• Review

Review: Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival

Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival had a successful weekend and has breathed fresh life into the Rock on the Range heavy metal venue. Danny Wimmer Presents gave music fans a wonderful weekend and delivered epic performances from System of a Down, Disturbed, and Foo Fighters, no matter what Ohio weather had to say about it. Upon walking into Mapfre Stadium, it is clear that promoters worked very hard on giving this festival a new coat of paint. The lineup featured a diverse list of acts, the aesthetic of the art and murals was very well designed, there were lots of attractions to keep fans entertained, and the experience was professional and convenient. All of these attributes allowed Sonic Temple to sell out tickets the first year and Rock on the Range passed the torch to the new Columbus festival.

The first day of Sonic Temple had perfect spring weather, graffiti artists, skeletons lighting off smoke grenades and many special moments. Black Label Society and Pussy Riot were some of my personal favorite acts during the day, and listening to Nadya speak about her activism in Russia was a great experience in the spoken word tent. One surprise that no one saw coming was when Serj Tankian performed a touching Chris Cornell tribute on stage with Tom Morello. This was an exciting event and something you could only see happen at a large festival such as Sonic Temple. Spoken word is a popular medium in the age of Ted Talks and Podcasts, and the Sirius XM tent was geared towards this style of stand up on Friday with sessions with Nadya, Tom Morello, and Henry Rollins. 

Grammy Award winning heavy metal act Ghost opened for SOAD, and put on an eerie set with costume changes, hilarious moments, and new members since the last time I saw them on tour. It seems as if the Satanic Pope figure was retired a while ago, and now the new front man is a Cardinal in the evil anti-religious organization they have created. I believe some of the nameless ghouls who play in the band are now female, which is evidenced by the new mask designs on the synth players. 

System of a Down only had two shows booked this season, and the fact that fans only had these chances to see the band this year made this performance made the whole night so special. All of SOADs music is amazing, they have never put out a bad album, and continue to rock hard after all these years of being a band. It is great to see all the original members on stage, interacting with the crowd and raging through all of their many hit songs. It feels like not much time has passed since Chop Suey!was released in 2002, or when SOAD won a Grammy Award for BYOB in 2006. Some of the highlights of this show were songs such as “Prison Song”, “Mr. Jack”, “Deer Dance,” and “Toxicity.”

Sonic Temple continued on Saturday morning as 41,000 fans came back to the festival to see metal superstars Disturbed, as well as the countless other great bands during the day. This festival was named after The Cult 1989 album Sonic Temple, and this band gave a great set on the Echo Stage right before dark. I wonder if the Cult will be invited back every year, since there is clearly a bond or connection between festival promoters and the band’s music. 

Disturbed is one of the biggest acts in heavy metal, as their music consistently debuts at number one on the charts, and they always put on a great show. Their cover of Simon and Garfunkel “Sound of Silence” is one of the most emotional cover songs of all time. 

People who live in Ohio love to joke about our weather patterns, but when storms show their ugly face during a festival many people get angry. Safety is the number one priority and concern for Danny Wimmer Presents, and I think they did a great job of handling the evacuations and crowds in true Rock on the Range tradition. If you read the social media channels when this was happening, there were very upset comments, but those people need to realize that sometimes wind and storms can collapse stages. It is sad that Bring Me The Horizon was unable to perform on Sunday, but everyone at the festival was kept safe and the Foo Fighters were still able to play. Even due to bad weather, Sonic Temple was able to deliver all three headlining acts as promised and for that we should give them credit.

Heavy Metal culture is alive and thriving in 2019, and these hard rock festivals bring fans the best music experiences you can find in the world. The music has the most energy, the fans are the most down to earth, and the bands have withstood the test of time. Hard Rock and Heavy Metal will always be in style, and won’t change for anyone. It is great that a new festival was born in Mapfre Stadium and we know that Danny Wimmer is committed to keeping the Columbus tradition alive. We look forward to seeing what they have planned for us next year.