Once a year thousands of “Loudmouths” descend upon Champions Park in Louisville, Kentucky for the annual Louder Than Life music festival. With an equal mix of pulse racing rock music, whiskey, craft beer and gourmet man food, one does not want to miss this remarkable event. The tree lined, well-manicured grounds, picnic tables and numerous tents offer the perfect setting for this 2 day festival. This year the metal gods shined down upon festival goers with perfect beautiful weather. The VIP area offers not only plenty of shaded seating and big screen TV’s, but also several food options, bars and even volley-ball and cornhole. With food and beverage choices galore, from ice cream to B-B-Que, attendees have options that are sure to satisfy any palate.
Music however is the main reason for this diverse gathering of souls. This year’s line-up was sure to have something for everyone. Festival goers got to witness the one and only “Prince of Darkness” Ozzy Osbourne with Zakk Wylde headlining Saturday night, and the political Prophets of Rage on Sunday. Three stages offer fans options, with the 2 main stages being side by side making it easy later in the day when the main acts take the stage. The VIP area offers plenty of options to please any fan, from big screen TV’s airing the bands as they perform and numerous seating options, to the bleachers facing the main stages, which more than doubled in size this year. Main stage acts can be heard from anywhere in the VIP area, which makes it nice when grabbing a drink or some food from one of the many vendors.
Day one, Saturday September 30, with a packed line up the day kicked off with Palisades opening up on the Loudmouth stage to an already packed venue. DED, a fairly new band from Tempe, Arizona, tore it up on the Zorn stage playing their Octane hits “Anti-Everything” and “Remember the Enemy”. The Zorn stage hosted many more amazing acts including He Is Legend, Through Fire, Fire From the Gods, and Steel Panther. This stage was on the opposite side of the grounds. However, one could use this to their advantage to browse some of the sites on the way that offered numerous stands featuring more amazing and diverse food and beverage choices.
In addition to all the incredible music this festival offers numerous options to its patrons, such as the Jack Daniels tent, the Monster Energy area and Zippo Encore area. Other attractions one could run into while going from stage to stage on the grounds would include Bourbon World, Caduceus Wine Garden, F.Y.E. Fan Experience, The Music Experience (the last 2 offering artist signings each day), and Take Me Home pet rescue. Many of these booths offering free merchandise and give-aways. Speaking of free stuff, again this year Miller Lite was a sponsor and giving away bandanas, koozies and shirts though out the festival grounds. With so much packed into this festival it is hard to mention or see all it has to offer.
The 2 main stages, The Loudmouth stage and The Monster stage, which were side by side alternated bands throughout the day. Bands such as For We Are Many, Sleeping With Sirens, Of Mice & Men, Halestorm all graced the Monster stage. Hollywood Undead took the Monster stage and as always got the crowd amped up. The guys in Hollywood Undead made one young fan’s day by bringing him on the stage for a song. What is really awesome about this is that same boy, 10 year old Dylan, had been brought on stage by them two years prior. Rob Zombie, whose elaborate stage set up is just an added bonus in addition to the head banging, mosh pit inducing energy and sound he and the rest of the guys give when on stage. Belting out hits like “Superbeast”, “Living Dead Girl” and ending with powerhouse “Dragula”, the guys also pulled out an amazing cover of Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” and Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”. It was definitely enough to get the crowd good and riled up for Five Finger Death Punch who would take the Loudmouth stage next.
Speaking of the Loudmouth stage, it laid host to a many great bands on day one of the festival. Early in the day bands, such as New Years Day fronted by the beautiful Ashley Costello, Starset with their out of this world stage presence, Eagles of Death Metal, Mastodon and, my personal favorite of the weekend, Gojira, all gave the crowds what they were longing for. Jose Mangin from Sirius XM was greeted by thousands of excited fans as he introduced Gojira. The French group came to the stage and completely blew the crowd away with their heavy hitting sound. Five Finger Death Punch was the last band to take to the Loudmouth stage before the headliner and ”Prince of Darkness” himself Ozzy Osbourne. FFDP amped up the crowd with fist pumping, mosh pit inducing songs such as “Burn MF”, “Never Enough”, ”Jekyll & Hyde” and “Lift Me Up” to mention a few. With Moody back in the saddle and sounding stronger than ever they killed it on the acoustic versions of “Wrong Side of Heaven” and “Remember Everything”, the guys ended with their hit “The Bleeding”, leaving the crowd amped and ready for the headliner.
