8 Under-The-Radar Bands You Shouldn’t Miss At Louisville's Louder Than Life

Louder Than Life, the hard rock and metal fest featuring Nine Inch Nails, KISS and Red Hot Chili Peppers, returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center this weekend from Sept. 22-25.

While the big-name artists eat up a lot of the attention and praise at major music festivals, the early-day acts — and the element of discovery that comes along with them — can be what makes these weekends truly special. With that in mind, we created a list of artists who might be flying under the radar in terms of mass popularity, but are well worth your time and effort to pull up to a stage early. The acts are in chronological order.


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Louder Than Life

Plush

Louder Than Life
Thursday, Sept. 22 | Loudmouth Stage | 12:30 p.m.

While the nostalgic appeal of Louder Than Life will always include the usual monsters of rock that have dominated recent decades of alternative music — and the tattered notebook covers of teenage millennials — the festival also welcomes new talent. Plush (not to be confused with the South African ‘90s band of the same name) is a New York-based four-piece with only one mission: “To bring the heart of rock back to the mainstream,” says lead singer/guitarist Moriah Formica. “Plush hopes to inspire young women everywhere to follow their dreams, regardless of whatever challenges may lie in the way.” She, alongside guitarist Bella Perron, bassist Ashley Suppa and a few revolving drummers, is currently on tour opening for Alice in Chains and Bush; the band's self-titled debut, released last year, gained attention with the charting singles “Better off Alone” and “Will Not Win.” With the oldest of them only being 21, it’s clear that Plush is just getting started with that goal. —Lara Kinne
 The Dead Deads 
Louder Than Life
Thursday, Sept. 22  |  Revolver Stage  |  1:05 p.m.
You’ll see them there early Thursday morning, anxiously waiting for the gates to open. Many of them paying full festival ticket prices only to see one band. Strange-looking people with X’s painted over their eyes. They call themselves The DeadCorps, and they are rabidly devoted to the Nashville-based all-female power trio The Dead Deads, developing an entire subculture based around the band. Mixing everything good about grunge, hard rock, indie, pop, classic metal and punk, The Dead Deads have created a monstrous, catchy-as-hell sound that is uniquely energetic, poppy and upbeat while simultaneously being heavy and hard-hitting. Seriously, there is something here for everyone regardless of your musical preferences. This is one of those bands that’s almost impossible not to love immediately on the first listen. Having already received accolades from pretty much every major music magazine and counting members of bands such as Slipknot, KISS, Halestorm, Seether, Cheap Trick, Bush and Helmet among fans, even with the unfortunate time slot The Dead Deads deserve your attention. This is more than a band — this is a movement! —Jeff Polk

The Dead Deads

Louder Than Life
Thursday, Sept. 22 | Revolver Stage | 1:05 p.m.

You’ll see them there early Thursday morning, anxiously waiting for the gates to open. Many of them paying full festival ticket prices only to see one band. Strange-looking people with X’s painted over their eyes. They call themselves The DeadCorps, and they are rabidly devoted to the Nashville-based all-female power trio The Dead Deads, developing an entire subculture based around the band. Mixing everything good about grunge, hard rock, indie, pop, classic metal and punk, The Dead Deads have created a monstrous, catchy-as-hell sound that is uniquely energetic, poppy and upbeat while simultaneously being heavy and hard-hitting. Seriously, there is something here for everyone regardless of your musical preferences. This is one of those bands that’s almost impossible not to love immediately on the first listen. Having already received accolades from pretty much every major music magazine and counting members of bands such as Slipknot, KISS, Halestorm, Seether, Cheap Trick, Bush and Helmet among fans, even with the unfortunate time slot The Dead Deads deserve your attention. This is more than a band — this is a movement! —Jeff Polk
 Taipei Houston 
Louder Than Life
Thursday, Sept. 22  |  Revolver Stage  |  3:25 p.m.
After moving back to their father’s home in Southern California from NYC during the early days of the pandemic, brothers Myles (drums) and Layne (vocals and bass) made the most of their downtime by writing and creating music. Since then the two-piece band has played several shows in the U.S. as well as overseas, including sets at both Reading and Leeds festivals in England, and at Lollapalooza and BottleRock. Not bad for a couple guys in their early 20s with only one official song, “As The Sun Sets,” available. Although it probably doesn’t hurt that they just happen to be the sons of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. But this is no second-rate Metallica clone. Taipei Houston have taken a completely different approach and have created a sound that is uniquely their own: a fuzzed-out, energetic mix of garage rock, grunge, alternative and metal. It’s a huge sound that you’d expect from a full band, belying the fact that there are only two members here. There is certainly a lot more to this band than their last name. —Jeff Polk

Taipei Houston

Louder Than Life
Thursday, Sept. 22 | Revolver Stage | 3:25 p.m.

