Just days before the festival was to kick off, it was announced that Rock On The Range had sold out in advance for the second year in a row. The festival took place at Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio over the weekend of May 16, 17 and 18. A three stage set up hosted 60 bands, featuring headline performances from Guns N' Roses, Staind, Avenged Sevenfold, Slayer, Kid Rock and Five Finger Death Punch.
Thursday night brought an unofficial and comical opening to the weekend with the debut of Monster Energy Roast On The Range. The roast was led by Sebastian Bach and featured Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour vocalist) as the celebrated victim.
Though the temperature was a brisk 55° on Friday morning, the sun was shining and lines were quickly piling up outside the entrances to Crew Stadium. The gates opened up shortly after 11:00 A.M. and the early arrivers sprawled in different directions towards two side stages.
The first bands took stage right at noon. Devour The Day and Kyng opened up the Ernie Ball Stage, while Kill Devil Hill and Werm performed on the Jagermeister Stage. Shortly after 1:00 P.M., a decent sized crowd gathered together for the first main stage set by Redlight King. The attention flipped back to the side stages for Thousand Foot Krutch and Truckfighters before Black Stone Cherry took the main stage, with a set full of songs from their recently released album Magic Mountain.
We Came As Romans, One OK Rock, Killswitch Engage and Reignwolf filled up the afternoon. Non-shockingly, the modelesque ladies of Butcher Babies garnered a huge crowd around the Jagermeister Stage during their set at 4:20 P.M., then it was back over to the main stage to see guitar god Zakk Wylde perform with Black Label Society. Though the three stage set up allowed the festival to host more bands, set time overlaps made for a couple difficult choices over the weekend - Living Colour and Lacuna Coil sets being among those.
Seether was next up, then Down closed out the Ernie Ball stage for the day. The main stage hosted Staind and Guns N' Roses as the headliners. Unlike some of their more recent and infamous performances, Guns N' Roses took the stage right on time. Their production was an impressive mesh of gaudy glam and class rock-n-roll that evoked mixed emotions from the crowd. While some lavished in the lengthy two and a half hour long set, others left early and headed back to their hotels or campsites, disappointed that the act was nothing like their memories of shows from 20 years past.
Day two got off to a slow start as weather conditions declined even further. Stars in Stereo, We As Human, Wilson, King 810 and Rev Theory all braved their sets in a cold rain. Around 2:00 P.M., upcoming band Crobot took the Jagermeister stage. Their set turned out to be a hidden gem and a surprising highlight of the afternoon, full of groovy rock rifts and an interactive stage presence.
The rain persisted through Fuel, Texas Hippie Coalition and Avatar's set, though it arguably enhanced the theatrics and crazy face paint featured during Avatar's act. Pop Evil took the main stage at nearly 4:00 P.M. and brought a group of U.S. Marines on stage to be honored in support of Armed Forces Day. They also hosted a surprise appearance from DMC, who helped close their set out with "Trenches," the first and number one single from Pop Evil's successful 2013 album Onyx.
While Fozzy performed an ever entertaining set on the Jagermeister stage, the young, but quickly rising members of Nothing More faced technical difficulties as a result of the rain during their set on the Ernie Ball stage. Despite the challenges, Nothing More kept their heads up and seemed to have won much of the sympathetic crowd over with just one song. Fortunately, there were no further issues throughout the day as the clouds parted for Theory of a Deadman, The Pretty Reckless, Exodus, Chevelle and Suicidal Tendencies sets.
Many fans were anticipant for Slayer's main stage set at 8:15 P.M., and they certainly brought the metal and mosh pits galore - especially during the closing song, "Raining Blood." By 10:00 P.M., the stage had been completely made over. Risers lined the front ledge of the stage and a gigantic skeleton acted as a backdrop. In Avenged Sevenfold's recent festival headline shows, that's where the stage props ended. They appeared to have kicked it up one more notch for America's premier rock festival, with the addition of massive TV screens disguised as windows. As always, Avenged Sevenfold brought their well renowned presence and interaction and a literal fiery close to Day 2, featuring flames and pyro.
After two days of rock in the rain and rock in the cold, the warmth and sunlight on Sunday was rejuvenating. Righteous Vendetta, Sleepwave, Gemini Syndrome and Monster Truck opened up the side stages, with Trivium kicking off the main stage. Heaven's Basement and Twelve Foot Ninja continued on the side stages. Adelitas Way brought a notably crowd interactive set, as frontman Rick DeJesus invited any crowd surfers who made it to the front to shake his hand. DeJesus also went so far as to jump off stage and into the crowd for his own crowdsurfing ride at the end of their set.
Comedy, classics and metal formulated the afternoon with performances from We Are Harlot, Jim Breuer Band, Wolfmother, Miss May I, Kvelertak, Mastodon, Of Mice & Men, Gojira and Alter Bridge. A huge crowd gathered around the Ernie Ball stage at 7:00 P.M. for Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience (JBLZE), a band founded in 2010 by the son of original Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. As most rock fans are well aware, Led Zeppelin is recognized as one of the most innovative and influential rock bands in history. Vocalist Robert Plant was acknowledged as the "Greatest Metal Vocalist of All Time" in 2006 by Hit Parader magazine and "The Greatest Voice In Rock" in 2009 by Planet Rock. That said, JBLZE vocalist James Dylan had a lot to live up to, so his successful delivery of accurate sound was all the more impressive.
The weekend was quickly coming to a bittersweet end as everyone headed to the main stage for the final two acts. Much like Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch brought a reliably incredible set. Though they keep the frills to a minimum, there is no lack of energy on and off the stage. Mosh pits erupted throughout the entire sold out horde and those who weren't moshing were singing along to the innumerable radio singles. Similar in situation to Carolina Rebellion, the crowd noticeably thinned when Five Finger Death Punch left the stage. But again, Kid Rock put on another outstanding performance. From the firework introduction of "Devil Without a Cause" to the encore of "Bawitdaba," there is no doubt that Kid Rock is a brilliant, fun and talented performer, even for those who doubt his music and lyrical talent.
Since the festival's debut in 2007, Rock On The Range has yielded huge crowds every year. The renowned festival consistently offers a wide variety of music and hard hitting headliners - proving once again that rock is most assuredly not dead.