May 17th, 18th and 19th 2013’s Rock on the Range lineup played Columbus’s Crew Stadium to a jammed packed house each night. On three consecutive days the weekend music festival known for bringing in rock, metal and other diverse acts and talent jammed 20,145 hot, sweaty, sunburnt fans into its bleachers and floor for an all-day festival with bands performing on three stages.
Starting as a one day show in 2007 headlined by ZZ Top, Evanescence and Velvet Revolver, Rock on the Range’s success brought a two day show in 2008 featuring the return of Stone Temple Pilots with co-headliners Disturbed on Saturday and Kid Rock/Three Doors Down on Sunday. Since then it has delivered global headliners Slipknot, Alice in Chains, Korn, Motley Crue, Godsmack, Limp Bizkit, Rob Zombie, A Perfect Circle, Marilyn Manson and Megadeth. This year the event expanded to three days to include 50 bands on the Monster Energy Main Stage and the Jagermeister and Pabst Blue Ribbon Stages.
Friday’s first ever opening day included In Flames, Oleander, Mindset Revolution, American Fangs and Xfactor1 on the Jager Stage, with Love and Death, Hollywood Undead, Buck Cherry, Cheap Trick and Korn headlining. Saturday’s Jager Stage had Scorpion Child, Gemini Syndrome. Heavens Basement, Red Line Chemistry and Clutch while the Pabst Stage gave us Young Guns, Otherwise, Motionless in White, Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria and a Day to Remember. The Monster Stage played Pop Evil, All That Remains, Grammy Award winning Halestorm, Bullet For My Valentine, Papa Roach, Three Days Grace, Stone Sour and Smashing Pumpkins.
As an added bonus for fans who wanted to piss themselves laughing, the Old Milwaukee Comedy tent hosted stand up from 6pm-8pm featuring Bill Squire, Bob Cook, Big Jay Aokerson, That Metal Show’s Jim Florentine and Ari Shafir on Saturday and Bill Arrundale, Dan Swartwout, Rod Pauletta, Big Jay Oakerson and Jim Florentine on Sunday.
Sunday brought the weekend’s finale to a crowded, smoldering, loud close. The diversity that ROTR is built on was displayed in full force. Opening the morning’s festivities on the Jager stage was the 2013 Battle for Rock on the Range winners Error 504, who bested 6 other Columbus finalists and 36 other bands collectively to be there. They opened with Give it Away with vocal help from the lovely Miss Kelsey Mayer busting into The Reckoning then delivering the Lil’ Red devil when bassist Jon Banks got temporarily possessed by Satan on the mic. Alex Mayer takes a quick sight-seeing trip on the hot pavement playing the loud welcoming committee everyone came to see.
Atlanta’s O’Brother played a set from their Garden Window and new Disillusion CDs, noise heavy in ambience, effects and delivery. Lo is the opening rocker with hints of The Cure. O’Brother must be heard in the proper Context to be truly appreciated, such as the heavy grinding growling guitars and atmospheric tint of high vocals. Lay Down begins in a tricky sea of guitar sound submergence echoing sounds of whale notes from Johnny Dang’s guitar playing along an eerily calm Robert Smith sounding Tanner Merritt. They get spastically heavy for a few seconds then creepy composure’s restored until the heavy downpour hits and never stops. The next song is full of Perilous Love from a dangerous obsessed mind rocking in a dark corner somewhere. In conclusion, welcome my friends… welcome to The Machines Part I & II, two loud heavy breathing noise mashers. Stormy guitar sounds with a surrealistic melancholy Deftones feel and high pitch cooing to Bush like vocals. They’ll be touring with Native and Daylight through August and September.
Thousand Foot Krutch brought the icy chills from Ontario Toronto to the Columbus stage, letting the sparks fly. They get wicked with the crowd as the human body parts fly, bash around and run into each other. Next, the title track for their new release The End Is Where We Begin. They broke out the War of Change then it was time for the crowd and pit to Move and get a little sweaty kicking a hole in the sky. They have a bad case/habit of turning it up (too loud) so it was time to Fire it Up and excuse them while they Light Up The Sky.
Sacramento’s Middle Class Rut played some multi- dimensional tunes for fans unaccustomed to what a duo should be able to pull off, so they brought the band too. Zack Lopez poured out some Perry Farrell throated vocals singing about dear Aunt Betty then took things to a New Low. They’re busy touring and Busy Being Born into the scene. Then started the road race playing Alive or Dead from the Need for Speed: The Run soundtrack.
