Whew, what a trip.
My 18-year-old brother and I sometimes struggle to find things to talk about. Seems normal. One common thread is our love of music. When that conversation started, it was clear that our tastes were a little different, but it was something we could meet in the middle about. When I told him about a fest in Louisville that was hard rock-centric, his interest was peaked. When I shared previous lineups, he was elated. When I told him I could get him tickets as a graduation present, he lost his damn mind. Low and behold, I was going to Louder Than Life.
I had heard and known people who had gone in previous years, but not only was it not really of interest to me, I always seemed to be out of town or something. This year Brother Donovan made the trek down from Fort Wayne, and I geared up for a weekend at Champions Park.
Day 1 –
Even after Chris’ guidance, I felt very out of my element. Which is a weird idea, considering how many festivals I have now attended. Nevertheless, I definitely struggled to find comfort as my brother went into the middle of the insanity and I just hung out on the outside watching bands I don’t know all by myself. I went to Bonnaroo by myself and had no issue navigating that on my own, but this foreign music and the patrons made me a little shook. He returned after an aggressive Hollywood Undead set, and we spent the rest of the evening together, thankfully. Things got better from there…
I particularly enjoyed the female-fronted bands we saw that day. New Year’s Day frontwoman Ash Costello made the crowd wail for female leads in metal and you know what, I respect that. Halestorm was a solid set, mainly in part to how impressive Lzzy Hale is. Girl is a rock goddess for sure.
I finally got to see Eagles of Death Metal, who was probably the most tame band on the lineup that day, and see what Brittany was raving about after the Mercury show this past year. Starset was also entertaining with their weird space suits and such, and Chris’ highly recommended Gojira was different and I enjoyed from the grandstand. Momma needed to rest her feet, ya know?
Everyone seemed to be there for Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch and Ozzy Osbourne. I didn’t particularly like Zombie or FFDP at all, but did find it wildly impressive that Ozzy looked and sounded so peppy. Alas, Taco Bell was calling my name so we dipped out early in his set.
Day 2 –
So Lou City season ticket holders were able to get free Sunday tickets, so once again, I was able to gain a few friends for the Sunday version of LTL. Beaver, Brittany and Jeffrey all made it an eventful evening.
There were far fewer people than the Saturday edition, and that may be because the music lineup was more my speed and less FFDP/Rob Zombie…a lot of folks appeared to leave for day 2. It suited me just fine.
Beaver was really impressed with In This Moment, describing them as having the theatrics of Lady Gaga but with a metal sound. I again enjoyed the lady-lead-singer projects, including The Pretty Reckless (Taylor Momsen of Gossip Girl, duhhh). The night wrapped up with a few favorites from our past, Rise Against and Incubus.
Prophets of Rage closed out the evening, and honestly we were all intrigued and ready for some sort of drama given the crowd and the back story of this super group. That being said, we experienced none of that negativity. The show brought the best out of the crowd, inspiring Britt and Beaver to crowd surf with the rest of the LTL fam. The ranging musical talent on the stage was nothing short of awe-inspiring and for sure was cause for a good fucking time.
I understand wholly why this festival has stuck around for as many years as it had. There were A LOT of people there, particularly Saturday. Even as packed as B&B felt with people and their chairs, there appeared to be way more rock fans. And the cool thing: everyone seemed to be confident, loving, true music fans. There was a wide variety of folks (though mostly middle aged white people) who weren’t afraid to be their authentic selves, respecting others in music. I mean the pure velocity, ferocity, and number of crowd surfers attests to this community. If anything, that may have been my biggest takeaway.
My brother wants to make this an annual thing… I’ll oblige him, and even encourage him to bring his friends and make it into his own thing. But honestly, I’d go again anyway.
[all photos courtesy of Danny Wimmer Presents]