Rock on the Range 2013 Recap
By Seth M
It took about a week but I have finally recovered from my yearly expedition to Columbus Ohio’s Rock on the Range, Year 7.
For those of you who don’t know what Rock on the Range is…where have you been?! This is probably the greatest hard rock festival in the United States and it has continued to grow year after year.. At this point, ROTR is a 3 day event and it’s not just a concert, it’s not just a festival, it’s fucking Disney World for hard rock/music fans.
Many consider ROTR a destination more than a show. They plan for it for months, figure out which bands to see, which to skip, the best location to stay, where to eat, etc., etc.
We get there a day early so we can take our annual trip to Thurmans ~ they have some serious burgers ~ and in our group, not finishing your burger comes with picture and a weekend of harassment … My fat ass never fails but some people do, as you can see (sorry, Craig!)… and if you want a real challenge, go for the Thurmantor…
So now that our burgers are digesting for the rest of the weekend, it’s time for Rock on The Range. Like I said, this is Disney Land for rock fans ~ 3 days, 3 stages, 50 bands, a comedy tent, VIP packages that will allow you to eat and drink for free all day, and more…
Do you like to shop at a festival, maybe pick up old school rock t-shirts? Need an “I Love Vagina” (or Cock) bumper sticker? Maybe a nice pint of Guinness or some other non-festival type beer? Want to do pushups with some Army guys, feast on some good BBQ, get your CDs signed by some of your favorite bands at the f.y.e. tent? Maybe you want to hang out drinking ice cold Monster Energy drinks in their special viewing trailer at the PBR stage as you get more stuff signed by artists. Well, you can do it all at Rock on the Range and when you’ve had too many cold Jagermeister shots or whatever your drink of choice is, and you can’t make it to Thurmans, they even have White Castle ~ YES!! White Castle!
What more can you ask for?? How about some of the greatest hard rock acts touring the world all in one place for three days? There are so many bands playing that you CAN’T see them all. Seriously ~ there are so many that they have to put bands on the two “smaller” stages at the same time. I can honestly say this is my ONLY real “negative” for ROTR; they give you so much you can’t possibly take advantage of it all.
So let’s talk some specifics. Right Arm Entertainment started this as a one day festival 7 years ago, then expanded it to two days the second year, and 3 years ago started a “pre-party” the night before the festival which was free for weekend ticket buyers. For 2013, they turned the pre-party into a half day of bands starting at 4pm and going ‘til about 11:30pm.
Friday there were 10 bands on two stages, with Korn headlining the Monster [main] Stage. You might think of Fridays as typically pre-show days with bullshit acts, but NO. There was some good hard rockin’on the Jägermeister Stage with bands like American Fangs, Oleander and In Flames. Meanwhile on the main stage, there were five bands that included Buckcherry, Cheap Trick and, as previously mentioned, Korn. I can truthfully say that I have NEVER seen a crowd go as fucking crazy as when Korn took the stage this year.
Although Rock on the Range typically appeals to the hard rock crowd, over the years there have been a couple of bands that may not seem to fit ~ but Right Arm always throws in a couple of surprises and they usually work. In the past, those bands have included ZZ Top, Kid Rock and Motley Crue. This year the two bands that were a little out of place were Smashing Pumpkins (who headlined Saturday) and Cheap Trick. Cheap Trick seemed out of place but totally rocked and I love them, so for me it was amazing. Plus, standing backstage it was really cool to watch all these younger band members saying hello to and staring in awe at Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander as they wandered around.
Saturday is an early start with the first bands kicking off the Jager & PBR stages at 11:30am and 11:45am respectively and the last band going off after 11pm. That’s a long day and people are there by 9am. On a day filled with 20 bands, I was able to catch about a dozen of them.
Did I mention there is even a camp ground at ROTR? Yes, campgrounds where people bring their RVs, park them, and party all weekend, never leaving the Crew Stadium parking lot.
There are always some personal highlights my friends and I discuss each day as well as post- festival. On Friday, the highlight was obviously Cheap Trick and the crowd reaction during Korn’s set. On Saturday, the first highlight of the day was Gemini Syndrome; they went on early and totally rocked. I did a review of this band recently and was looking forward to seeing them and they didn’t disappoint. The other highlights for Saturday included Sword, a band I’d never seen. Although they lacked stage presence, they made up for it with some kick ass bluesy rock. Halestorm always rocks hard whether they are playing a club or a stadium with 40,000 people ~ and it took two years for them to get there (had to cancel a couple of years ago), but Stone Sour kicked ass too!!
