Tag Archives: less than jake

Live review: Soundwave Festival – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane – 22/2/14

Mastodon Soundwave Brisbane

HOW QUICKLY another Soundwave comes around. It doesn’t seem like a month has passed since Metallica, The Offspring and Blink-182 were topping the bill in 2013, but here we are again with a new crop of bands, another fantastic line-up, and a new set of timetable clashes to ponder. First world problems aside, this year’s timetable looks healthy and enticing across the board, and with the standard cancellations and what festival promoter AJ Maddah referred to as “pissing contests” between bands in the past and a weather report mostly free of rain, it’s game on at Fortitude Valley’s RNA Showgrounds.

One thing is clear from the off: Soundwave fans can agree on very little. From as early as 1pm there are friendly debates raging across the venue; the vast majority of which revolve around which bands to see next. Luckily the choices are vast, and equally luckily is the fact that Florida’s Alter Bridge are putting on a fine show of classic rock on Stage 2. Frontman Myles Kennedy is perhaps best known for his work with Slash, but his own band – in existence since 2004 – are great in their own right and his is the first of several outstanding rock voices on show today.

Over at Stage 5b Less Than Jake are rattling off the ska-punk tunes with a ferocity not often seen at 12:40 in the afternoon, and are clearly ecstatic to be here despite the early time slot. Upon singer Chris DeMakes’ instruction a circle pit is formed, and as shoes go flying skywards and several people retire to the sidelines shaken and bruised, the band kick on with ‘Plastic Cup Politics’.

Richie Sambora fills another early slot at 1:15 on Stage 1, and plays songs he trialled at his Sidewave show at The Tivoli two days previously. ‘Burn The Candle Down’, ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’, ‘Every Road Leads Home To You’ and ‘Learning To Fly With A Broken Wing’ precede the big close of Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds Are Burning’ mashed-up with ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ in a strong set. South-Australian guitarist Orianthi – a former member of Michael Jackson’s touring band – is once again outstanding on lead.

Directly after Sambora on Stage 2 is last-minute additions The Living End, and they pull the biggest crowd so far. The level of devotion among their fans is evident as every note and word that emanates from Chris Cheney, Andy Strachan and Scott Owen is met with screaming, dancing and fist-pumping from a diverse audience. ‘Second Solution’, ‘End Of The World’, and ‘Roll On’ are early highlights, and a later cover of AC/DC’s ‘Jailbreak’ is a nice touch.

It’s always satisfying to discover something new and interesting by accident, and it comes in the form of English alt-rockers Pulled Apart By Horses, who are making a hell of a racket at the covered Stage 5a. Having been swapped with Crosses so Chino Moreno’s group could have the later slot, the Leeds quartet set about their business with the right amounts of style, ferocity and humility. “We’re feel like we’re in some kind of dream. And we’re shitting our pants,” their guitarist says, which only makes them more likeable.

Costumed thrash-metallers Gwar, on the other hand, don’t seem the most likeable of chaps, and while it’s fun for some audience members to be squirted with fake blood and listen to indistinguishable lyrics being screamed by a bunch of fat guys in rubber suits, it doesn’t make for a particularly tuneful set. Nevertheless, it goes down well with a number of people, despite the blasé attitude to beginning their set on time.

Soundwave Brisbane 2014

Back at Stage 1, Placebo are running through a greatest hits set but with a few glaring exceptions, starting with ‘Post Blue’ and including ‘Every You Every Me’, but leaving out perhaps their most well-known hits from their ’90s beginnings, while Norwegians Satyricon are bringing the black metal at Stage 7b with a pitchfork microphone stand and the likes of ‘K.I.N.G.’, ‘The Pentagram Burns’ and ‘Our World, It Rumbles Tonight’. Meanwhile, Black Veil Brides are repeatedly shouting “wake up motherfuckers!” to their audience and Filter get a big response from a decent number of hardcore fans despite the set being cut short.

