ROCK ON THE RANGE 2015: DAY 2 REVIEW

Jason Squires for AEG Live / jasonsquires.com

Jason Squires for AEG Live / jasonsquires.com

Special thanks to ROTR for providing images from photographer Jason Squires. See a collection of photos from some of the bands that played on Day 2 here.

Day 2 of Rock on the Range started out with a considerably less people waiting in line to get in. Every year, it never fails. Either people are always more excited for the first day or the first day’s headliner or everyone is just too tired, sun burned or hungover to get in line early. Regardless, there were still plenty of people ready and able to get the day started. Unfortunately, Mother Nature was going to make it quite annoying for everyone all day long. The first sprinkles started around 11:20 a.m. but the rain came closer to noon. While it wasn’t a horrible downpour, it would rain for a good five minutes then stop. Time would pass and then it would rain a good five minutes and then stop. It rained at some degree for pretty much every band’s set.

Screaming for Silence kicked of the Ernie Ball stage holding nothing back. Almost immediately after their set started, the rain came, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time. They closed out their set with current single, The King is Crowned. I’m pretty sure vocalist Zeb Christensen had the tallest and brightest Mohawk.

Next up on the Ernie Ball stage was Like A Storm. Originally from New Zealand, Chris, Kent and Matt Brooks, yes they’re brothers, along with drummer Zach Wood played a 30-minute set of songs from their latest album, Awake the Fire. Fans were also exposed to the didgeridoo (a wind instrument that originated in Australia that has a deep low rumble sound) played by Chris Brooks. After Chris performed a short solo, Kent joked around saying he guaranteed that would be the only “didg” solo you’d see that day. During their latest single, Wish You Hell, Chris also played the intro on slide guitar. Chris decided to jump down to the barricade to get up close and personal with the fans for their cover of AC/DC’s TNT. He even jumped the barricade and sang while walking through the crowd. They ended their set with Love the Way You Hate Me.

The first band on the main stage was billed as Special Guest. Lucky for me, I overheard someone talking about it before the gates even opened. It was Adam Gontier’s (former singer of Three Days Grace) new band. I was intrigued. As the band took the stage, the banner behind them read Saint Asonia. As they played, I started to recognize the band members on stage. Mike Mushok from Staind and Corey Lowery from Eye Empire, however, the drummer didn’t look familiar to me. I later found out Rich Beddoe was previously with Finger Eleven. They played new songs Better Place and Fairytale before Adam said, “I’m sure most of you know this song.” As they went into the Three Days Grace song, I Hate Everything About You, the crowd really got fired up. I remembered seeing someone walking to the field with a puzzled look on their face as they realized what they were seeing. Adam mentioned Rock on the Range was their first show ever. Pretty cool. They played Mudshovel, originally by Staind, and that brought the crowd surfers. Adam mentioned their new album would be released in a couple months and they would be on the road shortly. They ended their 30-minute set with Let Me Live My Life where Adam jumped down to the center part of the barricade during the song to get up close with the fans. While the stage was being set for the next band, the sprinkles started. However, one of the main stage techs had a sense of humor. As he was sound checking the mics, I couldnt help but laugh when he said, “Check 1, 2, rain. Inconvenience.” The rain continued to fall off and on for short periods of time.

Luckily, by the time Tremonti started on the Ernie Ball stage, the sky was clear. The band consisted of Mark Tremonti, Eric Friedman and Garrett Whitlock. Normally Wolfgang Van Halen would handle bass duties, but due to previous Van Halen commitments couldn’t be a part of the tour. Bassist Tanner Keegan was a great addition to the band. Their 30-minute set started off with All That I Got and You Waste Your Time, the first song they ever released as a band. Mark mentioned their new album Cauterize would be available June 9 but fans were only treated to one new song, Another Heart, but damn was it a great one. With heavy guitar riffs, some sick bass lines and insane drumming by Garrett, this song really comes alive in the live setting. They absolutely killed it during Brains and ended their set on the heavy side with Decay and Wish You Well.

