With Day 1 in the books, the morning of Day 2 greeted everyone with clear blue skies, terrible hangovers, and the excitement the see just how it could be any better than Day 1. My wife and I had a few friends over at our campsite for some pre-show breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and hot coffee (not bad, right?). Afterwards, we all ventured to the camp showers where I was extremely impressed with how well maintained the facilities were and how easy and quick it was to get in and out. With a hot shower and our bellies full, we all headed to the entrance where Black Map was already tearing it up with a loud wakeup to open Day 2 taking the place of Biters, who were unable to make it, as the day’s opener. The band hit the crowd with early-morning performances of “Octavia”, “No Color”, and “Run Rabbit Run”, among others. Our very own Metal Nexus founder, Fist, got a chance to sit down with Ben Flanagan of Black Map for an insightful interview at the festival, which you can watch HERE.
’68 and Joyous Wolf were slated to play the same time slot on different stages, so it was a difficult choice as to which band I’d watch. In the end, I decided to go with ’68 – the in-your-face, raw, punk-inspired duo from Atlanta, featuring guitarist and vocalist Josh Scogin, formerly of The Chariot. Let me say, you sure can achieve a lot with only 2 people. ’68 offered as much (if not more) energy than most 4 and 5-piece bands on the bill. To those who were unfamiliar with the band, they were probably a little put off by the off-the-wall guitar riffs, and out-of-control vocals, but I would be willing to bet that by the end of the set, they were surely fans. The duo opened with “Whether Terrified of Unafraid” and meshed the ending into the beginning of “This Life is Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue” before performing “Track 3 g” and “Track 1 r”.
Across the park, the Louder Than Life attendees were swept back in time with the 70’s sound of Greta Van Fleet who absolutely stopped me in my tracks. Although I’d heard the name a few times, I never actually gave them a listen until I heard the guys jamming through “Black Smoke Rising” as I made my way toward whatever fantastic sound was pulsating through the park. The overall package of Greta Van Fleet is superb, especially in a live setting. The first thing I noticed, and I believe I’m not the only one, is how much their sound resembles a well-known rock band whom I won’t mention by name, but if you’ve heard Greta Van Fleet, you know exactly who I’m talking about. The band gave a laid-back feel to the festival, which was a great addition to contrast with all the heavier acts, and played perfectly through jams like “Highway Song” and , for a little over 6 minutes, transformed Louder Than Life into Woodstock as they played “Flower Power” – an organ-driven, groovy song that is nearly impossible not to nod your head along to. Greta Van Fleet ended their set with “Edge of Darkness”, surely feeling a sense of accomplishment knowing they have just wowed many first-time listeners, myself included.
As Ocean Grove killed it across the park on the Zorn Stage, Beartooth prepared to take the Monster Stage for what came to be 30 minutes of pure annihilation. These guys were also another ‘first’ for me, but keeping with the flow of things, I was immediately impressed. I loved the pure strength in vocalist Caleb Shomo’s screams, as well as the clarity and emotion in his singing. He kept the crowd involved the entire time with demands like “When the riff hits, I want a fucking push-mosh! I want this to be like a fucking 90’s hardcore show!” before powering into “The Lines”. Beartooth slayed the crowd with a number of hard-hitters like “Aggressive”, “In Between”, and “Rock is Dead” before ending with “Hated”.
Forwarding to a little later in the day, I was again torn between two bands who were to play at similar times, except this time, I had the opportunity to see half of each set. Since Thrice began their set 10 minutes before In This Moment, I decided I would watch a little over half of their set, then run to the other side of the park to catch the last half of In This Moment. It worked out pretty well, as I got to see Thrice blast through “Of Dust and Nations”, “Black Honey”, “Hurricane”, “The Artist in the Ambulance” and “Silhouette”. Sadly, these were the only songs I got to watch, but I was definitely as satisfied as if I’d watched the entire set.
I hurriedly made my way to the other side of Champions Park where In This Moment was still going strong in the midst of “Oh Lord”. Frontwoman, Maria Brink, demanded the crowd unleash all their energy, negative feelings, stress with “So if in some small way today, if some small way at all, Louder Than Life, I can help inspire turning hate into love, then I am proud to say to you this evening, I will be your whore!” With a quick goodbye, the band hits the first notes of what would be the only other song I would see the band play that day, “Whore”. Immediately after the song kicks in full swing, a rush of crowd surfers surged to the front of the crowd as Maria and the rest of the band flawlessly left an intense lasting impression on us all.
As we walked back to the two main stages, Corey Taylor and Stone Sour could be heard encompassing the entire property as they finished up “Say You’ll Haunt Me” and storming into tracks like “30/30 – 150”, “Song #3”, and “Absolute Zero” but not before Mr. Taylor led the crowd in a sing-along to “Through Glass”. As expected from the times I had watched the front man with Slipknot, Stone Sour was no less impressive. The band wrapped up with a fantastic performance of “Fabuless” and exited the stage, turning the crowds attention to the Monster Stage where Rise Against kicked off the top 3 acts for the day. Since I was in middle school, I’d been a Rise Against fan and knowing I was about to see a show I’d always wanted to see was kind of surreal. The band took the stage and greeted the crowd with one of my personal favorites “Ready to Fall”. Vocalist Tim McIlrath nailed every note with such energy and sounded as good as he did on my Walkman on the school bus. With songs like “Chamber the Cartridge”, “Prayer of the Refugee”, “Satellite”, and “Wolves”, the band did not disappoint and gave a perfect opening for Incubus to unleash on Louisville after hitting “Savior” and saying their goodbyes.
Brandon and the rest of the band hit the stage, opening with “Glitterbomb” and “Circles”. Strobing lights, perfection on the band’s behalf, and a crazy, energetic crowd made for the perfect setting for a proper Incubus show. The guys powered through hits like “Anna Molly”, “Pardon Me”, “Sick Sad Little World”, and “No Fun”, making sure to include other well-known tracks such as “Drive”, “Nice to Know You” and “Megalomaniac”. I had no idea just how precise and tight the band was with one another until this show, and my love for Incubus grew even more. Of course, the band played one of, if not the most loved song among Incubus fans, “Wish You Were Here” and added the chorus of the Pink Floyd hit of the same name for the outro.
The crowd was primed and ready for more as Incubus wrapped up their set with “Warning” and, for the last time, the focus moved to the Monster Stage where the day’s headlining act, Prophets of Rage, prepared to take the stage. Now, this was a performance for the books. Chuck D and B Real fronted the edge of the stage with fists in the air as red light blanketed the stage and guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, drummer Brad Wilk, and DJ Lord provided building background intro music. Fans of Public Enemy, Audioslave, Cypress Hill, and Rage Against the Machine were all treated as the supergroup introduced themselves to Louisville with a beefed up version of Public Enemy’s “Prophets of Rage”, then into Rage Against the Machine’s “Testify”. Following these two smashes, Prophets of Rage treated the crowd to 2 more Rage Against the Machine covers – “Take the Power Back” and “Guerilla Radio”, although these wouldn’t be the last Rage covers they played that night. The band then turned the tables and performed 2 Prophets of Rage originals, “Living on the 110” and “Hail to the Chief” before a medley of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy hits – “Hand on the Pump/Can’t Truss It/Insane in the Brain/Bring the Noise/Jump Around”. To add variety and pay homage to one of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello addressed the crowd to give thanks and led the band in an instrumental rendition of Audioslave’s “Like a Stone”, as a single white light illuminated a microphone stand in the center of the stage while the crowd took over vocal responsibility, singing each word in unison.
Picking things back up, Chuck D, B Real, and the rest of the group were joined by Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath and Zach Blair for MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams”. The band followed up with Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill a Man” and another Rage Against the Machine cover of “Bulls on Parade”. With the night drawing to a close, B Real speaks up and thanks the crowd, asking that we all listen to the lyrics of the debut Prophets of Rage album, and states, “Dangerous times call for dangerous songs, this is the most dangerous of them all,” and the band stabs the first chords of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” drawing more and more energy from the crowd as the song progressed. A deafening roar shook the festival grounds as the song came to a finish and Prophets of Rage exited the stage, providing the perfect ending to a festival no one will soon forget.