COLUMBUS, OHIO – So this will be my first ever Rock on the Range festival, and until this morning at around 4:45am, I was simply excited for another festival. The tragic death of another vocal hero of mine has changed that feeling slightly, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

See, festival season is my favorite time of year. As a veteran of this type of event, I don’t get all wound up about seeing everything. I usually mark 5-7 bands I MUST see, and then I just catch the rest as it comes. I use to really enjoy the beer and craft cocktails during these events, but this one I think I may fully abstain for reasons that I won’t get into here, but I’m not against talking about, so feel free to ask if you ever see me.

As excited as I get for a festival, I was that excited times about 10 for this one for a few reasons.

  • My friends RAVE about this festival. I’m a festival veteran (I’ve attended about 15 of these now throughout the country) but I’ve never had the privilege of attending the much heralded Rock on the Range. From my friends here in PA, to those in Cali and even our fearless leader April Baggins, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this festival, so that alone has me stoked.
  • This line up is just a peach, seriously. I will dive into what I’m looking forward to down below momentarily.
  • It’s another Danny Wimmer Production, which means it will be done efficiently and well. I’ve attended Aftershock and Rock Allegiance a bunch of times now and I’ve yet to ever say the words “who is running this shit?” I’ve said that about other fests, but we’ll leave them out of this…this is a positive piece.

OK, so what am I specifically looking forward to? As far as the line-up goes, let’s take this day by day.

 

FRIDAY

Goodbye June (1145am Zippo Stage) – So as the very first band playing at the fest along with Aeges on the Bud Light Stage, it’s an odd spot to have to play. Not everybody is in and settled and necessarily ready to rock out. People are just getting adjusted to the weather inside the venue, scoping out the scene, etc. So this slot is more a background music slot, but as I was researching this event, I came across this band and I have to say that I’m loving their sound. With a classic rock feel, and a dynamic singer, I think they could be a very fun act that might get people settled quicker than usual.RO

Badflower (1235pm Zippo Stage) – This LA based band has grabbed my attention with a very small sample space. With only an EP out thus far, I’m not sure a band has grabbed my attention so quickly, but I’m interested to see how they are live and where they go from here. Bluesy, Alt Rock with a great singer is a great mix in my book.

Thrice (220pm Monster Main Stage) – This Post-Hardcore band are the veterans of the early part of the day. Formed in 1998, they use to be a very fast, hardcore type band, but they’ve traded that for a mellower, atmospheric sound, and I like that. They still have their alt rock edge at times, but not like when I saw them last back in the late 90’s, so I’m interested to see what they bring to the festival crowd.

Gojira (545pm Bud Light Stage) – What can I say about this band. OMG! Oh My Gojira…that’s what I’m always left saying after I experience them live. My chest is usually caved in, and I feel like violently saving the environment and changing the world. I’ve often said that following Gojira is the second hardest thing to do in music, so RotR shows their intelligence here by having them close this stage for the night. They will not be as smart on Sunday, because the number one band that’s hardest to follow in my opinion plays in the middle of the day on Sunday…we’ll just see how that plays out.

LIVE (810pm Monster Main Stage) – This band sits in an odd place in my fandom. I wouldn’t say to a man that I’m a “LIVE” fan, BUT I just about love everything they do mostly because of singer Ed Kowalczyk’s dynamic and unique voice. In my opinion, he’s historically one of the best out there. The other thing about this band is they hold very prominent spots in my heart and memory. One of my favorite memories ever, and a scene that pops up in my dreams at least once per summer comes from Woodstock ’99. I was 22 years old and when my friends and I decided to make the trek to Rome, NY and when we arrived, it was afternoon on day 1, and the festival had already started. We walked in and I remember standing at the back of the biggest crowd I had ever witnesses. As we were walking in there was an estimated 200K people there already. So we’re standing in the back, and on the giant screens that were placed on towers every 100 yards or so apart there was Ed Kowalczyk’s face on a screen, singing “I Alone.” That atmosphere, the smell, the sound, the heat and the feeling is forever etched into my soul, so I’m interested to see what happened when I see them again for the first time since that day.

