LIVE: Northern Invasion

Cbrating its 3rd year on Mother’s Day weekend, Northern Invasion was a force to be reckoned with when it hit Somerset Amphitheater in Wisconsin. Northern Invasion is one of those rare festivals that offers something for every age group in the rock scene, and concert goers from all across the country enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather all weekend. Northern Invasion is a stop on the road to Rock on the Range, meaning many of the acts came from Charlotte’s Carolina Rebellion the weekend before, and many of them will head to Rock on the Range in Columbus the following weekend. Many of them also play headlining shows around the Midwest between the festival dates. Something notably missing from Northern Invasion, Carolina Rebellion, and Rock on the Range is female representation, but the issue is not with the crowds. Northern Invasion featured only four acts with any female members, with none of them containing more than one female and only one of them playing the main stage. The audiences did not reflect this ratio at all—the crowd was approximately evenly divided in terms of gender. Press, audiences, and artists alike noticed the lack of badass frontwomen, and hope it won’t be repeated next year. Highlights of day one included Sum 41 and The Pretty Reckless, who commanded attention and whipped their audiences into frenzies. Pierce the Veil closed out the Stillwater stage with a surprising amount of production and a ton of energy. Speaking of surprises, Dorothy and I Prevail were two of the most noteworthy artists that kind of came out of the woodwork at Northern Invasion. Both exceeded expectations, and it would be fascinating to see how they did on the larger stages. Dorothy dropped jaws with her soulful belting, and I Prevail nearly had as much crowd surfing as the main stage, despite playing the Stillwater stage. Bush sounded phenomenal, but Godsmack was definitely the highest-energy headliner of the first day. With a plethora of pyrotechnics and an animated stage presence, they very nearly stole the show. Northern Invasion turned out to tragically be one of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell’s last performances. With an outpouring of condolences from artists, fans, and venues, his death was announced just five days after the festival. It becomes too painful to evaluate Soundgarden’s performance through this lens, so I’ll leave it at this: everyone who had the pleasure of seeing them live is bonded in mourning for the legendary and inspirational artist. Day two also featured key players who exceeded expectations. Radkey, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, and The Charm the Fury cut their teeth at Northern Invasion, then proceeded to take a bite out of it. Starset opened up the main stage, complete with an elaborately decorated stage and extensive costuming. Veterans of Northern Invasion, Motionless in White also included quite a bit of theatrics in their performance. Amon Amarth, Attila, and Alter Bridge made lasting names for themselves, with Amon Amarth bringing out an actual Viking ship. Papa Roach, like Godsmack, proved to be the most engaging headliner, putting 110% into their set. Front man Jacoby Shaddix was entirely charismatic and ended up spending quite a bit of time in the crowd. The Offspring sounded fantastic, although they proved to be less visually stimulating. That being said, they reported possibly “the most crowd surfing ever at an Offspring show.” If you plan to see them in a stadium, nosebleed seats may serve those who don’t want to surf well. Always a hit with Midwest audiences, Kid Rock closed the festival out. With fantastic energy from the crowd, his set turned out to be the perfect bow to tie up a kickass weekend. If you missed out on the amazing acts at Northern Invasion, don’t fear: you can catch them in may Midwestern cities in the upcoming weeks, or at Rock on the Range. Northern Invasion ran as smoothly as a well-oiled machine with excellent security and timely performances. Hopefully, next year you and your crew will invade Invasion as well.

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