Live music is always very hit-or-miss. Unfortunately, that label is often far more literal than the attendees would prefer. Something about metal and hardcore, in particular, draws this kind of behaviour out of people, and results in brutal injuries for all involved.
Brace yourselves, because all this list really proves is that Australians are mental.
6. A Fan Sets a Stage On Fire at Soundwave 2013 in Sydney
Bring Me the Horizon had a hell of a story after their set in Sydney, because one solitary idiot proved that one man truly can make a difference. Not a good difference, mind you, but a difference nonetheless.
A man wearing what appears to be a sailor hat and precious little else lit a flare and damn near burned an entire stage to the ground. The band bailed when the flames took hold (because while Bring Me the Horizon might be some of the worst role models in the history of the music industry, even they know when to cut their losses) and several people were badly burned by melted plastic falling from the inferno.
The resulting mess featured wild accusations, some furious make-out sessions, very few facts, a police investigation and Soundwave boss AJ Maddah offering bounties of tickets, merchandise, backstage passes and cash to anyone who could supply information leading to the idiot’s arrest.
5. Nick Hipa of As I Lay Dying Gets Bottled at Soundwave 2008
Before Tim Lambesis’ recent arrest for alleged solicitation of murder (alleged here meaning he totally did it), As I Lay Dying were one of the stalwarts of heavy metal for years. Releasing groin-grabbingly good albums that breathed a new life into a dying, over-saturated genre, they honed their live performance in the fires of extensive international tours and in 2008, they landed a slot on Australian festival Soundwave.
It was during their set in Sydney that it all went horribly wrong.
If you can’t watch that, all you need to know is that their guitarist Nick Hipa got slammed in the face with a glass bottle. The band were not allowed to finish their set due to Workplace Health & Safety regulations (legend has it that metal concerts are capable of inducing an immediate cardiac arrest in even the most seasoned of WHS officers), and the crowd turned on the moron who threw it and put him in hospital, which the band, hilariously, condoned on their MySpace page.
Actually, speaking of this exact incident…
4. Every Time I Die Ask Crowd to Bottle Them, Crowd Is Only Too Happy to Oblige
Southern rockers Every Time I Die were playing Soundwave 2009 in Sydney. Yep. Same festival, same city, 12 months on. Because ETID are awesome dudes, they took the piss out of As I Lay Dying for being such pussies for pulling out early (that’s what she said) on stage. A couple of bottles were flung at them, so Keith Buckley encouraged the attendees to go nuts, and things escalated quickly.
Again, if you can’t click that, think about it for a second. I’ve already established that Australians aren’t above hurling (sometimes flammable) projectiles at bands they’ve paid good money to see without any provocation. What do you suppose happened?
My personal favourite moment is when the crowd all seem to look at each other and shrug before beginning the onslaught. It’s the same look people share when they stumble upon a big red button that says DO NOT PUSH. There’s just this glorious, fleeting moment where you realise you need to challenge this button’s arrogant, presumed authority.
It must be pushed.
3. Jessica Michalik’s Tragic Death After Attending Big Day Out 2001
Anyone aware of the live music scene has to be aware of this one, because someone actually died. The only reason this isn’t #1 is because no one was directly responsible for her death. The crowd was not any worse than in previous (or, for that matter, subsequent) years. The venue fulfilled all current (although, by today’s standards, grossly insufficient) legal safety requirements. It was merely a tragic accident.
This incident was, unfortunately, the inevitable tragedy that always must occur before a massive overhaul of policy and regulations can occur. Limp Bizkit were vilified and harassed (and then proceeded to flee the country, which didn’t look suspicious or draw attention to them at all), the BDO organisers back-pedaled like anarchists on a tandem bicycle and live music attendees feared that the end was imminent. Fortunately, live music survived and 12 years on, it’s both stronger and safer than ever.
Case in point: Then:
On a side note, Limp Bizkit returned for Soundwave 2012 (which happened to be the same venue as BDO 2001) and performed a touching tribute to Michalik during their performances throughout the tour.
2. Ronnie Radke Loses His Goddamn Mind
Falling In Reverse are just one of those bands you know you hate even though you’ve never listened to a second of their work. This is largely because they are fronted by headline-generating punchline Ronnie Radke, who, among other things, has done hard time for drug-related offences, been accused of assaulting his girlfriend and has had his VISA denied by Australian authorities to tour on several occasions.
Here’s a great example of why that’s the case.
In case you can’t watch that video, shut up and watch that video. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Okay? So you saw him throw those microphone stands into the audience, right? Those things weigh more than an entire American, and several members of his audience were seriously injured.
It’s one thing to be arrested for drugs. That happens literally every day in dodgy neighbourhoods. However, throwing things at your audience, people who are your only means of income, is absolutely the stupidest thing you can do. That’s like going to a job interview, calling the interviewer a dirty whore and then shitting on pictures of their family before passing out drunk in their fish tank.
1. Lamb of God Create World War III
Yep. Here we are in Australia. Again.
At Soundwave. Again.
The year was 2012. Lamb of God were halfway through their set when vocalist Randy Blythe informed the two stages that there were a lot of bottles lying around. The side in front of him was designated ‘Sydney’. The side to his right, waiting for Black Label Society to start, was designated ‘Melbourne’. That’s like saying ‘This side is the Ku Klux Klan and this side is the Semitic Alliance. Have at it!”
Don’t worry about using your imagination to fill in the blanks about what transpired. Here’s exactly what went down.
In terms of utter destruction, it doesn’t get much worse. Every single person present in that video is a drunk bogan delirious from heat stress and tripping balls from pills. It wasn’t a battleground, it was anarchy.
I can actually interject with a little anecdote here, because I was present during this. I was on the Sydney side and just going nuts, hurling bottles at people on the Melbourne side of the barrier, because fuck Melbourne. That’s why. I was trying to avoid getting hit by anything too substantial, and that’s when I saw it.
It was a quarter-full bottle of Coca-Cola.
This is arguably the most dangerous thing you can ever utilise as a projectile. Its weight distribution and unyielding cargo allows the thrower to get a wicked swing on it and just, like, go NUTS on someone with it. I don’t really regret this, because I was sunburnt, dehydrated, bruised, bleeding and had caught Willie Adler’s guitar pick (yeah, for realsies. It’s framed on my bedroom wall). I needed an appropriate target, and that’s when I saw him.
A friend of mine, he was more British and had more red hair than the Weasley family. It was like the aforementioned red button. I knew, in that moment, what I must do.
I was about to become a man.
I began running to build momentum. I was dodging bottles, cans, shoes, hats, everything. I was like a clairvoyant ninja, seeing the future before it happened, anticipating every movement, every projectile, every possible hazard. The whole event must have taken seconds and yet I remember it feeling like months. I ran to the D-Barrier and flung the bottle as hard as I could while letting loose a primal scream.
The bottle flew, its brutal swing causing it to arc through the air like a demonic scythe and strike Peter clean in his forehead. His eyes rolled slightly and his face contorted into a bizarre combination of confusion, rage and resignation, as if he was going through the stages of grief.
It hit him so hard that his feet lifted off the ground slightly and he was thrown back like a rag doll. It was the greatest moment of my life and I have no regrets about it whatsoever.
If anything can be taken away from this article, it’s this: Australians are insane, I’m a terrible friend and Soundwave is the best music festival in the world.
Well, at least it isn’t boring.