Louder Than Life came back this year with such an amazing lineup. Last year had more of a southern rock feel and this year was so much heavier. Ranging from some older classic bands to some of music’s fastest up and comers the lineup was filled full talented bands of varying genres. Unfortunately, we can’t see every band, so if we didn’t mention someone here it’s simply that we had a conflicting schedule with their set. If only we could see every band it would be a perfect day.
Day 1 of Louder Than Life got off to an amazing start. Kicking off the show was the two man band 68′. Though they may only have two members they truly had possibly the biggest sound of the day. After speaking with Tony and Eric of I Prevail later that day they even mentioned they woke up early to make sure and catch 68’s set. So they not only have fans but immense respect from fellow musicians. Guitarist and vocalist Josh Scogin formerly of hardcore band The Chariot and drummer Micheal McClellan set the bar high and had fans aching for more. Next up was Mississippi natives Bishop Gunn. They have a style that is all their own. Harmonica driven rock n roll with a huge helping of blues. If you haven’t heard their single “Bank of the River” doing so will fully explain their greatness. They dive head first into their style and they don’t stray away from what they do so well.
Twelve Foot Ninja has a huge crowd to hear their unique sound. They had some sound problems on the first couple songs, but they were able to come back from it and really make it up to the crowd by giving the rest of their set everything they had. Singer Kin Etik’s vocals resonated well with the crowd. Lead guitar player Steve MacKay was shredding riffs and fans in the crowd couldn’t help but play a little air guitar as well. Prior to playing the song “Coming For You” he asked the crowd “How many Ninja fans do we have out there? And the crowd erupted in cheers. The fans has an almost reggae sound at times and it really sets them apart from anyone else at the festival. Their songs like “One Hand Killing” which have dominated radio stations playlists are catchy and it’s hard not to stomp your feet and put your horns in the air to these guys. “One Hand Killing” was released about 10 months ago to give the fans something prior to the August 26th release of their album ‘Outlier’.
Dinosaur Pile Up was the band I was most looking forward to. While their whole catalog of music is amazing they are touring in support of what in my opinion is one of the best albums of the year ‘Eleven Eleven’. They have a unique throwback sound that I guarantee is unlike anything else in today’s music. I was personally looking forward to their set and as they struck the first note I was front and center. While the crowd got acquainted to the band I was singing along. The quality of their music came across just as it does on the record. Playing the title track from their album ‘Nature Nurture’ the crowd started to get into it. You could see a smile form on singer/guitarist Matt Bigland’s face as a mosh pit slowly started to form. I was hoping to hear the bands cover of the classic Dire Straights song “Money For Nothing”, even though they didn’t play the song I still walked away floating on air from their jaw dropping performance. Dinosaur Pile Up’s unique blend of alternative, grunge and rock went over well with the crowd and anyone within earshot i’m sure walked away a fan.
Neck Deep has this amazing sound that runs from mellowed out to incredible fast and heavy riffs. The speed of their songs inspired one of the fastest moving circle pits of the day. The band has that throwback punk style sound of the 90’s. They added something to the Louder Than Life festival that was really missing and that’s a true punk element. Their single “December” which features Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 is one of the best punk rock songs I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a sing along tune that is easy to fall in love with. Along with them inspiring circle pits the band really broke up the heaviness on Saturday with their clean vocal style and pitch perfect guitar work.
Motionless In White is one of the bands I was highly looking forward to. I have to admit that I really wasn’t a huge fan of the band until I seen them at the inaugural Louder Than Life festival in 2014. Once you see this band live it will forever make you a fan, because that’s what happened with me. They always have an energetic set and Saturday was another example of how they always put 100% into their on stage performance. Their music has that perfect mesh of clean and harsh vocals that brings a little something for everyone to the table. They did surprise me by playing a cover of the classic Rammstein hit “Du Hast.” I’ve never seen anyone cover this live. After seeing Rammstein live at Chicago Open Air in July I’ll say that no one can ever come close to matching the original live because of all the pyro and stage presence that Rammstein has, but I think they covered the song as well as anyone could besides the originators. Crowd surfers were making their debut during their set as well. They closed out their set by playing the fan favorite “Reincarnate” and as the song started every one was jumping up and down. They sent the crowd off on a high note with an amazing performance.