After moving back to their father’s home in Southern California from NYC during the early days of the pandemic, brothers Myles (drums) and Layne (vocals and bass) made the most of their downtime by writing and creating music. Since then the two-piece band has played several shows in the U.S. as well as overseas, including sets at both Reading and Leeds festivals in England, and at Lollapalooza and BottleRock. Not bad for a couple guys in their early 20s with only one official song, “As The Sun Sets,” available. Although it probably doesn’t hurt that they just happen to be the sons of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. But this is no second-rate Metallica clone. Taipei Houston have taken a completely different approach and have created a sound that is uniquely their own: a fuzzed-out, energetic mix of garage rock, grunge, alternative and metal. It’s a huge sound that you’d expect from a full band, belying the fact that there are only two members here. There is certainly a lot more to this band than their last name. —Jeff Polk

Ho99o9

Louder Than Life
Thursday, Sept. 22 | Disruptor Stage | 6:20 p.m.

Firstly, it’s pronounced “Horror,” and it is screamo, punk, hip-hop hardcore. If you miss the growl of DMX, then you best not miss Ho99o9 at Louder than Life. These New Jersey punks, THEOGM and Eaddy, formed a band and recruited Black Flag drummer Brandon Pertzborn. Ho99o9 is what the legacy of rappers like DMX, Public Enemy, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard has wrought. Thank you tiny baby Jesus, because Black folks have plenty to be angry about, and what better vehicle than punk and hardcore fused with hip-hop. The sound is aggressive (obvs), angry and goddamn it, it’s so good. It’s nice to see the anger of the streets and the human condition come from a blend of musical worlds that only on the surface seem disparate but truly have much in common. Listen for “Knuckle Up,” “Lights Out,” “Twist of Fate/Cobra” and “Time’s Up.” As the band says in “Knuckle Up”: “You motherfuckers better knuckle up / Cause I'mma lose my shit.” It’s totally the mood when listening to Ho99o9. —Erica Rucker
 Suicide Silence 
Louder Than Life
Friday, Sept. 23  |  Revolver Stage  |  5:15 p.m.
You get some of everything within the big realms of rock and metal at Louder Than Life, but if you want straight-up super-heavy deathcore, check out Suicide Silence. Expect a lot of moshing and a lot of nostalgia — the band debuted two decades ago. Although lead vocalist Mitch Lucker died in a motorcycle accident in 2012 and was replaced by Eddie Hermida a year later, the band has continued to snarl and scream for fans ever since. They’ll take the Revolver Stage at 5:15 p.m. on Friday (not long before Crown The Empire, one of our other recommendations.) Some fans might question why we’d call them “under the radar,” but we hope their LTL set will make sure they don’t stay that way. —Carolyn Brown

Suicide Silence

Louder Than Life
Friday, Sept. 23 | Revolver Stage | 5:15 p.m.

You get some of everything within the big realms of rock and metal at Louder Than Life, but if you want straight-up super-heavy deathcore, check out Suicide Silence. Expect a lot of moshing and a lot of nostalgia — the band debuted two decades ago. Although lead vocalist Mitch Lucker died in a motorcycle accident in 2012 and was replaced by Eddie Hermida a year later, the band has continued to snarl and scream for fans ever since. They’ll take the Revolver Stage at 5:15 p.m. on Friday (not long before Crown The Empire, one of our other recommendations.) Some fans might question why we’d call them “under the radar,” but we hope their LTL set will make sure they don’t stay that way. —Carolyn Brown
 Crown The Empire 
Louder Than Life
Friday, Sept. 23  |  Disruptor Stage  |  5:55 p.m.
Crown The Empire has a knack for pop punk-ish power ballads that hearken back to the glory days of emo — you’ll hear shades of Pierce The Veil and All Time Low. The group is technically a “modern post-metalcore” band; there’s no shortage of breakdowns in their work, but the way they use melodic vocals alongside harsh ones makes them a good entry point into metalcore (and more intense genres like deathcore.) If you want to check them out before then, start with “The Fallout” and “Machines.” You’ll be singing along with the passion of your 15-year-old self at a concert in no time. —Carolyn Brown

Crown The Empire

Louder Than Life
Friday, Sept. 23 | Disruptor Stage | 5:55 p.m.

Crown The Empire has a knack for pop punk-ish power ballads that hearken back to the glory days of emo — you’ll hear shades of Pierce The Veil and All Time Low. The group is technically a “modern post-metalcore” band; there’s no shortage of breakdowns in their work, but the way they use melodic vocals alongside harsh ones makes them a good entry point into metalcore (and more intense genres like deathcore.) If you want to check them out before then, start with “The Fallout” and “Machines.” You’ll be singing along with the passion of your 15-year-old self at a concert in no time. —Carolyn Brown
 The Native Howl
Louder Than Life
Sunday, Sept. 25  |  Disruptor Stage  |  2:50 p.m.
Out of the more than 100 bands playing Louder Than Life this year, arguably none have a more distinct sound than Leonard, Michigan’s The Native Howl. So much so that they have created and defined their own genre — thrash grass. By combining the aggressiveness and intensity of thrash metal with the melodicism and precision of bluegrass, they have succeeded in creating a perfect marriage of two completely opposite styles of music that, in theory, should not work together in any way, shape or form. Yet it does, and with spectacular results. Since forming in 2013 the band has recorded four albums, two of which cracked the top five on Billboard’s Bluegrass Chart, and completed several North American tours with the likes of Clutch, GWAR and Black Label Society. Earlier this summer the band won the debut season of the music competition show “No Cover,” impressing judges Alice Cooper, Lzzy Hale, Gavin Rossdale, Tosin Abasi and Bishop Briggs, earning them a recording contract with Sumerian Records. Their latest single, “Sons of Destruction,” their first release with Sumerian, was just released in August, and they are set to deliver one hell of an unforgettable set at Louder Than Life this year! —Jeff Polk

The Native Howl

Louder Than Life
Sunday, Sept. 25 | Disruptor Stage | 2:50 p.m.

Out of the more than 100 bands playing Louder Than Life this year, arguably none have a more distinct sound than Leonard, Michigan’s The Native Howl. So much so that they have created and defined their own genre — thrash grass. By combining the aggressiveness and intensity of thrash metal with the melodicism and precision of bluegrass, they have succeeded in creating a perfect marriage of two completely opposite styles of music that, in theory, should not work together in any way, shape or form. Yet it does, and with spectacular results. Since forming in 2013 the band has recorded four albums, two of which cracked the top five on Billboard’s Bluegrass Chart, and completed several North American tours with the likes of Clutch, GWAR and Black Label Society. Earlier this summer the band won the debut season of the music competition show “No Cover,” impressing judges Alice Cooper, Lzzy Hale, Gavin Rossdale, Tosin Abasi and Bishop Briggs, earning them a recording contract with Sumerian Records. Their latest single, “Sons of Destruction,” their first release with Sumerian, was just released in August, and they are set to deliver one hell of an unforgettable set at Louder Than Life this year! —Jeff Polk
 carolesdaughter 
Louder Than Life
Sunday, Sept. 25  |  Disruptor Stage  |  4 p.m.
By having an almost endless catalog of several decades of music at their fingertips through streaming services, this generation of musicians naturally seems to jump across and bend genre borders. carolesdaughter mixes emo punk, indie pop, and autotune hip-hop and sounds a little like if Machine Gun Kelly were a ghostwriter for Lana Del Rey. There’s angst and sincerity in her voice, while the lyrics have a straightforward and intense honesty. With an anthemic pop prowess that’s catchy and a degenerate attitude that’s magnetic in a gritty, unafraid way, carolesdaughter has a familiar and inviting sound but a unique delivery because it’s so brutally transparent and personality-driven. And, honestly, that’s sort of the connective tissue between all of the acts at Louder Than Life: There’s a variety of styles and ages from the acts, but everyone playing isn’t afraid to fly the flag that makes them uniquely different. — Scott Recker

carolesdaughter

Louder Than Life
Sunday, Sept. 25 | Disruptor Stage | 4 p.m.

By having an almost endless catalog of several decades of music at their fingertips through streaming services, this generation of musicians naturally seems to jump across and bend genre borders. carolesdaughter mixes emo punk, indie pop, and autotune hip-hop and sounds a little like if Machine Gun Kelly were a ghostwriter for Lana Del Rey. There’s angst and sincerity in her voice, while the lyrics have a straightforward and intense honesty. With an anthemic pop prowess that’s catchy and a degenerate attitude that’s magnetic in a gritty, unafraid way, carolesdaughter has a familiar and inviting sound but a unique delivery because it’s so brutally transparent and personality-driven. And, honestly, that’s sort of the connective tissue between all of the acts at Louder Than Life: There’s a variety of styles and ages from the acts, but everyone playing isn’t afraid to fly the flag that makes them uniquely different. — Scott Recker