One of the nation’s largest three day festivals started with mother-nature’s attitude spreading all over Columbus. The second day of Rock on the Range and the first day of hangover again brought the goods. Whether you were coming on your first day sober or still drunk, buzzed, sunburn and/or sleep deprived. The minions walked and dragged their way back through the gates returning to the stages of choice.
Saturday offered another packed lineup, Main Stage special guests Saint Asonia, Of Mice and Men, Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, In This Moment, Papa Roach, Godsmack and Judas Priest. Ernie Ball had Screaming for Silence, Like a Storm, Sabaton, Tremonti, Babymetal, In Flames and Ministry while Jager gave us Novallo, Red Sun Rising, From Ashes to New, Saxon, Nonpoint and The Devil Wears Prada.
Whether you were a one day ticket holder or a weekend warrior, as hangover’s reigned and lack of sleep/hydration were felt, the water came down quickly, in one rapid splash then consistent throughout the day. By definition and appearance, the Jager side of the range may have been more jacked up and loaded than Ernie’s side.
The five-piece Columbus bred Novallo opened the middle part of the three day, three-way. Playing a rock style with classical jazz club influences with screaming, electro-tech effects and prog-ambianced fusion. Opening with “Sideways Bird” it was too hot for a masquerade or all leather. “Visually Silent” sounded like the inside of Herbie Hancock’s mind gone amuck. “4 Eyes Win!” added some death metal growling to the techno-freakish collection of frantic dance movement. While it was too early for a rave they brought enough rapid fire noise elements and influences for the brain to process to make you think you just dropped ‘something.’ They finished, playing tribute to the master of industrial darkness with “Head like a Hole.”
We watched as the early afternoon Red Sun Rising came from Akron and played a set of high energy blues and rock, bringing some fans and followers with them. Starting with “Push” and “My Muse” they played new single “Other Side” combining swampy mystic harmonies and catchy hard rock blues. Vocalist Mike Protich seemed to channel the spirit and mojo of Jerry Cantrell while the band pumped out BLS/Alice in Chains dark, moody octane tunes. They brought it down a little with the slow slithering recoil of “Blister,” then up a bit going “Emotionless” finishing the damp day with “Amnesia” and “Imitation.” Debut release Polyester Zeal comes out August 7th on Razor & Tie Records.
Making the ‘short trip’ from Sweden, the Falun five-piece brought a unique show with an unexpected amount of fun and humor. Especially when vocalist Joakim Brodén said yes, I know we look like the village people, but more things came from Sweden than ABBA . They may have been one of the few, if only Swedish metal bands that got an American audience to do the YMCA. The camo and black clad battle ready metal outfit broke into The Art of War on “Ghost Division.” Brodén spent most of the set grinning ear to ear basking in the crowd’s cheers and constant chants of Sabaton between songs. He held his hands out several times looking genuinely touched by the response. Being Heroes to Swedish battle metal they’ve been “To Hell and Back” a few times.
They paid homage to King Charles on “Carolus Rex.” The Art of War was reissued and re-armed with “Swedish Pagans.” He ‘threatened’ to go back and play drums on a few tunes but instead was handed a guitar. “You might think this is a gag we do every day, and we do it every day, but it’s not a gag at all. I’m an excellent guitar player. Michael Jackson chose me to be the guitar player for the reunion concert. I got in touch with him as a child.” After a Smoke on the Water tease they played “Resist and Bite.” The Belgium infantry fought hard in WWII and finished going back to the beginning with “Primo Victoria.”
Tremonti the man who helped bring the world Creed and Alter Bridge came to Columbus with his new project, promoting Cauterize. They started with the thrashy-punch of “All that I Got.” Taking a few pages from his first solo release he tells everyone “You Waste Your Time,” then went dark and melancholy on “Brains.” “Another Heart” brought together the shows best meeting of thrash, hard rock and melody. They fought the redundant, repetitive complacency of life on “Decay,” then finish and “Wish you Well.”
The rain poured down for the lovely young ladies from the land of the rising sun. Babymetal, a cute (J-pop) dancing trio of the idol and metal genres fused into a newborn style. After setting records as the youngest act to play Loud Park Festival and Budokan in their homeland, Su-Metal, Yuimetal and Moametal brought their Metal Resistance tour to Columbus. They’ve shared stages around the world with Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Carcass, also earning the praise of Metallica. That day they played with Sabaton, In Flames and Ministry among others. The Kami band came out first sporting corpse paint and looking a bit too close and creepy to The Grudge.
The three-girls and band have packed arenas, festivals and stadiums across the ocean and now Columbus and Ernie Ball have been graced with their presence. The red skirted sirens came out to the wet roars of the crowd as they playfully challenged, taking a page from Fear Factory’s “Full Metal Contact” on “Catch me if you Can.” They’re as metal as teenage girls without instruments can be singing and dancing to heavily mechanized, industrial metal with death metal growls. They are still discovering the genre their performing in, and yes, it is cute. Their show is like playing Mortal Kombat listening to Ministry with female vocals. Too bad the girls didn’t do a tune with Al later on. They amped up the dance beat and choreography on “Megitsune.” They waved the Babymetal colors high on the nine minute opus “Road of Resistance.” They may be young but they know what every woman wants and they sing it loud, “Give me Chocolate.”
Long, long ago there was a girl who stood up and fought against the power idols. Afterward, the girl’s soul became a crimson flame burning for seven days. After a sequence of foretold events occurred, the goddess veiled in holy flame shall live again. So says the oracle of “Ijime, Dame, Zettai.”