I Prevail is one of those feel good bands. They put forth 100% effort into their set every night. They have quickly became one of metals must see bands since their cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” propelled them to stardom. On a day where cover songs were running rampant they added a few more to today’s set list. In addition to performing the two new tracks “Scars” and “Stuck In Your Head” off their upcoming release ‘Lifelines’ (Due out 10/21 pick it up) they also played a cover medley. The medley included portions of “Walk” by Pantera, “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park, and Killing In The Name” by Rage Against The Machine. Their heavy and melodic style has a little bit of everything for fans. Their contrasting singers Brian Burkheiser (Clean Vocals) and Eric Vanlerberghe (Harsh Vocals) perfectly compliment each other. Not only can these guys perform well but their song writing is top notch. They might have made waves with a cover song but their originals are far superior. As if their set wasn’t already exciting enough, Eric climbed high above the stage on the scaffolding to sing one song. His risk taking makes him “un-insurable” he says, but it makes for a great experience for the fans.
Avatar has by far one of the best entrances of any band on the festival. It’s fitting that they come out to circus themed music because their performance is always pure fun and entertainment. I have seen them a few times now and their performance is always fresh and new and never repetitive. They truly deserve a higher position in the lineup with more set time. Playing “Hail The Apocalypse” the fans went crazy. This particular song is always a crowd pleaser, and the crowd quickly let them know by singing along loudly to the chorus of the song. They also played one of their newer songs “The Eagle Has Landed” which became an instant classic for the band. They would stop abruptly into the song and the crowd would erupt in applause. Lead singer Johannes truly has a way of getting the crowd involved. He not only serves as the vocalist but also like a conductor instructing the crowd. The song has an anthem like feel and horns were in the air as far as the eye could see. Avatar bring pure aggression, theatrics, and some melodic heaviness to any stage they step foot on.
Hell Yeah since their formation has seen some lineup changes, but their music has continues to really progress. They crank out not only phenomenal albums but singles that keep current fans along for the ride and acquire new fans by the dozens. One of those singles they played was “Moth”. The song starts out melodic and slowly gets heavier and heavier. As the song began the fans were almost in awe and completely silent. Frontman Chad Gray got fans waiving their arms back and forth about midway through the song as crowd surfers came through the crowd like tidal waves. It was during this song that the fans attention turned to Louder Than Life veteran Abby McCormick crowd surfing in her wheel chair. By the time they made it to the stage she was no longer seated in her chair, but metal heads take care of their own and ensured she made it safely over the barricade. One of my favorite songs they played was “Human” which is one of their heavier songs. Chad has this amazing screaming growl that just is mesmerizing. Of course you can’t mention Hell Yeah without talking about the amazing drumming going on by the man himself Vinnie Paul. A couple of the most standout moments in the bands set was bassist Kyle biting the head of Chad and blood beginning to poor down his face. Chad continues to show that the bands on stage performance just keeps getting better and better with age.
Anthrax needs no introduction. The thrash legends and members of The Big Four draw a crowd anywhere they go. Joey Belladonna at the helm belted out some of the bands most iconic songs. “Caught In A Mosh” went off without a hitch, and you can bet your ass that there was a mosh pit during this song. As if things could get any faster they played the majorly fast paced track “Got The Time”. One of my personal favorites was an oldie but a goodie. This song may have released in 1987 but it still kicks ass every time I hear it. That song of course is “Indians”. It’s impossible not to sing along to this song. Go ahead and listen to it. You’ll sing along, just like the crowd did. It’s not often in metal or thrash that you can sing along to a song and Anthrax is always giving you something special. Belladonna, Scott Ian, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, and Jonathan Donais put on an amazing show that no one will soon forget. And this wouldn’t be the last time we’d see of Anthrax before the night ended.
