Once again tens of thousands of metal and rock fans descended upon the serene setting of Champions Park in the beautiful city of Louisville, Kentucky for a weekend full of fun at Louder Than Life. The festival made its annual stop in the city bringing some of the world’s hottest rock and roll bands as well as delicious gourmet food options and the finest in Kentucky bourbons.

The set up for this festival is quite nice with plenty of shade trees, nice grass, and lots of picnic tables available when you needed to stop and refuel. The Monster Stage and the Loudmouth Stage were set up side by side allowing for an easy transition for fans to enjoy all their favorite bands without missing a beat. The smaller Zorn Stage was situated at the other end of the venue and was easily
accessible by a short walk which also allowed festival goers to see all the food, drink, and merchandise options available to them. Things got rocking early with the New Jersey band Palisades playing songs off their recent self-titled album and the showmanship of New Year’s Day ash vocalist Ash Costello and guitarist Nikki Misery put on quite the performance. The crowd surfing began early with strong sets by Of Mice & Men and Sleeping With Sirens led by talented vocalist Kellin Quinn. Fans of all ages, shapes, and sizes surfed toward the barricade (even a young lady with a prosthetic leg in her wheelchair was partaking in the action). Starset always puts on a great show hitting the stage in their spacesuits amidst a bevy of smoke and fog. Eagles of Death Metal provided a light hearted change of pace as frontman Jesse Hughes and bassist the beautiful Jennie Vee lit up the stage with their rockabilly funk with Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds joining them for the first song. The award for heaviest set of the day went to the French heavy metal band Gojira as they mesmerized the Louder Than Life crowd playing for the first time in the great state of Kentucky. While all of this was happening on the main stages, the Zorn Stage was busy as well with up and coming bands Ded, Through Fire, and Fire From the Gods putting in solid sets and keeping the crowd rocking. The comedic glam metal band Steel Panther closed out the Zorn Stage with an entertaining and fun set. Back to the main stages,  Halestorm rocked the audience with frontwoman Lzzy Hale sporting a new, short hair cut and drummer Arejay Hale proving once again he is one of the best around as he stood on his kit and was throwing and catching sticks at will. Mastodon was up next with their unique blend of metal genres into one sound. Vocalist and bassist Troy Sanders led the band through a set of Mastodon classics as well as some tunes off their new album “Emperor of Sand.” The most theatrical production of the night was next as Rob Zombie took the stage with his talented band of musicians including the incredible John 5 on guitar. There were lights, fog, LED screens, giant props, elaborate costumes, and basically all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from a Zombie show. Rob’s set included some of his biggest hits like “Dragula” as well as White Zombie covers like “Thunder Kiss ’65” as well as a cover of the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” and Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” Zombie is a tough act to follow and Five Finger Death Punch would have to bring every ounce of energy they had to keep up as Ivan Moody and company
hit the stage to “Lift Me Up.” Guitarist Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory provided riff after blistering riff but it was hometown boy bassist Chris Kael clearly wining out as the fan favorite taking time to give the audience a shout out.  Midway through the set the band went acoustic for “Wrong Side of Heaven” and “Remember Everything” with Ivan taking a moment to explain his behavior earlier in
the year when he stated he was done with the band and thanked his bandmates for forgiving his “human” moment. Afterwards the band cranked things back up Death Punch style closing out with “Under and Over It” and a brutal version of “The Bleeding.” The night was not over yet, as the act that everyone was waiting for what was still to come. As the ten o’clock hour began, the legend himself Ozzy Osbourne hit the Monster Stage to cap off an incredible night of music and mayhem. The energy at Champions Park was palpable as the Ozzman himself began the opening verse of “Bark at the Moon” under the Kentucky moonlight. With extraordinary guitarist
Zakk Wylde once again at his side, Ozzy rocked the house playing all his hits and even threw in a bunch of Black Sabbath tunes for good measure. Unfortunately, the cool night air played havoc with Ozzy’s vocals. By the third song, his voice was cracking badly and by midway through his set, he let the audience sing the majority of “War Pigs.” Even though he had some vocal issues, I really don’t think anyone cared. They were for a once in a lifetime chance to see one of the legends of heavy metal perform and that’s exactly what they got. His voice may not be what it used to be but he had the house rocking and by the end of the night, as the familiar opening strains of “Crazy Train” began, you could barely hear Ozzy over the roar of the crowd. There was no better ending than to finish with an encore of “Mama, I’m Coming Home” and the Sabbath classic “Paranoid.” As everyone made their way to the exits, they were amped up from a great day of music and ready to return the next day.

I’m not sure if everyone was tired or stayed out too late Saturday night after being rocked by Ozzy but Sunday started off a bit low key with newer bands Black Map and Joyous Wolf getting things started. Up next was a band I was really looking forward to, Greta Van Fleet. These young men have an incredible classic rock Zeppelin feel with vocalist Josh Kiszka an up and coming superstar. Rounding out their lineup are Josh’s brothers Sam on bass and Jake on lead guitar with Danny Wagner on drums. Things really amped up as Beartooth got the crowd going with “Aggressive” and their newest single “Sick of Me.” The trend continued as Jonny
Hawkins and Nothing More cranked out hit after hit including “Jenny” and Hawkins requisite performance on his “Scorpion Tail.” Led by frontman Ronnie Radke, Falling in Reverse came out and delivered to an appreciative audience as the crowd surfing continued. The Zorn Stage was going on simultaneously with “’68” and “Radkey” lighting up the crowd before the theatrical acts of Lacuna Coil and In This Moment closed out the day in fine fashion with two of the best front women in rock and roll in Cristina Scabbia and Maria Brink. After reuniting in 2015, Thrice has become one of the hottest rock acts around as they hit the stage led by frontman Dustin Kensrue
performing songs from their newest record “To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere.” One of the bands that everyone was waiting for was up next as Stone Sour hit the stage led by Corey Taylor and ripped through a frenzied set of hits new and old. Taylor brought out a confetti bazooka to spray the crowd with colored bits of paper as the band ripped through “Taipei Person/Allah Tea” and “Song #3” off their latest album “Hydrograd” as well as Stone Sour classics “30/30-150” and the fan favorite “Through Glass.” After the best giving the best performance of the day, I could only wonder why Stone Sour wasn’t given a headlining spot this year. The political angst of
alt-rockers “Rise Against” followed whipping the crowd into a frenzy as body after body surfed across the venue in an attempt to get up close and personal with their heroes on stage. Songs like “The Violence” and “Help Is on the Way” really hit home in today’s political climate. With everything going on in this crazy world, it is always awesome to see people come together in music and nobody facilitates that better than Rise Against. California rockers Incubus were up next as frontman Brandon Boyd led them through a subdued by musically stellar set. Although best known for their late nineties and early 2000’s hits like “Pardon Me” and “Stellar,”
Incubus has recently released their eight studio album “8” with single “Nimble Bastard” easily fitting into the set alongside those classic songs. Sunday’s full day of rock would come to a close with the revolutionary rap metal of “Prophets of Rage.” The band is a true amalgam of rock and rap acts with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk joining forces with legendary rap acts in DJ Lord and Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real of Cypress Hill. The resulting band is an absolutely rage filled blend of rap and metal mayhem. The band took the stage to very dimly lights standing with fists in
the air before kicking off with Public Enemy’s “Prophets of Rage.” Guitarist Tom Morello was on fire with the words “Arm The Homeless” and “End Racism” written on his guitar as the band blasted through Rage Against The Machine classics as well as
the band’s newest track “Living On the 110.” Chuck D and B-Real kept the beats going in style all night long. The most poignant moment of the night and of the festival itself happened towards the end of their set as Tom Morello dedicated a song to his former Audioslave bandmate, the late great Chris Cornell as he led Prophets through an instrumental version of Audioslave’s “Like A Stone” urging the audience to sing along if they knew the words and if not to say a prayer for peace.  You could feel the goosebumps as the audience came together in force on the chorus to honor the late musician. Afterwards, the rock was back on as Rise Against
members Tim McIlrath and Zach Blair joined the band onstage for a cover of the MC5 tune “Kick Out The Jams.” The evening ending with the song everyone was waiting for as the familiar beats of “Killing In The Name Of” began as the venue exploded in a frenzy for the chorus. In another tribute to Cornell, the band exited the stage to a taped outro of Soundgarden’s “Slaves and Bulldozers.”

Louder Than Life has gotten louder and larger every year. becoming a not to be missed festival. It’s all the best of rock and metal in a perfect setting in a terrific city. What more could you ask for? This was my first time attending the festival but it certainly won’t be my last. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for 2018. Until then, rock on louder and larger than life!

Ozzy Osbourne Set List:

Bark At The Moon

Mr. Crowley

I Don’t Know

Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath cover)

Suicide Solution

War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)

Drum Solo

Iron Man (Black Sabbath cover)

Shot In The Dark

I Don’t Want To Change The World

Crazy Train

 

Encore:

Mama, I’m Coming Home

Paranoid (Black Sabbath cover)

 

Prophets of Rage Set List:

 

Prophets of Rage (Public Enemy cover)

Testify (Rage Against The Machine cover)

Take The Power Back (Rage Against The Machine cover)

Guerrilla Radio (Rage Against The Machine cover)

Living On The 110

Hail To The Chief

Bullet In The Head (Rage Against The Machine cover)

Hand In The Pump/Can’t Truss It/Insane In The Brain/Bring The Noise/Jump Around

Sleep Now In The Fire (Rage Against The Machine cover)

Like A Stone (Audioslave cover-Instrumental)

Kick Out The Jams (MC5 cover)

How Could I Just Kill A Man (Cypress Hill cover)

Bulls On Parade (Rage Against The Machine cover)

Killing In The Name Of (Rage Against The Machine cover)

Photo Gallery

We would like to thank Kristine Ashton-Magnuson from Kristine Ashton-Magnuson Media for the credentials to review the festival.

About The Author Kris Engelhart

I am a small business owner, freelance writer, and part-time piano instructor in Charlotte, NC. My musical career started at the age of five when I was forced into taking piano lessons. I played flute in the school band and added the guitar as a young teen. There is nothing I would rather do than be at a live show. My first concert was Shaun Cassidy at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo in 1978.
My top five live shows ever are:

1. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY 1984- They played for 3 ½ hours and it was awesome.

2. Carolina Rebellion- Metrolina Expo Grounds, Charlotte, NC, May, 2011 – The first ever Carolina Rebellion featured over 15 bands with Avenged Sevenfold headlining. Non-stop music for over 12 hours.
3. Chevelle- Food Lion Speed Street, Charlotte, NC, May, 2008 – The first time I ever saw Chevelle live and I was hooked!
4. Skillet with Red- Bojangle’s Coliseum, Charlotte, NC, April, 2010 – Skillet is one of my favorite bands and they totally kick it live.
5. 106.5 The End’s Weenie Roast #9- Verizon Wireless Amiptheater, Charlotte, NC , October, 2003- Featured Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace.