Live at Champions Park, the annual metal fest featured a who’s-who of the hard rock world. Go here to see our gallery from the 2015 event. Above: guess who?
BY PHOTOJOURNALIST MARK JACKSON
For the third year in a row, the Louder Than Life Festival took place at Champions Park in Louisville, KY. If you are true metalhead and you missed this event, you should immediately kick your own ass! The weather was messy most of the week leading up to the festival, but after the gates were open for about an hour the Rock Gods said NO More! The weather was overcast most of Saturday, but Sunday was a perfect day with mid 80’s and mostly sunny. This Festival is billed as a rock festival with bourbon and gourmet man food, and the servings certainly lived up to the hype.
The festival had a lot of great sponsors such Jack Daniels, Monster Energy, Miller Lite, and lots of other bourbon makers. I must say one of my favorite sponsors this year had to be Vibes. Vibes is sold as high-fidelity earplugs. Vibes was kind enough to give me a set to try out. I must say that these earplugs are much more comfortable than the several of regular earplugs that I have used in the past. The best part about these earplugs is that they lower the sound by 20db, but keeps most of the quality of music. This is a life saver when you are at a concert little lone pressed against the speakers in the pit right in front of the artist where the bass will rattle your insides. I highly recommend you pick up a pair for yourself whether you use at a concert, work in a noisy environment, or just want to tone down the volume of your spouse! You can order yours here for less than $25. http://www.discovervibes.com/
Now on with the show! Saturday had great bands starting with Twelve Foot Ninja, Neck Deep, Avatar, I Prevail, The Amity Affliction, Motion in White, HellYeah, Anthrax, Pierce The Veil, Chevy Metal, The Cult, Cheap Trick, Slayer, and last but not least ending the night with Avenged Sevenfold.
Avatar, who I first saw at Rock on the Range earlier this year is from Gothenburg, Sweden. Johannes Eckerström announced that Avatar just stole the show after completing their first song, and I have to say that they did indeed steal the afternoon. Looking like an evil circus has come to town, Avatar has a tight sound and Johannes owns the stage.
Motionless In White is a gothic metalcore band who hails from Pennsylvania took the stage in the 3:45 time slot. The band defiantly looked and sounded the part of goth with lots of black eyeliner and even black painted arms, they even had one member dressed as the exorcist complete with green vomit. The crowd had now been on site since 10 A.M. or so for the late arrivers, so with plenty of convent locations to get a drink the crowd was rocking and surfing.
Next up was HellYeah who consist of Mudvayne’s lead singer Chad Gray, former Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, Bass player Kyle Sanders, guitarist Christian Brady, and former Pantera and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul. This was another highlight of the day for me. Chad’s energy on stage is nonstop, with antics such as high jumps, head banging and face covered in blood. With a lineup such as this in one band, you know you’ve got a solid hour of great music. My personal favorite is the new cover song of “I Don’t Care Anymore” by Phil Collins.
Next up was cover band Chevy Metal. Chevy Metal is much more than a cover band. Drummer and front man Taylor Hawkins who is the drummer for The Foo Fighters says “We are just a wedding band”, but they are much more than a wedding band. You never know who may join them on stage when they are playing.
Just before sunset The Cult took the stage. I have loved The Cult’s music since the album Love. From the moment I first heard “She Sells Sanctuary” I was hooked. The Cult sounded as good as they did in the 80’s and the mostly younger crowd enjoyed rocking out with them. One of my favorites of the day was “Fire Woman”. The only negative I can give them was the fact that we had to photograph from the soundboard. This seems to be a growing trend with aging artist. We all get older and fans still want to see you not an image of a band from across the stadium. Look at Neil Young and Willie Nelson, they accept the age and keep rocking and the fans love seeing good pictures of their idols. My two cents anyways.
Another example of older acts who are still rocking and allowing photographers up close is Cheap Trick. With too many hits to name them all starting in 1977. A couple of my favorites are “I Want You to Want Me”, “The Flame”, “She’s Tight”, “Dream Police”, “Tonight It’s You”, and of course “Surrender”. Guitarist Rick Nielsen has always been known for a great guitar player, but even better know for the unusual guitars he dawns on stage. I commend Louder Than Life for mixing up the line up the way they did this year. This is a great way to draw in all age rockers and to give the young ones a chance to see where today’s acts found their influences.
Slayer took the Loudmouth Stage at 8:35 and from the first note didn’t let up until the last note. I don’t know how they kept up that pace for the full set. I must admit, they were a little hard for my taste but then again they weren’t there for me! The massive crowd was head banging, sweating, and crowd surfing like there was no tomorrow.
Last but not least for the night was Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold also known as A7X is from Huntington Beach, California, and has been evolving since forming in 1999. Starting out more on the metalcore side and recently moving more toward the rock and heavy metal. Being the headliner and only stage running, the crowd had swollen to fill half the park. There was a nonstop line of crowd surfers during the entire show. A7X put on a great show with the sound on point. My only gripe with this set is that out of 50+ photographers covering the weekend, only 4 were preapproved by the band and allowed to shoot the set.
Sunday started for me with Adelitas Way at 12:15. They only had a thirty minute set, but it was a great way to start out the day. Adelitas Way got the crowd started on this long day of rock.
Skindred took the stage next. I had never heard of them before, but I’m glad I got to see their set. Skindred is a rock band formed in Newport, South Wales. Skindred is a mixture of heavy metal, alternative rock, reggae. Skindred wins the award for most fun band of the afternoon, between getting a large number of the crowd to take of their shirts and twirl them in the air during one song or asking the crowd “do you want to hear some evil shit?” and then playing Justin Bieber.
The weather now reaching mid 80’s, Trivium took the stage at 1:25 on the Loudmouth Stage. Trivium is now out touring in support of their latest album Silence in the Snow.
Other bands during the day lineup included Parkway Drive, Pop Evil, Skillet and Alter Bridge, and Ghost. Korn took the Monster Stage at 6:25, and you would have sworn that they were headlining the evening with the size of the crowd. Korn alone would have been enough for the evening, but we still had Disturbed and Slipknot to go.
Speaking of Slipknot, They were indeed the headliner on the Monster energy stage and the final band of the night. If you have never seen this crazy scary rock show, you owe it to yourself to catch them. Corey Taylor can go from a slow clear vocal to an all out scream and make you love both ends of the spectrum. The energy from all nine members is intense and the elevating/rotating drum kits on both sides of the stage will leave you mesmerized.