It is pure mayhem and chaos to attend an all American heavy metal music festival. Rock on the Range brings more than one hundred and twenty thousand metal heads over the course of three days to Mapfre Stadium in Columbus Ohio, and the result is one of the largest and most hectic parties in the entire country. With sixty bands performing on three different stages, the wide range of hard rock genres displayed provide solid memorable experiences that please all the various music fans that attend this festival. Rock on the Range brings some of the biggest bands in rock and roll to Ohio and is one of the best festivals in the country.
Last year at ROTR, inclimate weather resulted in multiple evacuations over the 3-day festival. These evacuations were not easy to coordinate in a space housing tens of thousands of rock fans, but event staff were able to both keep attendees safe and give them the mind-blowing show that they came for. Unfortunately, meteorologists forecasted three days of thunderstorms for ROTR 2018. This didn’t keep the masses from flooding the stadium to see headliners Alice in Chains, Avenged Sevenfold (coming to Riverbend on 8/4 - ENTER TO WIN TICKETS!), and TOOL. With only one isolated evacuation incident on Saturday, the forecasted weather issues were mostly evaded.
Nothing could have been more perfect than the weather on Friday afternoon. Festival goers were able to enjoy three stages of sweaty, filthy rock and roll under a cool and completely cloud-covered sky. Friday was a great day to get to know the festival, explore the grounds, vendors and entertainment sponsored by Monster Energy, Zippo Lighters and Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. Friday featured several established metal-core artists like Underoath, Hawthorne Heights, and Atreyu. Light, misting rain fell late in the day as everyone converged in the stadium to watch A Perfect Circle take the stage. Day 1 headliner Alice in Chains had no intention of disappointing their many fans spanning several generations; they played all of the hits, including, “Rooster,” “Man in a Box,” and “Down in a Hole.”
Day two was likely the most anticipated day of the festival, given that it was the only day that sold out weeks in advance. This was not surprising seeing because Avenged Sevenfold was the headlining act, as they are one of the biggest heavy metal bands in the world. Saturday afternoon featured several hard-hitting acts such as Asking Alexandria, Miss May I, and Black Veil Brides. Black Veil Brides front man Andy Biersack, who is a Cincinnati native, put on a great performance with solid metal-core screams, on point vocals and constant energy when communicating with the crowd. This proved why Andy is one of the most popular faces in rock in roll today and has recently stared in the Hollywood movie “American Satan.” The Black Veil Brides set was cut short by one song as Ohio weather once again reared its ugly head, and the entire festival was evacuated due to thunderstorms in the area. Rock on the Range fans were not intimidated by the storm threat and were given a perfect excuse to bring the party out to the parking lots. Fans were seen tail-gating, partying, and having an overall great time waiting for the storm to pass. When the gates opened back up and fans returned, Rock on the Range veterans Avenged Sevenfold put on a legendary rock and roll show that featured such hits as “Nightmare,” “The Beast and the Harlot,” “Hail to the King,” and “Shepard of Fire.” Avenged Sevenfold will go down as one of the greatest bands in heavy metal history.
Some of the things festival goers see at a typical day at Rock on the Range include Donald Trump crowd surfing in a pink bra, Dead Pool participating in a mosh pit, improvised wrestling matches complete with a referee, and some of the biggest circle pits the world has ever seen. Day three of Rock on the Range was the epic conclusion to the festival that featured performances by The Used, Baby Metal, Anti-flag, Godsmack, Stone Temple Pilots, and Tool. The Used put on one of the most energetic sets of the day which ended in front man Bert McCracken encouraging the crowd to “Go steal our new album, all music should be free” before performing a rendition of Nirvanas “Smells like Teen Spirit.” Japanese kawaii band Baby Metal drew most of the crowd away from the main stage to watch their theatrical performance entitled“Metal Resistance Episode VII – The Revelation." This performance featured costumes, stylized dance routines, fantasy story lines, and heavy metal music overlayed with Japanese pop vocals.
The dedication fans have towards the experimental metal band Tool was seen throughout the weekend in the numerous Tool band tattoos on many fans’ arms and torsos. It is clear that Tool has a devout fan base that packed the stadium for the closing set of the festival. The visuals and psychedelic sounds that Tool produced was one of the most serious, unique, and thought-provoking rock performances that I have seen in my life. From speaking to fans in the audience, it is clear that Tool songs have deep meaning that resonates with people and creates a cult like following.
Rock on the Range has been the Midwest’s destination for heavy metal for over a decade and this year they continued the legacy of creating the stage for some of the biggest concerts in history. While attending this festival, it is clear that heavy metal culture is alive and thriving in 2018. Rock on the Range is a meeting place for the giant family that is heavy metal where people come to have some of best times of their lives.