The excitement was almost tangible and could be felt through the crowd, like a static running through the thousands of fans about to witness the one and only Ozzy Osbourne featuring guitar god Zakk Wylde. Ozzy hit the stage asking the crowd “How the fuck you doing out there? It’s good to see you. Are ready to go fucking crazy?” “Bark at the Moon” kicked off the 13 song set featuring both guitar and drum solos, that had the crowd on their feet and singing along with every word. Next came the song “Mr. Crowley” and “I Don’t Know” before the first Black Sabbath cover, “Fairies Wear Boots”, followed by the once controversial “Suicide Solution”. There was something for everyone, besides the classic Ozzy songs the crowd was graced with a few Black Sabbath covers, along with a phenomenal guitar solo by Zakk Wylde during “War Pigs”. As the night was coming to an end Ozzy performed the headbanger’s anthem “Crazy Train” amping the crowd up for the first of two encore songs starting with ”Mama I’m Coming Home” and ending the night with the classic Black Sabbath song “Paranoid”.
All in all day one was a perfect culmination of beautiful weather, heart pumping music, intense pits, good food, drink and company. Every one continued to have loads of energy and enthusiasm as the crowd left the grounds heading to their destination for some much needed rest and relaxation before returning the next day to do it all over again.
Day 2, Sunday October 1, as the beautiful weather continued, the Zorn stage kicked off with a bang with the duo ’68, followed up by Palaye Royal, and the 3 piece group Radkey all performing before the women took over the Zorn stage for the remainder of the day. First up was the Italian gothic band Lacuna Coil, fronted by the female/male duo Christina Scabbia and, Andrea Ferro playing crowd favorites such as “Our Truth”, “Heaven’s A Lie” and “My Demons.” Closing up the Zorn stage for the day was In This Moment fronted by the beautiful Maria Brink whose voice and theatrical stage show are both phenomenal. With each song seemingly being its own production the set list was only 5 songs long, with 3 of those songs coming off the new album Ritual, and ending the set with their signature song “Whore”.
The Loudmouth stage opened the second day with the band Black Map, who performed their catchy song “Run Rabbit Run”. Then up was the new sensation Greta Van Fleet performing their classic rock sounding hit “Highway Tune”. Nothing More took the stage next captivating the audience with amazing sounds and with lead singer Jonny Hawkins ascending the scorpion tail and performing “First of the Year”, a Skrillex cover. The Loudmouth stage hosted The Pretty Reckless with the beautiful and talented Taylor Momsen singing such great songs as “Oh My God”, “Make Me Wanna Die” and ending the set with “Take Me Down”. Stone Sour then took the stage playing a few songs from the new album including “Taipei Person / Allah Tea”, “Rose Red Violent Blue”, “Song #3” and ending the set with “Fabuless”. However they did break out some old tunes such as “30/30-150” and the melodic “Through The Glass”. Closing out the Loudmouth stage was Incubus performing a 13 song set including hits like “Pardon Me”, “Drive”, “Stellar” and “Megalomaniac” before ending with “Warning”.
The Monster stage saw its fair share of amazing bands on the second day of the festival as well, starting off with the Southern California band Joyous Wolf. Beartooth followed with the crowd moshing and headbanging to their intense songs “Aggressive”, “In Between” and ending with their powerhouse anthem “Hated”. Falling In Reverse and Thrice both took the stage by storm, with Thrice performing one of my favorite songs right now “Hurricane”. Next up on the Monster stage hailing out of Chicago was the boys from Rise Against, doing an 11 song set starting off with “Ready to Fall”. With energetic songs as “Re-Education (Through Labor)”, “Prayer Of The Refugee” and “The Good Left Undone” with Tim incorporating the first Verse of Black Flag’s “American Waste” into the bass bridge the crowd was definitely up and moving the whole time. Then to close out the Monster stage and the entire weekend was the much anticipated Prophets of Rage. Coming to the stage their first song was the public enemy cover, you guessed it, “Prophets of Rage”, followed by “Testify”. The 14 song set included a fair share of their own songs and Rage Against The Machine covers, along with a few other various well executed covers. The guys also payed tribute “to the great Chris Cornell” as Tom Morello put it before going into an instrumental cover of “Like a Stone”, with the audience only singing the lyrics. The set and the weekend ended with Rage Against The Machines’ signature song “Killing In The Name”, with the pits going wild this was the perfect ending to an awesome festival and weekend.
On a personal note, I have attended several of the Danny Wimmer Presents festivals and in my own opinion, as nothing more than a fan myself, is that Louder Than Life is the all-around best festival I have attended. Maybe it is the time of the year or the friendliness of the people or all the different and diverse food and beverage options that are available but this is my second year and I can guarantee it will not be my last.
– Heather Asbury
All photos by Alison Toon