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Louder Than Life Festival 2016 – Louisville, KY

The people!  The bands!  The food!  

Louder Than Life descended on Louisville, KY the first weekend of October and had the city in a strangle hold for the entire weekend as thousands of people came out in full force to take in everything that the festival had to offer.  

Coming into the weekend, the weather forecast was looking sketchy with chances of rain on both Saturday and Sunday, but the gods of heavy metal and rock and roll thought otherwise and held off Mother Nature and provided everything one with partly cloudy days and temperatures in the lower 70’s.  Perfect!

Photos From The Pit was on hand over the weekend to help cover the event and while most in attendance were there to see the headliners on the main stages, we decided to focus on the Zorn stage which was at the opposite end of the festival grounds and showcased some incredible up and coming talent in addition to some names that you will definitely be familiar with.

Saturday kicked off with Atlanta based band ’68.  Comprised of just a drummer and a guitarist/vocals, these guys brought some serious heat to the stage.  Only having about 30 minutes of stage time, band members Josh Scogin and Micheal McClellan powered through their set with intensity and kept the crowd in the palm of their hands the entire time.  These guys are definitely a force to be reckoned and we certainly look forward to seeing them again.  Check them out the next time they’re in your area!

The next band that we caught up with was Sick Puppies.  Most people are familiar with this three piece band that originally hails from Australia but these days they call LA home.  They rolled into Louisville fresh off the release of their latest album “Fury” and they did not disappoint.  They immediately tore into their new material as well as some of their older stuff and literally brought the house down with their performance.  

Next up was Chevy Metal.  Some may not be familiar with this band at first glance, but looking deeper you will likely know two thirds of who it’s comprised of with Taylor Hawkins on drums and Chris Shiflet on guitar, both of Foo Fighters fame.  Chevy Metal, which is Hawkins’ side gig when he’s not making music with the Foo is primarily a cover band which does 70’s southern rock and roll type music.  Starting off Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” and ending out their set with “Let There Be Rock” by the mighty AC/DC.  They definitely had the crowd rocking and totally left Louisville with many new fans.

Closing out Saturday night on the Zorn stage was a band that’s been rocking since the 70’s; Cheap Trick.  Starting their set out with “Hello There” and mid-way through their performance, Taylor Hawkins joined the guys on stage sitting in on drums to play “Stiff Competition” and closing out the night with “Auf Wiedersehen” with Scott Ian from Anthrax showing up to play guitar.  Even though Cheap Trick has been touring and making music for over four decades now, one would not have guessed it by the incredible performance that took place.

Sunday kicked off with Smashing Satellites hitting the Zorn stage a little after noon.  Bringing an insane range in the way of vocals is lead singer Sal Costa formerly of My Darkest Days, which had a huge hit back in 2010 with “Porn Star Dancing.”  The foursome played some of their new material of their album “Sonicaluzion” and they didn’t disappoint.  Costa has a way of drawing the crowd in with his incredible vocal range and raw intensity that’s ever present in the band’s music.  To say the crowd was captivated by their performance would be the understatement of 2016.  We expect big things from these guys as we roll into 2017.

Steam rolling their way into Louisville, the Swedish juggernauts Sabaton took the stage on Sunday.  Twenty minutes before hitting the stage, a huge crowd had gathered and being chanting “SABATON, SABATON, SABATON!”  So it was beyond clear that the crowd was electrified with anticipation to see these guys perform.  They opened with their hit “Ghost Division” and the crowd was amped.  You could see the genuine surprise and happiness on the face of each band member as they played their set as I honestly don’t think they realized that they had as a big of a following as what they do in the US and especially in Louisville.  It’s always an awesome sight to see genuine appreciation from a band towards their fans and it’s totally evident that Sabaton truly loved the support that they received that day.  They only had a little over 30 minutes to play and if you know anything about Sabaton, you’ll know that their songs are epic in length with several shredding guitar solos packed into each song.  As a result, they were only able to play about 5 songs, but it didn’t matter, they brought the house down.

Next up was LA rockers KYNG.  Promoting their latest album “Breathe In The Water”, the three piece band that is comprised of KYNG, brought an intense emotion and grittiness that was prominent in their performance.  Crushing drums, pounding bass and insane guitar solos is what really brings these guys to the next level.  We’re excited to see these guys continue to grow with popularity as they continue to tour the country with Zakk Wylde and Clutch.  Check them out the next time they’re in your area.  You’re welcome!

Rounding out our Sunday was Zakk Wylde.  You know him as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitar shredding, Nordic madman, but these days he’s fronting his own band called Zakk Sabbath.  Deemed an Ozzy tribute band, Zakk covers Black Sabbath material with an incredible sound all his own.  Starting out with Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave”, he immediately had the crowd of thousands worked into a frenzy with his incredible guitar shredding abilities.  He continued on with “Snowblind”, “War Pigs”, “Into the Void” and closing out their set with “Fairies Wear Boots.”  The crowd was insane for the entire 45 minute set and totally kept the security guys hoping as crowd surfing and moshing was running rampant the whole time.  

And what would Louder Than Life be if one didn’t take the time to check out some of the incredible food and drink that was everywhere that weekend.  We personally sampled an incredible Caprese and bacon cheddar grilled cheese from the “Lil Cheezers” food truck and it was awesome, to say the least.  We also tried some incredibly fresh, authentic Mexican food from “Ramiro’s Cantina” that was indescribably good!  We rounded out our weekend by grabbing some BBQ from Kansas based “Momma’s BBQ.”  We love some good BBQ and the guys at Momma’s brought some serious BBQ goodness with them from Kansas!  In addition to all of the incredible food choices at the festival, a weekend here wouldn’t be complete without partaking in some of the incredible drink offering the vendors have.  One of the coolest offerings was by “Wild Bill’s Soda.”  For a nominal investment, they would give you a cool metal cup, engraved with the “Louder Than Life” festival logo on one side and “Wild Bill’s Soda” on the other.  You could then choose from a selection of old fashioned soda flavors; we tried orange, which was very much like an orange dream sickle.  The best part of it was free refills each day you bought a cup…pretty tough to beat!  Probably one of the most difficult parts of the weekend was actually deciding where to try food from.  All of them looked incredible and we actually chose at random where to eat, otherwise we would have never been able to make a decision!    

In closing, we feel Louder Than Life was a huge success for everyone involved.  From incredible performances by the band, to a great crowd that came out to have fun and enjoy the event with little or no foul activity to be heard of and not to mention the insane food and drink, along with near perfect weather, made this whole experience a great weekend to remember.  We definitely look forward to returning in 2017 and we hope you’ll make plans to be there as well!

Words and photos by Jordan Vittitow