Photos/Review by Marie-Christine Quirion
After two amazing weekends earlier, consisting of Hometown Rising and Bourbon and Beyond, Danny Wimmer Presents ended his 2019 “Trifecta” with one more crazy festival; Louder Than Life.
For the fifth edition, Danny Wimmer and his team got a line-up that nobody was expecting. With names like Disturbed, Godsmack, Stone Temple Pilots, the return of Staind and even the original lineup of Guns ’N Roses, everything was in place for a successful weekend. With a total of 128,000 spectators over 3 days, Louder Than Life made history by becoming the largest rock and heavy metal festival in America! This isn’t bad after the cancellation of last year, moving to a new site (Kentucky Exposition Center) and the addition of a third festival, Hometown Rising.
Energy blast? Nobody is better than Wilson to launch a festival. If you haven’t seen these guys on a stage, you have to buy tickets for their next show to understand what I mean. Within only 8 songs, Chad Nicefield and the boys from Michigan started a huge party in the crowd. Followed by New Years Day whose lead singer encouraged crowd surfing and asked fans to come and high five her, I Prevail, fresh with their new album plus the bloody Gwar, the crowd was more than ready for the return of Staind.
Pure raw talent… Aaron Lewis and the crew walked on stage and it was as though they never left us. Special effects were part of the performance, with random bursts of fire, and even full banners being lit ablaze. With most of their songs a bit calmer (in retrospect to the day), it was probably a good thing, because we had time to enjoy and catch our breath after the hot, sticky and crazy afternoon we trekked through.
Slipknot was the final performer and as anyone knows, the nine from Iowa are never ‘’calm’’. As usual, the band with almost 25 active years in the music industry, was incredible. White costumes, new masks (to go along with the new album), new songs, and a crazy stage setting, Slipknot closed the first night of Louder Than Life 2019 with 17 of their hits. With their whole setup overpowering the stage, the guys were walking, jumping, spinning and climbing everywhere. I felt like I couldn’t see everything at times, everything was moving too fast.
Saturday was another very hot day. Arts, games, local food, bourbon and whiskey tastings (Blackened from Metallica and No. 9 from Slipknot were specialties this weekend), I have to admit, I didn’t watch all the performers. With so much stuff to see and to taste (even for us media folks).
The lineup today was impressive, with newer bands (a few years old) sharing the day and crowd with well-established bands who have been active for more than 20 years (Halestorm/Godmsack). Over 30 years (Stone Temple Pilots/Guns n Roses) and even 40 years together, like Suicidal Tendencies.
Today was also a funny mix of energy and styles. We went from punk-rock with Dirty Honey and Anti-Flag to mainstream-rock with Halestorm and Godsmack. Tossed in punk-celtic with Dropkick Murphys to hip hop with Ice Cube, only to finish with the hard rock of Guns N’ Roses. A little bit of everything for all ages. Honestly, this line up was incredible!
I would be remorse to say I was a little bit disappointed to see nobody went full pyro or used any kind of special effects or costumes. Mics, musicians and voices for most of them, and for the most part… it worked! Oddly enough, people were leaving after only a couple of songs by Guns ‘N Roses. Could it have been the heat? Or maybe the fact that they went on over 40 minutes late. Who knows…?
After 3 weeks of almost exactly the same stages, same crew, same kiosks, and same schedules, the onsite crew were now expert at dealing with the crowd surfers, had little accidents, and almost no technical problems. Only In this Moment had problems with their drum set and mics causing a little delay. Unfortunately, the band had to short their performance to keep the rest of the day on time.
For fans from my generation (born in the 80s), Sunday was probably one of the most exciting days filled with many rock and metal legends, but also fan favorite, punk Canadian band Sum 41. Obviously, the band played their new single “Out for Blood” from their latest album and then went right into their biggest hits from the last 20 years. Following them, it was a barrage of greatest hits from bands like Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin and Marilyn Manson.
Rob Zombie, as the direct support tonight was a great choice. With a full stage of LED backboards, Rob made use of every riser, microphone, and dance move accessible to him. Although his “festival set” hasn’t changed in a few years, he is always entertaining, and usually a crowd favorite.
To close the 2019 edition of Louder Than Life? Disturbed!
In my opinion, Disturbed was a good choice but after seeing an overly social Marilyn Manson, walking in the crowd, hugging people and taking selfies. A colorful and energetic performance from Rob Zombie that created a flood of, Disturbed walked on stage with nothing more than their instruments, and voices. Realistically, these guys don’t need to impress the fans anymore by anything else than their pure talent and famous hit songs, but after the hurricane of energy, and incredible performances in the last 3 days, Disturbed should have went out with a bang. It was a total clash. They were GREAT, but too different in contrast.
I have to admit, 2019 was my first Louder Than Life festival. I had nothing to compare to. The site, the line ups or the fact this year was 3 festivals in a row to the previous Louder Than Life / Bourbon And Beyond setup.
However, it wasn’t my first big rock-metal festival. After sharing a boat for almost a week with some of these bands aboard Shiprocked, walking miles across different arenas, and driving and flying everywhere in this country to attend some crazy good festivals all in 2019, I have to say that Louder Than Life is still my favorite.
Louisville gave DWP their best location and setup to make these 3 and totally different festivals a success. We heard by the end of the week end that Danny Wimmer Presents was already promising a big surprise for next year. There will be a 2020 for these three, the “Trifecta”.