by Reggie Edwards In just a few years’ time, Rock on the Range has become the nation’s biggest rock festival. Each band puts a little extra into Rock on the Range and fans come out in the tens of thousands to catch their favorites. With over 105,000 tickets sold this year, 2013 saw the first sell out in ROTR history This year’s festival featured a stellar lineup full of highlights with an extended three-day schedule with Friday kicking off at 4 p.m. with XFactor1 on the Jagermeister Stage getting the crowd amped up for a night that would end with reunion of Korn with original guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. XFactor1 played an impressively energetic set and drew quite the crowd. Being from the Columbus area, Rock on the Range was a bit of a homecoming for them. This wasn’t their first year at ROTR- last year they played the Friday night pre-party and in 2009 they played the Jager stage. This year, however was different as their new album, Famous.Last.Words, has hit the market and their fanbase has grown nationally- not to mention they’re on tour with Taproot right now. Not too long after they took the stage, Love and Death featuring Korn’s Brian “Head” Welch as frontman was starting things up on the Monster Main Stage. Love and Death was started before Welch rejoined Korn and is continuing with Welch as part of both bands. A lot of people there may not have been too familiar with the band but they’ve been picking up some serious heat since their latest album came out in January. With Welch on vocals and the rest of the band having been by his side for years, the band fired on all cylinders and blew the crowd away. Welch also joked around with the crowd, naming each band who would play the main stage that day and saying each had to cancel. Then there was the epic cover of Devo’s “Whip It” complete with the classic Devo hat worn by Welch. Their set ended with bassist Valentine in the crowd, raising the bar for the rest of the bands on main stage that day. Not too long after Love and Death wrapped up, Houston’s American Fangs had started up on the Jager Stage. These guys have just released their self-titled debut and have already grown a considerable fanbase. Their high-energy shows have garnered both critical acclaim and fan praise. Their set at Rock on the Range was no different with frontman Gabe Cavazos offering up one of the most energetic performances of the weekend, jumping into the crowd and taking part in a circle pit himself. In the meantime Hollywood Undead was gearing up for a set of hip-hop-infused rock on the main stage and they did not disappoint one bit. As always they opened with “Undead,” which led to a great combination of songs from all three of their albums including their new Notes from the Underground. Hollywood Undead fans were a-plenty and they made their presence known. The California hip-hop troupe pulled out all the stops and even featured a machine gun shaped guitar. They played pretty much every song fans could have wanted for a shortened festival set. After Buckcherry kept the action going on main stage and Mindset Evolution and Oleander keeping it up on Jager Stage, iconic rockers Cheap Trick took the stage on Main for a trip back in time. With frontman Robin Zander adorned with a red sequin-infested jacket with a red sequin captain’s hat and guitarist Rick Nielsen in his patented blazer with bowtie, Cheap Trick offered up a change of pace for the 60,000+ fans. At the same time, Sweden’s In Flames were headlining the Jager stage with a rowdy set that had fans crowd surfing, circle pitting and more. They also took the time to announce this would be the last time fans heard Sounds of a Playground Fading in the United States as the band would soon be entering the studio to record a brand new record. But it was after In Flames that the moment many people were waiting for- after eight years, Brian “Head” Welch rejoined Korn onstage for an entire set. This was the second show of their current tour and as the minutes ticked past the pandemonium grew. As the lights went down you could feel something in the air and as the lights flashed on every guitar chord and drum kick of “Blind,” the fans got louder. Over the years after Welch had left the band, something seemed to be lacking. That’s not to say Korn didn’t sound good but there was a certain power to the punch that was missing. It was like they could knock you on your ass but the KO wasn’t there. With Welch back in the band, it’s very clear they’re back on top and sounding better than ever. They breezed through a setlist that included some Korn songs they haven’t played live in awhile- “Twist,” “Ball Tongue,” “Chi” and more were all in the setlist and it was like the old days again. It’s hard to believe any time has passed let alone eight years since Welch left- they sound like they’ve been together this whole time. Day 1 Photos (click thumbnail for larger image): \"\"  

Day Two

