Northern Invasion Somerset Wisconsin May 12th & 13th.

This festival is always when I look forward to because the number of new bands that they bring to the stage. Many that I have never heard of before or have been exposed to. Having said that, they sure brought it this year as well. Two solid days of music that started at 12 noon and went until 11 PM.

The festival is made up of three separate stages. In between them is a huge food area with everything from lobster mac & cheese to corndogs. They had plenty of beer wine and other spirits and a huge amount of vendors selling everything from T-shirts to jewelry.

The festival started off with a bang with Minnesota’s own Cold Kingdom. Even though it’s been known to have predominantly heavy acts, they did mix it up this year like past years with some exceptions. Some of the new bands that really impressed me were a group from London called Counterfeit. They are very young band that in their own words “we want to cause chaos on stage”. They were highly energetic and definitely reached their goal.

Another band that stuck out to me who always brings it is Black Stone Cherry. They are more of a blues rock-based band that has songs filled with hooks and melody. They are currently on the road supporting their brand-new CD “Family Tree”. They played several songs of their new record and mixed in some of their classics like “Me And Mary Jane” and brought back “White Trash Millionaire” into their set. If you like straight ahead rock ‘n roll, this is a band you have to check out.

Butcher Babies also brought the goods. The band has two lead singers that are female but they are as heavy as anything I’ve seen. Incredible performance and music. At these festivals I’m always looking for the bands that are very high energy and really bring a show. You could also add I Prevail to that list as well. I know that it’s harder for bands to play these large festivals due to time constraints and all of the other things that have to occur to set up these big productions. But even some of the smaller bands that didn’t have the huge productions really brought the energy. To me that’s what sticks out at a festival. And the crowd responds in kind to that energy.

Day two started off with two of the highlights of the whole festival for me. The first was a brand-new band called Joyous Wolf. They be releasing their debut CD this fall on roadrunner records. They’re very much in the spirit of 70s rock ‘n roll with a little bit of British to them. I don’t want to pigeonhole them by saying that but I have to give you something to get a feel for them. High-energy straightforward rock ‘n roll.

I’m not a fan of hip-hop, never have been but I was pleasantly surprised by Whitney Peyton. She’s a young artist from Philadelphia that incorporates a metal mindset into her music. You just have to check her out to understand. I was very skeptical thinking how is this going to play with a predominantly metal audience? She killed it! The crowd kept getting bigger and bigger during her performance and they completely bought into everything she was doing. It was truly wonderful to see and a great surprise.

I thought how could the day get better than what I’d seen by 1 o’clock? Well it continues to be incredible. Next up was The Fever 333. This act is very similar to Rage Against The Machine. The only reason I’m making this comparison is the amount of energy and compassion that this band has. They’re very politically charged and really want to make a statement. Another band that you have to see to believe. They could’ve been one of the most entertaining bands of the weekend. Take my word for it and Google them, you won’t regret it.

Next up on the list of incredibly impressive bands, Black Veil Brides. Easily the coolest looking band on the bill. These guys look like rock stars. That’s a good thing because music needs a band like this. The audience at the main stage was massive by the time they started. They’re currently out on tour supporting their new release “Vale”. They performed a mix of their songs going all the way back to the beginning of the career and ended with the one their best known for “In The End”. They are always energetic and so much fun to watch. Sometimes I think they’ve taken a bad rap because of their appearance and people have not given them the chance. If you like hard rock, you need to check them out. Greta Van Fleet and some of the other new bands could learn a lot from Black Veil Brides.

Another band that played that day that always brings it is a punk rock band called Anti-Flag. Incredibly high-energy and very political. One of the songs they performed is “Fuck Police Brutality”. That really got the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. Everything from a mosh pit to crowd surfing. Both of those were pretty much the flavor of the weekend for most of the bands.

The one act that surprised me the most was Stone Temple Pilots. I say that because typically when you lose a singer that has made so many hits with the band, you lose chemistry and it changes everything. This was not the case with Stone Temple Pilots. They almost sounded better with their new singer. They were definitely a crowd favorite as well and I would see them again if given the chance.

Review and photos by Tommy Sommers