Rock On The Range returns for ninth year and biggest yet

The eighth annual Rock On The Range music festival was recently held to a sold out crowd at legendary Mapfre Stadium over the weekend of May 15-17 in Columbus Ohio and while the occasional delay due to downpours of rain may have dampened the vast array of metal and rock t-shirts worn by adoring fans, it could not dampen their unwavering spirit and good time was had by all.

The festival featured a veritable smorgasbord of things for fans to do, including three stages of music, a comedy tent showcasing some of the best and brightest stand up comics, zip lines, tattoo artists, interactive media tents, graffiti art with “Risk” and so much more.

There was also a wide variety of food items to further tempt patrons out of their hard earned money. Everything under the sun was represented, from sweet treats like ice cream and funnel cakes to more substantial items such as pizza, Mexican food and all manner of meats on the grill.

Food wasn’t the only smell driving the fan’s olfactory senses wild, the smell of substances both legal and not so legal lofted through the air on a regular basis. The alcohol also flowed freely and if people weren’t fall down drunk or fighting, security was quite content to sit back and let them have their fun.

The 2015 version of Rock On the Range also had a wider variety than ever before in vendor village. There were tents selling things from chain link jewelry, custom one of a kind, pieces of art and glass pipes for folks to smoke those not so legal substances we mentioned before. One of the more unique items was the guy selling jewelry made entirely out of bent stainless steel nails.

The Jagermeister Stage may have been the smallest, but the performances that came from it that weekend were massive. There was more crowd surfing and moshing at the Jager Stage than anywhere else in the facility. There is also no denying that over the course of the three days the fans at the Jager Stage were some of the loudest and craziest ones there.

Highlights from the Jager Stage on day 1 included powerhouse performances by XFactor1, Highly Suspect, Dorthy, Danger Kids, hardcore legends Hatebreed, who closed the stage that day in epic fashion and a show stealing performance by Beartooth that saw their guitarist out in the crowd being passed around while he played as a plane with a Beartooth banner circled overhead.

Day 2 on the Jager Stage featured heart pounding sets by Novallo, Red Sun Rising, From Ashes to New and The Devil Wears Prada who tore shit up, but the real highlights that were the killer performances by Nonpoint and living legends Saxon. Many wondered why a band with a rich history like Saxon’s wasn’t on the main stage as the small one could barely contain them. Never the less, they made the best of their time and left with a whole new generation of fans.

The third day on the Jager Stage showcased pummeling sets by female fronted bands like September Mourning, Marmozets and Crobot alongside devastating performances by Santa Cruz and Upon A Burning Body, but it was Periphery’s over the top set to close the Jagermeister Stage out for the weekend that stole the show and would be ingrained into people’s sub-conscience for days to come.

Not to be outdone, the Ernie Ball Stage without a doubt wins the award for the loudest and best sound production of the festival. It showcased a who’s who of bands on the cusp of immortality. Most of these bands are several albums into their careers and are not only the artists everyone will soon be talking about, but the brightest hopes to carry the torch into the future and beyond.

Some of the highlights to the first day on the Ernie Ball Stage included main stage worthy performances by Shaman’s Harvest, Vamps, Young Guns, Yelawolf, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Falling In Reverse, but it was Islander’s epic set that stood out the most, in part due to the lead singer going out to do a little crowd surfing while still singing.

The second day on the Ernie Ball Stage got off to a good start with the Ernie Ball Battle Of The Bands winner Screaming For Silence and just got better from there with a kick ass set from Like A Storm and their trusty didgeridoo. There’s no doubt that Sabaton had the most rabid and largest number of fans. Mark Tremonti gave his most metal show yet and Baby Metal was the band everyone was talking about, but it was In Flames and Ministry that owned the day.

Day 3 on the Ernie Ball Stage started strong with a trio of youngsters all under the age of 15 called Unlocking The Truth. They have been generating a lot of buzz and it was easy to see why. Art Of Dying, Starset, Otherwise, Rival Sons and Motionless In White upped the ante even further with jaw dropping sets and while Tech N9ne may have been the odd band out stylistically, they were still welcomed with open arms and screaming voices.

For fans that needed a place to get out of the heat, sun and volume or those that were just plain messed up and wanted to get their laugh on, the Rolling Rock Comedy Tent provided the perfect distraction and comedians like Jim Florentine, Brian Posehn, Don Jamison, Jim Norton, Craig Peters and Rob Schneider delivered crushing sets so hysterical, it was hard to catch your breath at times. Not only were those that ventured in left in stitches, but they were left begging for more.

Luckily for the fans, the Monster Energy Main Stage line-up was stronger than ever and showcased some of the biggest names in hard rock and heavy metal from the last 30 years. Not only did the stage have the biggest bands, but the audience had superhero crowd surfers like Spiderman, Batman, The Flash, The Green Lantern and Captain America being passed around like giant joints alongside several people in wheelchairs. Now that’s fucking Heavy Metal!!!

We Are Harlot kicked things off on the Monster Energy Stage day 1 that with a set that silenced those upset over Danny Worsnop leaving Asking Alexandria and the addition of Frankie Perez has taken Apocalytica’s show to the next level. Live’s out of this world set left fans asking Ed who and Breaking Benjamin brought it big time, but it was the over the top sets by Slash with Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot that brought the house down, with Slipknot’s set widely regarded as one of the best of the entire festival.

Day 2 on the Monster Energy Stage started with an amazing set of mostly Staind and Three Days Grace standards by surprise guests Saint Asonia and a punishing set by Of Mice & Men. Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts delivered a slightly off set in the pouring rain, but In This Moment got things right back on track with one of the most visual sets of the weekend. From there Papa Roach and Godsmack loaded up the bases and Judas Priest hit it out of the park with a grand slam.

Highlights of day 3 on the Monster Energy Stage included extremely strong showings from Hollywood Undead and The Pretty Reckless, but it was the middle of the day triple threat of Anthrax, Halestorm and Volbeat that got the biggest responses of the day. All three bands delivered mind blowing sets that would guarantee that if they returned next year, they would be closing the show. The festivities came to a close with Herculean sets by Rise Against and Linkin Park.

The Front Row Report would like to give thanks to the bands and comedians that took time to chat with us this weekend and a very special thanks to all the bands we interviewed. We had a blast and can’t wait till next year!

-Eric Hunker

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