Fans from around the world gathered at Champion’s Park in Louisville, KY for Louder than Life’s 4th year. Still young in fest years, it was hoped Ozzy Osborne with Zakk Wylde by his side would bring in generations of rockers. This goal was met and, in total, over 60,000 fans were in attendance. This is the largest crowd to date for Louder than Life.
The morning began with breakfast at the campsite and a struggle to get ready. As newby campers, it took a moment for the lack of privacy to sink in and longer than usual for five people to get ready. Then I suddenly realized the perks! We were, in fact, camping and only had a five-minute walk to the fest. No traffic to fight and not searching for parking was killer!
After a short walk, I was in the crowd of the fest. I met up with Rick Triana of Rick Triana Photography once inside. We chatted for a moment about the weekend ahead for Ghost Cult Magazine and parted ways to get busy. First, I had to do my ritual check of the grounds. VIP now has more stadium-style seating, but it is further from the stage. As with any outdoor fest, the porta-potties are still the number one complaint by everyone. However, the vendors offered lots of food and merch options as always.
Saturday’s lineup was unparalleled to Sunday. There was no way to even compare the two days in my mind. Some of my top picks of early bands were Palisades, New Year’s Day, DED, and Eagles of Death Metal. I was forced to skip Through Fire because of scheduling.
My personal favorites who played earlier in the day were Starset and Of Mice and Men. Starset, as expected, did not disappoint. As I made my way to the front of the crowd, I found myself in the middle of a circle pit that had just formed. I quickly maneuvered to the sidelines so I could watch and help catch surfers. Hearing Aaron Pauley on lead vocals with Of Mice and Men was badass! I must admit, I was extremely skeptical of their set due to Austin Carlile’s untimely departure due to unfortunate medical reasons. I now know why Pauley stepped up from bassist to lead vocals. Losing the lead vocalist can end a band. However, OM&M appear to be fiercely moving forward based on fans’ reactions. It was definitely a heavy set with a lively crowd of surfers and moshers.
Steel Panther closed out the day on the Zorn stage. They appear to have a set fan-base because fans who were watching sang along and laughed. They are definitely not for those who are easily offended. Personally, I enjoy a good laugh while listening to the stage antics of SP.
As it grew closer to Ozzy’s set time, the crowd grew as well. This was my 4th year at LTL and it was, by far, the largest crowd I’ve seen. Hollywood Undead, Halestorm, Gojira, Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, and Ozzy Osborne closed out the night. They all stuck to their hits, but Ivan Moody made it well known he was disappointed that the kids could not come on stage due to Ozzy through multiple statements to the crowd. Also, Zombie’s set was not his typical elaborate show of robots and visuals. This could be due to Ozzy being the next set on that same stage. Overall, I feel Ozzy and Zakk put on one hell of a show. It was a great way to end the day even though Ozzy lightened what fans have come to expect from Zombie and 5FDP.
Day 2: October 1, 2017
Day 2 began in the campground 5 minutes away from the fest. Even though we were dragging ass from day 1, waking up to a sound check was reviving. It was in that moment I realized camping was an experience in itself. A sound check wakeup? Yes, please! You won’t find that perk at a hotel.
After Ozzy and Zakk shredded the stage less than 12 hours earlier, I had my doubts about the lineup for Sunday. Full disclosure! I was looking at the lineup and stated to my fiancé, “Shit, shit, shit and more shit with a few good bands.” It was time to do the day, so off I went.
The set picks for early in the day were ’68, Greta Van Fleet, Beartooth, and Nothing More. I felt this mix was more diverse than Saturday as I began to choke on my first words of the morning about the lineup. Although Champion’s Park was packed, the crowd wasn’t as thick on Sunday. This was a plus because it was a bit easier to get closer to the stages.
I spent the rest of my afternoon at the Zorn Stage for In this Moment with not one, but two, mini-metalheads; ages 10 and 11. Shout out to Julia and Avah for camping all weekend and maintaining their energy. Both were determined to surf during In this Moment. We pushed forward as the girls sang along so they could surf for their first time. Mission accomplished! They surfed not once, but twice! A kid’s perspective on a fest was noteworthy. They were truly one with many generations of fans as ITM closed out the day on the Zorn Stage with empowering words followed by her well-known song Whore.
Stone Sour, Rise Against, and Incubus were a great combination to prepare for the closing of the fest. They continued to cause me to choke on my words. What Can I say? It was one kickass set after another. Stone Sour took me back as everyone sang along to Through the Glass. This was the highlight of their set for me. SS set had fans singing along young and old singing along. RA and Incubus hit hard! Instead of singing along, most fans were going hard again as circles formed, jumping began and surfers took to the air. All bands stuck mostly with hit songs. Good choice, because they were headlining a fest that was coming to a close.
I doubted Prophets of Rage closing out LTL because they didn’t seem to “fit” into the lineup in general. They took the stage and it was on! I was now unable to breathe because I was choking so hard on my “shitty” words. I have never been more wrong and about day at a fest. At this point, I was grateful I could laugh at myself. Fans jumped to the beat for the entire set, fists and horns were in the air and shit got real. PoR was, hands down, the most surprising set of the weekend. The fans’ responses alone were remarkable. I would love to see these guys on tour. Well done, DWP. It took strategic planning to pull off an awesome day after Ozzy and Wylde headlined day 1. The fest ended with Loudmouths complimenting the lineup that many initially complained about. It was a rockin’ ending to the weekend.
Ghost Cult Magazine and those who attended Louder than Life Festival extend our deepest sympathy and thoughts with heavy hearts to all who were affected by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on 10/01/2017, over the same weekend as LTL.
WORDS BY APRIL BACH
PHOTOS BY RICK TRIANA PHOTOGRAPHY