Day two of Rock on the Range kicked off at 11:45 with Pop Evil on main stage. Their latest album, Onyx, released just a few days before the festival and has received overwhelming positive reviews, which translated over to the band’s performance. With frontman Leigh Kakaty offering up some of the most crowd interaction of the weekend and even standing on top of the crowd-literally-Pop Evil showed they’re well on their way to the top. It wasn’t long after they wrapped up that UK’s Young Guns were about to start things up on the Pabst Blue Ribbon Stage. Currently on the hardDrive Live 5 tour with Bullet for My Valentine and Halestorm, Young Guns are picking up a lot of steam in the States with their latest album, Bones, and lead single of the same name. It’s rare to see a band touring in a new country for the first time and have thousands of fans singing their songs but Young Guns have pulled it off well. With All That Remains playing a dominating set on main stage it was time for Otherwise to take the stage next on PBR and they may just have found some new fans, or Wize Ones, as they’re called. Otherwise are always fun to watch and Rock on the Range was no exception with frontman Adrian Patrick showing much appreciation to the fans and the rest of the and interacting beautifully with the fans during each song. Next on the day was Halestorm on main stage- a band who have played four of the seven years of the festival’s existence. Their first year was on the small stage and, over the years, they graduated to the main stage and have become somewhat of a staple of Rock on the Range. With Arejay Hale’s intense and entertaining drumming mixed with one of the craziest personalities in rock today combined with Lzzy Hale’s sexy stage presence and bone-chilling screams, Halestorm have bulldozed their way to the top of the rock world and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Not to mention Arejay Hale ending the set by crowd surfing for a few minutes- the man didn’t want to leave- a true showman. Follow that up with yet another blistering Rock on the Range performance from Bullet for My Valentine and day two was off to one hell of a start. They played a great combo of classic Bullet favorites and new material from Temper Temper. Bullet always puts on a great show and Rock on the Range was no different. Not long after they started their set Black Veil Brides were gearing up to face thousands of screaming girls on the PBR stage. Black Veil Brides have always had an interesting reaction from fans. They seem to be the most hated and loved band around these days and they love every bit of it. Frontman Andy Biersack may be the most vocal in the business about his haters and critics, telling the crowd “There’s a lot of middle fingers in the crowd and we came to do one thing- play our music for the ones who came to see us. If you have a problem with us, take your middle finger, put it up your ass and spin.” They put on one hell of an energetic show too, with Biersack leaving the stage and getting up close and personal with his fans and also climbing the side-stage lighting rig. The next two acts to take the main stage couldn’t have been more polar opposites on quality. First up was Papa Roach, who always give 100%. Frontman Jacoby Shaddix had vocal surgery last fall and it doesn’t seem to have affected him one iota. His voice is better than ever and it’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the band started. Shaddix went into the crowd a few times- including the stands, which was quite the risk given the history of fans being close to artists but he doesn’t care- whatever it takes to give the fans their money’s worth- and they got it and more. Three Days Grace followed Papa Roach, putting on probably the most disappointing set of the weekend. Ever since Adam Gontier left the band a few months ago, they’ve been lacking that certain sound that made them famous. Their current frontman just doesn’t have it- not to say he’s a bad singer, but Three Days Grace have a certain vocal sound fans expect and he just doesn’t measure up. Not to mention the one song of pyro they had- after the fire and aw factor wore off, we were left with a lackluster performance many were wishing would find a quick end. It wasn’t long before fans found a pick-me-up with A Day To Remember starting up on the PBR stage with a set of intensity, crowd surfers and more. The real insanity and chaos came when Stone Sour hit the stage. There’s just something about Corey Taylor that makes fans lose it and he can command a crowd like few others can. Stone Sour didn’t need any pyro or anything like that. Taylor himself has enough energy to get the crowd going. They ended their set with a dynamic cover of Black Sabbath’s ”Children of the Grave,” which has become a regular in their setlist each night. And after a strong set from the newly-reunited Smashing Pumpkins the crowd was ready for day three, which promised to be the best day yet. Day 2 Photos (click thumbnail for larger image):  

Day Three

