9.16 ltl

More than 128,000 fans gathered over three days at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville during a weekend in 2019 to watch some of the top rock, metal and rap artists in the world.

Louder Than Life was the biggest music festival in United States during that summer.

And plans were to make it even bigger.

The 2020 version of LTL was scheduled for four nights, including two performances by Metallica.

Then, everything changed.

A world-wide pandemic forced the cancelation of the event — along with all the other music-festivals put together by Danny Wimmer Presents, including Sonic Temple (formerly Rock on The Range).

"We obviously have been thrown a ton of curveballs that we've had to adjust to," said Chamie McCurry, Chief Marketing Office for Danny Wimmer Presents. "This is whole new set of variables."

Despite a seemingly always changing landscape, Louder Than Life is set to make its return to Louisville.

And it will be bigger — and louder — than ever.

The four-day event is set to begin next Thursday and will feature 70 musical acts across three stages along with award-winning bourbons, whiskeys, spirits, craft beer and best food from across Louisville. The festival will also feature a long list of experiences, highlighted by The Kroger Big Bourbon Bar.

"We are really excited to be bring this event back to Louisville," McCurry said. "It is one of our favorite cities."

Louder Than Life is back, but some things will be different.

Health and safety protocols have been put in place to help ensure the safety of fans.

All attendees will be required to show proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination upon entry or a negative COVID-19 test, which was competed with 72 hours of the show. Masks will be required in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status, and it is strongly requested that all fans wear a mask while in the campground or the festival area.

Hand sanitizer stations will be available on site, additional cleaning crews are set to patrol high-touch areas and there will be a cashless option for convenient check-out at dedicated food, beverage and merch lines.

Fans can bring in one unopened water bottle to re-fill at free stations across the sprawling complex.

"We feel really good about the procedures we have put in place and we feel really good about the local partners, our relationships and being able to implement (our plan) for fans," McCurry said.

The vaccination mandate drew backlash from some fans when it was announced last month, especially online.

LTL officials, though, did not back away from that decision.

"We had some people who weren't happy with it, but we had a lot of people who were very happy to hear that their safety was our No. 1 priority," McCurry said. "At the end of the day, we are doing everything we can to ensure our fans' safety."

Fans have been flocking to Louder Than Life in ever-increasing numbers since the festival debuted seven years ago at Champions Park just off River Road in Louisville.

The 2018 event had to canceled because of catastrophic flooding, promoting a change of venue.

The new location - which is conveniently located near I-264 and I-65 - brought historic crowds to the Kentucky Expo Center.

"The venue is great because all of the hotels are nearby," McCurry said. "We have camping. There's plenty of parking at the Expo Center."

The music line-up for this year's Louder Than Life once again brings a stunning array of artists to Louisville, including Metallica, Korn, Disturbed, Staind, Judas Priest, Jane's Addiction, Mudvayne, Rise Against, Machine Gun Kelly, Volbeat and Cyprus Hill.

Metallica is set to headline on both Friday and Sunday night. The legendary metal/thrash band has not performed live since prior to the breakout of the pandemic.

"To have them doing two unique sets is something we've been working on for four years now," McCurry said of Metallica. "We are really, really excited to see it come to fruition."

The musical line-up was announced several months ago, but, not surprisingly, changes have been made as artists announce touring decisions because of the pandemic.

Nine Inch Nails canceled all its 2021 festival dates and was replaced by Disturbed and just this week, Snoop Dogg stepped away and that spot was filled by Falling In Reverse.

"The one thing we have learned through all this is flexibility," McCurry said. "We have to be flexible with bands and luckily we have relationships with all the artists in this genre."

Four-day weekend passes, individual day passes and VIP passes for this year's festival are still available.

For more information, go to louderthanlifefestival.com

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