Chevy Metal is a band that some may not have been familiar with, but they may have been familiar with their rockstar drummer Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters. People normally talk shit about cover bands and urge them to produce original material, but the total opposite happens here. It’s not often, or ever to my knowledge that a cover band has played a major festival and at Louder Than Life we had two (Zakk Sabbath). Chevy Metal choose to cover some of the older kick ass rock songs that dominated the airwaves in the 70’s and 80’s. I will tell you now that none of the original bands would be the least bit disappointed in their performance either. Every song they played they certainly did it justice. Some the the songs they covered were Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”, Billy Squire “The Stroke”, Queen “Under Pressure”, AC/DC “Let There Be Rock” and The Kink’s hit “You Really Got Me”. Seriously, where can you hear a plethora of hits like that by one band? They killed it and I wouldn’t mind one bit seeing the band again tomorrow.
The Cult is someone every old school metal head was looking forward to. Ian Astbury has one of the most widely recognized voices in rock ‘n roll. Billy Duffy and Astbury are the only two remaining original members of the band but their music still stays true to its origins. I don’t think there is anyone young or old that hasn’t heard “Fire Woman” at least once. The band just this year released their new album “Hidden City”, the follow up to their 2012 release “Choice Of Weapon”. While most everyone loves their hits like “She Sells Sanctuary”, “Fire Woman”, “Edie” and “Love Removal Machine” (which has an amazing solo) their new music shows an amazing progression while still staying true to their roots. The Cult sounded amazing live, I was expecting greatness and I got it. As someone who had never seen the band live and continually holding them high on a pedestal, they didn’t disappoint.
Cheap Trick is one of your newest inductees of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. This is a band many musicians have said inspired them, even including The Melvins’ Buzz Osbourne. One of the things I was most looking forward to in their set was getting a look at Rick Nielsen’s unique guitars, in which I’m told he has over 400 guitars. I don’t think anyone could ever hold a light to the crazy looking guitars that he plays with. Not only do they look awesome but he always seems to have the greatest guitar tone as well. From a square body style to a multi-neck guitar resembling a man of some sort. The band of course played one of their biggest hits “I Want You to Want Me”. There was plenty of people dancing and singing to this old school hit. One thing most people don’t realize is that Cheap Trick formed in 1974 and they still have 3 of their 4 original members. Robin Zander sporting his white top hat belted out the bands classics to perfection. He wasn’t the only one singing either. During the bands performance of “Surrender” Anthrax front man Joey Belladonna and bassist Frank Bello came out to add a touch more star power to the already overwhelmingly talented band. As if one Anthrax member wasn’t enough. Anthrax’s Scott Ian joined the band for their final song “Auf Wiedersehen”.
The band everyone was awaiting us behind a dark veil. Slayer has one of the most furious and spectacular entrances. Pentagrams, crosses and the Slayer logo shine bright onto the veil that covers the stage. As Gary Holt and Kerry King’s guitar riffs ring out the veil suddenly turns red and drops before our eyes. Those riffs that rang out was from one of Slayer’s new songs “Repentless”. The crowd erupted in screaming and applause as we got our first glimpse of the band. Slayer like always played a variety of both old and new songs for the crowd in Louisville. Singer/Bassist took a moment to mention how the neighbors must love it as they kicked into a new song. The statement is ironic as the neighborhoods around Champions Park has constantly complained every year about the festival. Not only is the cities economy see a major influx of money during the weekend but they can also hear the music for free. They should be sitting on their porch head banging like any normal person instead of complaining. “South Of Heaven”, “Seasons In The Abyss”, “Disciple” and “War Ensemble” are just some of the other amazingly kick ass songs they played during their set. Slayer is one of the few who have had a long career and never mellowed out.
Day 1, had such an amazing lineup and Day 2 was equally as good. Day 2 review and gallery coming soon.