This year’s Louder Than Life Festival broke records. Over 170,000 fans attended making it the biggest rock festival in the United States. And I was lucky enough to attend. Taking place in Louisville, Kentucky, Louder Than Life had whiskey flowing, bands blasting eardrums and good eats filling stomachs.
Dozens of bands played such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, KISS, Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot and many more. But the food and drinks were also unmatched. Chef Chris Santos made food for the hospitality lounges all weekend and it was the best festival food I have ever had. From simple hot dogs, hamburgers and ribs to melt-in-your-mouth brisket mac and cheese.
Day 1: Thursday, September 22
The lesson of the day was that Tenacious D should have been on the big stage! It felt like the whole festival crowd was there including tons of other artists in the photo pit watching. Singer Amy Lee of Evanescence came out with them as well.
I had never seen Evanescence and it was a stellar performance and Lee’s voice was incredible to experience live.
NIN played all the hits “The Hand That Feeds,” “Hurt” and “Head Like A Hole” but they also cranked out a cover of “Suck” by Pigface and David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans.”
Day 2: Friday, September 23
Amigo the Devil left the whiskey behind. Instead, they brought Yoo-hoos to chug with a super fan who challenged him to a drinking battle! They’ve made a fan for life to say the least.
The gem of the day came from chef Chris Santos’ recommendation. He is a big fan of one of the heaviest bands of the festival, Sweden’s Orbit Culture and they did not disappoint.
Lamb of God brought all of the energy and fire onstage. Frontman Randy Blythe was dynamic and relentless as ever.
GWAR might have given the award-winning bartenders a run for their money as some members fed fans drinks. The band headlined the second stage with (fake) blood-soaking fans. GWAR die-hards were the people in white T-shirts who were up front ready to be sprayed with red and yellow food coloring and mosh around to these beloved metal monsters.
Slipknot closed things out with pure chaos, and that’s what fans know and love every time they hit the stage. They performed anthems such as “Spit It Out,” “Wait and Bleed,” “Surfacing” but also “The Dying Song (Time to Sing)” off of their brand new album The End, So Far.
Day 3: Saturday, September 24
Bloodywood which is Bollywood meets metal music showed out on Saturday and it was awesome. The band gave me goosebumps and they already had a die-hard fanbase on the rail. It was historic for them as Louder Than Life was their first show ever in the states.
Guitarist Jerry Cantrell warmed up the crowd for the Alice In Chains set during the weekend with a solo performance of his own.
You cannot have a better string of rock headliners than back-to-back performances by visual performers such as Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and KISS.
KISS ended the night and brought everything they have….including giant inflatable versions of themselves that flanked both sides of the stage. They descended from the sky on platforms to fireworks and had tons of fire, pyro and confetti throughout the whole set. Rumor has it, they are going to do 100 more shows so I don’t really think this is the end of the road.
Day 4: Sunday, September 25
Jelly Roll won the day for me with his country, rock, and rap selection of hits and he also brought the pyro and a full band. He pulled double duty as he bartended to a gigantic crowd in the headbangers hall tent in the afternoon.
It was a good day for punk rockers as Bad Religion and Anti-Flag swarmed the stage.
Alice In Chains hit the stage and performed notable hits, the band has a lot of them as they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined the night but some fans noticed something was off and were left disappointed. According to a Reddit thread, someone threw a beer at singer Anthony Kiedis which messed up a mic and the band continued to have sound issues which led to the set ending early, unfortunately. (Thanks crappy guy who threw the beer!)
All in all the weekend was jam-packed and the largest rock festival in the states is already gearing up for next year. Louder Than Life 2023 will return on September 21-24 at its home at the Highland Festival Grounds at Kentucky Exposition Center.