Day 1 of Northern Invasion began with me rushing to the Somerset Amphitheater in Somerset, WI to interview James “Buddy” Nielsen from Senses Fail – and luckily I made it on time. After grabbing a quick bite to eat from one of the 25 gourmet food vendors (the likes of which rivaled Lollapalooza’s “Chow Town”), my busy day began.
#1 on my list of bands to see was London, England’s Counterfeit, as I am a huge fan of British punk rock. I mistakenly messed up the set times when creating my schedule and caught the band Big Story instead – as only later did I realize that I had switched the set times of the two bands on my schedule. Despite my mix up, I was glad that I caught Big Story’s set as the five-piece from Dallas, TX got the growing crowd energized despite playing so early in the day.
Next on my schedule was up-and-coming rapper grandson who I crossed the festival grounds to see on the main stage. Inspired by rock and reggae, grandson brought a different feel to Northern Invasion which the crowd wholeheartedly enjoyed by dancing and singing along.
I made my way back across festival grounds to the same stage at which I caught Big Story to see Counterfeit and cross them off my bucket list. Bringing their crazy British energy, vocalist Jamie Campbell Bower (who you may have seen in the films Sweeney Todd or The Mortal Instruments) channeled the personalities of past British rockers like Sid Vicious and Joe Strummer to create an unforgettable performance.
More speed-walking was then involved as I made my way back to the media tent to interview grandson about his influences and what we can expect in the future.
After taking a much-needed break, I made my way to the other side of the festival grounds for the Senses Fail set. While waiting for the band to take the stage it began to rain lightly, and I started freaking out as I had no rain jacket with me (or anything to protect my camera equipment). Thankfully, as Senses Fail took the stage and began to play some of their old tracks, the rain let up and I became caught up in the nostalgia of the music and “Warped Tour” memories they brought back. (And if you’re nostalgic like me, you can catch Senses Fail on select dates of the final Vans Warped Tour this summer.)
Another nostalgic act was Miss May I, who played after Senses Fail on the next stage over. Their crazy energy gave me a much-needed wake up from my mid-day slump. Walking through the photo pit to the other stage (2 of the 3 stages were right next to each other), I waited for heavy metal band Butcher Babies – a five-piece I was super-pumped to see because of their two female vocalists. Frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey brought the badassness (we’ll say that’s a word) to the stage and I can genuinely say they put on my favorite performance of the day.
As the day was not yet nearly over, I crossed back over to the main stage to catch Breaking Benjamin’s performance. The lighting was on point and made me forget that I was at an outdoor festival, as the entire set’s atmosphere made me feel like I was seeing them at an intimate venue rather than an amphitheater surrounded by thousands of fans.
More walking was then involved (I got great exercise today) as I hustled back over to the smaller stages for Parkway Drive. The sun was beginning to set and golden hour was upon us as the Aussies took the stage and opened up the largest circle pit I had seen all day.
Having crossed the performance of another nostalgic band off my bucket list, I made my way back to the main stage for the last time on Day 1 as only two bands were left before the night came to an end. I did not know much about A Perfect Circle before they took the stage in a setup worthy of a stadium, with vocalist Maynard James Keenan (also the vocalist of Tool) raised up on a round back-lit podium. The lighting and stage set up combined with Maynard’s Beetlejuice-inspired makeup created both a beautiful and haunting atmosphere that captivated both mine and the audience’s attention.
Closing out Day 1 was the highly-anticipated performance of Avenged Sevenfold – complete with balls of fire, smoke, and fireworks that added to their worthiness of being the Day 1 headliner.