On the Main Stage In This Moment went on in full skeletal-clad, full phantom masked circus regalia. The seductive Brink stepped forth on her golden podium, adorned in black, gilded with black venomous claws. The wicked witch of Columbus came gorgeous to watch, deadly to touch. She metaphorically asked, are you all beautiful and “Sick like Me? The spider webbed angel with the scabbed wings may have come the day after the antichrist superstar.
Medical attention showed up swiftly center stage with steam gun and three foot syringes as the lovely faceless nurses stood ready to administer. “The Black Widow’s” touch is quick but potent. Assume the position. It was only mid-day but sex was already on the mind as the pink stage was mounted. The caring nurses got a plastic makeover and “Sex Metal Barbie” got a new sagging wrinkle or two, exposing the made for media perfect face. She offered her big balls to the crowd, white and pink, tossed around like the homicidal queen. Barbie’s the sarcastically cynical but sweet song about media perception/image labeling, content and talent. The knife can give appearance but not substance cutting both ways. Maybe it’s better to be seen as plastic then to be injected with it. Brink preaches the word with a sick, sneering smile. She doesn’t belong in this scene, but you still raise your hands up and scream when she sings. Steam spewed as the energy flowed on “Adrenalize Me.”
For all the ladies, the “Whore” returned from 2013, with dunce cap, whacking stick and school girl skirt. The butcher knives came out swinging, as the queen of fatal attractions came out ready for “Blood.” The show ended with the concubines at her feet hugging and hanging onto their mistress.
Papa Roach came out to energize and signify that the boys from Vacaville were there to kick ass. They immediately threw down the positive message of “Face Anything and Rise.” They just started but it was time to “Get Away with Murder.” They turned up the old-school with “Between Angels and Insects” and got the place jumpin and connected on “Where did the Angels Go?” They were celebrating 15 years of actively spreading the infest losing themselves in the music and Jacoby losing himself in the crowd and history on “Broken Home.” They took one from the Paramour on “Forever” and flipped some brand new “Gravity” on us. They kicked it down, hard in the teeth and engaged in a Metamorphosis on “Lifeline.” They were new “Warriors” without F.E.A.R and with new material. The crowd sang along to a little bit more murder on “Scars.” Then the prophetic words rang out. Cut my life into pieces this is my “Last Resort.” They finished with a sincere fan serenade “To be Loved.”
Co-headliner Godsmack came on taking it to “1000hp” on the spot, raging about the old days. Regardless of how you felt or your state of mind, it was no time to be “Cryin Like a Bitch.”“For those of you who have no f’n clue what you’re looking at, we are Godsmack from Boston.” Erna announced.
They played some new stuff and some old stuff that everyone wanted to hear starting with the new single from 1000hp “What’s Next” dedicated to all the brave men and women of the armed forces. They went Faceless on “Straight out of Line” and old-school on “Awake” then cranked up the horse power for “Generation Day.” The current single, “Something Different” has been tested out on audiences all over the world. Erna said they had to find the true badasses of the world, those that really freakin appreciated live music, rock n roll and heavy screaming metal. So Columbus got tested and prior to, Sydney Australia held the record for the most energetic crowd on that tour. “But tonight, seeing what I’m seeing right here and feeling what I’m feeling right here, I have no doubt in my mind that Columbus Ohio’s gonna kick their mother f’n asses. Am I right?”
Sully instructed when the drums kicked in, to jump up and down so hard and so high, they feel it in New York City. If they went off as hard as they could, they would go into the new Godsmack feature documentary. The crowd loudly obliged. They went back to the beginning on “Keep Away.” As the last notes hit, the lights went red and broke out the bayou magic with some hardcore spiritual “Voodoo.”
The double kits came out as Shannon Larkin and Sully beat the skins in true Moby Dick fashion. The duel beating and Congo drumming commenced as Erna proved his hands could keep up with Larkin’s sticks. After a face to face head on drum clinic they played some ‘covers’ taking a page from Queen and rocked the place. They went “Back in Black” then teased “Walk this Way” into some “Creeping Death” along the Nile finishing with some “Tom Sawyer.”
“Are you still with us Ohio? “Whatever.” They ended with the sting and kiss of the scorpion venom and “I Stand Alone.”
It was time for a modern day dose of original New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Priest style. The Metal Gods are still one of the originators and still defy age and time. It was time for a pure heavy metal meltdown. Halford can still belt it out and proved the spirit of the Metal God is truly immortal. While new blood Richie Faulkner ripped through new tunes and classics like a seasoned pro.
The sirens of War Pigs blared through the speakers, as the “Battle Cry” started and red smoke covered the stage. White lightning filled the screens, making the clouds glow ominous over the priest. Faulkners opening riff brought the hellfire and breathe of the steel winged “Dragonaut.” The metallic molten logo smoldered on screen for the “Metal Gods.” “Hello everyone, the priest is back!” Halford declared. The burning three pronged pitchfork blazed for “Devil’s Child.” The twin guitar harmony of “Victim of Changes” seared the ears with Halfords prolific screeching howl. “We’ve been around for so long we’re celebrating double anniversaries on records.” he quipped.
The Viking crown loomed bright and triumphant, as they visited the “Halls of Valhalla.” The gears cranked and turned for the “Turbo Lover.” They’ve been making metal for 43 years and thanked Columbus for the support to continue doing what they love doing. “Redeemer of Souls” followed “Jawbreaker.” The British Steel came out to break the what? Breaking the what? Breaking the what? Let’s break the law! The motorcycle engine revved loudly as Halford drove the steel beast out, whip in hand “Hellbent for Leather.”
The “Hellion” announced the presence of the “Electric Eye” watching over Columbus that night. The iconic drum intro started for “Painkiller.” They ended, “Living After Midnight.”
First Babymetal, first two In This Moment, first Godsmack and Judas Priest featured images by Logan R. Frere.
All other images by Mike Ritchie.