2018 Rock on the Range Recap


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Another year of Rock on the Range has come and gone with 40,000+ rockers showing up daily.  This year the weather wasn’t much of an issue other than slight delays on day 2 which forced the cancellation of Bullet For My Valentine.  

Day 1 provided us with great weather as it was overcast and cool.  I felt the performance of the weekend took place midday Friday with the youngsters of Greta Van Fleet.  It was insane watching frontman Josh Kiszka sing.  My eyes were glued to the big screen watching his mouth and especially his tongue while he hit those long, high notes.  I’ll never see Led Zeppelin live, yet I know how it must have felt to hear the godfathers of rock n roll after seeing GVF channel the band.  Their sound feels like it stepped straight out of the 70s.  “Highway Tune” & Safari Song” were both epic live.  I suggest you go out of your way to see Greta Van Fleet.  

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Breaking Benjamin was great as always, opening up with the banger “Red Cold River.”  It was great seeing Ben looking so happy and fierce on stage as well as our local lunatic Shaun Foist hammering away on the drums.

A Perfect Circle put on a fairly good set which we saw Maynard on the big screen, dressed as a 1920s banker with a wig of long hair.  Maynard was on a platform in the back of the stage which he never moved from.  He danced around the circle platform a bit, occasionally performing like a puppet on a string.  I was shocked the band left “Judith” off the set which left fans wanting more.  

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The day was capped off by a great set from Alice in Chains.  Right off the bat Jerry Cantrell blew out an amp and the band’s crew went into action hooking up another amp.  William DuVall took the opportunity to mention that everything AIC does on stage is done live.  They don’t use backing tracks, everything is live with this band.  Alice In Chains surprised us rangers by paying tribute to Soundgarden, covering "Hunted Down" & "Boot Camp." 

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Day 2’s weather had the organizers delay the event due to the threat of severe storms in the area surrounding Columbus.  The beginning of the day saw a downpour which lasted only a few minutes.  Sadly this cut the Massive Tailgating party short and delayed the gates from opening by an hour or so.  These delays are unfortunate yet something needed after the tragedies we’ve seen at festivals due to weather.  Even though no severe weather went over Mapfre stadium, a slight change in the weather pattern could have hit us with high winds, lightning and heavy rain which could cause issues on the festival grounds.  It’s all about fan safety!  People need to quit bitching about those delays.  The promoters are responsible to make sure bands and fans aren’t endangered.

The second delay took place in the middle of the day right before Bullet For My Valentines’ set.  It’s unfortunate the four hour delay saw the cancellation of Bullet’s set.  The show was back underway at 8:30.  I personally enjoy those slight delays as the party in the parking lot puts off a tremendous amount of great energy.  You get to chill for a minute as a big community.  A pause to go back to your cars where you relax, catch your breath and perhaps enjoy a few beers which won’t run you $11 for 16 ounces.  Trivium, Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold all were able to get full sets before the evening wrapped up later than expected.

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Day 3 was sunny, hot and humid.  I ended up badly burnt on the sides of my fat arms.  This day reminded me of those past weekends of Rock on the Range where the weather was sunny without a cloud in the sky, blistering hot and humid.  No complaints though as the crowd was rowdy and active all throughout the final day.  I finally saw Red Sun Rising, a band I’ve missed all those times they’ve been to Cincinnati.  Hearing “Emotionless” live was a highlight for me from the festival.  They are so powerful live.

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Stone Temple Pilots were surprisingly strong with their new frontman Jeff Gutt.  He channeled Weiland’s spirit with another strong musical performance from the rest of the band.  What really stood out for me from their performance was a slower arrangement of “Plush.”  Jeff showed off his vocals and the crowd dug this song’s unique performance.  I did not enjoy “Dead and Bloated’s” vocal effects in place of the megaphone.  Jeff recently commented that the megaphone was Scott’s thing and they wouldn’t use it live.  Yet he basically had the same look of Scott including the aviator glasses and hair style.  The megaphone effect was over modulated and didn’t sound good at all.  

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Sully really got the crowd to go into a frenzy when Godsmack took to the stage.  He proclaimed “Lets make this look like a rock show” demanding circle pits, girls to get on guy’s shoulders, encouraged flashing and really brought the entire stadium alive.  At one point during “Voodoo” a conga line broke out with several people joining in on the fun.  Sully truly showed off why he’s one of the best frontmen in the business and why Godsmack is a leader in the hard rock / metal community.

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The weekend wrapped up w/ an emotional set from Tool which they dedicated to Chris Cornell.  The band was never shown on screen.  Maynard as usual hung out in the shadows at the back of the stage wearing full riot gear.  As Tool's set went on more lights and visual effects were incorporated in the stage show.   I felt very moved by the emotion of Tool’s music.  If you could let go of seeing band members and just enjoy music and lights, you got a fantastic show.

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I had an amazing weekend which only came together the week leading up to the festival.  I was invited by friends to stay with them at a nearby hotel, taking the pull out bed.  As uncomfortable as that bed was for a 400lb guy, I enjoyed the hell out of staying with them.  They are great parents with two kids and used their passionate parenting skills all weekend to make life great for myself as well a couple from Atlanta.  They were our chauffeurs, seat savers and provided endless snacks of beef jerky and trail mix .  I owe them so much for taking me with them.  Jeff and Christa I appreciate all you did for me this weekend.

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So there it is, Rock on the Range 2018 is in the books.  What a great year despite what many thought was  a weaker lineup.  The festival officially sold out again which cements this area’s love of the music festival.  If you were there, I feel you came away feeling this was an extremely awesome weekend of music, community, beer, Island Noodles, new friends and you made new lasting memories.  I’ll be back at Mapfre Stadium next year regardless of the lineup.  Rock on the Range is truly a rockers paradise.  

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