Rock on the Range gives Midwestern rock fans something to cheer about

18 05 2009

This is the third year for Columbus, Ohio’s Rock on the Range festival, which features 2 days of ear bleeding rock ‘n roll just north of OSU’s campus at Crew Stadium. This is the first year that I’ve attended ROTR, and only the second time I’ve seen a rock show in Crew Stadium (the first was the Doobie Brothers in 2000).

Sean Merinar (@bigdaddymerinar), Cleveland Scene writer DX Ferris and I (@nickjones82) covered the festival for RollingStone.com, which meant we landed interviews with all the headlining acts… which was pretty cool. You can check out DX Ferris’ article about the weekend and a wrap up video at RollingStone.com, and you can watch longer cuts of our interviews with Motley Crue, Slipknot, Alice in Chains, Duff McKagan, and Fieldy of Korn here.

photo taken on my iPhone

Lets set the scene for the weekend…

About an hour into Saturday, Sean took a stroll and noticed that the ladies of Columbus Gold had gained a small crowd just inside the gates and were giving a little show to the onlookers who’s ages ranged from 10 to 60. Sean said he overheard an older gentleman nudge a young boy (estimated at 11 or 12) and say “Yer first time?”. Right next to the T-shirt stands was trailer owned by a local tattoo shop. After a little liquid courage I imagine a few hundred folks got inked up. Unlike most festivals I’ve been to, there was definite lack of hippies, but that didn’t keep Crew Stadium marijuana free. I never thought I’d be hit with a cloud of pot smoke just as Slipknot dropped the first deafening bass line. The beers inside were all Budweiser products and cost you $8 for a 24oz plastic bottle, but again that didn’t keep the crowd the least bit sober. If most ticket holders were like my two buddies in attendance, they guzzled a bottled of homemade whiskey in the parking lot before scanning their tickets and picking up their two free packs of smokes. My only added recommendation is at least one MMA cage somewhere on the grounds. Warped Tour has skateboarding, Bonnaroo has hoola-hoops, Rock on the Range needs MMA… it’s a match made in heaven.

During most of the weekend I was either in the media tent, doing an interview, or editing video, so I didn’t get to see most of the live performances. I really wanted to catch Clutch‘s set on the Jaegermeister 3rd stage, but no dice. I did get to take in three tunes from Korn‘s set, the very beginning of Alice in Chains, the first half of Slipknot, and Buckcherry‘s last song “Crazy Bitch”. The reaction to that song blew me away. Immediately I noticed men and women singing the lyrics to each other as if it was “their song”. I bet Buckcherry has made a killing off of ringtone sales.

I’ve seen Korn a few times, and I’ve never been disappointed. Saturday’s set was much of the same. As Fieldy put it, they’re going get on stage “play (their) classics and bounce.” That they did.

I had never seen Slipknot live, but my whiskey guzzling buddies have been baptized by the knot more times than they can remember, and they’ve told me its well worth it. It was. Corey Taylor is as good a frontman as I’ve seen, and Shawn Crahan and Chis Fehn are able to double as percussionist extraordinaires and top-bill hype men at the same time. Easily one of the best all around rock performances I’ve seen. The spinning drum kits on hydraulics were pretty f’n awesome too.

In all, Rock on the Range facilitates hard rock music fans with the only opportunity to have the festival experience. Most of the 40,000 strong who attended the weekend won’t be pulling up the RV to the rest of the 120 fests that will take place this summer, but they’ll definitely twitter how much ROTR “was badddd asss!!” (via @SydnayyIsBAMF).

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