Reinvention can make or break you in music and in the case of Rock on the Range- it’s helped. While ROTR quickly became the nation’s biggest rock festival over its existence, 2019 saw Danny Wimmer Presents change the festival’s identity to Sonic Temple and 2019’s inaugural inception brought two of the biggest headliners DWP has had for the Columbus, Oh. festival.
System of a Down and Foo Fighters joined Disturbed to close out their respective days and fans didn’t waste time buying tickets and making sure this was a festival to remember, and it was.
While it had the same overall feel as ROTR, Sonic Temple featured a few changes, the biggest one being the addition of an “artists alley,” that featured some of the most impressive and visually stimulating pieces of music-related art you’ve ever seen. Also located around the festival grounds were giant pillars where artists were painting some gorgeous and psychedelically-themed murals.
The performances were at an all-time best, too. Friday’s standout sets came from Hands Like Houses, Avatar, Zeal & Ardor, Wage War, Parkway Drive, Halestorm and Ghost. System of a Down closed out the night after a quick rainstorm but had to pause their set shortly while the production team were forced to restart the sound system.
Saturday’s top performances: Black Coffee, Fever 333, Gojira, Lamb of God and Papa Roach; The disappointing moment of the day came when Action Bronson was forced to cancel his set shortly before due to an unforeseen knee injury while Fever 333 took home the most memorable set of the day with singer Jason Butler found his way up into the stands, crowd surfed inside a stage cart, pulled the stage carpet up and even more.
Sunday’s top sets came from Yungblud, The Interrupters, The Hives, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Foo Fighters.
Sunday was also a tough day but it was still a better run than the last two years were. Going into the day, the festival promoters made sure to post on social media that a big storm was coming and high winds could cause delays in the festival and that’s exactly what happened.
They were forced to cancel the entire Wave Stage and then The Distillers, Chevelle and Bring Me The Horizon had sets cut on the Monster Stadium Stage, leaving just the Echo Stage running until after The Hives.
The Hives had one of the most memorable sets of the day. They were on the only stage still going at the time and almost every fan on the grounds was there for it. The rain was starting to come down harder and the fans were getting more and more into the show because they wanted so badly for things to keep going.
After a two hour evacuation and rain delay, Joan Jett took the stage at 8:30 for a short set before Foo Fighters closed things out, both of which were memorable performances and saw heightened involvement from fans, making the rest of the night an all-out party to put a cap on the first Sonic Temple.
So many things make a rock festival a special experience- one being the guest appearances- this year fans saw System of a Down’s Serj Tankian join Tom Morello for “Like A Stone,” Randy Blythe from Lamb of God joined Gojira, Maria Brink of In This Moment joined Papa Roach for “Gravity” and more.
The unity amongst fans is one of the most special things about these festivals, too. Rock fans always look out for each other- picking each other up if they fall in a pit, guys standing up for people getting roughed-up in the pit, making sure the kids in the crowd are safe and protected and more. This year, one girl was at Sonic Temple with her daughter but lost her debit card at point so the people around her bought her daughter dinner, shirts and more to make sure she had the best experience possible.
In the end, rock festivals are one giant family. People drive from all over the country to come to stuff like Sonic Temple, Epicenter, Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, Chicago Open Air Presents, etc. because it’s the one place they feel like the belong and feel at home- and they are.
Enough cannot be said about the DWP team with Sonic Temple. It’s a huge task to take over a festival of this magnitude on your own and there’s more that goes into it than fans realize and they knocked it out of the park with this being the most full Mapfre Stadium has been since they started holding festivals at this stadium.
The Front Row Report would like to thank DWP and all involved for having us out and we look forward to next year.