ROCK ON THE RANGE 2015: DAY 3 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 3 here.

Day 3 of Rock on the Range started out with less people waiting in line to get in compared to Day 2. Again, not surprised, when you’re dealing with a 12-hour festival day, but no matter, there were still plenty of people ready and willing to get the party started.

Unlocking the Truth, made up of three young teenage boys from New York opened the Ernie Ball stage. I’m not sure how many people at the stage knew exactly who this band was, but they were definitely intrigued. Although, lead singer, Malcolm Brickhouse had to keep telling them to start a circle pit. Before going into the next song, he reprimanded the crowd, “Do I have to tell you again?” Plenty of guys had no problem starting another one. They ended their set with I Am a Monster and drummer Jarad Dwakins came out from behind his kit before the song ended to help sing the last bit of the song. He told the crowd, “Be yourself,” before leaving the stage.

At the Crazy Dave’s Music Experience tent, set up not far from the Ernie Ball stage, fans could browse or play various instruments. Also on display were various versions of Dimebag’s signature Dean guitars, along with a framed display of his original guitar concept drawings. All weekend, fans also had to chance to participate with meet and greets with various band members. Early during the day on Sunday, a long line of people had formed to meet Lzzy Hale from Halestorm.

Shortly after Art of Dying opened their set at the Ernie Ball stage with Die Trying, the rain came. Luckily it didn’t last very long. Singer Jonny Hetherington mentioned they had spent the last two years making their new album, Rise Up. He said everyone were lucky to hear five songs from the new EP and they played a song called Eat You Alive. Before the next song, Jonny asked, “Are we having fun?” I had to laugh when someone in the crowd next to me commented to those in his area, “Everyone’s tired. I’m tired.”
Jonny said the next song, Get Through This, was about his dad. They ended their set with their current single and the title track from the new album, Rise Up.

If you happened to be walking past the stadium’s Info booth near the front entrance, you may or may not have seen the pop up table selling Scott Ian’s book, I’m The Man: The Story of That Guy from Anthrax. Fans that purchased the book would be able to meet and take photos and have items signed. Although, it started at 2pm and the band played around 3:30pm. Hopefully some people had a pretty cool experience during that small window of time. I will add this, ROTR does their best to make sure fans are able to meet as many bands and band members at various tents and times throughout the weekend.

Hollywood Undead kicked off the main stage with their 30-minute set full of crowd favorites. As members took the stage wearing their trademark masks, the crowd lit up at the start of Usual Suspects. Before going into Undead, the crowd were told, “Columbus, it’s time to wake up!” Charlie Scene took an opportunity to address the crowd, “O-H” and the crowd responded with, “I-O!” Everyone was in great spirits as they continued with Coming in Hot and War Child where the crowd jumped along to the beat. The biggest sing along of their set came with Everywhere I Go. They played their latest single, Day of the Dead before ending with Hear Me Now, which had one of the band members jumping down to the barricade to get up close with the fans.

Almost immediately after their set ended, one of the festival organizers spoke to those at the main stage. Due to a possible storm headed towards Columbus, they were asking everyone to evacuate the stands. He said they would be working on a slight delay and asked every to chill and take cover for their safety. He confirmed all bands would still play. Some people started to leave, but most stayed put. It wasn’t until employees came around confirming that the evacuation was mandatory, that everyone started to head undercover. Luckily, the storm never hit and the bands were back on track in a fairly shot time after the 25-minute delay.

It didn’t take long before The Pretty Reckless took the stage to a field full of fans and they were more than willing to sing along to opening song, Follow Me Down. They played Sweet Things from new album which had the song starting off as the story of Peter and the Wolf. The day wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t rain some more and their set was no exception. Prior to Heaven Knows, Taylor said, “Thanks to you guys, this next song was the number one rock song of 2014. If you ask me, that’s pretty f*cking cool.” The crowd clapped along to the slow moving intro, and held nothing back when it came time to sing along to the beginning of the song. Everyone could be heard loud and clear, “Oh no heaven knows, we belong way down below.” A school bell went off and the song took off and included a rippin’ solo from Ben Phillips. Before the next song, Taylor said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, you are going to hell. Once again, the song included a cool guitar intro from Ben as Taylor sat bent over on the drum riser feeling the groove. She asked the crowd to sing, I’m Going To Hell. Although, the crowd’s first attempt wasn’t loud enough as she asked them to do it again. They ended their set with F*cked Up World with Taylor playing tambourine for whole song. Taylor spoke one last time, “ROTR, thank you so much,” before she left the stage prior to the finishing the song.

