Summer is festival season. There are the destinations (Bonnaroo, Coachella, Bumbershoot, Lollapalooza and, locally, Forecastle) and the traveling variety, many of which seem to lean toward the metallic end of the music spectrum. You’ve got the big dogs, like the free Ozzfest and Family Values, the Vans Warped Tour, which caters to mall punks, and smaller bills, like Summer Slaughter.
Somewhere in between falls the Sounds of the Underground. Now in its third year, this tour brings together many leading lights of, well, the underground and their varyingly heavier-than-heavy sounds.
This year’s lineup features GWAR, Shadows Fall, Every Time I Die, Job for a Cowboy, Darkest Hour, The Devil Wears Prada, and rapper 2 Cents (death-emcee Necro was on the bill but dropped out on July 25 due to hostile crowds — yay, diversity!).
SOTU’s final engagement is Aug. 11 at Louisville’s Waverly Hills Sanatorium, which is not your traditional rock venue. For starters, Waverly Hills has been called the most haunted place on earth.
“I’m completely in the dark of any of the bands or any of their songs,” laughs Charles Mattingly, who owns Waverly. “All I know is that a lot of the patrons who come here really like it, so that’s all right with me … I think we’re gonna get some pretty interesting people. You’ll have fun just watching the people here.”
He couldn’t be more correct: GWAR’s presence alone guarantees a high freak factor. And if the last show and haunted sanitarium combination weren’t enough, this date features guest performances by Behemoth, Hatebreed and Lamb of God.
“Yes, and all of these factors are related due to a fiendish plot devised by me, of course,” bellows GWAR frontman Oderus Urungus. “Underneath the site where so many died in misery is a great underground cavern where their damned souls shriek in torment! So we have lured some of the loudest and sickest bands the humans can muster, and use their power to crack open the crust of the earth and release these tortured beings so they may wreak their unholy vengeance! It is the last gig of the tour because everybody will be dead!”
Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe is slightly more circumspect. “I don’t discount the existence of any of that, so if they’re there, hopefully they’ll show up and say hello,” he says.
Job for a Cowboy guitarist Bobby Thompson is hoping for a supernatural experience, not just a concert to remember. “I can’t wait! I love Behemoth and Lamb of God, so it will be great to be able to share the stage with them. Plus the fact that the venue is supposedly haunted rules. I’ve never really had an experience with ghosts, so hopefully I can.”
Ghosts or not, SOTU’s massive roster means that there should be something, or several somethings, to please even the pickiest fan of modern metal, including the guys who do this for a living.
“I’m really looking forward to hanging out with Every Time I Die and Shadows Fall. I’ve known those guys forever,” says Blythe. “And then GWAR. They’re from our hometown — via Antarctica, of course.”
Urungus spreads the love. “They are all a great bunch of guys, though I have yet to meet any of them. And during their sets I am usually lying in my coffin in a drug-induced stupor,” he says. “If pressed to name a favorite, I would have to say Every Time I Die, because Andy (Williams), their guitar player, likes to dress up in kooky costumes. One day he was a cowboy, one day he was a ninja. But I also love Goatwhore because they are so damn evil!”
So come for the Goatwhore, but stay for the biledriver segment of GWAR’s performance. One thing to also keep in mind: Parking may be an issue, so to offset this, Waverly has secured parking at Jefferson Community College (1000 Community College Drive), and a shuttle will be provided. “We’re encouraging everybody to carpool or park somewhere else and walk up the hill,” says Mattingly.
And prepare for one hell of a night. “Just tell the people of Louisville to get ready,” says Blythe. “Because it’s going to be the most brutal show of the summer.”
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GWAR, Lamb of God, Hatebreed, The Devil Wears Prada, 2 Cents & more
Saturday, Aug. 11
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
4301 E. Pages Lane
$29 (adv.)/$33 (door); 1 p.m.