by Chris A.
– Senior Photojournalist —
May 16th – 18th, 2014 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH. —
America’s Largest Rock Festival Sells Out … Again!
It will go down as the coolest Rock On The Range (ROTR) festival to date as temps plunged into the 50 degree region. It was unseasonably cool for central Ohio in the middle of May. Despite the chilly weather and incessant prognostications of rain, the fans who supported, what’s come to be recognized as America’s largest rock festival, came out in droves. Before it even started, Rock On The Range was a sell out that would see over 105,000 concert goers pass through Columbus Crew Stadium’s turnstiles over three days.
With over 50 bands representing an assortment of rock and metal styles, ROTR once again showcased the power of the harder brands of rock ‘n’ roll bands. As with previous years, the festival offered fans three stages and approximately 12 hours of nearly non-stop rock ‘n’ roll performance action each day.
As the gates opened on day one of Rock On The Range, the most anticipated performance of the festival was Axl Rose and his newest incarnation of Guns N’ Roses, the main Monster Stage headliners for day one. However at 12 noon, opening the festival was Rex Brown, formerly of Pantera with his band Kill Devil Hill at the smallest of the venue stages, the Jaegermeister Stage. KDH put on a memorable performance and it even got better when the band was joined by former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo and tore through some old thrash metal favorites.
The day one lineup consisted of: Guns N’ Roses, Staind, Seether, Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage, Black Stone Cherry, Redlight King, Down, Living Colour, Reignwolf, We Came As Romans, Thousand Foot Krutch, Kyng, Devour The Day, Lacuna Coil, Butcher Babies, One OK Rock, Truckfighters, Werm and Kill Devil Hill.
Any concerns that the temperamental Axl Rose would slow down the tempo of the festival were eased when right on time the lights dropped and the fireworks exploded signaling the start of GnR’s, thirty-song, three-hour set. Punctuated with numerous instrumental solos and jam sessions, GnR treated the crowd to a stimulating trip down memory lane, as Axl, in relatively fine voice, sang a few covers, a few new songs and of course, the best of vintage Guns N’ Roses.
Overnight the weather took a turn for the worse and day two opened to dark clouds and the rumble of threatening thunder in the distance. Early afternoon saw the skies above Columbus darken and several cloudbursts drenched the festival in buckets of rain. However, by three p.m. the skies cleared and the weather magically transformed into a beautiful, comfortable afternoon perfect for another day of intense rock n’ roll. With Slayer and Avenged Sevenfold on the docket for day two, it was “the metal day” for Rock On The Range.
If any band at Rock On the Range grabbed the audience by the throat and held them captive it was Exodus. With Gary Holt’s machine-like riffing and with thousands of fans overflowing the Jager Stage plaza, it a near perfect blend of thrash metal and rock festival mayhem. Exodus’ performance was epic and they set the stage for more incredible music and visuals that would come from the day two headliners.
A few hours later, the aforementioned Gary Holt strolled onto the main stage at Rock On The Range. Pulling double duty with metal icons, Slayer, Kerry King and Holt mesmerized the 30,000+ in attendance with screaming, wailing, brutally loud guitar riffs clearly written in some dark corner of hell.
Day two’s lineup consisted of Avenged Sevenfold, Slayer, Chevelle, Theory of a Deadman, Pop Evil, Fuel, Rev Theory, Suicidal Tendencies, The Pretty Reckless, Nothing More, Texas Hippie Coalition, King 810, We As Human, Stars In Stereo, Exodus, Avatar, Crobot, Wilson and INFIDEL.
On Sunday, the final day of Rock On The Range the weather was fully cooperating and offered a near perfect environment for any outdoor endeavor. As far as acts were concerned, Sunday was probably the most diverse day musically of the festival. Acts included Wolfmother, a throwback power-trio; Trivium, one of metal hardest metal bands; and Five Finger Death Punch, a Las Vegas based, heavy metal band known for flashy stage sets and lots of bird flipping. One of the most popular bands performing on day three was Jason Bonham’s “Led Zeppelin Experience”. Offering Led Zeppelin songs to the masses, they brought throngs of fans to the Ernie Ball stage to hear some of the greatest rock n’ roll songs ever recorded. Finally, as the sun set on Rock on The Range, the show’s final act was mid-western rock and rap hero, Kid Rock.
Day three’s lineup was: Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, Alter Bridge, Mastodon, Adelitas Way, Trivium, Jason Bonham Led Zep Experience, Of Mice and Men, Miss May I, Harlot, Heaven’s Basement, Gemini Syndrome, Gojira, Kvelertak, Jim Breuer Band, Twelve Foot Ninja and Monster Truck.
After three full days of non-stop rock n’ roll, the overall assessment of Rock On The Range 2014 could be summed up in two words: sold out. For the second year in a row, America’s largest rock festival blew out in excess of 100,000 tickets and satisfied the incredible thirst for big-time rock ‘n roll in the heartland of America. For the fans who continue to support the festival, Rock On The Range has become more than a concert, it’s a social event. Each year in May, friends from around the country gather in and around Columbus, Ohio to party at this great American rock festival.
Based on that fan loyalty, as long as the quality of the talent remains high and the organization and efficiency of the festival continues to be consistent, Rock on The Range will continue to set the standard for the modern-day, multi-stage rock concert experience. If you’ve never attended a large rock festival, it’s worth the time and the trip to participate in Rock On The Range.
Visit the official website online: www.RockOnTheRange.com