The other reason LIVE has a place in my heart is because the day my daughter nearly died of an accidental suffocation at the age of 3 months, I held it together until I heard the song “Heaven” by LIVE as I held her, still limp from what had happened from her. I’m forever bonded to her and that song because of that experience. I feel very strongly that when she gets married I will dance with her to that song…but I’m not a fan. I know, I’m weird.

Soundgarden (———–) – So by now you know the news of the tragic death of one of the most talented and amazing vocalists the world has ever scene. This news today punched my directly in the chest, and knocked the wind out of me. With that being said, I believe the love and unity that is going to be present at this festival this weekend, in a time in this country of great division, is going to be off the charts. I believe that all things happen for a reason, no matter how terrible or tragic, good always comes out of it, and I feel that Chris Cornell’s spirit will be with us, no matter who they put on that stage in this slot.

(PREDICTION – TOOL, Avenged Sevenfold or a jam with all the musicians that are present…STAY TUNED)

 

SATURDAY

Skillet (220pm Monster Main Stage) – Christian rockers who sound like a secular band, I’m often confused by their presence at an event like this. Last time I saw Skillet was at Aftershock fest in Sacramento in 2013, and it was weird because they actually stopped for a minute and did a little God mention. Now on one hand I respect them for it, but it was oddly received and felt weird, so I’m very interested to see what 4 years has done if anything. The first 2 times I saw Skillet was at consecutive Creation Festivals back in 2004-05 (yes I was a Jesus freak for a second, lay off) and they were very preachy, which is fine because it was a Christian Music Festival. Anyway, the main reason I’m interested in seeing Skillet is for the reasons you would always want to see a band live…they kill. Skillet brings it every time, so I’ll be there to check them out, albeit as a heathen, but that’s a conversation I’ll have with big guns upstairs if it ever comes to that.

Kyng (3pm Zippo Stage) – I’ve seen this band more times than I can count at this point, and they always deliver. A 3-piece with a modern Black Sabbath feel, and a singer/lead guitarist that shreds at both. A great mid-day band at a festival.

In Flames (545pm Bud Light Stage) – Another good move by the brains over at RotR by having In Flames close a stage. Bjorn Gelotte is the riff master and Anders Friden brings a lot of energy to the stage. This is a hard band to follow live.

Coheed and Cambria (725pm Zippo Stage) – Having seen this band about 12 times or so, and having them be one of my favorites ever, of course I’m making my way over to the Zippo stage after In Flames to see C&C. Great songs, great energy, and I’m sure their set list will be packed with more classic songs then newer songs because they are in the middle of a tour celebrating their most acclaimed album to date “IV.”

KORN (940pm Monster Main Stage) – So, I’ve become use to seeing KORN at festivals. I think it’s been twice a year for the past 5 years that I’ve seen them in this setting. So why would I be excited to see them again? Well, 99% of the time they deliver the goods, BUT last October at Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, they had what I would call a lackluster performance. I didn’t love their set, their energy was low and the sound wasn’t very good. Now, this was an anomaly, I’m sure, because at Mayhem Fest in 2014 they put on one of my all-time fave metal shows, and I’ve seen roughly 500+ of those, so that’s a great distinction. Not to mention Woodstock ’99 again, but that was the first time I ever saw KORN and that’s forever etched in my brain too. Picture this, 250K lighters in the air at the behest of a kilted Jonathon Davis…it was a scene.

 

SUNDAY

Mother Feather (1130 Bud Light Stage) – Another band that I discovered while I was researching this festival, Mother Feather is like an Alt Rock Disco with two female vocalists, loud guitars, dissonant tones, but upbeat tunes. I’m very interested to see what this band looks like live.