For pretty much the next four hours or so, the sky cleared up and it was the hottest it had been all weekend. I’m guessing a lot of people were praying for the rain as it at least kept the sun away. Over on the Jagermeister stage, Crobot were getting ready for their 30-minute set. With the delay, I had no idea if this was their normal time, how long they would get to play or what, but they made the most of their time on stage and the decent sized crowd that showed up were loving it. With the sun beating down, they played songs from their album Something Supernatural. They opened with Legend of the Spaceborne Killer before going into Skull of Geronimo. Singer Brandon Yeagley told the crowd it was time to get funky as they played Night of the Sacrifice. During their set, guitarist Chris Bishop appeared to be having a hard time staying in his little corner of the stage. With all his energy, he was like a caged animal trying to escape. He was constantly jumping around and swinging his guitar around his body. He definitely needed more room to move around. Bassist Jake Figueroa played with so much passion. Between his facial expressions and constant head banging, he was entertaining to watch. La Mano de Lucifer lead into Nowhere to Hide and the crowd was still enjoying their set. For The Necromancer, Brandon played harmonica, and the crowd was eating it up. They played one new song, Welcome to Fat City, before ending their set with Fly on the Wall.

At the main stage, before Anthrax even walked on stage, a mosh pit had started during the intro music. Of course, once the band started playing, mayhem ensued. Multiple mosh pits, crowd surfers, fists pumping, a clown crowd surfing. Say what? You really never know what you will see at Rock on the Range. The opened with Caught in a Mosh which lead into Got the Time before playing their cover of Antisocial. They played two songs from their last album, Worship Music, First was Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Cant. The next song was an especially cool moment during their set because prior to the song starting, crew members covered the two pentagram banners at the back of the stage with a banners of two rock legends that have since passed. Joey said, “This goes out to Ronnie James Dio and Dimebag.” They dedicated In the End to them and a couple times Joey would show devil horns in the same way Ronnie used to. A funny moment came at the beginning of Indians. Joey was running around the stage and got a little close with one of the camera guys on stage due to his momentum. It wasn’t long before Joey grabbed the camera and started filming while he started singing the beginning of the song. At another point during the song, Joey said, “We gotta get a big pit going on. Everyone, let’s move.” Scott yelled, “War Dance,” but he must not have been happy with what he saw because they stopped playing. He asked the crowd if they had fun over the weekend. As the crowd raised their hands, loud cheers were heard throughout the stadium. He continued, “It’s our job to make sure you have even more fun. This is the war dance.” He told the people on the field to keep doing what they were doing. But then called out the people in the stands for sitting down. He said, “Get the f*ck up off your asses.” “Stand up! This is a rock show it ain’t fucking church.” He half joked how they were making him yell at them. “Let’s have some fun my friends.” The kicked back into the song and two huge pits, one on either side of the T-barricade opened up.

What should have been a 30-minute set from Rival Sons on the Ernie Ball stage ended up as a 20-minute set instead. Not sure if this was a result of delay earlier, but they packed as much energy and emotion into those 20-minutes as they possibly could. With the sun still beating down, lead singer Jay Buchanan performed barefoot and drummer Michael Miley was sporting bright blue shorts. They launched into the fast paced Electric Man and every time Scott would solo, Jay let the music flow through him. For those that have not seen Rival Sons before, Jay is a very emotional singer. He constantly reflects the emotions he’s singing through his facial expressions and body movements. Jay threw a couple water bottles out into the crowd, before they kept the tempo high with Secret from their last album, Great Western Valkyrie. They continued with Open My Eyes and everyone on stage was delivering and the crowd was more than willing to receive. Before their last song, Jay spoke, “We’re the Rival Sons. Thank you.” Just as they had started, they went out with a bang with Keep On Swinging. After their set was over, I spotted Scott Ian from Anthax side stage. Always cool to see band members watching their favorite bands.