Back at the main stage, the sky threatened rain and unfortunately, after Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts third song, it poured during the remainder of their set. However, this had no effect on the band who continued to play through. They started off with Crackerman but also played Amethyst, Way She Moves and White Lightning from their new album Blaster. They continued with Meat Plow and Big Bang Baby which after, Scott spoke to the crowd saying, “A rain soaked thank you.” They ended their set with Vaseline, a different arrangement of Dead and Bloated and closed out the set with Unglued.

At the Jagermeister stage, a massive crowd had gathered for Nonpoint. To be honest, I don’t know why they don’t play the main stage. Of course, at the beginning of their set, there was some rain, but it eventually stopped. They opened with Pins and Needles into What A Day and Elias Soriano joked about it being Rain on the Range. After asking how many had seen Nonpoint before, Elias said, “We are all about to be baptized by sex, drugs and rock n roll.” They played Breaking Skin and F**K’D from their latest album The Return before putting their spin on the Phil Collins cover of In The Air Tonight. They ended their set with Bullet with a Name.

Back at the main stage, In This Moment started off with Sick Like Me. Maria Brink, with her dramatic singing and dancing, was flanked by two dancers. She appeared from a red tent and asked, “Tell me Rock on the Range, are you sick like me?” “Are you ready to come alive with us ladies and gentlemen?” For Black Widow she changed into a white outfit and shot smoke from a huge gun in her hand while her dancers held gigantic needles. Another costume change had her in a silver top hat and tails for Adrenalize. At the end of the song she said, “Ladies and gentlemen, look at this woman right here, in this wheelchair, crowd surfing to the front. Make some noise for her ladies and gentlemen. Bring her safely on up here.” With another costume change and a pink podium brought to the front, she was dressed in her Sex Metal Barbie mask. As she started, large black and white balloons appeared in the crowd. Eventually Maria took the mask off and held it up for the crowd before tossing it to the side. She donned her pink and blue SEX hat and finished out the song. The next costume change took a little longer but the band played an intro until she came out to sit on a stool for Whore. Wearing a dunce hat and school girl outfit she said she wanted to see all the girls up on shoulders and singing along. With one final costume change, for Blood, her dancers wielded fake knives as Maria came out wearing a black crown and long black coat. The song ended with her dancers sitting at her feet each holding on to one leg. They all turned around to take a band photo with the crowd behind them before leaving the stage.

Next up were Papa Roach. Jacoby came out and immediately spoke to the crowd, “What’s Up Rock on the Range? You mother*ckers ready to rip this sh*t up today?” He said he wanted to see everyone jumping. I have to admit, it’s always cool to see a huge mob of people all jumping at once. Their hour long set started with the title track of their newest album, Face Everything and Rise before going into the intense Getting Away With Murder. After witnessing the craziness of the crowd, Jacoby said, “Oh my God, you guys are off f*cking the chain. We love it when you crowd surf and mosh pit and sing along.” I have to say, I saw the most crowd surfers during their set vs any other band of the day. Jacoby asked if there were any old school Papa Roach fans in the house. With tons of cheers from the crowd, they played Between Angels and Insects. “I think it’s time we turn this show up a f*cking notch.” When everyone started jumping as instructed by Jacoby, I heard him yell, LEGENDARY!” as they went into Where Did the Angels Go? I love to watch his energy. It’s literally off the chart. The same girl in the wheelchair that crowd surfed during In This Moment was spotted crowd surfing during Papa Roach’s set. Jacoby noticed too because he said, “You know the show is epic when people in wheelchairs are crowd surfing. We are fucking 100% in love with you motherfuckers right now. THANK YOU!”

Celebrating the 15th anniversary of their album Infest, Jacoby and Jerry Horton faced each other as they started off with a snippet of Eminem’s Lose Yourself before going into Broken Home. Not only did Jacoby jump down to the center part of the barricade during this song to sing up close with the fans, he also started crowd surfing. And not just for a second or just once. That dude is crazy, but he was having a blast. After going over the barricade at the front, he ran back down the center and eventually jumped back into the crowd to surf again. Did I mention he was still singing? During his last crowd surf he was doing more rolling than surfing, but he kept singing as he made his way back to the front. I tell you, bands that risk getting that close to fans are brave. Jacoby wasn’t even back on stage yet, as he was still trying to make his way above the crowd as he appeared to be crawling above them, when the band started the intro for next song, Forever. During the song, Jacoby jumped up on a riser and said, “You guys rock. Seriously,” as he pounded on his heart.

He spoke to the crowd again, “You guys are out of control. In no way calm down at all. It is a great day for rock n roll. Make some noise for rock n roll.” Jacoby took a jab at Gene Simmons who claimed rock and roll was dead. His response to that was, “Rock n roll is not dead motherf*cker, you are. It looks like rock n roll is alive and f*cking well right here.“

They played their new single, Gravity, and while this would have been THE perfect opportunity to have Maria sing her part during the song since ITM had just performed, I guess it wasn’t meant to be. To be honest, I’m still surprised it didn’t happen. ROTR would have been THE perfect place for this. At the end of the song Jacoby mouthed, thank you guys so very f*cking much. Tobin’s bass started off Kick in the Teeth (I remember when this was a brand new song at ROTR back in 2010.) and the energy was still in high gear. They rounded out their set with Lifeline, new song Warriors and Scars along with Last Resort that Jacoby dedicated to In Flames. As Jerry started with the guitar intro, the crowd was loud and proud as they sang the opening lines, “Cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort. Suffocation, no breathing, don’t give a f*ck if I cut my arm, bleeding.” As if the crowd wasn’t satisfied, Jacoby asked if they wanted more. Of course they did. It’s funny, I remember seeing a twitter Q&A Jerry did a while back where he said he wished they didn’t have to close with Last Resort every night. Well, after all the times I’ve seen them, this time they didn’t. Jacoby led the singing of, “Hey ho, let’s go” repeated a few times as they ended with …To Be Loved.

I caught the last half of Ministry’s set at the Ernie Ball stage. Al Jourgensen, with his long dreads and facial piercings, was joking around with the crowd saying the next song was only 14 years old. Shortly after LiesLiesLies started, while still singing, with his finger moving in a circular motion, he motioned for two circle pits. With the amount of people at the stage, I can only imagine at least one had to open up. With video screens to accent the pummeling, hard driving music, people pumped their fists along to the beat.  He continued talking about the longevity of the band and how they were going on 25 years talking about the same bullshit. At least the guy has a sense of humor. They closed out their set with N.W.O., with Al playing guitar, Just One Fix and Thieves. They were the last band to play the side stage, and everyone flocked back to the main stage.

As Godsmack took the stage and started playing the beginning of their first song, Sully’s head was down. They paused from playing as Sully slowly raised his head. As the song started again they turned it up one more time at Rock on the Range with the title track from their latest album 1000hp. The crowd surfers and moshers wasted no time getting in on the action. They immediately went into Crying Like Bitch and while watching Shannon’s octopus like arms flying around, I noticed he was wearing a Judas Priest British Steel shirt. Nice nod to the headliner playing after them. Sully addressed the Columbus crowd and said thanks for being asked back.

Sully dedicated their latest single, What’s Next, to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. Right before Straight Out of Line, the now famous girl in the wheelchair could be spotted crowd surfing again. I will say this, more power to her! At the end of the song, Sully used a talk box to intro Awake. Not many bands use these anymore, so it’s always cool to hear something a little different. Sully asked, “Ohio, you awake yet?” as he moved from center mic to stage right mic while Tony and Robbie joined each other center stage. They played two more songs from the new album starting with Generation Day. Prior to Something Different, Sully spoke to the crowd saying they had been using this song to test out audiences all over the world. As much as he hated to say it, Sydney, Australia currently held record for most energetic crowd on this tour. He said, “Seeing what I’m seeing right here and feeling what I’m feeling right here, I have no doubt in my mind that Columbus, OH is going to kick their mother*cking asses. Am I right?” The crowd cheered loudly. He told everyone, when Shannon kicks in the fat ass beat, he wanted to see them jumping up and down so high and hard that the people in NYC would be able to feel the earth move. He said if everyone shows them that they are the true bad asses of the world he promised everyone that he would put them in their new Godsmack feature documentary. He asked everyone to raise their hands as he started the song before getting them to clap. When the song kicked in, everyone started jumping up and down, getting crazy, and crowd surfing. They continued with Keep Away, which included crowd participation during the chorus and non-stop crowd surfers, and Voodoo before the second drum kit rolled out on stage.

