Ah, winter in Columbus. Unless you like driving an hour to go skiing, there's not a lot to do around here. Fortunately, our city has a thriving, vibrant live music scene, from little night clubs like Skully's Diner all the way to 20,000-seat arenas like Schottenstein Center. If you're a fan of metal and/or hard rock, you have several opportunities to see a wide array of heavy music live. Let's see what's coming here this winter into spring.
- For Today with Like Moths to Flames, Stray from the Path, The Plot In You, Fit For A King at the Newport Music Hall on February 9. Thanks to RadioU, which broadcasts on 88.7 FM in central Ohio, Columbus has become a very popular city for Christian bands. Christian metal seems to be an oxymoron to me, but there's no denying its popularity. Expect this concert to be just the first of many in 2014.
- Dark Tranquility, Omnium Gatherum and Exmortus at Skully's Diner on February 11. Dark Tranquility is one of the pioneers of the Swedish melodic death metal sound. Bands such as Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy owe a large debt to these guys, who are celebrating their 25th year of existence in 2014.
- Kings of Leon and Gary Clark Jr. at the Schottenstein Center on February 18. This is the only arena-sized hard rock show to make a stop in Columbus. Kings of Leon truly are kings of rock now, and have just got even bigger after the release of their sixth studio album, 'Mechanical Bull,' at the beginning of last autumn.
- ZOSO at the Newport Music Hall on February 22. The band, as should be readily apparent just by its name, is a Led Zeppelin tribute band, and an extremely popular one. After all, how many tribute bands can book gigs at the Newport?
- Richie Ramone at The Basement on February 23. Ramone was the drummer for the Ramones from 1983 to 1987 and co-wrote several of the band's biggest songs from that era.
- Revolver Hottest Chicks In Rock Tour featuring Sick Puppies, Lacuna Coil, Eyes Set To Kill and Cilver at the Alrosa Villa on February 28. This show was just announced today! Lacuna Coil deserves to headline, by the way.
- Brit Floyd at the LC Pavilion on March 14. The only thing bigger than a Led Zeppelin tribute band is a Pink Floyd tribute band, apparently. Brit Floyd will be performing at the LC Pavilion, which holds about 500 more people than the Newport.
- Switchfoot with The Royal Concept at the Newport Music Hall on April 3. I told you Christian rock is popular here. Switchfoot not only gets a lot of airplay on RadioU, they are also in fairly heavy rotation on the secular hard rock station 99.7 The Blitz as well.
- Emmure with Volumes, Thy Art Is Murder, Gideon, Sworn In, and The Beast And His Image at the Alrosa Villa on April 4. The Alrosa's schedule is pretty light on metal so far in 2014. If you're into "deathcore" though, this is definitely the show for you.
- Decibel Magazine Tour featuring Carcass with The Black Dahlia Murder, Gorguts, Noisem at the Newport Music Hall on April 6. It's not often that a death metal band headlines a gig at the Newport. Morbid Angel didn't do it in 2012. Nor did Cannibal Corpse or Deicide since then either. This is an event to be celebrated...and attended. Newer death metal titans The Black Dahlia Murder and Gorguts are also on the bill. All this glorious brutality for only $23? How can you not go to this show?
- The Worldwide Plagues Tour featuring Iced Earth with Sabaton and ReVamp at the Newport Music Hall on April 10. I have a feeling this is going to be the metal show of the first third of 2014, and perhaps much longer than that. Not only is the legendary Iced Earth headlining, they will be joined by one of Sweden's more popular exports, Sabaton, as well as ReVamp, featuring the inimitable, phenomenal Floor Jansen on vocals. She is better known as the new vocalist for Nightwish, but she kept this band intact even after getting that dream gig. Three great bands covering a wide range of metal genres...the only way it could be better would be if the concert was on the weekend.
Lastly, don't forget that Rock On The Range will be back for an eighth year. If history is an indication, the lineup should be unveiled around Wednesday of next week. Stay tuned.