This past May 19th, 20th, and 21st Rock on the Range celebrated its 11th year at Mapfre Stadium, with a lineup that will be difficult to top. Every year over a hundred thousand people converge on Columbus, Ohio for what has become the pinnacle of Rock and Metal, Rock on The Range, and this year was no exception bringing in over 135,000 people in three days.
With talks of weather being an issue for the weekend, Friday started on time with Goodbye June, and Aeges starting off the day on their stages at the same time. Hometown heroes Beartooth kicked off the Monster Main Stage priming concert goers for the day. Getting halfway through the day with over 10 bands playing, the stadium was evacuated due to lightning in the area, and everyone was ushered out to their vehicles for safe keeping. At this time, with the rain pouring down, some people took it as a sign and left early for the day.
After nearly four hours tailgating in the rain, and inclement weather, the announcement was made that the doors would reopen, and the show would resume with all bands playing. Motionless in White brought the day back to life, with Gojira and Pierce the Veil closing the stages mere moments before the original lineup of LIVE took to the mainstage.
With the untimely passing of Chris Cornell, Soundgarden who was scheduled to close out Friday evening was not onsite, and LIVE became the closing band, with a small tribute to Chris directly following them. Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor and Christian Martucci played a brief acoustic set, after a tribute video for their fallen musical brother played to a crowd that was so silent, you could hear a pin drop.
Having almost no time to prepare after hearing about the tragic loss of Chris Cornell a few days earlier, the minds behind Rock on the Range found a way to honor and respect his memory well.
With storm clouds looming upon arrival, the gates were opened for half an hour before being closed again and attendees being placed in a holding pattern. After a two hour wait, the stadium packed, and Fire from The Gods and One Less Reason got us started again on the side stages, with space suit wearing Starset opening the main stage.
Newcomer Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes packed the smallest stage and could be seen jumping in and walking on top of the crowd, all while chaos broke out below him.
DED, Kyng, and Whitechapel all played to packed crowds, basically shoehorning people in trying to get a better view. Main stage artists Alter Bridge, Seether, and Papa Roach all played setlists that consisted of greatest hits keeping the crowd going.
Closing the side stage was Coheed & Cambria, who wasted no time, breaking out into hit “Welcome Home” that saw lead guitarist Claudio Sanchez playing a double-necked guitar over his head, behind his back and even with his teeth at times.
Heavy rockers Korn took to the mainstage to close out Saturday night, laying into their usual setlist that included hits like “Blind”, “Coming Undone” and “Word Up”. But, only making it through eleven songs before having to shut it down due to inclement approaching weather, lead singer Jonathan Davis was visibly upset having to cut their set short. Once again, the stadium was evacuated, with everyone being told that the show was done for the evening.
This was the day that everyone waited for. After eleven long years, the mighty Metallica would be headlining and closing out Rock on The Range. The doors opened on time, and the show started with As Lions and Mother Feather on the side stages.
Rival Sons opened the main stage, with Nothing More, Biffy Clyro and The Pretty Reckless playing at their allotted times. Side stages saw Dorothy, Suicide Silence, The Dillinger Escape Place and guitar god Zakk Wylde with his band Zakk Sabbath. Amon Amarth shut the side stage down, bringing out the Viking in everyone with their set, which included a replica Viking ship.
Primus was arguably one of the more interesting sets of the weekend with a lot of people commenting about their placement in the lineup. However, lead singer Les Claypool took time to tell a story about buying narcotics off Kirk Hammett back in high school, referring to him as “Kirk Hamster”. He also indulged in the idea of Primus and Metallica finally sharing the same stage after all the years they’ve both been in bands.
Volbeat acted as direct support for Metallica, which made sense seeing how they are currently part of the Hardwired Tour. As Volbeat’s set began to wind down, the clouds opened up and a thunderstorm emerged dumping a tremendous amount of rain on a crowd that refused to move. The main floor setup a makeshift cover system holding ponchos together over their heads, while the stadium people stomped their feet often sounding like a stampede.
After an hour delay, Volbeat finished their set, and the stage flipped over in preparation for Metallica. Even though they have been together for over 30 years, and have produced 10 studio albums, their set is extremely stripped down. A drumset, a few monitors, and microphones, meant only one thing – James and the boys from California came to rock. And Rock, they did! Playing eighteen songs over two hours and covering as many albums as they could, there wasn’t a single fan who didn’t hear a favorite.
James thanked the crowd for not leaving during the weather and stated that they weren’t going anywhere until they played. As the night ended, and the band exited the stage, drummer Lars Ulrich made a promise to not wait another 11 years to return to the Rock on the Range stage.