Somerset Amphitheater is getting a jump on the summer concert season this upcoming weekend with what will actually wind up being one of this year’s biggest music festivals near the Twin Cities: The inaugural Northern Invasion metal fest is taking place at the western Wisconsin rock and tubing hub on Saturday with Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, Halestorm, Anthrax and Volebeat for its top-dog acts.

Tickets for the event are officially sold out, even including VIP packages. That’s no surprise, given how much the fest harks back to the concert glory days of the former Float-Rite park location, which hosted a lot of Ozzfests and X Fests in the 1990s. The site was made over under new ownership in 2011 with more/better camping grounds and other improvements. Heck, there are even flush toilets out there now. You know how fussy those metalheads can be.

Somerset regulars Slipknot already hosted their own Knotfest there in 2012. However, the Des Moines metal vets haven't been around our neck of the woods since releasing their well-received fifth album, ".5: The Gray Chapter," which was inspired by the death of bassist Paul Gray (who lived in Minneapolis for a spell). They're touring without drummer Joey Jordison nowadays, too. Anthrax, meanwhile, has regrouped with its heyday singer Joey Belladonna. And one band that was supposed to be playing Northern Invasion without its original singer, Live, isn't even on the schedule anymore -- probably at no great loss in this case.

Until the new bridge spanning the St. Croix River is completed, the easiest way to get to Somerset from the Twin Cities is to take Interstate 94 east across the river to Wisconsin Highway 35-N. Three different route options are listed on the venue’s website.

Northern Invasion is owned and promoted by Danny Wimmer Presents and AEG Live as part of a network of eight different festivals taking place around the country this month, also including Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio, and Rocklahoma near Tulsa.

Organizers released the schedule for our local fest this afternoon. Happy headbanging.

Friday, May 8 – Friday Night Bonfire Party (for those with hotel and camping packages)

  • 7:30 PM           Battery
  • 9:30 PM           Kiss Army

Saturday, May 9 -- Doors open at 11 a.m.

Monster Energy Main Stage  

1:15 P.M.           Thousand Foot Krutch 

2:25 P.M.           Motionless In White

3:35 P.M.           Falling In Reverse

4:55 P.M.          In This Moment

6:15 P.M.          Three Days Grace 

7:45 P.M.          Volbeat

9:25 P.M.          Five Finger Death Punch

10:45 P.M.         Slipknot  

Second Stage 

Noon              Cold Kingdom

12:50 P.M.          Crobot

1:50 P.M.           Starset

3:00 P.M.           We Are Harlot

4:20 P.M.           Young Guns

5:40 P.M.           The Pretty Reckless

7:05 P.M.           Anthrax

8:40 P.M.           Halestorm