Back at the main stage, the crowd cheered loudly as Halestorm took the stage and opened with Love Bites (So Do I). Prior to Freak Like Me, Lzzy spoke to the crowd saying, in the Halestorm world they liked to call themselves freaks. She said, ”and there are none freakier than everyone that shows up to Rock on the Range.” For anyone that has listened to Halestorm, you know Lzzy has quite a vocal range. At times she would screem so long and loud I thought she might pass out. She’s got a set of pipes on her for sure. They continued with It’s Not You before playing their new single. “Columbus, can I get an Amen?” Amen is a super catchy song that you can’t help sing along to, much like their song I Like It Heavy. These types of songs definitely make it easy for the festival crowd to engage and have a good time. I Get Off lead into Lzzy doing a shot on stage with the Jager girls before playing Apocalyptic. Before the last song of the night, Arejay kept tossing his sticks in the air after each beat during the first couple of opening notes of I Miss the Misery. Then at the end of the song, he jumped over his kit and onto the stage. Crazy. Having played the Jager stage the first time they played ROTR before moving up to the second stage the next time they played ROTR to finally getting to the main stage and a better time slot for their 5th time at the fest, there performance showed why they were one of the crowd favorites that weekend.

As part of the people watching for the weekend, there were plenty of super heroes walking around and even crowd surfing. I’m not sure if it was the same guy as last year, but Captain America made another appearance. I also saw Superman, but he wasn’t just any Superman, he looked like he was an actor playing the role of Superman. I saw a group dressed like characters from Alice in Wonderland (The Queen, Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Rabbit, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the Chesire Cat) and they looked amazing. A lot of people kept stopping them to take a picture with them. I saw a guy in a top hat that tried to look like Slash carrying around a video game guitar controller and there were plenty of Mohawks of various sizes, colors and shapes. There was another guy that I happened to see a couple time over the weekend and his face was painted a different color depending on the day. There were a couple guys covered with fake blood as if they had head injuries and I even saw a guy at the main stage get a blown up raft into the crowd and he crowd surfed in it for a bit before security took it away at the front. You really never know what you’re going to see at Rock on the Range.

The crowd was ready and waiting to get crazy again by the time Volbeat started on the main stage. Their almost hour long set started off with Hallelujah Goat followed by A New Day and Lola Montez from their last album Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies. Having seen Volbeat a few times in the past, I was surprised to hear a song I wasn’t familiar with live, Danny & Lucy (11pm), from their 2005 release The Strength/The Sound/The Songs. They continued with the pummeling driving sound of Dead But Rising and the crowd continued to produce multiple mosh pits. Michael Poulsen spoke to the crowd, “Let’s play a Johnny Cash song for B.B. King.” [B.B. King passed away three days prior to their performance] When the crowd cheered, he continued, “Raise your hands for B.B. King and bring the f*cking noise for B.B. King.” After more cheers from the crowd, they played the beginning portion of Ring of Fire including letting the crowd sing the chorus before they transitioned into Sad Man’s Tongue which has plenty of crowd participation by clapping along. During The Hangman’s Body Count I spotted the guy dressed like Slash playing his video game guitar while surfing. Prior to the next song Michael said he wanted to see circle pits. To be honest, I don’t think the certain fans ever stopped moshing. As they went into Still Counting, the band let the crowd sing the first 2 lines. Always love that! I also spotted the girl that had been crowd surfing in the wheel chair all weekend, up there being passed along. Again, kudos to her and all those that helped to get her up to the front. Michael thanked everyone for their hospitality and Rob Caggiano started the intro for The Garden’s Tale on acoustic. Another nice surprise as they don’t play this one live all that often. Rob ended the song, just as he began, on an acoustic guitar. Michael mentioned they were supposed to be home writing a new record, but when you got the call to play ROTR, well, you go. The last time they played ROTR, they treated everyone to a snippet of a new song. Well, once again, they played a small portion of another new song. They didn’t tell us the name, but they were singing about devils and angels and I quite liked it and it appeared the crowd did as well. I couldn’t help but wonder if the next album will have a theme, similar to their last one. They ended their set with A Warrior’s Call, where again, there were multiple circle pits and The Mirror and the Ripper.

