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Rock On The Range 2015

May 15, 16, and 17


Photo Credit:  Tim Ash

By Angela Ash

Rock on the Range, held for the 9th year in Columbus, Ohio, is like a spiritual pilgrimage for the music lover.  With over 120,000 fans in attendance, plenty venture out to witness their favorite artists grace one of three stages over three fist-pounding days! Tickets sold out this year a month in advance, breaking every record that Rock on the Range has made so far!

There is just nothing quite like the Rock on the Range experience.  It is pure, ear-exploding magic.  One might think that after a few years of attendance that the absolute awe factor might begin to diminish, but don't hold out for any truth in that assumption.  If you are an avid music fan, nothing will EVER compare to entering the stadium on day one, and witnessing the sheer magnitude of bodies crowding the floor, horns in the air, and some of the best acts in rock music today, often giving the performances of their careers.

Friday, May 15: Day One begins on the Jagermeister Stage with XFactor1, Highly Suspect, Dorothy, Dangerkids, Beartooth, and Hatebreed. 

Dorothy especially stand out on this opening day of revelry.  With only time to perform a couple of songs, Dorothy Martin and her band mates literally captivate the early ROTR crowd with "After Midnight" and "Bang Bang Bang".  Rolling Stone was definitely on point when they said that Dorothy is definitely a band "you need to know".  Martin's vocals are clear, yet passionate... seemingly inviting the large gathering in to witness something more intimate... more moving than expected.


Photo Credit: Jason Squires

Cranking it up on the Ernie Ball Stage are Shaman's Harvest, Islander, Vamps, Young Guns, Dillinger Escape Plan, Yelawolf, and Falling In Reverse.

While the entire day is packed with music from ridiculously talented artists, there is just something about Falling In Reverse that really makes the Rangers take notice.  The crowd turns into a literal sea of moshers and crowd surfers, all reacting to the magnetic showmanship of Ronnie Radke... whose vocals seem to cause anyone within earshot to run to the stage.

 The Monster Energy Main Stage explodes with We Are Harlot, Apocalyptica, Live, Breaking Benjamin, Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Marilyn Manson, and Slipknot. 

This stage is just crawling with crowd favorites this year, like the melodic rock of Apocalyptica, hailing all the way from Finland.  And admit it.  Just how many of you were pumping fists in the air when Live exploded into "I Alone"? 

But it really seems that there is an expectant energy pulsing throughout the arena, fused with attendees beyond anxious to witness a comeback that has been years in the making.


Breaking Benjamin - Photo Credit: Jason Squires

The haunting opening strains of "So Cold" begin, and Breaking Benjamin grace the stage, bringing anyone still in a seat to their feet, hands to the sky and the lyrics falling effortlessly from their lips.  And it is obvious that Ben Burnley and his new band mates are ready to remind us all why they were the first band to ever perform on the Rock on the Range Main Stage.  They are ferocious... moving from favorites like the get-under-your-skin "Breath" and "I Will Not Bow", to a blast from the past with "Polyamorous".  They end their riotous set with "The Diary of Jane", met with thunderous applause and the obvious affirmation that Breaking Benjamin are definitely back.

This performance would be enough to make any rock veteran wonder exactly how to follow it up, but Slash is no regular rock veteran, as he claims the stage with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.  This grouping is just absolutely brilliant! Slash, the man who needs no introduction unless you have been living in complete radio silence in in a basement somewhere, is hypnotic, and one may initially wonder if it is impossible to tear your eyes away from who might possibly be the best guitar player alive today.  And then Myles Kennedy opens his mouth.  Kennedy, perhaps best known as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Alter Bridge, stalks the stage with a prowess, belting out original music from their album like the title track "World On Fire" and "Bent To Fly".  Kennedy also has no problem stepping into other shoes with "Nightrain", "Sweet Child O' Mine", and "Paradise City".  This is a collaboration that you have to see out on the road, where a full set will surely leave a crowd in utter awe.

However, now it seems like a chill has washed over the arena.  The stage begins to fill with smoke and almost what seems like a mixture of uncertainty and pure adrenaline.  Yes, Marilyn Manson is up next, and no one ever completely knows what to expect when he is in full form.


 Marilyn Manson - Photo Credit: Jason Squires

Manson is an extreme example of pure, unadulterated genius.  For those who think he is all about the shock factor, take a better listen to his vocals and re-read those lyrics.  Manson is about as deep as anyone can get without completely falling head-first into the abyss.  Festival goers hope to tumble right in behind him as he opens up with "Deep Six" and "Disposable Teens".  Manson continues to rage through, like a maniacal conductor of some sort of off-the-rails concerto... never forgetting the loyalty of his long-time fans by tossing in hits like "The Dope Show", "Rock Is Dead", "Sweet Dreams", "Personal Jesus", and of course, "The Beautiful People".  On-stage antics include some speaker kicking, a side of friendly toying with band mates, and of course a bit of spilled blood thrown in for good measure.  However, I have to stress that these things just seem a part of Manson's nature, and not a gimmick to gain some attention.  Someone with this level of talent gets plenty. 