It was time for the Batalla de Los Tambires between Sully and Shannon. Always a fun time as the two kits turn and spin to face each other as they battle. Each playing, tossing and catching sticks. Almost like, “But can you do this?” Probably the coolest part of this was the camera angle on Shannon. The camera was positioned down below so it gave a cool perspective on his facial expressions while playing. Robbie and Tony eventually joined in, as the kits spun to face the crowd and they played snippets of We Will Rock You, with the crowd singing the chorus and both Shannon and Sully flipping sticks in the air. Back in Black, Walk this Way, and Creeping Death with the crowd chanting, “DIE! DIE! DIE!”, Moby Dick and a bit of Rush’s Tom Sawyer. Their kits spun towards each other again before Sully jumped off his and it rolled back under the back of the stage. The crowd cheered loudly with acceptance. They ended their set with Whatever and Sully complimenting the fans by saying, “Rock on the Range, you are a bad ass crowd,” and asking the crowd if he could take a selfie (band photo with the crowd behind them) before ending with I Stand Alone, where you could really hear the crowd singing along to the chorus.

It was time for the last band, Judas Priest and the metal God himself, Rob Halford. Before the band took the stage, Black Sabbath’s War Pigs was playing through the speakers and the crowd was singing along loudly. As the band was getting ready to take the stage, eerie intro music played as the stage was flooded with fog and red lights. The band walked on stage first, before Rob eventually came out with the aid of a cane. I guess Rock n Roll knows no age limits. They opened with Dragonaut and Metal Gods before Rob spoke to the crowd. “Hello everybody. Judas priest is back.” Can I just say, Rob’s still got it and can still belt out those high notes. This led into Devil’s Child and flames on the video screens and some synchronized guitar playing center stage by Glen Tipton and Richie Faulkner. Every few songs or so Rob either took off a jacket, added a jacket or switched to a vest. During Victim of Changes, drummer Scott Travis kept flipping his sticks as he was playing. I never saw him drop them once. Halls of Valhalla lead into Turbo Lover and excitement from the crowd. I had to admit, while Judas Priest draws an older crowd, people of all ages were engulfed in the set. Rob told the crowd that he had been hoping to play Rock on the Range for a long time and stated Judas Priest had been making heavy f*cking metal for 43 years. Just let that sink in for a second. Truly, Rock n Roll knows no age limit. They played the title track from the new album, Redeemer of Souls before taking it back to Defenders of the Faith with Jawbreaker and British Steel for Breaking the Law.

It didn’t take long before you could hear a motorcycle revving. The crowd got excited as Rob rode out on a motorcycle for Hell Bent for Leather. He actually sang the entire song while sitting on the motorcycle, although I had to laugh when he got off and stuck his tongue out. The motorcycle stayed on stage and at this point it stated to rain a bit but that didn’t damper anything. During Electric Eye from Screaming for Vengeance, Rob let the crowd sing the chorus every time. I thought the show might be over but Scott Travis asked If they had time for one more. When the crowd cheered, he asked what they wanted to hear. As people shouted songs titles, he joked by saying, “What? What?” Once again the crowd was exited for Painkiller and Rob held nothing back as he screamed the chorus. For the final song of the night, Rob dedicated Living After Midnight to Ronnie James Dio. Rob spoke one last time to the crowd, “We had a blast. Thank you so much.”

As fans started filing out of the stadium, I realized there was one thing missing.  Fireworks. Over the years, at the end of various headliner sets, fireworks have gone off above the stage. I’m not sure if this is a band or venue expense, but clearly the budget for that went to something else this year. Hopefully they bring it back in 2016 for the 10th anniversary.

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