For the last six years Columbus, Ohio has used the third week in May to put on one of the biggest and most prestigious rock festivals of the year at Crew Stadium. Featuring such acts as Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Incubus, it is little wonder why nearly thirty thousand people come out. One of the greatest appeals of Rock on the Range isn’t just the amount of big name acts but the local bands that are trying to make a name for themselves.
Bands like Noise Auction, a local Columbus band, have actually made it to their second appearance this year as a direct result of winning a battle of the bands competition. Friday night has some great acts of varying sub-genres in rock to give the crowd a good idea of what’s in store for the coming weekend. And there was no disappointment. Acts such as Foxy Shazam, Black Tide and Hells Bells took to the FYE stage the first day, and although the crowd was sparse in comparison for what the rest of the festival had in store, the bands played their hearts out. The amount of energy from these acts was no different from a sold out show in the garden, each played with a raw energy and gave enough opportunity for crowd participation to ensure that everyone was enjoying themselves.
By the time the doors opened Saturday, the anticipation in the crowd was palpable. As Emphatic and Noise Auction took the FYE and Jagermeister stages respectively, one point was made perfectly clear: the title of “main stage” is only given because it was in the center of everything. The quality of the acts that took to each of the stages were some of the strongest names in rock each day of the festival. Bands like POD, Cypress Hill, In This Moment and Bobaflex (check out our interview with Bobaflex) were among the headliners of those stages, and each was just as powerful as the last.
Meanwhile, the main stage was led by female rock powerhouse Halestorm, legendary guitarist and musician Slash, up and coming hard rock powerhouse Five Finger Death Punch and the main of event of Saturday, 17-year veterans Incubus. Although there is very little common thread between each of those bands, they each came together under the banner of rock. Typically, one would be hard pressed to find fans of Shinedown and Cypress Hill come together. However, that is one of the things that has helped shaped Rock on the Range into one of the most premier festivals in the country, the unspoken camaraderie through the crowd. Rock music may not be at the top of the charts, but as Incubus concluded their set Saturday night, it was clear to all in attendance that rock and roll was far from dead.
As the doors opened Sunday to greet the new and returning faces, the atmosphere of anticipation hadn’t diminished, if anything it had increased. Aranda opened up at the FYE stage, and the Jagermeister had Ghosts of August greet the morning crowd. And if the crowd from Saturday wasn’t diverse enough, Sunday would be sure to give something to any kind of rock fan. Whether it was long time veterans of thrash metal Anthrax, Italian based melodic hard rock stars Lacuna Coil or American Idol winner James Durbin, the most trying and difficult part of Rock on the Range was deciding which act to see as both the FYE and Jagermeister stages each had an act playing simultaneously. Later that afternoon, Megadeth took the stage, and it was as though it was 1990 all over again. The men had not missed a single step. There are few bands that could successfully follow Megadeth but Marilyn Manson, a man who is renowned for his edgy sound and pageantry on stage kept the crowd coming back for more, is certainly one of them and he put on a truly powerful performance. All of this leading up to a man who has been to Rock on the Range on more than one occasion, the one and only Rob Zombie. There are often concerts when some of the crowd will attempt to leave early to beat the traffic; there was not a single head unaccounted for in the near sold-out crowd through Rob Zombie’s entire set. The crowd was thoroughly enthralled by his style that has entertained crowds for years and will for years to come.
As the sixth annual Ohio based rock festival ended, there was no question that rock music is indeed alive and well, and it is going to take a lot more than dance music on the pop charts to kill it. The next generation of rock is waiting for their chance to make it, and if there were more festivals like this, there is little doubt such dreams could come true.