While we are all sad to see Marilyn Manson leave the stage, it feels like a championship fight is about to go down. The electricity at the MAPFRE Stadium is almost tangible, as the people in the pit begin to stretch their legs, take a few jumps, and swig down that last few gulps of beer.  Slipknot are about to completely dominate Rock on the Range.


Slipknot - Photo Credit: Jason Squires

Corey Taylor and his band of what appears to be some form of crazy, talented freak show amaze the crowd with their intricate stage and hyper-linked performance.  They push their way through tracks like "Psychosocial", "The Devil In I", "Wait And Bleed", "Duality", and "Surfacing".  Not once do they slow down the machine, as band members race from one side of the stage to the next, singing, screaming, strumming, and banging their way into the minds of anyone conscious.  The pit is a swirl of arms, legs, and voices screaming nearly poetic lyrics as loud as their almost completely gone voices will allow.  WHAT an utterly beautifully end to Day One of Rock on the Range!

Saturday, May 16: Day Two rolls out the carpet on the Jagermeister Stage with Novallo, Red Sun Rising, From Ashes To New, Saxon, Nonpoint, and The Devil Wears Prada.

I must admit that I have been looking forward to seeing Nonpoint for months.  They have gotten playing to a festival crowd pretty much to pure perfection at this point.  I could begin listing where they have performed on my fingers, but I quickly run out of fingers.  This band knows EXACTLY how to work an audience with their patented sound, easily recognizable from a stage away.  Elias Soriano has what can best be described as an addictive voice.  I mean, when Nonpoint is on the radio, don't ask me a question.  Don't ask me to turn it down a notch.  Really?  And it seems that everyone at Rock on the Range has the same addiction, because they rise up in appreciation as they perform "Pins And Needles", What A Day", "Breaking Skin", "In The Air Tonight", and Bullet With A Name".

The Ernie Ball Stage showcases Screaming For Silence, Like A Storm, Sabaton, Tremonti, Baby Metal, In Flames, and Ministry.

All the way from New Zealand, Like A Storm completely impact the Ernie Ball Stage.  Formed by brothers Chris, Matt, and Kent Brooks, this refreshing blend of rock illustrates the type of musicians that Rock on the Range is best known for.  Like A Storm are absolutely infectious.  They pull in the crowd with tracks like "Chemical Infatuation", "Become The Enemy", "Wish You Hell", and "Love The Way You Hate Me".

The Monster Energy Main Stage opens up with Saint Asonia, and then moves on to Of Mice & Men, Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts, In This Moment, Papa Roach, Godsmack, and Judas Priest.


In This Moment - Photo Credit: Jason Squires

Now, I must go out on a limb and say that In This Moment may have put on the most mesmerizing performance of all three days of Rock on the Range.  Even through patches of rain, the crowd could not take their eyes off the stage and the choreographed wonder that played out like a twisted plot.  Maria Brink is just phenomenal.  Her voice gets inside of your head and refuses to stop... singing... teasing... dragging you along to wherever this magical flight might land.  With costume changes before every song, she still manages to squeeze in such anticipated tracks as "Sick Like Me", "Black Widow", "Sex Metal Barbie", "Adrenalize", "Whore", and "Blood".

Papa Roach, definitely not newcomers to the festival scene or ROTR, instinctively flame through crowd favorites like "Getting Away With Murder", "Broken Home", "Lifeline", and "Scars".  Jacoby Shaddix always plays to his fans, and it is just refreshing to see someone having SO much fun on stage.  The band work together as a tight, cohesive unit, bringing them home with "Last Resort".


Godsmack - Photo Credit: Jason Squires

Godsmack are up next, and if the sprinkling of t-shirts proudly displayed on every age and gender throughout the stadium are not enough to give a hint of who people are here to see, then the volcanic reaction should.  Sully Erna is SUCH a charismatic showman.  Every dramatic gesture literally brings the audience to the edge, and he cleverly drags them back in with his deep vocals and piercing gaze.  "1000hp", "Straight Out Of Line", "Awake", "Voodoo", and "I Stand Alone" are but a sampling of their soul-wrenching performance.

Judas Priest close down the Monster Main Stage with memorable songs like "Battle Cry", "Devil's Child", "Turbo Lover", Breaking The Law", and "Hellbent For Leather".  Formed in England in 1969, Judas Priest are true pioneers of metal, and they effortlessly raise everyone in the stands to their feet, as their voices rise in unison into the night.

Sunday, May 17: On the third and final day of Rock on the Range 2016, the Jagermeister Stage does not disappoint with Santa Cruz, September Mourning, Marmozets, Crobot, Upon A Burning Body, and Periphery.

September Mourning offer the audience of the Jagermeister Stage a theatrical, melodic experience that is just as unique as it is enthralling.  Showcasing "Children Of Fate", "Before The Fall", "Skin And Bones", and "Stand By Me", September's vocals are absolutely gorgeous, demanding attention, and the dramatic execution seals September Mourning as a Rock on the Range favorite.

The Ernie Ball Stage ignites with Unlocking The Truth, Art Of Dying, Starset, Otherwise, Rival Sons, Motionless In White, and Tech N9ne.


Motionless In White - Photo Credit: Jason Squires

Motionless In White definitely command attention when they walk onto a stage.  Seemingly comprised of equal parts metalcore and goth, they possess an allure that becomes more and more obvious with each album.  After a simply stunning performance at last year's Louder Than Life, they somehow create even more of an impact at this year's Rock on the Range.  With an almost possessed, "can't get it out of your head" sound, they thrill festival goers with tracks like "Break The Cycle","Reincarnate", "Mother", and "Devil's Night".

The Monster Energy Main Stage closes down the festival with Hollywood Undead, The Pretty Reckless, Anthrax, Halestorm, Volbeat, Rise Against, and Linkin Park.


Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless - Photo Credit:  Tim Ash

Obviously a moment that a large portion of the crowd has been waiting for, The Pretty Reckless emerge onto the stage amidst a wave of cheers.  Taylor Momsen has come a long way since her Gossip Girl days, and she makes it quite apparent that she is a rock diva to be reckoned with.  With Rock on the Range hosting several female-fronted acts this year, the competition to be the best is more fierce than ever.  However, Momsen growls, crawls, and tantalizes her way to the throne.  I mean it... this girl can sing!  Her natural ability mixes with her on-stage prowess to create a spectacle that no crowd can walk away from... even in the rain.  And it is obvious that every spin, each drop to her knees... is never pre-planned or choreographed.  Everything seems to come as instinctively to Momsen as the passion that resonates through her music.  The audience joins her as she belts out "Follow Me Down", "Since You're Gone", "Heaven Knows", and "Going To Hell".


Volbeat -Photo Credit: Jason Squires

A few acts later, Volbeat make their way to the Monster Energy Main Stage.  The Danish rockers begin with "Hallelujah Goat", many singing along. It is easy to see that Volbeat work together as a well-oiled machine.  Their cohesiveness is apparent as they roll into each song, often pausing to laugh... exchange a few words, before they send out favorites like "Sad Man's Tongue", "The Hangman's Body Count", and "The Mirror And The Ripper". Michael Poulsen grips the microphone as he delivers clear, resounding vocals, as they roll through one of the best sets at ROTR.

Topping off Rock on the Range 2015, Linkin Park fly through an energetic set of hits like "Papercut", "One Step Closer", "Runaway", "Castle of Glass", and "Robot Boy".

And just when you think that ROTR can't get any better, they really did raise the bar this year by adding even more entertainment and unique experiences for festival attendees! 

The ROTR Comedy Tent this year filled with some of the biggest rock n’ roll influenced comedians, including: Rob Schneider, Brian Posehn, Jim Norton, Don Jamieson, Jim Florentine, Rod Paulette, Jeremy Essig, Brent Terhune, Joe Howard, Bill Squire, Jay Snyder, Bill Arrundale, Jake Iannarino, Kenny Smith, and Craig Peters.

And the fun never stops at Rock on the Range, also offering unique experiences with the folks at Monster Energy, Jack Daniels, and Jägermeister, Crazy Dave's, and Zippo, as well as an interactive graffiti art installation by RISK.


Ben Burnley of Breaking Benjamin interacting with fans - Photo Credit:  Tim Ash

I comment every year that I just can not imagine how this festival can get any better, any bigger, or any LOUDER... but they somehow always find a way to provide just what the festival attendees are looking for, even with a surprise or two thrown into the mix.  In fact, Rock on the Range seems nearly to be a living, breathing, growing entity... always evolving and forever providing a home to the best rock acts in music today.  With tickets sold in all 50 states, as well as in 5 other countries, it seems as if the entire world is in agreement, and is in eager anticipation to see just what might happen next!

For more information on Rock on the Range, visit them online at www.rockontherange.com. Be sure to stay tuned for information on Rock on the Range 2016!