The next happy accident comes in the form of Clutch and frontman Neil Fallon, who – along with his harmonica and cowbell – puts in one of the most visually arresting performances of the day. The band go through a series of jams in front of a fairly aggressive audience, with a highlight being ‘Once More Unto The Breach’ as a toilet roll flies across the audience members’ heads. A long, bluesy jam follows; providing a free-flowing highlight not often seen in shortened festival sets.

Deftones frontman Chino Moreno’s side-project Crosses is a bit of change for him, but it’s one that works well. When he sings “I’m so excited I can hardly take it” on ‘This Is A Trick’ it’s a nice interlude to all the hard-riffing that has been happening so far today.

Alice In Chains provide a poignant moment back at Stage 1. “There have been six guys in this band,” says guitarist Jerry Cantrell. “This song is for the other two.” Acoustic number ‘Nutshell’ is of coursed dedicated to deceased former members Layne Staley and Mike Starr, while William DuVall’s vocal performance throughout the rest of the set is nothing short of epic.

Belfast punk legends Stiff Little Fingers make an old crowd happy as dusk sets in with a twelve-song set of stone-cold classic numbers, including ‘Suspect Device’, ‘Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae’, ‘Nobody’s Hero’, ‘Barbed Wire Love’, ‘Strummerville’, ‘Tin Soldiers’ and their signature tune ‘Alternative Ulster’ just as a Soundwave official tries to usher their set to a close. A new tune entitled ‘When We Were Young’ fits in nicely among the older material, and the small crowd who turn up for “the band playing next to the hot chip van”, as frontman Jake Burns puts it, witness SLF’s first ever appearance in Brisbane in a near 40-year career.

And so: the head-liners for this evening. Timetable clashes become a major headache at this point, and it’s hard to know whether to stick with one or at most two bands, or try to jump between them and risk getting caught in the human traffic jam under the rail bridge.

Green Day Soundwave Brisbane

Green Day burst onto the stage at 7pm amid a retina-searing array of lights, and the quartet start strongly with ’99 Revolutions’, ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ‘East Jesus Nowhere’. It’s clear from the off that Billie Joe Armstrong is in good form and putting his all into it; he runs across the stage and flings his guitar around with all the vigour he displayed in the ’90s, and even gets political with a call to the audience to be more aware of situations in Thailand, the Ukraine, and in Russia in reference to Pussy Riot, before reminding the crowd of how lucky we are to be together. A series of American Idiot tracks follows; ‘Letterbomb’, ‘Holiday’, ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ and ‘Wake Me Up Before September Ends’ before a series of Dookie tracks in ‘Burnout’, ‘Chump’, ‘Longview’, ‘When I Come Around’ and ‘Welcome To Paradise’ provide the nostalgic highlight. ‘Basket Case’ and ‘She’ are played pleasingly in order and a mash-up of songs including ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’, ‘Shout’ and ‘Hey Jude’ bring the pace down before a big finish including ‘American Idiot’ and ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’.

It’s all over at 9:40pm, but after a long day of bands, beer and bleeding ears it’s a satisfying feeling to head for the gates and home. Highlights for the day include Less Than Jake, Pulled Apart By Horses, Clutch, Stiff Little Fingers and Green Day, but it’s the scale and variety of Soundwave acts that is most impressive. Same time next year, everyone?

Interview: Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake. Vinnie Fiorello, second right.
Less Than Jake. Vinnie Fiorello, second right.

SKA-PUNK legends Less Than Jake will head to Australia in 2014 to play Soundwave Festival, bringing with them over twenty years of finely-honed gigging experience. Drummer and lyricist Vinnie Fiorello tells me why the Gainesville, Florida band’s hunger for making music and performing is stronger than ever.

Hi Vinnie, what’s been happening in the Less Than Jake camp of late?

We were just on the Fat Wreck Chords tour around the United States; that was a five-week tour with Anti-Flag and a few other bands. A few weeks back we released our ninth studio record called See The Light, and that was on Fat Wreck Chords. Generally speaking reviews have been good, and we had a great time writing and recording it, and there you go; you’re caught up, man.

Tell me a bit about See The Light. How does it sound compared to your previous material?