Deuce finished the day’s Jager fueled lineup playing a combination of rock, rap and Linkin Park meets Iggy Pop. The former voice of Hollywood Undead opened with the Undead, then got the crowd Crackin, just like Mr. Cooper, Nobody Likes him either. He plays theater putting on the masked face revealing two sides to his ultra-ego, finishing with his tribute to America.
Popping open the Pabst Stage was Ontario’s Big Wreck playing some imported Northern hard rock starting with Inhale. Ian Thornly brings out the Chris Cornel vox on Albatross. Fans go oh yeah it’s That Song, Thornly brings out the fast note swinging blues on Come Again, and a space aged solo from The Oaf.
Next straight from the dirty south of Nashville comes Red. They already spray painted and tagged the stage red, white and every other color, later on the whole f’n town. They Feed The moshing Machine with a speed limit of no less than 40 as everyone bounces to the Perfect Life. Fists pound on Let Go and Die For You, many Rangers used the mosh pits as a great way to Release The Panic of a large crowd environment. And the song that started it all was playing through the flames of Breathe Into Me.
Next the dark, unholy byproduct of a satanic blood orgy of black magic and carnal knowledge between King Diamond, Skeletor, Lilith and Anton LaVey. Now ladies and gentleman straight from the church burning chapels of Norway comes the new black pope incarnate. Papa Emeritus II emerged fully robed in his favorite Sunday papal blasphemy, his evil face painted skeletal worship blessed the crowd as Ghost took the stage with the Nameless Ghouls/Darth Vader Monks playing in black with eyes wide shut as the masked ball began. The church of the undead came to order as his disgrace Emeritus lead the congregation in a damned celebration spreading the foul stenched musical incense starting with sophomore set title track Infestissumam continuing into Per Aspera Ad Inferi. The biggest question when seeing Ghost isn’t particularly what’s under the robe or even WTF? The greatest corpse painted mystery of the proud Papa may be who’s under the robe, and despite speculation it’s not King Diamond or Mikael Akerfeldt. We join the Con Clavi Con Dio under the sign of the burning hot sun sealing our own Merciful Fate. We are witnesses of the lords of the dark arts proclaiming 2013 as Year Zero as Papa sings the praises of his evil eternal inflamed patriarch. Emeritus’s vocals are in the style of a blood coven sacrifice between Akerfeldt, Diamond, BOC’s Donald Roeser and Weird Al, slow, soft, soothing, calm with an unassuming serpents tongue delivery. The Ritual continues as rotting, wrenched bodies are stacked up neatly in the pit. The Monstrance Clock ticks down to the end of today’s show.
Now time for one of the day’s most anticipated moments. Blonde tantalizing temptress Maria Brink standing tall above her baby-dolled mount grabs her skull headed polls, offers us a healthy dose of first aid after tasting the half eaten apple of temptation rising with her as she brings us In This Moment. We’re instantly adrenalized and addicted to this by her seductive wail hitting us with a Blazin hot-shot stream of her refreshing cool steam. The sirens roar as she mounts her disciplined stool, the hottest dunce in school. Ready to dish out wanted punishment to every hot sweaty Whore in the audience desperately crowd surfing their way to earn a few whacks. Afterwards it was time to Burn as our lovely angelic nurse spreads her white satin wings to the heavens offering up her tortured embrace as she unleashes the Beast Within with the help of a curious silly rabbit. Then it was time for the Blood to flow through our veins, we love her for all the things she does to us.
It was time to pay a heavy Penance with the very disturbing David Draiman’s new other worldly Device. You Think You Know what reality is, think again as the thunderous guitar hits. Draiman, Evanascence’s Will Hunt and Dope’s guitarist Virus have brought the hard-rock, industrial, electronica cyber vision to life on stage, where they’re immersed in the live performance Haze. They create another incredible moment bringing Maria Brink back out to duet on monster 80’s ballad Close My Eyes Forever. Though there’s only one Ozzy and Lita, Draiman’s high pitch and Brink’s husky exhales put a unique spin and twist on the classic tune. They have vilified themselves through life, music and moving forward. They close with a wishful homage to one of the forefathers of the industrial scene.
