The last weekend in September is a weekend that many festival-goers have etched into their minds. September 27th-29th saw music lovers from all over the world pour into Louisville, KY’s Highland Festival Grounds at the KY Expo Center for Louder Than Life, one of the country’s largest rock festivals. Organized by premiere independent festival producer Danny Wimmer, Louder Than Life concluded what was dubbed Trifesta, with the new country music festival Hometown Rising and Bourbon & Beyond filling out the previous two weekends. The festival drew a record turnout of 128,000 people for the weekend and 289,000 people for all three festivals combined. With performances from bands including Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Guns N’ Roses, Disturbed, Ice Cube and Staind (their first performance in 5 years), it was truly a memorable weekend for all who attended! Although many fans had attended the old location at Champion’s Park in years past, the cancellation of the festival last year due to flooding led the festival to take place in a new location this year. “What an unbelievable weekend! We’re always striving for a bigger show, a better experience, and I’m thrilled that we broke our DWP attendance record in a city that has become so close to my heart,” says Danny Wimmer, founder of Danny Wimmer Presents. “But we’re not done yet. I can’t wait for 10/10 and our big announcement about 2020″, in reference to a big announcement that is coming on October 10th about next year’s festival. Although music is a focal point of any festival, seeing the different fashion choices and make up that many of the fans wore was just as entertaining! I saw plenty of Slipknot-themed masks, goth-looking outfits and make up, glittery make up, a sexy priest and nun outfit, women who were shirtless, with only taped x’s over their nipples, a man in a Santa costume and a man in a Spiderman costume, among the many different looks over the weekend. It was definitely a fun people watching experience!
Friday kicked things off with a bang! Fans poured into the festival grounds as soon as the gates opened, racing each other to the barricade and exploring the new location. The festival grounds had plenty of food selections that included several local food vendors such as Red Top Dogs and Joella’s Hot Chicken. Attendees could play a spirited game of cornhole, browse the massive merch tent, visit the numerous bourbon tents and lounges that were set up to offer festival-goers the finest selections of bourbons from top distilleries in the region, visit the art tent and different art displays, participate in live art drawings, visit the general store or participate in the various artist signings that took place over the weekend. When it came time for the music to start, the crowd could watch bands on one of the two side-by-side main stages, the Oak and Barrel Stages, or head to the other end of the fairgrounds to experience the bands that were performing on the Loudmouth Stage. Musical highlights of the day included: Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals who, along with a surprise appearance from members of GWAR, performed many of Pantera’s classic hits! Phil Anselmo at one point addressed the crowd, saying “This is a bullshit question. People ask it all the time. But I want you to be straight up with me. Are you having a good time?” to which the crowd responded with plenty of cheers! GWAR, who put on a fun performance, are definitely not a band for the easily offended! Spraying “blood” into the crowd from various parts of the body, they also used babies as props and had a guest appearance by a “cop”. Staind, in their first live appearance in five years, wowed the crowd with a heavy set that included classic hits and deep cuts that thrilled both their older and newer fans alike. Closing out Friday night was fan favorite Slipknot. The band recently released their latest album We Are Not Your Kind, the top album in the country right now. They did not disappoint their fans this evening and were the perfect end to Day 1.
Saturday saw a bit of a slower start, with festival-goers arriving a little later for Day 2 due to a late night and plenty of hangovers. Saturday was the day I was most excited for and it did not disappoint! Musical highlights from Saturday included: The Pink Slips, one of the earlier performing bands of the day, wowed and dazzled the crowd with their fun punk rock sound. Singer Grace McKagan, daughter of Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, dominated the stage with her commanding performance, a true performer who let her rock star roots shine. Dirty Honey, with their classic rock n’ roll sound, have been creating a buzz recently with their classic sound and dynamic live performance. I overheard a few people talking before the band went on about how great the band was and how excited they were for the performance! Punk rock pioneers Anti-Flag showed the crowd a wild set that was complete with spins, leg kicks and a few high jumps thrown in! They were incredibly engaging with the crowd and filled the crowd with their punk rock spirit and energy! Skate/thrash punk band Suicidal Tendencies was pure energy from start to finish. Singer Mike Muir, with his trademark, upturned ST hat over a bandana that covers most of his eyes, was a blur of motion across the stage, singing classics like “Institutionalized” and “You Can’t Bring Me Down”. Rap/Hip Hop legend Ice Cube, of N.W.A. fame, got the crowd hyped with plenty of fan favorites. He chatted often with the crowd and mentioned how much he enjoyed being a part of the festival. Closing out the festival with a 3 hour set were rock icons Guns N’ Roses in their first festival appearance of 2019. Singer Axel Rose, sporting shorter hair these days, sang GNR classic hits and covers that included Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”. It was an incredible end to the day.
Musical highlights from Sunday included: Louisville rock band Anemic Royalty, who were all smiles and energy as they got the final day started. Having formed in 2014, the local band has garnered an ever-growing fan base and performed their largest festival to date with their appearance! Louisville favorites White Reaper are always a party on stage. Having recently signed to Elektra Records, the band continues to reach a wider audience with their fun, garage rock sound. Always a treat to see live, this performance was no exception! In This Moment, with their religious-themed stage props and their costumes and face make up, are always a delight to see live. Singer Maria Brink, with her long, flowing white gown and long blonde hair, started out the set with a white sheet covering her head and face, as well. Shedding the sheet in the second song, she gracefully moved across the stage and had the crowd singing along to their favorite songs. Ho99o9 was one of the more highly anticipated performances of the day and their energy was infectious! Combining dark hip hop with hardcore punk, singer Eaddy is a blur of motion on stage as the band gets the crowd hyped! A band on the rise, they had plenty of fans in the crowd who were excited to watch them perform. Rob Zombie, wearing a cowboy hat and covered in fringe, was well-received this evening by the crowd of fans! With platforms set up at the front of the stage, he, guitarist John 5 and bassist Piggy D rotated amongst the platform to reach all parts of the crowd. With great lighting, great energy and beach balls on stage and in the crowd, it was an incredibly fun atmosphere. A filmmaker, as well, he made mention of his recent movie 3 From Hell that rounds out the House Of 1,000 Corpses/The Devils Rejects trilogy and paid tribute to one of the trilogy’s main stars, Sid Haig, who recently died. Closing out Day 3 was Disturbed. With their new album Evolution recently released, the band performed plenty of new tracks mixed in with fan favorites. They provided the perfect end to the three day festival. With three days of rock and punk band performances and thousands of fans who came together for their love of music, it’s clear why Louder Than Life has become more and more popular with each passing year. Make sure to follow them for announcements on Louder Than Life 2020! You can follow Louder Than Life and Danny Wimmer Presents via the following links: