FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROCK ON THE RANGE 2017 Live at Mapfre Stadium, Columbus, OH – Day 2 (Saturday)
With only a couple of hours of sleep and still somewhat under the weather from Friday’s rather unique chain of events, our first stop was the hotel cafeteria for an elaborate breakfast fit for rock gods (and free, I might add lol). With bulging bellies, we set out early to gain better parking, closer to the venue’s main gates in anticipation of the morning’s line-up. Coffees in hands, cameras formatted and attached to harnesses, as we set out to shoot One Less Reason as well as Fire From The Gods, little did we know that moments later, we’d once again hear the howling of the natural disaster siren(s), only to be drowned out by the repetitive announcement over loudspeakers to evacuate the premises/venue immediately. This was not greeted with the optimism of those already within the gates, but them’s the breaks I reckon.
After just a couple hours delay and somewhat back on track for day two of the 11th Annual Danny Wimmer Presents Rock On The Range 2017, Fire From The Gods took the Zippo stage around 2:00 pm with a shortened set (7 total) blasting the crowd with their heavy tracks, including their opener “Diverson”. AJ Channer (vox) brought this Austin, Texas band to Columbus with no intention of letting a little rain intervene with the metal madness these boys brought forth. During the same timeline, One Less Reason took to the Bud Light stage. Known for their indie style pop/hard rock genre, these native Jackson, Tennessee boys formerly known as Lappdog (1998-2002) wasted no time tantalizing their fans with their fresh sounds of “Where Are You”, and “The Trade” before closing their set with “Favorite Color”, a mix of melancholy beats and toned-down guitar riffs of Jeremy Jones.
Columbus natives Starset finally ‘landed’ on the mainstage shortly prior to 3:00 pm, bringing not only a spectacular stage presence and over-the-top costumes, but a vast collection of their ‘cinematic rock’ genre, blending symphonics with modern day electronics with riff-driven, baritone guitars. With two studio albums to their credit, their most recent being ‘Vessels’ (2017), Dustin Bates (vox/keyboard/rhythm guitar) and band members also included a few select touring members, bring a complete string section of cellists and violinists.
With nearly four years (7/22/2013) in the music biz and hailing out of Queens, New York, Jayden Panesso (vox) and members Dustin Jennings (guitar), Miguel Cardona (guitar/vox), Travis Hufton on bass and drummer Thomas Veroutis of Sylar brought a short but powerful set, with riffs mimicking that of Payable On Death (P.O.D.). At times, the deep growlings similar to Chad Gray (HellYeah), echoed from the monitors as Panesso assaulted their hardcore headbanging fans with thrashings conducive to a NYC band. I must admit that while I was overly captivated by Sylar’s performance, I inadvertently missed out on Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, and nearly missed out on the explosive set of John Cooper and Corey Cooper of Skillet. With seconds to spare, I got up close once again to witness the best Christian rock band (my opinion only), originating out of Memphis, Tennessee. And as previous shows, I was mesmerized by the precision and stage persona of the lovely Korey as she bounded from stage right to left almost effortlessly…like an angel with wings, as they opened with “Invincible” and closed a seven song set with “Monster”. Seth Morrison (2011 – present) was definitely on his A-game, complimenting Cooper as well as going into some of his signature riffs. A few years back, I may have scoffed at any Christian rock band on the music scene, but I can say with the utmost respect that these fine musicians, accompanied by Jen Ledger on her Pearl drum kit, not only crossed music genre lines, but did so with the finesse of talented musical icons.
Running on near empty and in need of edible sustenance, I opted to pass on both the DED (Zippo stage) and Turnstile (Bud Light stage), and hustled my little chicken legs on over to the Angry Bird Grill to feast upon some of their signature Cajun grilled chicken on a skewer, smothered in a rich and delectable bourbon bbq sauce. I chose this place first – above all others, simply because their stand was within eyesight of media tent, and after later discovering that the previous day’s downpours and venue evacuations, these humble owners chose to donate their products to a local food bank and put it to good use. That act of kindness goes a long way and is etched in my memory for all of time. Choosing this vendor also had a side ‘perk’, as it was within a minute or two from the mainstage where I could hear the stage crew do their individual equipment check, as Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge made their way from backstage to front and center, opening their extremely short six song set with “Come To Life” and “Addicted To Pain”. “As members Brian Marshall (bass) and drum master Scott Phillips providing constant hard-driving beats, it became apparent that Alter Bridge was deep in thought, and when they strummed the first notes of “Blackbird” (a Chris Cornell tribute) the crowd also became reflective and a hush filled the venue. Ending with “Rise Today” (‘Blackbird’ album), an inspirational number about changing the world as we know it, brought the crowd to their feet with fists raised as high as the sky above. One simply can never get enough of the Kennedy/Tremonti intensity that Alter Bridge brings to every show.
With all but a few milliseconds to spare, weaving in and out of the constantly growing crowd, we just made it to the Zippo stage photo pit, and low and behold…is that the Rock God Jose Mangin of Sirius XM Radio and his beautiful wife Melissa, standing on stage right amongst the monitors, lighting and vertical stage supports?? This can only mean one thing – that Eddie Veliz (vox/guitars) and the Los Angeles based Kyng (est. 2008) have now taken stage with “Burn The Serum” (self-titled album) and one of my favorites “Self Medicated Man”, and by all indications Jose’s as well, as we caught him playing air guitar more than once during this song. Halfway through their all-too-quick seven song set, they passively began with the cover “Hunger Strike” (Temple of The Dog) and eventually closing with “Falling Down” (‘Trampled Sun’ disc). If you’ve yet to see these California bad boys, I’d suggest you do so promptly and without hesitation. Right on the heels of Kyng’s stellar performance, South African rock band Seether (est. 1999 in Petoria, Gauteng), originally went by the name Saron Gas until 2002, once establishing themselves in the States. With eight albums already to their credit (the first being ‘Fragile’ as Saron Gas) and their latest dropping February 23rd, 2017, Seether set forth on a short musical journey with a variety of their classic hits from yesteryear and more recent. Not being an overly energetic bandy by today’s standards, Shaun Morgan (vox/guitar) packed a powerful punch both vocally and with his six string, as the band soothed the crowd with the likes of “Country Song”, “Words As Weapons”, “Fake It”, and finally closing with yet another Cornell tribute – “Remedy”.
With the ever present and on-going line-up conflicts, I had to choose between either The Story So Far (Zippo stage) or Whitechapel (Bud Light stage) and decided with The Story So Far, as I’ve previously covered Whitechapel. Taken from the New Found Glory song, “The Story So Far”, this musical quintet of Walnut Creek, California punk rockers (est. 2007) already amassed three studio albums (‘Under Soil and Dirt’ – 2011, ‘What You Don’t See’ – 2013, ‘The Story So Far’ – 2015), and a fourth album in the early stages of recording at The Farm Studios in Vancouver, BC, with inspirational influences by such big names as Green Day, A Day To Remember, and of course, New Found Glory to name just a few, these young lads are not to be taken lightly as they’re moving up in the ranks of punk rock at an accelerated pace. All one needs to do is witness the enthusiasm of their fans – singing each-and-every word, as they crowd surfed to the rails.
And speaking of chaos-creating crowd surfing and outrageousness on stage as well as in the mosh pit, two time Grammy nominated (Best artist/Best video, 2001) Papa Roach opened with one of their signature classics “To Be Loved”. But…not before we were once again gifted with the grace and greatness of Nita Strauss, as she single-handedly silenced the masses with another rendition of the national anthem. Jacoby Shaddix had a difficult act to follow with Strauss, but rest assured Shaddix and the bad boys from Vacaville, California were more than ready to stir their fans into a frenzy all throughout their thirteen-song set. One song halfway through their set broke their classics repertoire, as they debuted their new single “American Dreams” of the ‘Crooked Teeth’ album (May 18, 2017) and ninth studio album to date. A somewhat more subdued and laid-back number for a band known for its high intensity shows. And no one more up for the challenge of keeping Shaddix, Jerry Horton (lead/rhythm guitars) and Tobin Esperance on bass in constant check, was the insane antics of Tony “Tony Proach” Palermo on his black sparkle 6 ply maple Pearl Masterworks kit as well as Sabian and Paiste cymbals. From “Scars” to “Getting Away With Murder” singles, Papa Roach always delivers and if allowed, will promote a near riot at every performance, as Shaddix raises his arms like a prophet as he magically parts the crowd in half for his chest-pounding weekend warriors of the mosh pit. Prior to closing their set with “Getting Away With Murder”, the Olentangy Orange High School Marching Pioneers (Columbus, Ohio) joined Shaddix in the single “Born For Greatness”, an inspirational song amidst global chaos and atrocities on mankind. Truly moving…and well received by all attending.
One problem faced by yours’ truly, is that whenever Papa Roach plays, I’m compelled to watch their whole set. This day was no different, and caused me to catch the last few minutes of Taking Back Sunday (Zippo stage) and forfeiting In Flames (previously covered). Originally formed in 1999, by Eddie Reyes (guitarist) and a cache of seven studio albums (from 2002 – 2016), Adam Lazzara (vox) and crew from Long Island, New York finessed fans with “Liar (It Takes One To Know One)”, the first of nine songs, and ended with “Make Damn Sure” (‘Louder Now’ disc, 2006), bringing their alternative rock/emo punk/pop punk flavor full throttle, to the amazement of the younger and more energized crowd.
Not wanting to be outdone in their own rights of punk rock genre genius’s, Dexter Holland and members of the Offspring (formerly Manic Subsidal) took the Monster Energy mainstage by force, as they pummeled their punk rocker fans with the absolute best of their best of old school classics, in an extended sixteen song set beginning with “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid” and ending with the traditional closer “Self Esteem”. Once they struck the first few chords of “Come Out and Play” (‘Smash’ album, 1994), it was as if a bomb went off within the ranks of the first couple thousand fans up front, igniting the cattle line of crowd surfers and the mania of moshers unlike any band playing previously today. This journalist had to sit and ponder as to how a band of this stature, would be able to top what they’ve already achieved? I believe that we’ll just have to be patient, as rumor has it that Offspring is currently in production of their tenth studio album, which is due for release sometime in 2018.
And just like that, as if on cue, while walking through the lower concourse, our stomachs growled in harmony with shear desperation, as we began to pass by the venue’s indoor concession stand. They had all I wanted for the time being – nachos w/cheese, onion rings, jumbo hotdog and two black coffees. Mark opted for a healthy serving of Hawaiian inspired Yaki-Soba noodles and a medley of 25 fresh veggies simmered in a secret light island sauce, available from Island Noodles (est. in 1995 by current owners Hale and Beverly Lake) and can already be found in 23 franchises nationally.
Enough about Mark’s noodles and let’s get back to business here, shall we? Alrighty then…and without further hesitation I bring you Korn! But, before we begin, I should mention that their set was cut brutally short (11 songs) due to approaching thunderstorm(s), yet in no way compromised their intensity or integrity to be all that they came to be on the closing of day two of the 11th Annual Rock On The Range 2017. Jonathan Davis dressed in his infamous kilt and grabbing his signature microphone stand with demonic determination as members Brian “Head” Welch and James “Munky” Shaffer tortured their guitar strings, keeping in beat with both Ray Luzier (drums) and Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu on bass, on their first number “Right Now” (‘Take A Look In The Mirror’ album, 2002). Without missing a beat these California boys tore into “Here To Stay” as the swaying mass of bodies before them moved in unison, fists held high and inching ever closer to the stage. It was during this time that the rain once again began to fall upon the oblivious crowd, and would continue to increase as their set played on. Korn was able to hit home with a few more fan favorites such as “Coming Undone” (‘The Other Side’ album) with a brief yet powerful snippet from “We Will Rock You” (Queen cover), “Insane” and “Shoots and Ladders”, (with a snippet of Metallica’s “One”) and their single “Rotting In Vain” from their recent album ‘The Serenity of Suffering’ (released Oct. 21, 2016). Ending their set and the evening, it was all flying braids and thrashing of the band (except Luzier lol) as they pegged monitors & meters and maxed their Marshall amps while performing “Blind” of their debut album ‘Korn’ (1994). It was unfortunate that the inclement weather put a damper on their remaining set, but mother nature was still in charge up to this point.
With outstanding performances by such established icons as Alter Bridge, Kyng, Korn, Papa Roach, and Skillet, along with up and comings of DED, In Flames and Starset, day two was of epic proportion in its own rights, defied all that Mother Nature could hand down, and left nothing but wide smiling faces and another memorable day for Rock On The Range 2017.