As the calendar turns towards May, we note the unofficial start to what we now call Festival Season. As part of the World’s Loudest Month, the fourth annual Northern Invasion Festival prepares to descend on the small western Wisconsin town of Somerset. The Somerset Amphitheater has become an early May destination for rock and metal fans alike as it has hosted Northern Invasion since it’s inception in 2015. Every year as the lineups for these festivals are announced, debates begin as to how it stacks up against previous years.
In the inaugural setup, an unbelievable first-year lineup headlined by global rock juggernauts Slipknot, with a roster of rock heavyweights including Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, Three Days Grace, Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless, In This Moment, Anthrax, Live, Motionless In White, Young Guns, Thousand Foot Krutch, We Are Harlot, Starset and Crobot filled a solid day of non-stop music. With the demand for tickets quickly selling out, a new level for upper mid-west festivals was quickly established.
In its 2016 sophomore year, Northern Invasion expanded to two days, with more than 40 metal bands playing across three stages. Heavy-hitting top performances included Disturbed, Korn, Rob Zombie, Shinedown, Lamb of God, Seether, Sevendust, Sixx:A.M., Chevelle, A Day to Remember, Bring Me the Horizon, Ghost, Saint Asonia and Hellyeah. There was no denying that Northern Invasion had picked up steam and continued to attract huge crowds over multiple days.
The 2017 lineup reflected a stylistic shift of sorts, with more mainstream, wide-appeal hard rock acts than the first two years of the festival. The artist lineup featured the finest in new and veteran heavy rock and heavy metal acts. The really impressive part about the year’s line-up was the diversity represented among the acts who performed. You had hardcore metal to hard rock blues, to power pop with more than a few jagged edges cutting through. There was something for everyone, with all acts bringing their ‘A Games’, and sporting big sounds on the three stages. Again, two full days of performances kept the crowd roaring with notable artists Soundgarden, Kid Rock, Godsmack, The Offspring, Bush, Papa Roach, Alter Bridge, the Pretty Reckless, Amon Amarth, Opeth, In Flames, Gojira, Pierce the Veil, Sum 41, the Struts, Motionless In White, The Dillinger Escape Plan, the Story So Far, Nothing More, Fozzy, Every Time I Die, Rival Sons, Attila, Starset, I Prevail, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Volumes, Bad Omens, As Lions, Radkey, Dorothy, Sylar, Wage War, Bleeker, Goodbye June, Badflower, The Charm The Fury, Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes, Citizen Zero, and more. With all the great music, a dark cloud travelled over Northern Invasion. What tragically turned out to be one of the band’s last show, Soundgarden brought their classic sound, and now classic hits to a capacity crowd to close out Saturday night. Chris Cornell was in command as the band moved through an inspired set with the requisite amount of moody ebb and flow that you’ve come to expect from a Soundgarden show. Excellent sound; excellent performance; very sad now to think it was to be the last time we would get to see Chris doing what he did best.
Northern Invasion returns in 2018 with an epic line-up featuring Tool, Avenged Sevenfold, A Perfect Circle, Alice In Chains, Breaking Benjamin, Stone Temple Pilots, The Used, Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria, I Prevail, Parkway Drive, Black Stone Cherry, Red Sun Rising, Andrew W.K., Atreyu, Anti-Flag, 10 Years, We Came As Romans, The Bronx, Dance Gavin Dance, Butcher Babies, Hawthorne Heights, New Years Day, Senses Fail, Stick To Your Guns, Miss May I, Like A Storm, The Fever 333, I See Stars, Wilson, Mutoid Man, Cane Hill, Black Foxxes, Counterfeit., The Blue Stones, Joyous Wolf, Spirit Animal, Stitched Up Heart, and Big Story. The second weekend in May (May 12 and 13) in Somerset, WI promises to be bigger and louder than ever.