The 10th year anniversary of the nation’s largest rock festival Rock on the Range started on Friday, May 20 in Columbus, Ohio. Regardless of the first stage and band you stood in front of, the sold out weekend brought thousands from around the country to celebrate three days of open air music, weather be damned. Though rain and brisk winds pelted stages and many uncovered heads and bodies, the forces of nature did little to dampen the spirits of casual fans to diehards from front row hardcore fans to the nosebleed top row bleachers.
Despite the forecast, rock n’ rollers, rap fans and metal heads jammed the three stages showing love to bands they loved, liked or were curious about.
Monster Truck and Cain Hill had the honor of opening 10 years of Rock on the Range on stages 2 and 3. The second stage also featured Avatar, Enter Shikari, Asking Alexandria, Machine Gun Kelly (seen moshing at the main stage) and Megadeth. With, We Came as Romans, Andrew Watt, Miss May I, Memphis May Fire and Butcher Babies on stage 3.
Adrian Cosby, Jay Snyder, Gary Menke, Bethany Dwyer and Jay Mohr did sets in the comedy tent. The main stage featured Sick Puppies, Sevendust, Bullet For My Valentine, Sixx: A.M., A Day To Remember, Shinedown and Disturbed.
Hamilton Ontario’s, Monster Truck opened the weekend for the early birds (anything before noon’s early on rock n’ roll time). Two EP’s and two records into their career touring on the recently released Sittin’ Heavy, the guitars buzzed and sawed on Don’t Tell Me How to Live. Grunge flavored southern rock sizzled as Skynyrd throttled the speakers. Hard rock working man’s pride from the factories to the coal mines, to the flavored soul with the family’s best ‘shine tapped off with traveling man’s pride. Why are you not Rocking delivered an early afternoon message that rock n’ roll’s gonna save your life tonight. The Old Train kept a moving with that deep groovy jive. For the People was the rocking warrior cry for the country boy that likes it a little bit louder. They sang the praises of the sacred goal protector on the ice. If you’re not a fan of the game, they don’t give a puck. They went to 2013’s Furiosity again on The Lion, going through anything and everything to get to the gig, finishing the early afternoon with New Soul.
“We are from Gothenburg Sweden,” yelled Avatar vocalist Johannes Eckerström who looked every bit the calculated combo of Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, The Crow and a carnival sideshow freak. The dapper dressed ring leader screamed and sang his way through their unfortunately short set, his band of equally red laced merry men thrashed, playing along. By his own admission, he looks great in red socks. Sixteen years old and six records in, they came to rock the range, blow away the competition and steal the show.
For the Swarm opened the show. Hail to the Apocalypse cranked out the theatrics as the band came prepared with war paint. The Eagle has Landed with Feathers & Flesh in Columbus, beware the charlatan, ladies and gentlemen, your hero, the salesman and his all-curing potion has returned again. The Music Man of the damned with his wicked marching band, scream- growling and clean singing his choruses. With Avatar onstage, everything’s gonna be OK. Eckerström guzzled some high octane h20 straight from the can between tunes.
They dipped a little into the Manson sound, song and dance on Let it Burn. They could be shock rock’s new breed. Unfortunately their time came to an end but before they left, whips, chains and all other private tent addictive un-pleasantries depending on user or receiver were brought out lyrically on Smells like a Freakshow.
On the main stage Sevendust opened with new Kill the Flaw single Thank You. They took a page from Animosity thumping the stage and crowd with Shine. The afternoon sun was hidden by ominous clouds but they blacked it out more with Decay. The crowd surfer’s, bounced and moshed to the militaristic pace of Death Dance as bevies of smoke shot from the stage covering the band. Next was visited leaving the audience in Pieces then Face to Face fucked with everyone’s head before Whitherspoon and co bade farewell.
Bullet For My Valentine came out and dove into 2015’s Venom with No Way Out. Your Betrayal hit with Fever, exploring those damn deadly sins as 4 Words (To Choke Upon) were offered up. They asked You Want a Battle? (Here’s a War). They came to kick ass, take names and Raising Hell was the main agenda. They went over the top with Scream Aim Fire. Tears Don’t Fall, whether it’s planned watered down revenge or gasoline. They finished with Waking the Demon. It never pays to be a bully.
LA’s Sixx: A.M. came up next featuring former GNR guitarist DJ Ashba and Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx. There were no Shout at the Devil chants but Sixx came out dressed leather clad and red star studded. A definite sound difference from the members’ former bands they launched into This is Gonna Hurt. From Prayers for the Damned it was time to pull yourself up in your darkest hour, raise fist in air and Rise. They slowed down getting retrospective and whimsical counting past war scars and survived debauchery. James Michael’s vocals cut low, deep and hard, pouring out the emotion, torment and vindication.
Things got heavy and Everything Went to Hell in a hurry, they got their demons in play and you’ve got yours. Prayers for the Damned reached up to the skies. They dove in exposing the beauty of what the public considers grotesque and unappealing on Lies of the Beautiful People. Taking a helping from Modern Vintage, they asked if you wanted to go to heaven tonight on the metaphorically charged Stars. They ended with a trip to the Heroin Diaries with Life is Beautiful.
LA’s screaming beauties the Butcher Babies returned to Rock on the Range with new material, a cover and lungs as powerful and loud as ever. Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey didn’t disappoint playing most of their debut EP, tunes from Goliath and Take It like a Man closing stage three for the day. They started screaming the National Bloody Anthem, there’s blood everywhere. The pummeling started with Blonde Girls All Look the Same. Henry Flury started the necro-murder madness of The Butcher; good ole Mr. Gein’s inspired so many happy songs. Igniter blasted ears and the pit wide open. Taking a page from the Wendy O’ William’s playbook they cranked out Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine. Mr. Slowdeath came back to say hello. There were plenty of Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers that didn’t give a shit about the weather or were to numb from other liquid to care or feel it. They extended a special personal VIP invite to the Monsters Ball. The pit was a little wet, bodies swam through the crowd, cameras and phones got wet and the heavens rained down moisture from a lacerated sky. They ended with their own special place in one of the seedier sides of Hollywood, Magnolia Blvd.
Twenty-five percent of the Big Four and founding fathers of thrash, Megadeth hit the stage just in time for the rain to pelt. The mechanical logo was mechanized in flames as Prince of Darkness played over the speakers on the large screen. Hanger 18 started as 18’s danced on the screens with military radar, hazmat warnings and sirens. It was the first show with Soilwork’s Dirk Verbeuren on drums. First track from Dystopia, The Threat is Real introduced new material. Mustaine said the next song was about sweating. Hello me, meet the real me. Dystopia hit the speakers, with the symphony ringing out its human mortality. The iconic bass line started; can you put a price on peace? Mustaine said he’s sick and tired of seeing politicians trying to act like badasses; they should read the lyrics to this song. Holy Wars ended the show to the crowd’s dismay as Vic Rattlehead made an appearance.
The night’s headliner Disturbed took the main stage as the thoroughly soaked crowd waited for Draiman and co. The show started as the opening flames and smoke kissed the stage for Ten Thousand Crazy Fists. The Game was played early as the hand of God struck down for The Vengeful One. Red light covered the arena bathed in Prayer.
It was time to Liberate the audience before getting Stupify(d). The evenings sit down covers began, unplugged but grandiose with piano, strings and acoustics filling the stadium with The Sound of Silence and Draiman letting the pipes loose. Inside the Fire rocked the place preparing for The Light.
They performed a diverse genre spread combo medley with Draiman dedicating Nine Inch Nails Closer to the ladies and the nasty words in it transiting to U2’s Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. Mapfre Stadium turned into a disturbed teenage wasteland finishing with some rage in Killing in the Name Of joined by Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix. They finished with Indestructible. Voices came with the encore and everyone got Down with the Sickness to end the first day.
CLICK HERE for more pics from Day 1 – featuring A Day To Remember, Asking Alexandria, Avatar & Bullet For My Valentine
CLICK HERE for more pics from Day 1 – featuring Disturbed, Enter Shikari, Machine Gun Kelly, Monster Truck
CLICK HERE for more pics from Day 1 – featuring Sevendust, Shinedown, Sick Puppies, Sixx:A.M. & Trivium