With the reality of the weekend coming to an end getting closer, and with both side stages finished for the night, people continued coming in waves to fill the main stage field and stands for the last two bands of the night. With large letters standing across the back of the stage and on either side of the drum riser, there was no mistake that the word RISE was for Rise Against. These letters also changed colors off and on all night. Rise Against started their 45-minute set with Ready To Fall and the stadium and field went crazy. Between crowd surfing, fists in the air, singing along, their set was off with a bang! They continued with Give it all which lead into Re-Education (Through Labor) that had the crowd singing, “To the sound of a heartbeat pounding away” alone. Tim McIlrath spoke to the crowd, “It’s good to see you still have some life in you. Are you alive Columbus?” With loud cheers they jumped into Help is on the Way. Again the craziness on the field continued and fans sang along enjoying the night. Tim mentioned that punk rock sounded better with your fist in the air as he lead the crowd in chanting, “RISE! RISE!” before Chamber the Cartridge. To see thousands on fists in the air in unison is pretty damn cool. After Prayer for the Refugee, Tim mentioned he wanted to play an acoustic song but was told he only had time for one. He said, “I tried to choose carefully,” and they played Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. While it was a slower part in such a musically chaotic set, I think it went over well. Tim thanked everyone for coming from wherever they were from before playing new song, I Dont Want to Be Here Anymore. Before Savior, the last song of the night, Tim got serious for a minute. He said, “This song is for the Rise Against fans out there. For all of you guys dancing up front. All the blood sweat and tears that you’re leaving on this floor. It’s for those of you who believe in the power of music and that music can save lives. If you know what I’m talking about, this one’s for you.”

Now, unlike previous years, where the Sunday headliner wasn’t always everyone’s cup of rock n roll tea, causing them to leave early, it appeared no one was leaving before Linkin Park were finished. The anticipation for their set was pretty evident. Especially when the lights went down, the intro music began and the crowd started clapping along before the band even walked on stage. When Mike Shinoda got on the mic, he said, “Let’s have some f*cking fun tonight, what do you say?” No one was going to argue. They started their almost hour and a half set with Papercut and at one point, Mike and Chester Bennington were arm in arm, leaning on one of the monitors singing in unison. They continued with Rebellion before Chester sang lead vocals and Mike was on guitar for Given Up. As the crowd clapped along to the beginning of the song, Mike was all smiles.

At the beginning of One Step Closer, someone messed up because they stopped and started it again. No big deal though, and the crowd didn’t pass up the opportunity to sing along with the chorus. Song after song, Chester showed what an intense singer he was, pushing and giving it all to the song and to the crowd. When the song was over, Chester told the crowed, “You guys are f*cking crazy. I f*cking love it. Thank you very much.” They took it down a few notches with A Line in the Sand from The Hunting Party. Mike played a slow intro on keyboards as he sang before they kicked it back up to the level they had been playing. From the Inside turned into Runaway which lead into Wastelands. They took it down a few notches with After Castle of Glass and a medley of Leave Out All the Rest / Shadow of the Day / Iridescent. It was a cool segment during the night. They took the visual aspect up a few notches with Joe Hahn’s solo that flowed out of Mike’s playing of Robot Boy on keyboards. As Joe messed around with audio effects that made it sound like we had been transported to a rave, there was a cool video effect that made him look like his body was computer generated. I had never seen anything like that before.

Chester sang lead vocals on New Divide while Mike played keyboard, before continuing with Breaking the Habit, Darker Than Blood (Steve Aoki cover) into Burn It Down. There was another medley of Wretches and Kings / Remember the Name / Skin to Bone which had Mike rapping the lyrics. Not something you see him doing live often. After Numb, Chester told the crowd they were one of the loudest rowdiest crowds he had ever played for. He asked everyone to make some noise for security who were keeping everyone safe. I would also add, security at every stage kicked ass. I cant imagine trying to catch everyone that comes over the barricade but their process works and they do their best to get everyone over safely.

During In the End, Mike actually jumped off stage and went down to the barricade to get close with the crowd. They played a couple more songs before Mike asked, “Did you have fun tonight?” Of course they did and showed it by loud cheers. They ended the night with Bleed It Out which let everyone get out that last bit of energy whether they were singing, jumping, crowding surfing or participating in the massive mosh pit that opened up. It was a fantastic way to end the night. Before leaving the stage, they told the Columbus crowd it was a honor and privilege and just like they had during the first song, Chester and Mike stood arm in arm, smiling and enjoying the final moment before leaving the stage. After the band left the stage, a Bluegrass version of Crawling starting playing. A quirky way to end the night, but man, what a great night it was.

With another Rock on the Range in the books, I have to say, the fans that continue to attend this festival enjoy all types of bands and embrace the atmosphere this festival brings to a soccer stadium in Columbus, OH. Year after year, ROTR continues to up their game. 2016 will mark the 10th anniversary of the festival and I can only imagine the lengths they will go to make it an event to remember. Keep your eyes on the Rock on the Range website towards the end of the year for the announcement. Pretty much, save the date now. I’m sure it will be an event you wont want to miss!

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