In 2007 Rock on the Range was brought to life, when 35,000 “Rangers” sold out Columbus Crew Stadium for its inaugural event. With just 14 bands on the original lineup, a new Rock/Metal festival was born.
Fast forward to 2016, which marked the 10th anniversary for Rock on the Range, and over 120,000 people converged on MAPFRE Stadium to make this year’s sold out event one of the largest in its history.
Arriving at the stadium early, the parking lot is already packed with “Rangers”, most tailgating since just after sunrise. Lines stretched around all seven entrance gates to the stadium hours before doors opened at 11.
As with most festivals with multiple stages, concert goers had to choose between the two side stages that ran simultaneously, with the main stage running in between.
Monster Truck and Cane Hill started the day off, with Avatar and We Came As Romans playing next. The main stage kicked off with Sick Puppies, who celebrated new lead singer Bryan Scott’s birthday with a bottle of champagne being sprayed all over the crowd.
Enter Shikari, Andrew Watt, Sevendust, Trivium and Miss May I all performed for a little over a half hour, playing a montage of greatest hits that kept the crowd hyped, and primed for the headliners later in the day.
British rockers Bullet for My Valentine were the first to see main stage mayhem when they pitted the two sides of the crowd against each other for a “pit champion.”
One of the largest, most colorful scenes of the weekend happened when A Day to Remember took the main stage. Within moments of starting their hit “The Downfall of Us All,” streamers hit the sky from all angles, and beach balls were being tossed into the crowd by stage hands. Taking a pause from the pandemonium, lead singer Jeremy McKinnon challenged crowd surfers to crowd-surf a crowd-surfer, referring to an instance where one person surfed another like a surfboard to the stage.
Fighting off the rain, the second stage closed the night with megastars Megadeth. With 45 minutes to play songs that spanned 20+ albums over 30 years, Megadeth came out, and laid right into a seven song set, playing fan favorites only. Direct support on main stage, Shinedown played through a collection of their hits, and covers pumping the crowd for Friday night headliner Disturbed.
Disturbed’s stage setup, simple looking at first glance, was actually piped with enough flammable material; it questioned whether the cost of the ticket was just to cover fuel costs. Flames shooting twelve feet high at times, engulfed the stage setup, and surrounded drummer Mike Wengren. Burning exceptionally close at time due to wind conditions, it’s amazing he didn’t suffer third degree burns.
Original Flyleaf singer Lacey Sturm and Detroit rockers Citizen Zero opened this rainy day on their side stages respectfully.
P.O.D. opened the main stage, and enticed the crowd early to make the security guards earn their money. Lead Singer Sonny Sandoval challenged audience members to try and get onstage to shake his hand. This was taken literally by one fan, who hopped the center barricade, ran up the center of the guards and made a flying leap onstage. He was met by Sonny for a high five before being dragged off by security.
Comedy glam metal band Steel Panther, led by lead singer Michael Starr, came out in vintage 80’s leather and spandex. Kicking things off with “Eyes of a Panther,” they drove the crowd insane. Taking moments to pose for group photos all over the stage, the band continued through their seven song set, ending with “Death to All but Metal.”
Swedish rockers Ghost, played the second stage mid-afternoon, and had enough lighting in their stage setup to make you think you were indoors.
Making their Rock on the Range debut, Hellyeah took to the main stage, marking Vinnie Paul’s first performance in the city of Columbus in over 12 years, since the slaying of his brother Dimebag in December 2004.
Randy Blythe and Lamb of God closed the side stage with what had to be the largest crowd of the weekend, crammed into a small section of parking lot. Lamb of God played an intense set, leaving it all on the stage. Crowd surfers seemed to get lost in the circle pits, yet would still go back in for more.
Bringing in the fans, Five Finger Death Punch played as the sun set, and primed the audience for Rob Zombie. Jason, Chris, and Zoltan easily tossed a year’s supply of picks and drumsticks into the crowd in between songs, as Ivan got the crowd riled up, and pissed them off to get them in the mood for destruction.
Closing the night with what looked like a horror movie live; Rob Zombie took to the stage in fringed bell bottoms and a jacket. Lighting in blood reds, and deep purples, the set was a shock to the senses. Fun from beginning to end, Rob Zombie was an excellent choice for headliner.
Sunday’s lineup was one of the oddest and possibly best thought up by the organizers. Radio rockers like The Glorious Sons, and Highly Suspect played earlier in the day, making way for young rockers The Struts. Working the stage like Jagger or Mercury, and filled with an enthusiasm that only a youngster could be Luke Spiller brought a new life to the crowd as the third day of this festival started to take its toll.
Toronto based two piece Death From Above 1979 put on a set that could only be described as a glorious racket. Anti Flag, preached to a crowd about world events on the second stage, followed by psychedelic hippie rockers Wolfmother cranking out tunes on the main stage.
Oli Sykes and Bring Me the Horizon turned the main stage into a giant singalong when they hit the stage. Taking time to provoke the crowd, and turn the sides of the stadium against each other, lead vocalist Oli asked the crowd to create a waterfall of surfers while onstage, creating havoc for security.
In what had to be seen to understood, the group that blew me away the most was At the Drive In. Performing for the first time in over 12 years, lead singer Cedric Bixler ran around the stage like a tornado. Leaving nothing safe in his path, mic stands and cymbals were thrown in the air towards the crowd, almost taking out workers in the pit. Throughout their 45 minute set, amp enclosures were kicked ove,r stood back up by stage hands, only to be booted over again. Everything on stage became a base to jump off. The crowd, which should have been much larger, enjoyed the reunion performance in its entirety.
Chino Moreno, and the Deftones acted as direct support for the headliner on this warm Sunday evening. On the heels of the release of their new album Gore, they played a career-spanning set that was filled with crowd favorites, leaving Chino to take moments in between songs to talk to the crowd and just take it all in.
Festival headliner the Red Hot Chili Peppers easily stole the show this weekend. Starting late due to stage setup issues, Flea, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer started the show with an instrumental montage, before going straight into hit “Can’t Stop.” Filling the air with a 16 song set list that included the live debut of their new single “Dark Necessities,” drum solos, covers and a 2 song encore, the Red Hot Chili Peppers made the ticket price for this 3 day event worth every penny.
As the lights came on and the crowds were ushered out their vehicles, this 10 year anniversary was everything a “Ranger” could have asked for and more. Mere days since the show, rumors about it being too big for the city and needing to move to Cleveland and who’s headlining next year are already beginning.