Rock n Roller 17: Louder than Life Festival

We arrived at day one of the Louder Than Life music festival around 2 pm. We went to ride a few coasters at Holiday World in Indiana first. This was still the Rock n Roller coaster tour remember and how could we not visit one of the coolest family-run theme parks in the middle of nowhere America?

We found a spot to park not too far from the gates and headed over to the festival grounds. It was set up with one smaller stage at one end with a wide expanse down the middle that was filled with just about every type of food imaginable. This was a foodie’s paradise! At the other end was the two main stages where we would spend the rest of the weekend. This is my first music festival in a long time and a far cry from the ones I visited in my 20s. In those days it was usually just a muddy, swampy mess filled with sweaty bodies and hordes of trash everywhere. This was entirely different. The festival scene has stepped up their game 110% and it was going to be a great experience. This would be Michele’s first official music festival.

Day 1

We worked our way toward one of the main stages and found a seat against the gates and laid down our blankets. We would post up here for several hours while not only listening to the lesser known rockers but get an eye-full of people watching. There was so much stuff going on here! There were full grown men in those morph suits to a scantly clad girl with a sign that said, ‘spank me, $5 bucks’ and people were actually paying her. Hollywood Undead was one of the bands I wanted to see. These dudes are a cool blend of rock and rap with the band all wearing masks. Sort of like a mash-up of Linkin Park and Slipknot.

One of the bands I really wanted to see was Halestorm. I know I have heard their stuff before on Sirius but was never really a fan until this year when I heard Lzzy Hale belt out an awesome cover of Whitesnake’s Still of the Night. My god, it is better than the original. This girl has pipes! They call her the ‘hottest chick in metal’ and with that voice I think she has what it takes.

Gojira whom we saw with Metallica a few months ago was a little better this time as we know some of their songs now but they were just a mere warm up for the party to come.

Five Finger Death Punch was fun but they aren’t really my style. To me it is a type of music I like to call ‘rage rock’ sort of like bands like Disturbed. They yell and scream and strut around like they are looking at themselves in the mirror at the gym. Just not my cup of tea.

I convinced Michele that we should work our way into the throng of the pit for the Rob Zombie set. What a freaking experience! This was the first time Michele had ever been in the pulsing mass of bodies swinging and swaying with people crowd surfing over our heads. Luckily she stood behind two huge dudes and with me behind her and fended off most of the flying bodies.

Most of my rabid readers know by now that Rob Zombie is by far my most favorite performer. I love this dude and everything he does on stage. If there is one example of a true rock god it is Zombie. He is a perfect mix of brash and flash that takes his show over the top. His visuals are as much a part of his show as the music itself. He played all of the favorites including Dead City Radio, Living Dead Girl, Dragula and lots of new stuff from his latest CD, The Electric Warlock… John 5 was killing it on guitar and Piggy D on bass and Ginger Fish bringing the crowd to a cacophony of pulsing jumps.

The first day ended with Ozzy taking the stage with the one-and-only guitar god Zakk Wyld. Ozzy was having a really rough time and you could tell he was struggling. You gotta give it to him he is still up there rockin’ when many people his age have hung up the leather long along. Zakk was awesome! I love this guy’s guitar style. I remember seeing him with Ozzy way back in 1989 or 90 in Portland and knew then he was going to be one of my favorites.

After the show we headed out with the masses and worked our way to the car. We were back at the hotel across town in less than an hour and ready to rock out for another day at the festival.

Day 2

Early in the day we saw Greta Van Fleet. These up-and-comers remind me so much of Led Zeppelin. If you close your eyes he sounds just like Robert Plant. They played a short set while we munched on lunch. Did I say how awesome the food was here? We gorged ourselves on different treats like chicken and waffles (s0me of the best we have ever had) to Island Noodles to Tiki Bar drinks and more.

The Pretty Reckless was up next on our list. Their gritty raw, blue-sy sound is awesome. I don’t know what it is about them but their musical style reminds me of a mix of The Black Crows with Stevie Nicks. They played a relatively short set in the blazing sun. We had made our way to the main stages again for the afternoon and had a great place to hang out. It was against the fencing again and a great place to listen to the music.

One of Michele’s all time fave’s is Stone Sour and one of the main reasons why we wanted to go to this festival. It was interesting because I had my favorites playing here and she had hers. It was a perfect blend of our musical tastes in one weekend. I had never seen Stone Sour and didn’t know what to expect. I know that Cory Taylor is one of the most respected people in rock and he contributes a lot to many bands and I knew he was the front for Slipknot which I really like but my impression before seeing them was that Stone Sour was more ‘radio rock’ or ‘corporate rock’ than I usually like. Boy was I wrong. These dudes rocked! One of my favorite moments of the entire festival was when all of the sudden up popped those stupid ballon dudes you see at used car lots. There was six or seven of them and they were all bouncing around. It was just so out of the ordinary and unexpected and it was awesome.

By the time Incubus came on stage we had worked our way back to the middle of the festival grounds and grabbed burgers for dinner. We found a seat at one of the coveted picnic tables and watched the band from afar. Not one of our favorites but we did know almost all of their songs. This dude is just a little to whinny for me, especially compared to other bands here at the festival.

The finale of the festival was Prophets of Rage. I really dig these guys, Michele not so much. This super-group is a mix of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave and Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. Heavy D and B-Real brought down the house with their overtly political lyrics that were perfect for the climate that we live in today with so much turmoil and strife on our streets and in that bastion of opulence, the White House lead by some babbling reality star lunatic that who knows how he got elected.

One of the coolest moments of the entire festival was when Prophets paid a tribute to the late Chris Cornell of Audioslave and Soundgarden who had just passed away a few months before. They played the entire Like a Stone with just the mic lit up on stage and the crowd singing the lyrics. It was a moving experience.

What a weekend! I still think that music festivals are the best place to experience live music. Where else can you get 12 to 15 hours of music for a hundred bucks a day? You spend that much on a dinner and a movie! We will be back next year for sure!