Live: Rock on the Range 2018

12 years in, Rock on the Range has easily become the United States’ largest rock festival and the flagship festival of Danny Wimmer Presents’ World’s Loudest Month series. This year’s installment of ROTR saw Tool, Avenged Sevenfold and Alice in Chains headlining along with Stone Sour, A Perfect Circle, Godsmack and many more playing this year’s festival. 2017 saw a massive lineup as well but the festival saw numerous setbacks- including the death of Chris Cornell of Friday headliners Soundgarden the night before the festival; Match that with numerous rain and weather delays (almost 5 hours total on the first day alone) and fans were ready for a fresh start, which they got this year. Friday went off without a hitch but Saturday saw a 30 minute rain delay to start and then 4 hours in the middle saw Black Veil Brides’ strong set get cut short by one song. Aside from that, there were no setbacks and Sundy was gorgeous. In all honestly, the only thing that took away from the festival was fans bitching and complaining about the long delay on Saturday. Look- it’s a metal fucking building. If one person gets hit by lightning and dies, we all get hit because it will carry. Plus, the bands are playing on a stage, surrounded by metal and lots of electronics- all it takes is one bad lightning strike and one of the bands could get hurt. To want the festival to look past potential deaths, injuries and lawsuits just so you can see the one band you paid hundreds of dollars to see is just plain insensitive and inconsiderate. On top of that, if you paid hundreds of dollars to only see one band who is probably touring right now and coming to your city anyway and you aren’t excited to get exposed to other bands you might not have heard of- then you have more problems than the weather and you’re wasting your money. Now for the highlights: Day One: Dance Gavin Dance, The Fever 333 with singer Jason Aalon Butler climbing the rafters, throwing trash cans and climbing on top of semis and production trucks; Hawthorne Heights playing the US’ biggest festival in their home state, Power Trip, 10 Years, Body Count, Greta Van Fleet, Breaking Benjamin and Alice in Chains. The downside of this day was A Perfect Circle. Fans wanted to hear some of the heavier old material and ended up getting a slow, soft, ballad-ridden set that didn’t lead to much excitement. Day Two: Them Evils, Jelly Roll w/ Struggle Jennings, From Ashes to New- playing the first set after a 4 hour rain delay led to one of the craziest and most aggressive pits and most crowd surfers of the day; Andrew WK- if you can’t watch a set that features a 7-person party punk rock band singing about pizza, loving life, partying hard and beautiful girls- and feel like you can take over the world, you don’t have a pulse and have no soul; Trivium, Asking Alexandria, Black Veil Brides, Three Days Grace, Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold. The downside of this day was seeing Bullet For My Valentine unable to play as they had to leave during the rain delay to make their next show. Day Three: Stitched Up Heart- singer Mixi crowd-surfing on a giant golden dragon; Shim of former Sick Puppies fame making his return to the spotlight, Like a Storm, Anti-Flag, Red Sun Rising, Code Orange, I Prevail- they had the most circle pits of any set and proved they belong on the Main Stage; Babymetal- they had the biggest crowd of the second stage all weekend; Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack- it felt like 2000 again and this was the best Godsmack set in years, which is saying something; Tool. With over 140,000 people in attendance over the three-days, we can only thank DWP for putting on a festival that continues to find a way to top itself each year. With a lineup featuring Metallica last year and Tool this year and a sell-out over three days, we can only speculate what could be coming in future years. Maybe expanding to four days or bringing in a band like System of a Down or Rammstein? Time will only tell. -Reggie Edwards -Cover photo courtesy of Danny Wimmer Presents/Rock on the Range/Steve Thrasher Photography