Well, I think it’s most definitely the sum of all its parts. We took our time in writing and crafting the songs, and it progressed naturally as we let it kind of percolate at its own pace. We wrote and recorded it at our bass player’s studio in Gainesville, and from that point we had friends of ours mix it, and frankly, because of those parts it sounds like Less Than Jake, or a very refined version of the band that people have come to know for the last twenty years. There’s parts of very gruff point rock, there’s some minor punk in there, there’s classic ska-punk, and there’s some third wave ska. It’s very much influenced by ourselves and only by ourselves. It’s a very weird and crazy thing to be able to say that, but it’s true.

How much do you enjoy the recording process? Some bands find it a chore.

Not to fuck around, but there’s been times in the studio when it’s been a chore, and times when it’s been way too dramatic or silly. This time around we did it in Gainesville, and it was a very relaxed atmosphere and fun. It was cool to do it where I could go home at night as well.

I saw an interview you did a couple of years ago in which you said the album format is dead. Why change your mind now?

For the last five years we’ve mainly been doing EPs, and firmly I think that the album format is limping along. In the case of our album, when we started writing songs, we wanted a collection of songs that were similar thematically, and not only musically but lyrically too. You can’t really get that with EPs, so we went back to the full-length format. When we started to write it it fell together naturally and it was cool.

Do you still think albums have a future?

I guess it depends on the genre. I mean, the album format for pop music is already dead. If you take Katy Perry; she can sell one million singles, but only 100,000 copies of her album, and while those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, they are definitely not what they were three, five, eight, ten years ago. It’s insane how much it’s down. Punk rock has never been about the single, it’s been much more about the album format, and I think that might be the last stand, so to speak, for the album format. I had a great time doing the EPs, and I think it’s good for fans to be able to get music every eight or nine months instead of waiting three years.

What have you got planned for Soundwave Festival?

I think we’re prepared to have a good time like we always are. We’re going to show up, we’re going to play some songs, take some requests, rile the crowd, and have fun playing. It’s twenty-one years in, man, and if you’re not having fun being in a band and playing live there’s a serious issue, so we’re going to do what we do best; have fun and make the crowd have fun with us.

An outdoor gig in Australian summer. How do you deal with the heat?

Dude, I’m from Florida, and Australian summer has nothing on Florida. So to answer your question, I’m going to feel exactly like I feel when I’m at home, so therefore it’s going to feel good. It’s funny that you should mention it, because every time we’ve been in Australia prior to this, it’s always been Australia summer, it’s always been a great time, and it always feels like Florida to me. When I’m there it always feels like home, so it’s a great place to be. The crowds always love music and are always there to have a good time. They’re always passionate about the music they’re paying to see, and that’s exciting for anyone in a band, and certainly exciting to me.

Is there ever any trepidation playing new material live?

There’s always nerves. We sort of had a trial by fire this tour just finished. We would come straight out and do a new song, and people would look at us like they had no idea what it was. Later, when the record came out, you could see the slow surge of people knowing the songs.

What are your plans for 2014?

We’re just back from tour four days ago, so we’re off for a few weeks. Starting next year, we have an eighteen-date tour in the U.K.. Then we have three days off, then we come over for Soundwave Festival, then we come home. I can’t say what tour it is, but we just confirmed a summer tour for the United States, so we’re just working for the rest of the year. I’m sure there’ll be Europe in there for late 2014, and there’ll be South America in there somewhere. We have a new record out, so we have to put our feet as many places as possible.

SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL DATES & VENUES – FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014

SATURDAY 22 FEBRUARY – BRISBANE, RNA SHOWGROUNDS
SUNDAY 23 FEBRUARY – SYDNEY, OLYMPIC PARK
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY – MELBOURNE, FLEMINGTON RACECOURSE
SATURDAY 1 MARCH – ADELAIDE, BONYTHON PARK
MONDAY 3 MARCH – PERTH, CLAREMONT SHOWGROUNDS

TICKETS ON SALE NOW: http://soundwavefestival.com/