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Gene Simmons once stated that “Rock is finally dead”.  He was actually referring to the amount of difficulty new bands are having with finding their place in the music industry and seeking success when the digital age of music is making record sales nearly impossible.  However many people have taken this phrase seriously and it’s no surprise given the increase of focus that our culture has placed on Pop and Hip Hop within the past decade.

Having said that it’s obvious that with the amount of people in attendance of The Louder than Life Festival, Rock is most certainly alive and well.  I have been keeping my ear out for an official attendance count but last year’s festival brought in nearly 37,000 and from everyone we talked to this year seemed much bigger.  Just take a look at this thank you message from the Official Facebook Page.LTL2015

Yeah… Exactly!  Louder Than Life is no joke and demands the attention of any rocker that is within commuting distance.  With such a variety of entertainment, killer lineup, amazing food, beverages and awesome staff the LTL festival brings something that has sorely been missing in Louisville for many years.

Growing up in Louisville has always been a roller coaster when referring to it’s music scene.  Granted there have always been a few good venues to catch a show, a lot of these once famous locations were lost for a variety of business reasons throughout the years.  Toy Tiger, Tek World, Louisville Gardens, and of course Phoenix Hill Tavern are just a few that have fallen.  Personally some of the greatest moments of my youth was at the lesser ambitious WLRS Fest at Waterfront Park.  With so many of these venues and events slowly becoming ancient history, one had to wonder the future state of music in Louisville, KY.

Thankfully the KFC Yum Center was built, Fourth Street Live has done nothing but gain popularity and The Diamond Pub is seemingly doing nothing but booking amazing acts.  One would say that the future isn’t looking so bad right?  I do believe this answer becomes immensely clear with the second year of the Louder Than Life Festival and gives no indication of slowing down.  Never have I been so excited to live in Louisville than after I attended this years presentation.  Check out this line up.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, 3 Doors Down, Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, Seether, ZZ Top, Bring Me The Horizon, Rob Zombie, Hinder, Hollywood Undead, Godsmack, Collective Soul, Chevelle, Atreyu, We Came As Romans, Skid Row, Sevendust, 10 Years, Black Stone Cherry, Issues, Art of Dying, Beartooth, RavenEye, Whiskey Myers, Nothing More, Aranda, Starset, The Marmozets, Tremonti, Kentucky Headhunters, Butcher Babies, Like a Storm, Turbowolf, Dorothy, All Them Witches, We Are Harlot, Jelly Roll, Glorious Sons, Saint Asonia, Red Sun Rising, Goodbye June, Romantic Rebel, Cliver, and Kill it Kid.

While the bands are definitely the highlight,  there are also plenty of other distractions worth mentioning.  The NXT of WWE brought many great performers to take the stage both days and managed to provide an excellent change of pace to the event.  Complete with video screens, entrance music, storylines and that special brand of WWE humor not only did this attraction appeal to wrestling fans, but served as a welcome addition to the most casual of attendees.  At one point, one of the wrestlers were giving out free donuts as part of their shtick.  (I didn’t get one of these, but I heard they were amazing!)

Speaking of food, this was also one of the best parts of the festival.  While the prices won’t be that friendly to your wallet, there were some truly excellent vendors serving the crowd this year.  I personally enjoyed El Taco Luchador (which just so happens to be located on Baxter Avenue Rd.) and their chicken quesadillas.  Sure they were a tad messy, but who cares!  These things were amazing and earned themselves a new customer.  I actually plan on visiting the Baxter Ave location based on our selection which I’m sure was the point, but it’s nice to see food being served at that level of quality from a food truck.

The second highlight of this experience was from Pie Baby Wood Fired Pizza.  I’m a little unclear on whether or not this pizza was actually as good as it tasted or I was just starving by the time I took a break to eat.  Either way I was recommending this pizza to everyone I talked to at the festival.  I really wished they had a Louisville location, but being based out of Jacksonville, FL I may have to wait a bit for that moment.  Of course they just so happened to be regulars at the festival, so a future location could be a very real possibility.  For now I suppose I will have to just deal with the annual offerings.

These are only two glimpses into the rich world of food that LTL offers and trust me rocking out for two days straight you will thankful for such wonderful selections.

Beverages are just as diverse providing Water, Soft Drinks, Plenty of Beer, and enough Bourbon choices to make any Kentuckian proud.  Speaking of Bourbon, there was actually an entire Bourbon tent providing a diverse selection of all the breweries in attendance.  I found this tent to be another interesting point bringing just about any Brand you prefer, but also to provide a more laid back lounge type of vibe complete with a mini stage and Pianist.

