Louder Than Life proved why the festival has been dubbed the “Biggest Rock Festival in North America”, when it broke last year’s attendance record with a whopping 180,000 attendees. The festival took place the weekend of September 21-24 at Highland Festival Grounds at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. Louder Than Life, presented by Danny Wimmer Presents, welcomed over 100 bands on five stages over the course of the weekend. Here’s what we saw!
We kicked off Louder than Life on Thursday with our friends Tiger Cub. The Travel Addict loves this three-piece from Brighton, UK and expects to see big main stage opportunities coming their way soon. If you haven’t seen them yet, do so now.
Next we caught rockers Pinkshift for the first time. The Baltimore band consists of lead vocalist Ashrita Kumar, guitarist Paul Vallejo and drummer Myron Houngbedji. This diverse group brought a punk sound to the crowd to start the afternoon right.
One of our favorite acts from the afternoon was British band Nothing but Thieves. We really love Conor Mason’s vocals and the band’s overall sound.
California trio Kyng took over the Revolver Stage in the afternoon and played a high energy set. The band recently released their new single “Haunting Visions”. It is the first new song from them since 2016’s album, Breathe In The Water.
We stuck with the California bands as we caught Starcrawler on the Disruptor Stage. The band wore pink cowboy outfits and frontwoman Arrow de Wilde was a total rock goddess.
West Virginia native and TikToker Oliver Anthony was a last minute addition to the festival lineup. He played in the Kroger Tent at 4pm on Thursday and Friday. Anthony read from a Bible after calling himself a sack of shit, just like he has done in prior performances this month. He was joined by his friend Joey Davis on guitar. The tent was hot as thousands of fans crowded around the tiny stage to see the internet phenomenon.
The surprise of the day was rap rocker Sueco. He’s developed beats and collaborated with everyone from Warren Zeider to Boogie wit da Hoodie. The crowd was hooked from the moment he took the stage. Mid-set he climbed the scaffolding on the side of the stage and went into the barricade to sing to fans in what ended up being one of the highest energy sets of the weekend.
It was a treat to see punk rock legends L7 take the Disruptor Stage.
Weezer and Foo Fighter closed out the main stages on day 1. Weezer took the crowd on a ride with their giant car dashboard backdrop and graphics on stage. From the first notes of “My Name is Jonas” all the way through to an encore featuring “Buddy Holly”, it was a verifiable sing-a-long of all the band’s greatest hits.
Foo Fighters took the stage, lead as always by enigmatic frontman Dave Grohl. Josh Freese has settled in behind the drum kit and killed it. The band played hits “The Pretender”, “Times Like These” and “My Hero”, equipped with raucous guitar solos from Grohl. Later in their set, they dedicated “Aurora” to Taylor Hawkins, who recently passed away.
We began day two of Louder than Life in the Headbangers Hall Tent as Corey Taylor met fans from behind the bar. Friday brought the heat both on and off stage, with the humid, high 80s temps in the afternoon. The heat proved hard on the fans in the mosh pit as the day progressed.
Wargasm opened up the pit early in the day. They had the crowd moshing and surfing during their brief set. Milkie Way wore her signature bikini look to beat the heat.
We always love to see our metal core friends from Ohio in Miss May I who have been a staple at DWP festival for almost a decade. They know better than anyone how to get the dust kicked up with the most epic circle pits as they play through their catalog.
In the late afternoon, fans caught metal legends Megadeth. The thrash metal heavyweights packed a punch into their ten song set that included “Hook in Mouth” for the first time live since 2013. Frontman Dave Mustaine played and sang with vigor.
Bad Omens brought the fire and one of our favorite performances of the weekend. Lead singer Noah Sebastian took the stage wearing his signature all back with a band branded ski mask covering his face. They led off with a pyro filled “ARTIFICIAL SUICIDE” and “Like a Villain” to get the audience in the air and crowd surfing toward the stage.
Corey Taylor took the stage solo to sing some songs from his newly released album CMF2. His set was obviously full of hits from Stone Sour (“Tumult”, “Song #3”, “Absolute Zero” and “Through Glass”) as well as hits from Slipknot (“Before I Forget” and “Snuff”). The rocker also played an acoustic version of the SpongeBob theme and closed his set with a cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”.
Limp Bizkit, in true Fred Durst fashion, delivered one of the most bizarre festival sets that we’ve ever seen. Durst came out wearing Wes Borland’s guitar and Borland pretended to sing with a Yacht Nu Metal sign on the backdrop behind them. Borland was dressed like a creepy clown/cowboy hybrid. Durst was in a button down shirt and tie with Italian loafers and blue hair.
