We arrived in Brisbane two days before the first show, which gave us all a little time to shake off the jet lag and get acclimated to the insanely humid conditions here. Jerry, William, Sean and I went to a Koala sanctuary the day after we got in, and being able to check out and feed koalas and kangaroos was a cool experience to start things off with. Mike opted to stay back at the hotel and check out a few Coronas instead of a koala, but in his own way he interacted with wildlife too, as our hotel was absolutely overrun by nearly 100 band & crew guys also playing the festival. It can be amusing sometimes to watch other guests react to a bunch of dirtbag musicians sullying up the hotel, but this was off the charts. Usually it’s just us doing the sullying, but here in Brisbane it was us times 10, and all the poor businessmen and families caught in the middle of the tattoos and greasy hair and black t-shirts looked like they’d rather ask the concierge for a canister of pepper spray than directions to the zoo.
With a day off and a small dose of Australia in us, we all moved on to day # 1 of the Soundwave Festival. Brisbane had been getting pounded with intermittent rain showers since we landed, but not long after we arrived at the festival site the skies cleared up and it turned out to be a nice afternoon. The two main stages are located side by side, so within a couple of minutes of one band finishing, the next band was up and running right next door. There were also 4 more stages scattered throughout the site, so there was always a band playing for the fans to check out. There’s something about a festival that brings out a handful of colorful characters too, and today was no exception, as I saw a guy and a girl decked out in full Viking regalia. I’m not really sure what that was all about, but I enjoyed it.
Okay, lets crunch some numbers. Alice In Chains hasn’t played in Australia in over 15 years, they’ve played one live show in the last 13 months, and they’re breaking in a slew of new crew guys as well. A recipe for disaster?… Hardly. The crowd was going nuts before the guys even took the stage, and once they came out it was business as usual. The fans were screaming and singing along, the band sounded great, and an hour later gig # 1 was in the books. And a big question was answered as well. Would the guys be debuting any new material? Unfortunately, no. It didn’t seem like anyone minded too much though.
So with one show under their belts, we were off to Sydney…