Rock on the Range 2014 ~ Flashwounds Style
Well, I waited a couple of days to recap Rock on the Range… this year it wasn’t because I needed to recover… Oh, whom am I kidding, of course I did … but more because I figured there was so much coverage flooding all the other websites and mags that we might as well give it a few days before providing our faithful readers with OUR own brand of coverage.
So once again Gary, Clay, Danny, and their incredible team have, musically speaking, kicked the crap out of Columbus, Ohio ~ I don’t think anyone would debate that Rock on the Range is the premier US festival. Sure, you could argue it’s Coachella, with its expanded two weekend festival and not-so-strong line-up in recent years, or even vote for Bonnaroo, but there is no festival that in 3 days hosts over 105,000 people, 60 [killer] bands, comedians, activities and 12 hours of music per day ~ ROTR just can’t be beat, it’s as simple as that.
I will try not to bore you with daily run-downs of every band we saw; instead, I’ll start off by saying my personal highlight of the music portion of the festival was Crobot. I was supposed to catch this band a couple of weeks ago and missed them but, my friends, will never let THAT happen again. These guys are high energy, have a great time on stage, and won’t be playing secondary stages for long. I know almost nothing about them other then they came out, they rocked, and, a feat for virtual unknowns [on this bill], had the entire Jägermeister stage rocking with them and screaming for more.
From an experience perspective, nothing could bested being one of 2 people (other than band/crew for the majority of the set) standing on stage for the entire SLAYER set.. Yes, I had my camera, too, but it wasn’t about taking pictures… it was the fact that these guys are metal legends and that I got to hang out with Kerry King before and after the show…Towards the end of the set, I walked over towards the back of the stage where Slayer’s management, Don Jamieson, and Jim Florentine were and out of the blue, Don leaned in and yelled, “Angel of Death!” in my ear ~ I looked at him, laughed, and shouted back, “How fucking great it this band still!” Since Don’s a metal head himself, he gave the only appropriate answer…just a nod of agreement. You don’t have to be a Slayer fan, but you’ve gotta give these guys props for still doing their thing after 30 years ~ and at this year’s Riot Fest they will be playing Reign in Blood (which Kerry said with a grin that they pretty much need to relearn) in its entirety, so check that out if you can and check Don out live when you can, too, or just pick up his comedy album ‘cause it’s as funny as Slayer is metal!!
Both my ROTR “big moments” took place on Saturday, and although lots of the ROTR bands have been touring the US and Flashwounds has been covering as many as we can along the way (you can read about some of them in our coverage of Welcome to Rockville, which is one of the Florida festivals that kicks off The World’s Loudest Month or in various album/show reviews on flashwounds.com), let me give you a little more info about the festival, days and bands
According to Festival Promoter Gary Spivack, this was the biggest year for ROTR, which sold out in advance ~ and how could it not, because how’s this for the highlight reel: Day 1 kicked off at noon with Kill Devil Hill, who are joined onstage by Down’s Philip Anselmo for “Mouth For War.” If you don’t know who KDH is, then you should check them out ~ but know that Rex Brown is in the band and this was a mini Pantera reunion. Not enough Pantera for you?? Well, just seven hours later the magic happened again when Rex returned the favor and joined Phil’s band, Down, onstage for “Stone the Crow.” Sure, Staind played, Black Stone Cherry totally kicked ass again, Killswitch Engage tore it up, The Butcher Babies and Black Label did their thing and Guns N Roses headlined Day 1 (and actually took the stage on time), but if you’re a metal fan, then seeing Rex and Phil reuniting to play some Pantera together was worth the entire price of the day, maybe even the weekend.
That was just the first day… there was a whole lot more to come on Day 2 (in addition to my previously mentioned favorite moments). The day kicked off with Stars in Stereo, We As Human and Wilson on the smaller stages while Rev Theory opened up the main stage with a substantial crowd that would grow to 50,000, all working their way into the lot, through security and ready to party with headliners Avenged Sevenfold later that evening. Poor them, they were going to have to “endure” a lot of great bands before Avenged, but for some reason, no one seemed to mind. Saturday (Day 2) brought sing-alongs on the main stage with Fuel, Pop Evil and Theory of a Deadman as well as Chevelle … and of course, the forefathers of thrash, Slayer.
Fans willing to venture outside the man stage were in for some great sets but had to make some serious choices. I’ve mentioned before that the only drawback of the World’s Loudest Month festivals is that there is so much to choose from, all happening at the same time, that planning out the day can sometimes cause a dilemma or two. For example, I was interested in seeing King 810, whom I’d heard was a great rock/rap type band, but I didn’t want to miss Crobot (check out their tour schedule here) again. People flocked to see Pretty Reckless ~ who are always entertaining ~ but since I’d just seen them in Jacksonville, I had to opt for old school thrashers Exodus (who had just been on tour with Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies) and new comers Nothing More over wrestler turned rocker Chris Jericho and his band Fozzy.
Of course there were a couple of no brainers, I mean nothing against Avatar, but playing at the same time as Texas Hippie Coalition…? Luckily, Suicidal Tendencies had no competition as they headlined the Ernie Ball stage, capping off the smaller stages and sending a sea of people into Slayer who had nothing but some smoke and a couple of backdrops and upside down crosses. Avenged closed out Day 2 ~ with their faithful fans cheering them one ~ with dueling guitars, pyro and, to cap off the night, a fireworks show.
My group always heads for an industry party on the Saturday night and I have no clue how we or the fans make it through these multi-day shows…this much fun is hard work! We have the “luxury” of a media tent and some backstage areas and can walk into the photo pit for three songs, but the diehard fans are there all day/night for 3 days straight, on their feet through whatever weather comes along ~ rain, cold or blazing sun ~ with people riding on top of their heads… The promoters get major respect for putting the whole 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.