Nothing More (205pm Monster Main Stage) – This band has such an upside on all fronts. Popularity, musicality, technicality, they do it all. Their first, self-titled release was a monster, and produced music that coincides with an amazing live show. This band has pulled off things from an opening slot that I rarely see out of headliners. Johnny Hawkins is a beast both vocally, and performance wise. I’m also very interested to see if they whip out some new tunes from their forthcoming album that we’ve been waiting for a long, LONG time now.

The Dillinger Escape Plan (505pm Zippo Stage) – Look, Amon Amarth is a great band, who puts on a great show in their own right, but I really feel bad for them in this spot. I can’t imagine ANY band, on the grounds following this band, let alone on the same damn stage. I mentioned Gojira as being the 2nd hardest act to follow in metal today, Dillinger would be #1 with a bullet to the head. The DEP has a large reputation for tearing shit up both physically and musically. Vocalist Greg Puciato is known for doing things like cutting himself open, stage diving from Mt Everest heights, and knocking shit over IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SET…not during the convenient last song. Add all of that to the rest of the band, who get just as crazy, all while maintaining a tight technicality that is unequaled in the industry. All that, plus it’s their last go around, after this tour The Dillinger Escape Plan will be no more, so I’m expecting some special things for this one.  If you want just one small example of what the DEP brings, here’s a vid.  https://youtu.be/SvopLVKYJ_E

VolBeat (715pm Monster Main Stage) – If you want to know why I’m looking forward to VolBeat after just seeing them, I’d like to direct you to my review from two weeks ago. http://bloodrockmedia.com/avenged-sevenfold-crushes-land-of/

Metallica (845pm Monster Main Stage) – Ok, so anyone who knows me is scratching their heads right now, but hear me out. For those of you who don’t, let me explain, I’m not a Metallica disciple like so many of you are. I don’t dislike Metallica, as a matter of fact it’s quite the opposite, unlike Slayer who I believe and will argue to my very last breath, is the most overhyped, overblown, overrated band in the HISTORY of MUSIC. I hate to go off on a rant here but, let’s just say if I would of thought of saying awful shit to fast, and loud music that lacks one iota of dynamics first, you’d all be genuflecting to me whenever I walked out on a stage. Instead we have to deal with Kerry King for God knows how long. In any case, RANT OVER. Metallica in my opinion, more than any other Metal band outside of Black Sabbath, deserves all the accolades and love they get. With heavy but technical music back in the day, and since the Black Album, a commercially viable brand of Metal, Metallica deservedly is a household name, evidenced by the epic quickness this festival sold out.

All that said, Goddamn am I bored with Metallica. Maybe it’s oversaturation, maybe they suck now, I don’t know, all I do know is every time they come on the jukebox at the bar, the radio in my car, or in an arena when I waiting for them to drop the puck, I let out an audible sigh of boredom. It’s like watching Tom Brady lift another Super Bowl trophy, or the New York Yankees win another World Series…you have to tip your cap and respect but God, enough already.

I don’t know when it happened either, I just remember saying one day “you know, I respect the shit out of Metallica, and I’m so thankful for their contribution to music and metal, unlike Slayer, who I feel we’ve had a very good run of Metal over 40 years, very much in spite of their existence, BUT, if all the Metallica music that’s ever been made goes away forever…I don’t think I’d mind. Except for “King Nothing,” that’s a bad ass song I can keep in my back pocket.”

So with that in mind, I’m shocked to say that I’m slightly intrigued to be in the crowd when Metallica hits the stage for the first time in this millennium. I hope they renew my love for them, and after this festival I won’t want to their music go the way of the dodo bird.

 

Hey, keep in touch throughout out the festival. Follow me on twitter @TheProgtologist as I’ll be tweeting just about everything I see. Have fun, and be on the lookout for my review next week of what I’m sure will be an amazing event. (Chris “The Progtologist” Elio)