With the festival season slowly winding down, we were onsite in downtown, Louisville, Kentucky, this past weekend for the 3rd Annual Louder Than Life Festival. Featuring some of the larger names in metal and rock that have headlined most of the festivals this year, this gourmet food, bourbon and music weekend was no different. Over 50,000 concert goers at Champions Park witnessed history in the making, as Avenged Sevenfold and Slipknot co-headlined a festival for the first time.
A regular on the DWP Festival circuit, I wasn’t too surprised to talk to many people who have made the trip to multiple dates on the DWP festival calendar. Being in Kentucky, Louder Than Life prides itself on its specialty southern food and Bourbon areas, while offering a concert schedule that leaves mere minutes between stages, allowing no room for error in planning out one’s weekend. Arriving onsite for my first Louder Than Life, I was surprised to see little tailgating in the surrounding parking lots, as most fans headed straight in to the park to sample the unique beers and bourbons.
Champions Park is a great venue, allowing for a good layout, with two main stages on one end side by side, and a third stage on the opposite end with all food and beverage vendors placed strategically in between. The main stages ran with only 5 minutes to spare in between, keeping the music going from start to finish both Saturday and Sunday.
Opening the day was Atlanta based rock duo ’68 and Australian fusion metal group, Twelve Foot Ninja. When Swedish metal group Avatar hit the stage with heavy hitting “Hail the Apocalypse” the crowd finally started to erupt with energy, preparing for the day ahead.
I Prevail, The Amity Affliction, Motionless In White, and Sick Puppies kept the pace, setting the stage for American supergroup Hellyeah. Lead singer Chad Gray could be seen singing most of their set with blood covering his face. Anthrax and Pierce The Veil rounded out the afternoon and the early evening brought British rockers The Cult to the stage for a 50 minute, 10 song set that catalogued greatest hits from their discography.
Recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick closed the side stage, even inviting Anthrax’s Scott Ian onstage to help perform “Auf Wiedersehen.” Slayer set the stage prepping the crowd as direct support for headliners Avenged Sevenfold, who spared no time dropping right into a 12 song set that kept the park singing along and crowd surfing until the last note.
Crobot and Adelitas Way opened the main stages, followed by heavy metal reggae group Skindred, whose party style, high energy set got the crowd going early on in the day. Australian metalcore group Parkway Drive, was the first to tempt the crowd into surfing to the front causing complete chaos for security, who even though were overpowering at time, could barely keep up.
Michigan’s Pop Evil was the first to fully interact with the crowd. Bringing light to the “22 pushup Challenge for PTSD” they asked the crowd to accompany them while they did their daily pushups, and challenged them to continue for 22 days. Lead vocalist Leigh Kakaty jumped the barricade and walked on the crowd during their set, making for some fantastic fan interaction.
The afternoon saw Sevendust, Skillet, Alter Bridge and Zakk Wylde’s Zakk Sabbath keep the crowd going with Clutch closing out the side stage. Swedish group Ghost welcomed the fans to their afternoon sermon, with a 7 song set, followed by Jonathan Davis and the guys in Korn. A highlight of the day was Slipknot’s Corey Taylor joining them onstage to play their new hit single “A Different World”
Disturbed played as direct support for headliner Slipknot, with David Draiman introducing the 9 piece ensemble as a Leviathan. Hitting the stage at an early 8:30 time slot, Slipknot spared no time jumping into a 15 song chaos inspiring set. Leaving it all on the stage over their hour and half set, the crowd left it all on the field in Champions Park. With rumors circulating all weekend that the local neighbors were fighting the city to have the festival moved, seeing the crowd in full force, it would be hard to believe that Louder Than Life would ever be anywhere but Champions Park in Louisville.
As the festival season winds down, the only chance one has now to see an amazing line up of bands, is at Aftershock in Sacramento, California this October 22nd & 23rd. That is… until next year!