He announced he wouldn’t start the show until all the cameras were turned off because “he came to do drugs and eat p*ssy, not be on TV.” This nonsense resulted in fans not being able to see in the far VIP side of the festival when they turned off the screens and played. Milkie Way from Wargasm came out to sing with the band to close out their set.
After the insanity of Limp Bizkit, we ran over to catch FEVER 333 because they are always a top performance at the festival. The band took the stage with “BITE BACK”. Frontman Jason Aalon Butler was as crazy as ever. He stacked speakers up and jumped off them at the beginning of the show. He has a whole new band behind him, which was introduced. Butler acknowledged the people of color who built this country before launching into “Made an America”. He also talked about respecting women and how important women are. During their final song, “Hunting Season”, Butler climbed up the sound tent.
TOOL closed out day two. They opened their set with “Grudge” with Maynard James Keenan in the back with his classic spiked Mohawk and leather jacket belting out the song. They sounded impeccable as they powered through the classics like “The Pot” and “Stinkfist”.
While Amy stepped away to cover Farm Aid in Indianapolis, our metal correspondent Brandon Campling stepped in to take notes for the day on Saturday.
Suicide Silence’s Eddie Hermida said that the wall of death at Louder Than Life was one of the best he’d ever seen.
The Hu dazzled and were one of the best of the day. The Mongolian folk metal band came hard with “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”.
Asking Alexandria had repeated sound issues, which resulted in sound going out multiple times and at one point, out for three seconds. But the band persevered and delivered their guitar riff heavy set for the fans who love them.
Whitechapel was great. They played some old songs and hits, including “The Saw Is the Law”.
Babymetal had their fans out in full force. They teased the press with a Tom Morello performance mid-set, but he only appeared on a the video screen behind them.
Parkway Drive led by lead vocalist Winston McCall was Best in Show. Their breakdowns, crowd participation, pyro all were 10/10. Winston told us on ShipRocked not to miss their live touring show and now we know why.
Anonymous British rockers Sleep Token impressed with wild lights, energetic stage antics and precision in their songs. They looked like black ghouls on stage at times due to the lighting.
Pantera continued their tribute tour and laid down one of their best live shows to date. Zakk and Charlie continue to kill it. We are happy we caught them since the band pulled out of their upcoming Aftershock festival appearance.
M. Shadows took the stage with Avenged Sevenfold in a black ski mask and all black outfit, where he sat in a chair for the first song. The dark lighting delivered a different vibe than the brighter Welcome to Rockville performance from the beginning of the summer.
Avenged set was stopped multiple times because of people passing out in the crowd. Synyster Gates was getting so annoyed that he yelled “stop it” into the mic after the last incident. Before “A Little Piece of Heaven”, Avenged brought out a fan and he proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes. This set was also more refined, since they’ve gotten some more tour dates under their belt since coming back to the stage.
SPIN hosted their annual after party in the media lounge with a DJ set from Killer Mike.
Sunday was all about punk rock at Louder than Life. The crowd was a little lighter on Sunday, most likely from some realizing the festival is a marathon and not a sprint.
The Bronx was a fun addition to Sunday’s lineup. Lead singer Matt Caughthran went out into the crowd and made the friendliest circle pit we have ever seen, which encircled him in a cloud of dust. After their set, he hit up the Sailor Jerry booth to meet fans and get a tattoo from local artist Chris Waugh.
Flogging Molly got a good ol’ Irish circle pit going with the crowd during their afternoon set from the first notes of “Drunken Lullabies”.
Rival Sons brought unparalleled showmanship to the stage.
The Interrupters brought their famous brand of ska to the main stage in the afternoon.
When Run The Jewels took the stage, Killer Mike said they were the rappers at the festival before he and El-P launched into one of the best sets of the day. This dynamic duo is always a treat to watch.
Hardcore band Turnstile took on the big stage and proved they could hold their own. We definitely expect to see them as a headliner in the future. Singer Brendan Yates leapt into the air as he belted out their songs. The crowd surfed in preparation for the headlining bands to come.
Punk rock legends Green Day closed the festival out in style. Billie Joe and crew came with the energy from the moment the band hit the stage playing “American Idiot”. Their 23-song set was a singalong as the crowd went wild for all the hits. The band even peppered in songs from KISS (“Rock N Roll All Nite”), Operation Ivy (“Knowledge”, with a fan playing guitar) and The Isley Brothers (“Shout”). We’re still humming “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”.
If you want to get in on the Louder Than Life action for 2024 tickets are on sales here.