With two days and the performances of well over 50 bands now in the can, not to mention favorable weather conditions following every moment that has occurred, it could be safely said that the massive event that is the Louder Than Life festival has hit pay dirt with its 2022 incarnation. Providing ample opportunities for rock and metal performers, both up and coming and legendary in status, to shine on its five stages and also buoying the enthusiasm of their prospective audiences with a plethora of food, beverage and activity options, it could be further stated that the festivities that have continued to unfold in Louisville, Kentucky provide the ideal circumstances for greater promotion of the art beyond its traditional market. But whether one looks at it from its artistic or its economic merits, it's an extended showcase of excellence in a variety of styles, and Day 3 of its 4 Day run would be no exception in that regard.
Each day of this epic slough of brews, music and fellowship has carried its own unique structure, and this go around the opening volley of notes would tilt heavily towards the stripped-down, barroom approach to rocking out. Manning the Space Debra Stage at just a few minutes prior to 2pm would be the Canadian turned L.A. based artist Mark Kasprzyk's brainchild Redlight King, whom would kick things off with an assortment of stripped down hard rock with an alternative edge that was met with a measured response from the audience, though that may partly owe to the masses still being a tad groggy from the massive events of the day before, as the Aerosmith and AC/DC trappings of offerings like "Born To Rise" and "Cold Killer" were well accomplished, and their stripped down rendition of Rush's "Working Man" played well to Mark's airy and mellow vocal swagger.
Meanwhile about a half hour later the Aussie hard rocking powerhouse and present-day answer to AC/DC, Airbourne made the Loudmouth Stage live up to its name. Though their brand of stripped-down hard rocking was stylistically similar to the aforementioned L.A. outfit, the energy level was utterly off the charts, with every member of the band in a constant state of motion during their half hour set, and vocalist Joel O'Keeffe raised the concept of crowd work to an art form between jumping off the stage to sing directly to the front row and then emulating Angus Young's famed shoulder riding routine with one of the roadies with a beer in hand. A literal blast from opening foray of "Ready To Rock" to the frenetic closer "Runnin' Wild," culminating in a performance by this four-piece fold of energetic rock traditionalism that matched the rugged simplicity of AC/DC's Bon Scott era with the pizzazz and melodic charm of vintage Led Zeppelin.
By 3pm the flavor of the day took a rather jarring turn towards the modern end of the rock/metal coin, though the quality of the product retained its constancy. Atlanta-born nü-metal meets metalcore trustees Tetrarch brought a solid display to the Space Zebra Stage, cycling through several anthems that displayed their sonic affinity with Linkin Park and also the technical intrigue of Avenged Sevenfold, as lead guitarist Diamond Rowe proved as pivotal of a force in the set's intricate nature as charismatic front man Josh Fore. A brief technical glitch during their dark chugging second offering "Negative Noise," which the band would take in stride, the whole set was a picture of near-perfect precision, with drummer Ruben Limas making a hell of a racket and the resounding punch and bluster of anthems like "Unstable" and "You Never Listen" would garner tons of enthusiastic approval from the masses in attendance with a balanced mixture of thudding grooves and soaring hooks.
Taking a somewhat less ferocious than their predecessors above but still quite heavy and metallic approach over on the Loudmouth Stage, Michigan natives and alternative metal impresarios with a strong melodic edge Pop Evil would turn plenty of heads. Driven by the highly versatile and wide-ranged vocal display of helmsman Leigh Kakaty, the crowd activity was still plenty active, but leaned a bit more on enthused sing-along moments than overt carnage in the mosh pit. The display put forth by the instrumentalists that rounded out the quintet would be a bit less flashy and virtuosic than that of Tetrarch, but between the dense atmosphere and thick arrangement of guitar, bass and drum work that rounded out "Eye Of The Storm," "Breathe Again" and floor-shaking groove machine of a closer "Waking Lions," this outfit's generally straight up stylistic approach definitely hit a sweet spot with the crowd.
As the hour of pm drew close, the metallic bluster would continue, albeit with a rather curious coupling of newcomer underdog and veteran adopting the nu-metal aesthetic. Making their concert debut on the smaller DWPresents Stage, green fold and obvious fans of Linkin Park and anything else melding electronic sounds with the early 2000s style SevVven made an impressive first showing, inspiring numerous crowd-surfers despite their hyper-catchy offerings that included standouts "Parasite" and "Falling" being all but unknown quantities, definitely a band that will go places in the coming years with further refinement of their sound. Meanwhile via the massive Space Zebra Stage, Atlanta-born icons of the 2000s and alternative metal extraordinaire outfit Sevendust would outdo themselves in both the stage showmanship and auditory heaviness department as they banged out vintage, angst-driven sonic fists to the gut like "Pieces," "Enemy" and "Face To Face" that had the crowd roaring and in the latter case came dangerously close to rivaling the heaviness levels of Megadeth and Metallica.
Things would proceed down a more unique path with the onset of late afternoon, with what could be regarded as one of the oddest couplings this event had ever seen. Raging in from the British Isles to transport every onlooker into the realm of the surreal via the Disruptor Stage would be London-based electronic rock newcomers Wargasm. Billing themselves as a "retaliation to the stagnant state of rock music," their set would be a loud, proud and occasionally incongruous blend of influences that might have some proclaiming them as modern alternative metal's answer to The Lords Of Acid, and between the primal shouts of Sam Matlock and the occasionally smooth but mostly jagged edged vocal counterpart of Milkie Way, raucous anthems like "Fukstar," "D.R.I.L.D.O." and "Salma Hayek" definitely left an impression. Not more than a few seconds later via the Loudmouth Stage, grunge icon and virtuoso guitarist Jerry Cantrell led a troupe of 7 musicians through a down and dirty blues rock set that included the recent banger "Brighten" and somewhat older "My Song," drawing heavily from the melancholy of the Alice In Chains aesthetic, though the crowd's strongest responses would be saved for his auspicious renditions of AIC classics "Rooster" and "Would?."
This now newly beaten path of disparate couplings would take an even more unique turn as the early signs of dusk began to rear. Riding the Disruptor Stage, the visual performance act Cherry Bombs brought an interesting blend of acrobatic and dance elements into the equation in a manner that rested somewhere between a sizzling burlesque show and a dark circus event as the songs of Black Sabbath, Rammstein and a few others roared on in the background. In essence, the performance was a riveting one that left little doubt as to why the likes of Buckcherry, Steel Panther, Fozzy and several other prominent bands have featured their artful movements in their live concerts and music videos. A humbler display would emerge a bit later as the darkness loomed on the Loudmouth Stage with the entry of Illinois power trio and veteran post-grunge rockers Chevelle. Forsaking elaborate visuals, pyrotechnics or other gimmicks to augment their performance, they established a colossal performance through pure musical competency, with pummeling and ultra-infectious performances of classic odes "The Red," "Face To The Floor" and their newer offering "Self Destructor," which was one of several offerings from their interstellar bound latest album NIRATIAS, being the standouts.
As the grayness of the skies intensified and beginnings of dusk hung above the throngs, modernity would begin to wane in favor of the old school. Nevertheless, the showing that groove metal meets hip-hop East Coast mainstays Ill Niño brought to the Disruptor Stage was definitely to be commended. Showcasing an expanded arrangement that included 2 additional percussionists alongside the traditional rhythm section and two guitarists, the sound proved expansive as anthems like "This Is War," "I Am Loco" and the longtime hit "How Can I Live" drew upon the tribal trappings of early Soulfly and merged them with a smoother, melodic template befitting the post-grunge era. But none could hope to contend with the level of expansive showmanship that the Master of Ceremonies and King of Shock Rock himself Alice Cooper would bring to the Space Zebra Stage. Accompanied by guitarists Ryan Roxie, Tommy Henriksen and shred extraordinaire/de facto bodybuilder Kane Robert, alongside bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel, the arrangement was equal to the highly elaborate array of theatrics that would come along for the ride. Suffice it to say, the whole set was an unending barrage of greatness as Alice projected intense power that defied his advanced years, turning in stellar performances on old time classics "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "I'm Eighteen" and "Dead Babies," while 80s smash "Poison" and early 90s romp "Feed My Frankenstein" saw Kane tearing it up something fierce, to speak nothing for what he brought to the beginning of "Roses On White Lace."
The night sky now firmly cast over the event, the headliners would take the theatrical precedent set by the original master of the art as noted earlier and launch it into the stratosphere. Manning the Loudmouth Stage at half past 8 pm would be one of the more prominent disciples of Alice Cooper's Shock Rock niche and industrial metal icon Rob Zombie, whom also knew the value of visual feats adding to the luster of the performance. Elaborate light shows, a variety of oddball film footage displayed on multiple screens and bit of movie dialogue raging through the PA system between songs were among the tools employed, paired with his trademark mix of violent, glammy metal with queasy synths, bits of movie dialogue, and Zombie's inimitable bark for a sound as slick as oil and corrosive as acid. As always, Zombie's priorities were on full display: sex, drugs, and monsters, together if possible. Come to see some "Living dead girls" and "Dragula," and stay for some metallic classics from the White Zombie catalog in "Thunder Kiss ‘65" and "More Human Than Human." Suffice it to say, the level of audience response between crowd-surfing and other rapid displays of motion were at least equal to the extravaganza to which they were responding.
After all else was said and done, the huddled masses would find themselves crammed like sardines into a non-existent can around the Space Zebra Stage as the larger-than-life superheroes of hard rock otherwise known as KISS entered. Pomp and circumstance may well have existed as a concept for centuries in Europe and other parts of the world prior to the 1970s rock craze that saw this quartet born from the streets of New York, but these sons of The Big Apple definitely took it and made it their own. Outdoing themselves and everyone else in the stage antics department and elaborate stage setup game, the accompanying sea of props, pyrotechnics, dancing lights and moving parts of the stage could have been a concert unto themselves. Crowd elation was naturally at an all-time high, regardless of age, and the wave of voices singing along to classic anthems like "Detroit Rock City," "Shout It Out Loud," "Lick It Up," "Love Gun" and "Black Diamond" was a veritable force of nature. Even the disco-like trappings of "I Was Made For Loving You" and the 80s sleaze of "Heaven's On Fire" rocked the heavens into submission, paving the way for the climactic encore performance of "Rock And Roll All Night" that sealed Kiss' reputation as the most larger than life band in the business yet again.
The resounding 90 minute climax of the day having been closed, one couldn't help but be astounded with how orderly such a massive crowd of people were able to disperse and return to the sanctuary of their waiting hotel rooms. Arguably the only point of contention among those who were in attendance may have been which of the last three acts put on the most involved musical performance in spite of all the visual aids being employed. What began as a day of bands sticking mostly to their musical prowess and playing to the crowd a personal level became a massive exercise in hard rock musical theater with a pantheon of performers too massive to be approached. But when all is said and done, it was nothing else if not another memorable day of musical celebration.