The holy Lamb of God is offered up as freedom loving citizen Randy Blythe brings the Desolation to Columbus and the pit begins. L.O.G. encourages everyone to Walk With them In Hell and with the heat, sweat and perpetual performance pits, the Crew Stadium bares a hellish resemblance to the dark underground lair. Now that we’re all Set to Fail Now we’ve Got Something To Die For. Blythe’s gravel throated luciferian shriek hammers the crowd into high physical praise. Before orchestrating the circle pit Blythe announces ‘You are at Rock on the Range, you are watching Lamb of God, obviously you’re just a bunch of Rednecks.’ The final song brings the infamous wall of death where sweaty, nasty flesh and bone collide face to face.
Opening the Monster Energy Main Stage was the Aussie www.facebook.com/sickpuppies via LA and they came ready to bring a War and start the anatomical stadium body Riptide. Our ears are blessed by Emma Anzai’s voice on Die To Save You. The next one’s for all the hard drinking Odd Ones in the crowd, namely everyone, including the off duty Spiderman. Shimon Moore brought thousands together with hands on shoulders rocking the stadium floor with Nothing Really Matters. They finish with crowd pleaser You’re Going Down.
Atlanta’s Sevendust emerged with Lajon Witherspoon live, ripe and ready for Decay. They get the party going as the steam poured from the stage giving the audience high Praise. Witherspoon intro’s a new song from Black Out The Sun called Till Death but makes sure the crowd really wants to hear it. Next they get their pound of flesh turning the audience into Pieces. Sevendust has definitely arrived in Columbus and they weren’t leaving until they gave Crew Stadium the ultimate Face To Face experience. Just don’t be f’n with his head and leavin.
Next up the recent 80’s throwback to when spandex, hairspray and macho makeup ruled the sunset strip with a tight spandex, leppard skinned rocker/power ballad power-punch. Steel Dragons distant cousins and Motley Crue’s illegitimate children from the Ratt infested streets of Hollywood, Steel Panther. The pseudo autobiographical comically parody laced foursome dipped in Poison and Aquanet are indeed a true Cinderella story. The Panther comes out to prowl eyes hungry stalking its prey. Today was Rock on the Range for the 2013 80’s rockers but they’re going to an X-rated party Tomorrow Night. Now for the most important question of the day from Michael Starr, are you ready to f’n rock? Are you ready to do….. unspeakable, unprintable, unmentionable, indigestible things to cute furry cats? What other band can freely open up to an audience of twenty thousand people about their sex life and smile doing it? He also behaved himself within reason for the most part never unleashing the Whitesnake. Guitarist Satchel shows off his prowess playing almost as fast as Eddie Van Halen and he can almost play the beginning of Jessie’s Girl too. While Satchel sacks the crowd with his between song monologue bassist Lexxi Foxx busies himself at the front house/front stage hand held makeup cabinet before mugging for the audience making sweet sweet rhythm of love to the camera. He looks great…. from a distance. Stix Zadinia is so fast on drums his hand is half Asian and Asian Hookers make the best working girls in today’s rough, global cash strapped, multi-corporate, consumerist, digital, online, information is money, up to the minute, high def, Youtube, Tweeting, marketing society. Next up, the fun high energy sing along, synchronized head-banging of Just Like Tiger Woods. For those who haven’t seen Steel Panther before, for those that like going to the zoo and those planning on never seeing Steel Panther again this next song went triple platinum, in Guam where they’re treated as home coming hero’s and mobbed in the streets. It was their first video in Tahiti as well. This is their love song because their hearts belong to you but their (text omitted) are Community Property. Historically this was the lighter ballad but since it was 2:30 in the afternoon in an open air stadium nobody bothered. But we still sang along, arm in arm in the sweet emotion of the moment. Next song is dedicated to everyone that loves strip-joints and copulating with dancers in the bathroom. He’ll say one thing; Starr loves heavy metal more than he loves eating freakin….p-pizza. Rockstar prowess goes back for decades but only one band can claim 17 Girls in a Row. In closing f- Britney Spears, f-Mariah Carey cause it’s Death To All But Metal! Steel Panther thanks you for coming but they gotta go, 1988 called and they want their band back.
Those gospel defending/sharing mainstream rockers from the Tennessee Bible Belt open their show greeting the crowd and whatever Alien Youth happen to be surfing in the sun with some Whispers in the Dark. Including two drenched in white masked men masquerading as violinists. The world needs a Hero and with steam bellowing from everywhere Skillet delivers one. A war for your soul is being waged everyday by people who try and tell you what to think and do but Skillet believes in the gospel and are very much Awake and Alive and willing to play on top of long towering moving pillars stretching toward the heavens to prove it because here right now, they’ll do what they wanna do. Next is the title track to their upcoming release Rise. Then they appease all the crazies in the psycho circus crowd with something even better for the slightly twisted, insane makeup loving clown sideshow freak, a Circus For A Psycho. With all the crazies wandering around it was time to unleash the Monster. They finish with a beautifully loud Rebirth and hopefully saved a few souls in the process.
Ladies and gentleman Elvis has left the building, but there’s some good news, uh-huh, the kings of Danish Graceland where Elvis and Johnny Cash meet Metallica and Slayer, Volbeat just got here. They open today’s show with A Warriors Call, roaring down 1-70 with Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood dripping on the concrete. Hallelujah Goat answers what a collaboration between a sped up in shape Elvis and Black Sabbath would sound like. They pay tribute to the man in black playing Ring of Fire spitting from the Sadman’s Tongue jazzing it up with some rockabilly fast metal playin’. This one’s for all the Johnny ‘Walkers’ out there Dead But Rising. Miss Lola Montez the shady lady herself makes an appearance. Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman was honored with a short summer rain of blood before The Hangman’s Body Count began. We’re 11 songs into the set and we’re Still Counting floating bodies and spontaneously opening pits. By the time Volbeat was done and the Rock on the Range weekend concluded there’d be a Pool of Booze and more booze, sweat, tears and many other internal liquids swirling in a Molotov Cocktail cesspool rainbow for some unlucky souls to clean up.
Gavin Rossdale and the boys of Bush stopped by making sure all were nice and zen as the sun slowly descended starting the Machinehead fueled on Testosterone, not that there was any shortage at all. Though it was officially evening in mid- May and still pretty damn hot they brought us The Sound of Winter so Everything’s Zen. New track Loneliness is a Killer was greeted with enthusiasm. It was time to break out the Beatles and Come Together…. with the crowd, literary. A minute in Rossdale jumped stage running for the stands and brought the music to the people, in droves, covering almost half the bleachers on the crowds left side. Luckily he didn’t get the Beatlemania mob experience or he wouldn’t have made it back for the Little Things that kill. The opening riff to Glycerine got the shows biggest pop finishing with the Come Down.
It was time for the co-headliners and the evening’s first dose of Seattle grunge minus the rain. As if the pit hadn’t done enough damage to thousands of limbs Alice in Chains came out to rattle Them Bones. Cantrell and Co did their best to playfully Dam That River of humanity slowly moving towards them. Their set was a complete, comprehensive collection of classics, hits and new stuff. They kept the crowd happy Again and again and again. Though there weren’t any angry chairs around a wheelchair or two got some crowd surf time. They play the evening’s first two tracks from the William Duvall era Check My Brain and Your Decision from 2009’s comeback after 14 years Black Gives Way to Blue. Opening track from their newest The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, Hollow got good reaction. It was time to go old-school and get on old fashion deadly Facelift and Die Young, then slow it down, get nice, cool, calm and mellow Down In A Hole trapped like a Nutshell. The Dinosaurs make another post historic appearance on Stone, there’s No Excuses not to know they saved the best for last. If I could Would you? Man in the Box got a stadium sing along and rightfully so, besides they’ve all come to stuff the Rooster.
As night fell the day’s headliners and final closing performance of the weekend Seattle’s Soundgarden opened with the blossoming soft petals of the vain, soon to be fading Flower. It was time to Outshine the crowd with some California looks and Minnesota feelings. Then whip out their best Jesus Christ Pose backhanding the pomposity of certain religious types trying to rule over the moral majority in their fashion. They played the song that got them signed, ironically called Hunted Down. Not to be outdone by a stadium full of Rangers they loudly start their own wave on stage. Next the opening track from last year’s King Animal, Been Away Too Long, most fans would agree. We visit the Superunknown with the Mailman on a journey stretching like a rubber-band getting tighter and tighter and tighter…. They Blow Up The Outside World because nothing else mattered besides what was happening in Crew Stadium that night, bring on the black days. Giving the crowd the Badmotorfinger they pulled out the Rusty Cage then introduced the Spoonman from Seattle. It was time for the Black Hole Sun scorched crowd to break out the Chelsea grins and contorted smiles. They finish the night with the Ultramega OK Incessant Mace.
Rock on the Range 2013 delivered. Now the wait begins to see what’s in store for next summer.
Ghost setlist and photo without scepter courtesy of Jessica Rhoades and www.facebook.com/JrPhotographyInc. All other photos courtesy of www.facebook.com/ChrisAPhotography and http://www.chrisaphotography.com.