It's been a while since I reported from the road on a rock tour. I am currently in the midst of a 10-day travelling festival tour of Australia called Soundwave. Extraordinary in its pure logistics, and in its' 6th year-now, a finely tunes mechanism.
Duff McKagan is the founding bassist of Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
With something like 60 bands--from Metallica to Garbage, and Lincoln Park to Ghost and Red Fang--the scope of getting all of these bands and their equipment around this huge country in time and in order is mind-boggling by itself.
The highlight of the festival experience so far has been the fellowship between the acts. With so many people in one place at a time, and so many who don't know each other--I have witnessed a great amount of fraternity between bands: Metal dudes hanging out with pop-punkers, and grind-core badasses hanging out EDM DJss and so on.Soundwave seems to have been able to grow and flourish over these last 6 years because of the obvious care and attention they devote to the fan experience. It's clean, safe, easy to get around, and flat-out friendly. I haven't seen a fight or even a tussle. I'm not sure how exactly the organizer's have managed this...but it is way cool.
Ah, but Australia is a long, long ways away from Europe and the U.S (where most of the music acts are from). The jet-lag factor with just about everyone there in the first few days, was a pretty hilarious thing to bare witness to. (Personally on my second night in-country, I was so out of it from sleep deprivation, that I thought the huge fruit bats in the tree's were monkey's with wings, and that they were surely going to at any time, swoop down and bite my face off. No, I don't drink and don't smoke the crack.).
Our guitar tech, Paul Hutzler, found a fun and informative way to combat his U.S. to Australia temporary insanity. He was Skyping his girlfriend back in Seattle last night, and decided to call local pet stores in Sydney (with a a fake Texas accent no less), and inquire if he could purchase a wombat and "Take that son-of-a-bitch back to Texas!". Paul is not 14. He is 41.
The Soundwave festival itself is a 2-weekend Friday-Saturday-Sunday affair, and so on all of the in-between weekday nights, the festival organizers have put together 'sidewave' shows in pretty much all of the venues--big and small--in the cities that we are staying in. The other night in Sydney, there were something like 13 separate 'sidewave' shows to go to. Red Fang with Kyuss Lives and Orange Goblin? Sure. Lincoln Park with Stone Sour? Check. Perfect Circle? Sum 41 and Billy Talent did a show, as did Slayer and Anthrax. It makes you wonder if a city in the U.S. would not only support a festival of this size, and also all of these stand alone gigs. All of these festivals are sold out down here, and the 'sidewave' shows are either sold-out or darn near close. Astounding really.
Rock and roll seems alive and very well down here in the Southern Hemisphere. It's is truly great to be a part of this whole damn circus, and I shall report back from Japan next week.