Best of Northern Invasion
Somerset Amphitheatre, Somerset, WI
Northern Invasion came to the outdoor venue of Somerset Amphitheater just outside of St Paul-Minnesota for two days of rock bliss. The second year of Northern Invasion saw improvements and the perfect amount of people attended the festival. Somerset Amphiteater, formerly Float Rite Park Amphitheatre, is located on rolling hills and there is not a bad view of any of the three stages set up for Northern Invasion.
Somerset Amphitheater has amenities that many outdoor venues do not including a semi-enclosed Saloon. The Northern Invasion VIP access was actually worth the money with regards to viewing and amenities. There were two VIP areas near the main stage, the area to the west featured, adequate bathrooms with toilets, VIP food and drinks, a tent with an HDTV to view the concert and a hill with great viewing of the main stage. The second VIP area was in the Saloon area and contained a large television with viewing of the live stream of the concert, a dedicated bar area, and Adirondack chairs. Both areas featured outdoor heaters that got a workout in northern Midwest in mid-May. We were lucky that the rain held off.
Saturday was cold with temperatures not reaching about 50 degrees during the day. The fans broke out their hunting and biking gear along with merch selling out of the Northern Invasion sweatshirt by dinner time on the first day. I saw more camouflage and hunter orange than I have ever seen at a rock and metal concert.
The bands taking the stages were a mix of new and old bands. Newer bands like Aranda and Hands Like Houses were on the second and third stages respectively. Yelawolf opened the Main Stage and the crowd really got into his unique Southern rock infused hip-hop. Avatar drew a large crowd on the second stage. Avatar will be moving into the Main Stage within the next two year as they are gaining fans all over the world.
Asking Alexandria was pitted against Monster Truck. A Day To Remember drew the younger crowd and I found myself down in the pit to be part of the action. The excitement of ADTR’s pit and not knowing what kind of fun interactive activities they will put on keeps you engaged.
Stage three featured Australian metalcore Parkway Drive going up against the spectacle of Japan’s Baby Metal. Personally, I do not understand the gimmick of Baby Metal but I do understand the screams of Parkway Drive’s song especially off their newest album Ire. It made our list of Best Rock Albums of 2015.
Chevelle performed on the main stage and their set was met with solid adoration. Lamb of God performed on the second stage and drew a huge crowd. I think seeing them live is a rite of passage for fans. Shinedown had a large pyrotechnic show and their set was everything that you expect from Brent Smith and the guys. Rob Zombie closed out the show with full regalia but not as many props as many of his shows in the past but with a fair amount of entertaining figures such as Robotman. Of course, RZ himself and the rest of the band in their full makeup adds to their show.
On Sunday, the weather was much warmer. Fans shed their hunting gear for more festival fun clothing. We saw some great t-shirts and characters.
It was still bearable to be dressed in the black uniform of a rock festival. Jesus was talking to the fans during Ghost’s set.
New band, City of The Weak opened the third stage to an impressive crowd. We caught up with City of the Weak and learned all about their band. You can watch the interview here:
City of The Weak are headed to Chicago Open Air in July. Their set was impressive with vocalist, Stef captivating the crowd and their songs are catchy.
We caught the new band Audiotopsy who was on the second stage that consisted of former members of Mudvayne. The crowd was out early and ready to rock for Sevendust looked like they are in the best shape of their lives, all the guys are amazing to look at as well as listen to. Red Sun Rising are making history with their solid rock hits that are hitting number ones on the charts. Pop Evil is solid as well and trying out new drummers since Chachi Marunde stepped down to spend time with family, and Trivium. New band From Ashes to New held their own against metal stars Trivium. From Ashes to New has a rap rock style similar to Linkin Park or Papa Roach. Saint Asonia is making the festival circuit and they drew a huge crowd. They will soon be playing Main Stages as well. I have said it before and will say it again, Adam Gontier’s voice is amazing. He explained that they do not cover songs. They perform songs they wrote when performing Three Days Grace songs.
Seether performed the Main Stage and were sporting some serious new guitars. Shaun Morgan had grown his hair back out to look like his old self. Everyone was looking forward to Hell Yeah but their set was plagued with sound issues when Chad Gray’s mic failed him not once but three times. At that point, they bowed out of trying to f*ck around with it and ended their set. So everyone rushed over to the third stage to check out Beartooth but left early to get a good spot for Bring Me The Horizon on the Main Stage. BMTH had a clever public service announcement cartoon before their show that explained to get out of the pit, say goodbye to your loved ones if you remained in the pit, and pit enforcers to clear the way now. Oli Sykes wore a Bernie Sanders shirt.
Ghost performed a different kind of set during the day but still had a lot of fans seeing them. Korn put on great show. You know that Jonathan Davis is going to come out to play the bagpipes during “Shoots and Ladders” but it always gets you excited when you see them live. Korn is a band that perserveres with 40-50 year olds singing along to their hits. It is really a testament when all the words are known by a grey haired guy singing “Y’all Want A Single”.
Disturbed closed out with a show that was interesting with pyrotechnics, lights, and great hits. Fans stayed until the end to see the reunited Disturbed as they make the festival and tour circuit. Disturbed’s return was magnificent.
Northern Invasion is one of the younger rock festivals that is taking hold in the United States. The circle pits could use some tweaking however the fans are slowly gaining experience with every festival they attend and will hopefully rival the open air festivals in Europe. Rock and Metal fans are truly the reasons these festivals go on and they will continue as long as fans come out in force to support their music.