to announce a set change. Sharks, the band who’d missed out at the start of the day, would be playing next, followed by Blink 182, and then The Offspring. Paramore would close the night, playing the headlining slot to an extended deadline. He then began to walk off. Now we were worried. “But what about Garbage?!” I yelled. I doubt that he heard me, but thankfully he returned to the mic. He’d forgotten one thing, he told us. Unfortunately Garbage’s equipment never made it, and they wouldn’t be able to play.
Shattered, we pushed our way out of the D. Em, one of the fans I’d met, went looking for someone she could complain to. She was going to go home; they were the only band she was there to see. I walked over near the entrance, where I managed to get some phone reception. I still couldn’t get online, but I could call and text people, and get them to tell me what the internet was saying. This was when I first heard of the backlash Garbage was getting from the punters. And it made me angry.
My first reaction to the news wasn’t anger at the band for cancelling. It was anger at the trucking company for not being aware of flooding that has been in place for quite some time. And it was anger at the organisers for scheduling the festival in two cities in different states on consecutive days, and not having protocol for transport issues. If Garbage can’t play without their gear, why wasn’t it flown down with them? These were the things that were frustrating me.
Fittingly enough, I was now quite annoyed, and therefore in the perfect mood to appreciate Linkin Park. Back in the Hybrid Theory and Meteora days, I was quite the fan of theirs, so at least the one almost good thing that came out of Garbage’s cancellation was that the two bands no longer clashed on the timetable. I sat up the back of the stadium for a decent portion of LP’s set, and enjoyed it. I was impressed to see Chester Bennington stop the show in the middle of “Points of Authority” because he saw an audience member in trouble. The band refused to start playing again until they could see that the person was safe, and Chester told the crowd to be careful: “If someone falls down here in the pit, you’ve got to pull those fuckers up!” It’s always great to see a band looking out for the punters.
I headed back over to 2A/2B for Blink 182 and The Offspring. Blink were alright, but they shouldn’t have given their fill-in drummer a solo. It would have been better to just try to ignore that whole fiasco. They played all the hits, and the crowd were happy. But, aside from a confetti cannon, there was nothing terribly spectacular about their set. The same could be said about The Offspring. It was fun to hear all of those songs in a live setting, but I wasn’t blown away.
My night ended with Motion City Soundtrack. I wasn’t familiar with their music, but they instantly won me over with the lyric “I fell asleep watching Veronica Mars again.” They played a strong set, and it was a positive finish to a festival that had greatly disappointed me.
Throughout the trip home, I took a proper look at what the internet was reporting about the whole thing, and was horrified that Garbage’s cancellation was receiving more attention than the girl who’d been seriously injured by a rogue flare. Seriously, people?! Anyway, that was my Soundwave experience. It wasn’t wonderful, but before I decide on who I’m going to blame, I’m going to wait for some actual facts – not a bunch of tweets written during times of stress and anger.