And speaking of energy (great segue, right?), the other star of the weekend has got to be Monster Energy drinks, Monster promotes Rock on the Range and The World’s Loudest Month (as well as tons of other shows/tours) ~ between the energy drinks, water and some coverage from the weather elements via their lounge/tents, Monster partners up with promoters and fans to bring these incredible festivals to fruition. Sure, that might have sounded like a paid advertisement, but it isn’t at all ~ I just think they deserve a shout-out because of all the time, energy and product they put into each and every show they promote ~ not to mention what they are promoting is live music and making it accessible to the people who love it. And since they aren’t the only ones who put so much effort into making these festivals happen, I should mention some others names like Ernie Ball, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Jägermeister, AEG, Sony, Zippo and Jack Daniels, all of whom are also significant sponsors.
I typically wander around the vendor village just to see what’s new, different, and eye-catching and this year wanted to make special mention of a couple of stand-out vendors. First, there’s Rock on The Range new comers Wornstar; Stephen and Sylvia, the founders, are super cool people (as is Kurt Arft, their Events & Product Manager) and make some kick ass clothing which is probably worn by some of your favorite artists. Second, there’s F*ck Cancer. We’ve mentioned them before, but who doesn’t know someone stricken with or affected by cancer, so we’re going to keep mentioning them because what they do is important. They’re at all the shows, raising money and awareness, plus no one can give you shit about wearing a shirt that says, “Fuck” on it when it’s directed at such a horrible disease. Please check these guys out, they are partnered with some great artists like photographer Rob Fenn, Rob Zombie (for The Zombie Horror Picture show book), Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch, and others to help raise money for cancer patients and ongoing research through the sale of books, signed canvas prints, and more.
Well, now that we’ve gotten the commercial break out of the way, it’s time to close out Rock on The Range with Day 3. Keep in mind that while all this music was happening each day, there was a comedy tent which featured headliners [fellow Slayer fan] Don Jamieson, Jim Florentine, and Jim Breuer plus 11 other comedians. Some of those comedians were present and participated in the first Roast on the Range as well. That’s right, if three days of music didn’t sound like it was going to be enough for you, the whole festival really kicked off on Thursday, May 15th with Monster Energy’s Roast [of Corey Taylor] on the Range, which we attended as well.
Anyway, Day 3 was a mixed bag of bands with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience headlining the Ernie Ball stage and Kid Rock following Five Finger Death Punch to close out the festival. Sunday definitely had a wide array of music: Wolfmother made a rare appearance (they’re in the process of putting out new music so it was cool they had time for a live show) and were unquestionably a highlight. It was great to see Mastodon again before they head to Europe, and likewise, it’s always a plus when Of Mine & Men and Alter Bridge take the stage. I would be remiss in not mentioning my friends and one of my favorite new bands, Gemini Syndrome, who are building a huge following (they were one of my “best in show” picks at Rockville). Monster Truck (coming off a tour with Alice in Chains) was unfortunately playing at the same time, but I was able to split my time and catch them both, two very different bands but with the common denominator of giving it all they have once they hit the stage.
One of the most anticipated bands of the weekend, from the second they stepped onto the red carpet at Roast on the Range through their time hanging out all day Friday and Saturday was We Are Harlot. Fronted by Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria, they have no record and they’d never played live before, but I’ve gotta say, they rocked the house. I’m sure you will be hearing a lot from them as they are signed to Roadrunner Records and have what it takes to go far; you can check them out as well as download their single “Denial” here. I wasn’t the only one these guys surprised ~ other than Rex and Phil on Friday, they may have had the most artists side stage (on the Ernie Ball stage) of any other band on the 3 day line-up.
With all that said, the final day of Rock on the Range belonged to the act that some may have considered the odd-man-out performer at the festival, Kid Rock. Sure, during the day some people booed when his name was mentioned, but Kid had rocked the Rangers in 2008 and boy did he do it again ~ maybe even harder ~ in 2014. You don’t have to love Kid Rock, you don’t even have to like his music, but there’s no way you can deny that Kid Rock is one of the best entertainers out there. Period. He’s rock, rap, country, and kick ass pop all rolled into one hell of a showman. His music crosses every genre and he knows how to work an audience with just the right amount of attitude and a style all his own. As opposed to Friday, when probably half the crowd bailed on Guns N Roses, I would say less than 10% of the crowd drifted away while Kid Rock was onstage. And the 90% didn’t just stay, they danced, jumped, and sang along, eyes riveted on the stage. If Monster could bottle this guy’s energy, they’d have a new best seller!! Chances are you’re a Kid fan and don’t even know it, but if you dig hits like “Cowboy,” “American Bad Ass,” “All Summer Long,” and “Only God Knows Why,” and the one that started it all, “Bawitdaba,” guess what…! He even threw in a cover of Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever” and Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” My point? Don’t boo when the Kid’s name is mentioned ~ instead, get out and see him live next time you have the chance. You won’t regret it.
And that’s it!! That’s Rock on the Range 2014, once again boasting an incredible lineup with mass appeal. I’ve spoken to Gary in the past about their formula for repeated success and he said it’s just “All Killer No Filler” ~ and he ain’t shittin!
The World’s Loudest Month is coming to an end in Kansas City on May 31st,so you may not have the time, inkling or money to get to Rockfest, but start planning for Rock on the Range 2015 because the same team is already working behind the scenes to make sure next May rocks at least as hard as this one did!
Don’t forget to check out all the artists and sites I mentioned, Follow and Like them on Facebook, and Follow/Like Flashwounds, too… Also, don’t forget that today is the announcement for Aftershock 2014, and we’ve got the whole story right HERE!