It’s been about a week since returning from Rock on the Range and with limited time, work and too much to do it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts, download pictures, and share it all.
10 years of attending Rock on the Range and once again Gary, Clay, Danny, and their incredible team(s) have, musically speaking, kicked the crap out of Ohio; Rock on the Range is the premier US festival. Sure there are more festivals out there each year and people hail Coachella, Bonnaroo or even this year’s new Desert Trip as being the best/biggest but there is no festival that in 3 days hosts over 120,000 people, 59 bands (that span music genre’s), over a dozen comedians, activities, vendors, gourmet food, booze, and 12 hours of music per day. In other words Rock on the Range can’t be beat, it’s as simple as that.
I’m not one to go through the daily line ups listing/reviewing every band nor can anyone see them all; instead, I’ll start off by saying my personal highlight musically was Sixx: A.M. I’ve been lucky enough to catch these guys a few times and don’t care if you’re a long time Nikki Sixx/Motley Crue fan or you don’t even know who Motley is, this band is great!! Of course you’d have to be living under a rock to not know who Nikki and Motley are but his demeanor with Sixx: A.M. and the positive energy from the entire band is a huge departure from seeing him with the Crue. They have a fantastic stage presence, the songs are catchy and they genuinely seem to be having fun; Sixx: A.M. is not to be missed.
Although Sixx: A.M. were my overall favorite I’d be remiss in not mentioning a couple of other stand outs. Those would include Ghost who are always interesting, entertaining and bizarre. Rob Zombie who is never disappointing and at this point a hard rock festival staple. Saint Asonia and Monster Truck and lastly, a band that I have grown to appreciate in the last year or so, Bring Me The Horizon. After seeing Bring Me The Horizon a couple of years ago my opinion was they seemed misdirected and more like noise. Fast forward to recently and I’m not sure if it’s something within the band that changed, or my pallet for them but this band comes out and crushes the crowd, their fan base keeps swelling and they are a definite festival highlight. Lastly no review of this festival would be complete without mentioning the ovation received by Vinnie Paul on his return to Columbus after 14 years.
Most of the bands just mentioned were main stage bands but for those willing to venture to the secondary stages there were some great sets to be seen. Of course the one big festival drawback is there is so much to choose from and with bands playing at the same time fans have to make tough choices; it can cause some real dilemma. For example, do you go see Trivium or Miss May I? Do you see local star Machine Gun Kelly hanging from the rafters or the beautiful ladies from Butcher Babies tear up the stage? The never disappointing Ghost or the rock solid Clutch? Additionally if you’re a comedy fan do you blow off music to see Craig Gass who’s one of the funniest guys out there or Madison Malloy who I spoke to for about a half hour on Friday but then had to miss her set because she was up against Hell Yeah. Then there are the signings, want to meet Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, countless bands on the bill or even Jacoby of Papa Roach who was meeting fans, promoting his clothing line, Lovers are Lunatics. People have to make tough choices and the folks at DWP give plenty of options.
Friends sometimes ask how all us “Industry people” make it through these multi-day shows and it’s tough but we have the luxury of a media tent, a backstage area, some coverage from rain or air conditioning in the heat. No one could disagree that the true stars of the show are the diehard fans who come out early and stay all day/night for 72 hours, standing on their feet through whatever weather comes along; rain, cold or blazing sun. They mosh, crowd surf, help one another out and become a family for a few days just as myself and the industry people have over the last ten years. The promoters get major respect for putting the event together, the bands of course all deserve a huge round of applause, but the Rangers (as they are called at Rock on the Range) are really the folks who keep the whole thing going with their energy and devotion; “Rangers for Life” as they say..
Speaking of energy the typically unspoken but very prevalent star of the weekend is Monster Energy drinks. Monster promotes Rock on the Range and The World’s Loudest Month (as well as tons of other shows/tours) and partners up with promoters to bring these incredible festivals to fruition. I’ve done reviews before and always like to give these folks a well-deserved shout-out because without sponsors like Monster these events can’t take place. Additionally they are promoting live music and making it accessible to the people who love it. Granted they aren’t the only ones who put money and effort into making these festivals happen, I should mention some others names like Zippo, Bud Light, Jägermeister, The Music Experience and Jack Daniels, all of whom are also significant sponsors.
Outside of all the sponsors and fans one can’t ignore the media presence which includes radio personalities, various outlets like Alternative Press and Sirius as well as writers and photographers. As someone who has been covering Rock on the Range since year one I was personally honored to be among a handful of people asked to have their work displayed in a gallery for the 10th anniversary. Check out this short video of “Ten Years of Rock on the Range in Photos.” I wanted to take a moment to thank Rob/Kim and all the folks at Synergy Sound and Design who did an amazing job creating something special for the bands, fans, as well as people asked to participate, like myself.
With all that said, the final day of Rock on the Range or at least the final set belonged to the act that seemed questionable just days before; The Red Hot Chili Peppers. For the unaware, singer Anthony Keidis had to cancel shows and be rushed to the hospital just days before ROTR. Their performance seemed to be in question and many ROTR fans became vocal about their lack of interest in seeing the RCHP and wished for someone else (I wanted the Foo Fighters but that was before the festival lineup was even announced). Even with all the controversy and questions leading up to Sunday night’s show the band came out and played one of the best sets of the festival putting on a two hour show that spanned their 33 year career. Given all the complaining Mapfre stadium was near capacity till the final notes of the evening and like that, the show was over.
Year ten was just about in the books as we wound down the evening backstage with two great parties. The first was more of an official backstage party thrown by Vevo who had great food, booze flowing and a cool ice sculpture for the event. The second ‘party’ started as a small old school BBQ thanks to the Deftones, who rocked the house earlier, and swelled into one hell of a cookout with many of the bands and industry folks joining in the fun; a great way to end the weekend.
As I think back on 10 years of Rock on the Range I remember interviewing Gary Spivack back in 2014 and asking him about their formula for repeated success. His answer was simple as he said it’s just “All Killer No Filler” and he wasn’t shittin then and still ain’t! What started as a single, 1 day festival in 2007 has become the basis for The World’s Loudest Month. If you’ve never made it out to Rock on the Range or one of the other festivals in May start planning for Rock on the Range 2017.
Better yet, why wait as the same team that brings Rock on the Range is bringing you Chicago Open Air July 15th, 16th and 17th as well as Rock Allegiance in Philadelphia September 17 & 18th. Also, still to come, and based on what I have been told, you won’t want to miss the lineup announcements for Louder Than Life October 1st & 2nd in Louisville, KY and Aftershock in Sacramento, CA on October 22nd & 23rd. I know I’ll be there; will you??
For more information on any of the festivals, bands or sponsors just click the links above and for more photos from Rock on the Range 2016 just check out the gallery below.
You must log in to post a comment