For those interested in a more exclusive experience there is the Miller Time VIP Lounge which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Entering the tent you are greeted with couches on both sides centered around screens that show footage from the majority of the stage acts.  There is a complete bar with surprisingly very friendly staff (not that I expected anyone to be rude, but venues this size usually stay very busy and manages to sacrifice a small bit of customer service at the very least) and a ton of seating conveying .  This VIP area gives access to a segregated patio complete with bleachers and plenty of standing room to watch live performances at the Monster Stage South.  Theoretically you could watch acts from the North Stage, but I found the angle to be slightly too awkward to watch from within the VIP area.  Going deeper into the VIP area leads you to another outdoor partition that grants access to additional food vendors, restrooms (porta potties), and a small amount of outdoor seating.  One of the cooler additions to this area is a much larger digital screen and substantial sound system that broadcasts live performances.

At first I thought this to be unnecessary seeing as we were at a huge outdoor concert.  Were we there to watch a performance on television or to watch live bands play?  However after a few hours I quickly came to appreciate this addition.  One of the biggest reason being you don’t have to miss a moment of the show while you wait in line for food.  (Which can be somewhat lengthy at times)  I was able to continue watching the Breaking Benjamin performance easily while my pizza was being cooked, I could leisurely eat and even take a seat to rest while never having to miss any of the show.  Before I get into the other reason you should take a look at the layout of the venue.

LTL site

Now I really feel like the layout serves the event well, but if you notice there are four main stages.  Two are on each side of the site.  Well it takes about twenty minutes to walk across depending on the crowd and honestly by the time you get to day two your body is feeling the burn.  There were a couple of times I decided to just relax and watch performances on the Jager and East stage from the comfort of the VIP tent.

The only other drawback to the VIP bonuses is that it does cost a bit more.  Is it worth it?  I suppose that is up to the individual and how they would like to experience the event.  I can say that I enjoyed the freedom of trucking across the venue to catch shows or just sit back and relax while watching a show on the screen and saving my energy.  It also helps that the VIP area is a little more exclusive (obviously because of the price difference) and provides shorter lines and a lot less people to navigate through.  During some of the peak hours it also served as great reprieve from the general admission crowd.  Again I suppose the price point may turn some people off of this option, but if it didn’t it wouldn’t be very exclusive now would it?

Getting back to the main reason for this event is the amazing line up and performances from the artists.  While the actual performances vary and doesn’t have much reflection on the event staff, I can certainly commend them for putting together such and impressive line up and keeping everything on schedule and running smooth.  This year there was a few hiccups due to the weather and while some people waited outside longer than hoped in the beginning, I feel the staff adjusted to the situation well and did their best to accommodate both the guests and artists.

Every band that I watched put on an amazing show.  I went in being a fan of about 60% of the artists scheduled and came out being a fan of at least 90%.  The missing 10% was probably just due to missing a few performances as I didn’t get to make every single show because of other obligations.  (We had some amazing interviews that we will be publishing in the near future).  That’s what always stands out to me about these type of festivals, not only do you get to enjoy your favorite artists but you get to discover so many brand new ones as well.  I am now a huge fan of so much new talent like Raveneye, Goodbye June, The Glorious Sons.  These bands are amazingly talented and I hadn’t heard of them until the festival.

The final aspect I want to touch on is the general public.  Let’s face it there is a lot of assholes in this world.  Anymore it’s hard not to go somewhere and feel like someone if being malicious or out to take advantage of you.  One thing that really surprises me was almost the complete lack of any of that.  Sure there will always be a few bad apples or minor mischief, but overall the crowd was peaceful, respectful and mostly just there having a good time.  Of course alcohol will play it’s role, but with attending as many concerts as I have you start to expect a certain level of bad behavior.  I can honestly say that this is where the event excelled the most for me.  Towards some of the more emotional performances I felt like the artists (one particularly being Shinedown) was able to almost lift the negativity out of the air somehow, just as if we were all there for the same reason… to celebrate Rock and each other as the human race.

I could go on and on about how great this event was, but the only way to truly understand is to see it for yourself.  An annual event that hosts legendary talent and introduces the Rock culture to fresh artists is not only what Rock and Roll needs, but is exactly what Louisville, KY was lacking.  My experience with event staff was pleasant and I thought with a festival being this size and just now only celebrating it’s second year everything easily went way better than expected.  Sure the parking lot had a few problems; opening the gates the first day was a little delayed and a few schedules got shifted around.  So what?  This was amazing first impression and the most fun I had being at a concert in years.  I got to spend an entire weekend listening to great music, eating delicious food, and enjoying the company of my Rock and Roll peers.

Stay tuned in the near future for our interviews and performance impressions of Collective Soul, Atreyu, Raveneye, Goodbye June, Flaw, Hollywood Undead and The Glorious Sons.

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