With two days already in the books and this year’s Rock on the Range already having sold out, day three was bound to be the best day of the three. Action started early yet again with Sick Puppies hitting the main stage at 11:45 a.m. with one of the biggest early morning crowds of the weekend. They played mainly newer songs from Tri-Polar and the lead single from their upcoming album, Connect. Frontman Shimon Moore was at no shortage for funny faces he made to the crowd and the band played almost as finely tuned as ever. After Sevendust kept the party going on main stage, Red was gearing up for a set the Rangers would not soon forget on the PBR Stage. Just as fans were starting to get antsy with the band taking a few extra minutes to take the stage, an explosion erupted that probably drowned out Sevendust on main stage and Red had arrived. They’re good at that- making you wait and then scaring the hell out of you upon their arrival. Red played something from every album- which is rare for anyone and had the most fire of the entire weekend- with it feeling like 100 degrees outside when they hit the stage, it’s a wonder how they made it through with as much as energy as they had- true professionals. After Steel Panther entertained everyone on main stage, it was time for a complete 180 from Red on PBR Stage- Ghost. While Red are a group of Christian guys, with Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch and Love and Death also on the bill, Ghost couldn’t be more of an opposite. Papa Emeritus II, their frontman is somewhat of a satanic Pope, decked out in Pope gear with inverted crosses adorning his attire. He’s backed by the Nameless Ghouls, who wear black masks with long black catholic robes; they were quite the attraction. Last year Anthrax was the buzz band, this year it’s safe to say pretty much everyone wanted to see Ghost in action. They lived up to every expectation possible, coming out to a Mass bigger than most they’ve probably played all year- and they delivered, christening Rock on the Range and making it their home. Oddly enough, playing at the same time on the Jager Stage was Thousand Foot Krutch, who had just about as big of a crowd as Ghost, and who’s latest album, The End is Where We Begin, has catapulted them to mainstream success to build upon the Christian industry success they’ve enjoyed over the last 10 years. They played just as good a show as they ever have and before too long it was time for another Christian band to take the stage, Skillet on the Monster Main Stage. They started with a little hiccup- their violinist and cellist coming on stage early- but they recovered quickly and fans didn’t take long to forget about it. They played every song you could possibly expect for a shortened festival set- except “Comatose,” as well as playing three songs from their upcoming highly-anticipated album, Rise- “Sick of It,” “Rise” and “Circus for a Psycho,” which you would never guess were new songs if they didn’t tell you- the fans ate it all up. Many people don’t realize Skillet have been around since 1996 and the sound heard on some of their new music is more of a combination of old and new together and they just keep picking up steam and momentum as the years go on rather than just dying out. There seems to be no end in sight for Skillet. Over on the PBR stage, Device was gearing up for a show that had just as much anticipation as Ghost, Skillet or Korn- with David Draiman at the helm people were itching and busting at the seams to see Device’s live show- especially after hearing their debut album. Opening with “Penance,” they didn’t look back for one second, blazing through a short setlist that culminated with “Vilify” and Maria Brink of In This Moment joining them on stage for a cover of “Close My Eyes Forever,” which was met with roars and cheers. After Bush brought the heat to the main stage it was time for the most destructive show of the weekend- a band who probably should have been on main stage with the amount of excitement, buzz and hype they have been getting since frontman Randy Blythe was acquitted of all his charges overseas. That’s right- Lamb of God was gearing up to demolish the PBR stage. Okay, they didn’t demolish it but their fans were rowdier than ever and with Blythe a free man for good now, violence and destruction was in sight. Support of their new album, Resolution, has been impressive to say the least and their set at Rock on the Range was the epitome of outstanding. Just as they were finishing up, Alice in Chains were setting up on main stage for a set of old meets new with everything from “Hollow” and “Stone” from their upcoming album to “Man in the Box” and  “Them Bones-“ which they opened with. Alice in Chains have definitely stood the test of time and battled through some of the hardest times of their career to make it back to the top. They aren’t going anywhere, either, and the end is nowhere in sight. With Soundgarden capping off the night, Rock on the Range was over sooner than many would have wanted- even though it was three days long. For awhile, people have been saying rock is dead and there’s no real music left. Rock on the Range is a prime example of rock and roll alive and well and thriving more than ever. This year’s festival was the first to sell out with over 105,000 tickets sold and some of the biggest crowds in American music. There’s no doubt Rock on the Range is exactly what rock and roll is all about and anyone who’s anyone in music- whether it’s fans, media or bands themselves are at Rock on the Range. 2013 had to have been the best yet and featured some of the best moments ever. The only question is this- how in the world will 2014 top 2013? Day 3 Photos (click thumbnail for larger image): Interviews: Pre-headline set interview with Fieldy of KoRn   Sick Puppies Interview with Shimon Moore and Mark Goodwin   Thousand Foot Krutch interview with Trevor McNevan:   XFactor1 Interview with Zack and Cody: