Northern Invasion’s first year sets the bar high Jun01

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Northern Invasion’s first year sets the bar high

May is annually tagged as The World’s Loudest Month. With numerous summer festivals in May- Rock On The Range, Welcome To Rockville, Fort Rock, Rockfest, Carolina Rebellion, Rocklahoma and others, it’s a fitting title.

2015 saw the birth of yet another festival- Northern Invasion, which emanates from Somerset Ampitheater in Somerset, Wisconsin. With the venue already hosting numerous major festivals each year it’s a perfect place for The World’s Loudest Month to host its newest location.

To kick off the first ever Northern Invasion, the lineup was an impressive one and it’s going to be hard to top it moving forward. With Thousand Foot Krutch, Motionless In White, Falling In Reverse, In This Moment, Crobot, Starset, We Are Harlot, Young Guns, The Pretty Reckless, Three Days Grace, Volveat, Anthrax, Halestorm, Five Finger Death Punch and Slipknot all playing the first-annual festival, the crowd got more than their money’s worth.

The day started early at noon with local St. Paul band Cold Kingdom kicking things off. The crowd was split down the middle with half the fans knowing the band very well and the other half just now being introduced to them but it wasn’t long before everyone was a fan of the band. Cold Kingdom have shared the stage with many big names, so they knew how to work a big crowd and it showed. Watch for them to get big soon.

With only two stages, and set times not overlapping each other at all, it wasn’t hard for fans to see every band on the bill. The Main Stage and Second Stage were very close so fans could go back and forth quickly too.

The festival was completely sold out but was set up perfectly. Food stands lined the sides of the festival grounds and the selections were vast. There were also more than enough restrooms set up so fans didn’t have to wait long at all. Whoever organized the festival did an outstanding job.

The Main Stage did have its share of sound issues early in the day- Thousand Foot Krutch kicked things off and had issues before they even started and had problems with the guitar cutting out during the first few songs but they rebounded beautifully and rocked the crowd as only TFK knows how to do- yet another stellar performance from Trevor McNevan and company.

Crobot had some of the most energy of all the Second Stage bands and kept the crowd going after Cold Kingdom finished up, taking things to another level. We Are Harlot took over after Starset and continued their debut album tour cycle. Danny Worsnop made a great decision making Harlot his main focal point and it showed at Invasion. The Pretty Reckless set the stage for Anthax, getting the crowd amped up and as rowdy as possible and when Anthrax finally took the stage, it was mass chaos.

The side stages are typically the rowdiest at the festivals because there’s more people crammed into a smaller space- perfect for a band like Anthax- yes? YES! The mayhem took over quickly and even Corey Taylor was fist pumping and screaming along from the side of the stage. Anthrax was by far the highlight of the Second Stage and, with a new album releasing soon, they’re just getting started.

Halestorm closed out the Second Stage and kept the energy going. With their third record- Into The Wild Life having just released, the anticipation and excitement was through the roof- hypothetically since it was outdoors. They played mainly fan favorites but also threw in a few new tracks- “Amen,” “Mayhem” and “Apocalyptic,” which got the fans going even more.

Over on the Main Stage, In This Moment took the stage mid-day. As the sounds of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” blared over the PA, the tens of thousands in attendance were belting out the words louder than ever, waiting for Maria Brink and the rest of In This Moment to take the stage and it wasn’t long until they did.

While they don’t play much from their first few albums and the set consists of tracks from Blood and Black Widow­– their visual stage show is incredible and one you have to see at least once. With a costume and set change after every song, In This Moment have redefined the term “stage show” and offer a flashback to the days of Alice Cooper.

Three Days Grace was next up and, with their latest record- Human­ being the recording debut of new frontman Matt Walst, the band has officially begun a new chapter and they already have a few no. 1 singles under their belt in “Painkiller” and “I Am Machine,” which they played for a deafening crowd.

They owned the stage and proved they’re still one of the best live bands in all of rock, playing all the classic favorites and a few new tracks as well. If you have any doubt Three Days Grace have lost a step, you weren’t at Northern Invasion.

After Volbeat played a near-hour-long set that had the Wisconsin crowd channeling the Old West and their inner metal Johnny Cash, the intensity increased tenfold with Five Finger Death Punch took the stage. It’s always hard to predict what’s coming when Ivan Moody is involved- sometimes he wants a peaceful mosh and sometimes demands complete insanity- Northern Invasion offered both.

With the band finishing up the touring cycle on their double album- The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, they were in top form, commanding the crowd with every move, every word and every note. If you’re a hater of the band, you’re out of luck because they’re getting stronger and stronger with each show and each album.

To cap things off, Slipknot took the stage at 10:45 and played until midnight. With the haunting tones of “XIX” blasting, the band slowly took the stage before demolishing everyone with “Sarcastrophe” and going straight into “The Heretic Anthem.”

Slipknot have made one hell of a return, touring heavily behind .5: The Grey Chapter, opening 2015 on the road with Hatebreed and closing last year off touring with KoRn and King 810. This year they’ve played almost every WLM festival and will be out with Lamb Of God, Bullet For My Valentine and Motionless In White this summer.

With an extensive hiatus before this album, Slipknot have been well-rested and it was like watching a caged animal being released for the first time. It was pure vengeance, destruction, brutality and annihilation and Slipknot wanted every bit of it and more at Northern Invasion.

The night ended with the band coming back out for an encore of “(sic)” and “Surfacing” to send the crowd home completely exhausted and ready for the next show.

In the end, the first-annual Northern Invasion may have been the best-organized and well-run festival of the year- not that the others are done poorly. Typically the first installment of a festival will have so many noticeable problems that it takes a way at some point. Northern Invasion couldn’t have been better-run and we look forward to more years of Invasion in the future.

-Reggie Edwards

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