Of course, with the good comes the bad, and on Saturday the most disappointing band, in my opinion, was Smashing Pumpkins. Sorry Pumpkin fans, they didn’t sound good and there was no way they could follow Stone Sour after those guys tore it up for over an hour and had the entire crowd singing along with them. Although this was my opinion, it was definitely shared by others, as the crowd had dwindled to about half 30 minutes into the Pumpkins’ set. The other disappointment was Three Days Grace; this band is great and I have seen them twice recently, but, sadly, replacing singer Adam Gontier with My Darkest Days’ singer Matt Walst just didn’t work.
Saturday may have ended with a little disappointment but Sunday was the culmination of this 3 day Rockcation and the Rangers (as the Rock on the Range fans are called) were there bright and early, ready to kick it all off with the local radio station band contest winners and Sick Puppies on the main stage.
Sunday’s Monster Stage may have been one of the best day lineups ever. It kicked off with Sick Puppies, followed by Sevendust, who hardly broke a sweat as they got the crowd pumped up for the Steel Panther’s over-the-top music/comedy stylings. SP played the pre-show 3 years back and it was obvious that the crowd had gone home and listened non-stop to songs like “Asian Hooker” and “Community Property” because they were singing along with each verse. Skillet and Volbeat played the next two slots on the main stage. Volbeat was, without question, one of the best parts of Sunday ~ they’re hard rock meets rockabilly and the result is smokin’. Make sure you check them out of the Rock Allegiance tour this summer.
The main stage was about to get even better ~ but I’m going to digress to the other stages where bands like Middle Class Rut, Red, and Ghost played. In This Moment got the crowd at the PBR stage going so insane that they needed to remove all the photographers from the pit after one and a half songs. David Draiman of Disturbed brought his new band Device to ROTR for the first time and Lamb of God headlined the PBR stage and totally ravaged it with a high energy set that any fan would probably pay the cost of the day’s ticket to see…
Speaking of cost ~ a 3 day ticket to Rock on the Range was as low as $119.50 and they even offered a 4-pack for $299. That means you and 3 friends could go for under $100 each, which is totally amazing.
More amazing were the three bands that closed out Rock on the Range 2013. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Bush, Alice In Chains or Soundgarden… but to see them back to back after Volbeat kicked your ass? Fucking AMAZING. Those three bands played from 6:05pm ‘til after 11pm, they all played full sets, and as you can imagine, there wasn’t a person in that stadium saying, “This sucks, let’s go home.”
Bush played a hit fest and sounded just as good in Crew Stadium as they did a couple of weeks ago when I saw them opening for Shinedown. Soundgarden sounded great and I am a longtime fan, but the highlight of this Sunday evening was none other than Alice In Chains. Alice In Chains remains one of the greatest bands you will ever see live. It saddens me that they rarely approve photographers and didn’t approve me or many others for ROTR, but regardless, they were, without question, the number one band on Sunday’s show. My whole crew as well as thousands of other fans sang every word of every song and I don’t think anyone had a negative word to say.
In all honesty, after a big burger, 3 days, 3 stages, 50 bands and lots of drinking, I was happy to sit with my friends and have a few [more!] drinks when it was all over. Sure, it was over and that sucks but the good news is that Rock On The Range will be back next year ~ and given the history of Right Arm Entertainment (check out our interview with Gary Spivack, Right Arm’s president), they will do everything they can to make it bigger and better..
If you want to catch some of the bands I’ve mentioned in a festival setting, check out Right Arm Entertainment’s other upcoming festivals like Epicenter and AfterShock ~ but don’t forget to plan for next May when they do it all over again at ROCK ON THE RANGE.
If you want to see some great music but can’t travel, some of these bands ~ including a couple of my favorites like Volbeat and Alice In Chains ~will be touring this summer on the Rock Allegiance Tour and the Uproar Festival.
If you want to see some more pictures from Rock On The Range, check out some of my photos here.
There’s some kick ass music out there this summer, so keep an eye on Flashwounds as we will do our best to cover it all.