THE MUSIC WA: Black Flag Column (Issue 5)

Published in The Music (WA) | 11.09.13 | Issue # 5



Soundwave can be a bit of a tricky one for punk and hardcore fans. It’s a festival that appeals to alternative music lovers, but tends to offer less value for punk and hardcore enthusiasts. At first glance the line-up usually brings a wave of excitement (this year delivered through Terror, Trash Talk, Rocket From The Crypt and Alkaline Trio), but when you start doing the math, you end up realising you’re looking at paying $50 a band, which can be hard to justify.

The amount of sidewaves the East Coast gets is ridiculous, with most bands teaming up to play club shows. Perth usually gets three, if that. While Soundwave is an impressive feat, it’s sort of screwing over punk and hardcore fans. The Lawrence Arm tune Warped Summer Extravaganza (Major Excellent) discusses the band’s dislike of the Warped Tour tearing through town and band’s playing one big show on one day rather than pubs and clubs being packed every weekend. Although Soundwave is 10 times bigger than Warped, this couldn’t describe our situation any better. “It’s burning; a fire inside that I just don’t believe,” The Lawrence Arms bassist Brendan Kelly sings in the song’s first verse – the line was presumably an attack at AFI, who are playing Soundwave next year.

Instead of seeing four or five of your favourite band’s spread over numerous nights, you have to pay $200 to see them play 30-minute sets in 40-degree heat. There’s really only one alternative festival that nails it, and that’s Gainesville, Florida’s Fest. Currently in its 12th year, Fest is set up like the WAMi Saturday Spectacular – every venue in the town hosts live music; only Fest does it for three nights in a row. Over 300 bands – including bands that often appear on Soundwave – take over the little town, and having ventured their last year myself, I can assure you it makes Soundwave, Warped Tour and just about any other festival in the same vein you can think of look like amateurs.

If there were sidewaves delivered to WA, that would rectify this issue, but there isn’t, so it’s time to decide whether or not to part ways with your hard-earned cash. Hopefully this will sway your decision.

Often those who love hardcore found their way there through bands like Soundwave headliner Green Day, or similar ‘90s pop punk bands. Parkway Drive started off listening to bands like Offspring and Millencolin, and from there ventured into hardcore, then metalcore.

Green Day might not really be your thing anymore (their last four records have been atrocious), but with Dookie celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, it’s highly likely their two-and-half-hour set will feature a slew of older hits. Last month, at London’s O2 Academy in Brixton, they played Dookie in its entirety. That nostalgic orgasm alone would be worth the $200 ticket price.

Plus, old punk rockers know how to party best; Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong recently going through rehab and last year Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba having a drug-related meltdown onstage in the US. With the small handful of acts on the bill that fit into the genre confines of this column, and the nostalgic overload Green Day are surely to deliver, Soundwave 2014 should make for a pretty decent day. Alternatively, you’ve still got some time to purchase a flight to Florida and see ALL, The Flatliners, The Menzingers, and The Lawrence Arms at Fest 12 next month.