May 16, 17, 18 2014
It was rumored amongst my friends that at one point I’d “Become one” with this festival because I’d disappeared for around 4 hours. The reality of my day was that I not only absorbed everything Rock on The Range had to offer BUT I gave back by playing guitar at one of the booths, signing a female fan, and taking pics with random people in the crowd who asked me to pose for them.
Rock On The Range 2014 was a 3 day heavy music event that you had to experience in order to understand. I know some people were overwhelmed by the entire experience but for me personally I embraced the show for what it was; a celebration of rock music. The weather was the only set back because on Friday it was overcast and just a tad chilly. Saturday it rained on and off most of the day with temperatures in the high 50’s but Sunday the weather was warm, sunny & perfect which made the fest end on a high note weather wise.
There were 3 concert stages: The large “Monster” main stage which was inside the stadium and the largest of the 3 stages, The Jager stage which was on the left side of the venue and was the smallest of the 3, and the Ernie Ball stage which was a large festival styled stage complete with a large video screen.
The show started off on Friday, May 16th with Kill Devil Hill on the Jager stage. “Mouth For War” featuring Phil Anselmo on vocals closed out the Kill Devil Hill set and that was a nice surprise considering it was 1/2 of Pantera on stage together!
A quick breakdown for each stage goes like this:
The Ernie Ball Stage was all about KYNG & DOWN as far as I’m concerned. KYNG were amazing but oddly enough they did not play “Falling Down”. KYNG singer Eddie V. sported a kick ass vintage red Alice Cooper shirt which I was quite jealous off. Reignwolf sounded pretty good from a distance but I never made it over to check out their set. Living Colour were ok....I found some of their set to be sloppy and I just wasn’t impressed with them on that large stage. All of DOWN were on the side of the stage for Living Colour’s set and during DOWN’s set Living Colour returned the favor by not only watching their set from the side of the stage but also joining the band onstage for “Bury Me In Smoke”. “Stone The Crow” featured Rex Brown on bass and Phil made the most touching comment of the day when he said that a fan asked him earlier if playing in Ohio was hard for him. Phil replied that he didn’t blame the entire state for one man’s actions and that Ohio had given Pantera 20 good years so he couldn’t hate the state based on that tragic night.
The Jager Stage started off with Kill Devil Hill who did an amazing jam with 1/2 of Pantera BUT the biggest crowd of the day was drawn by Butcher Babies & Lacuna Coil.
The Main Stage talent was diverse and Black Stone Cherry’s set offered the most energy while Black Label Society’s was probably the loudest. Seether sounded tight and kept the set to strictly hits while Staind brought the energy level down just a bit because many of their songs are just so depressing. Guns N Roses took the stage promptly at 9:30 PM and the band played a strong 2+ hour set. I wasn’t impressed with AXL’s performance but his backing band were solid. Most of the crowd left early during the GNR set to avoid traffic.
Day #2 of Rock on The Range was plagued by cold weather and rain!
The Ernie Ball Stage started the show with Stars in Stereo at noon and they impressed me with a passionate set that rocked hard despite the cold weather and rain which poured down for most of their set.
King 810 were a buzz band at this show and I’ll tell the truth: They were horrible! Imagine Insane Clown Posse mixed with Disturbed...that’s what they sounded like and the only cool part of their set was the ending where they had these 4 masked, armed snipers who climbed to the top of the stage and pretended to shoot at the audience.
The Pretty Reckless sounded good but on a large stage the tiny Miss Taylor Momsen is beyond lost. I caught a few seconds of Suicidal Tendencies and they are always good.
The Jager stage was so/so on this day. Wilson played at 12:40 and they were interesting to watch while Crobot were probably the most diverse band to play that stage.
The main stage kicked off with Rev Theory followed by Fuel. Pop Evil might be a generic radio rock band but they had the entire main stage cheering for more as they churned out hit after hit. The Pop Evil set closed with DMC from Run DMC joining them onstage and the crowd loved it!
Chevelle sounded amazing but were boring as hell to watch. Slayer were an odd fit for this show because Slayer have always been the darlings of the heavy metal underground yet seeing them on a large festival stage you realize why they never hit the plateau that Metallica did in terms of sales & appeal.
Avenged Sevenfold were the nights headliner and it’s interesting to note that Slayer played on the same bill with Pop Evil & opened for Avenged Sevenfold! A7X owned the stage & they actually had a larger crowd than Guns N Roses the night prior! Chock full o’ pyro & fire the A7X set was a visual spectacle which proved how rabid their fan base truly is!
Day #3 was somber in many ways because it was the final day of the festival. The best bands had already played, BUT on a positive note the weather was amazing, warm & sunny. The Jager Stage had The Jim Breuer band which was essentially a comedy metal show featuring Metal Mike from Halford on guitar. I found the Jim Breuer band amusing for about 10 minutes because that band can work in a small club but in a festival setting something was lost. Gojira headlined the Jager stage and their sound was not that great from where I was standing but they did their thing and the crowd loved it.
The Ernie Ball stage was solid with Heaven’s Basement delivering a kick ass rock set which also included the bands singer going into the crowd to do a hand stand while being supported by the crowd. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience closed things out and if you are a Zep fan (who isn’t?) you’ll love this dead on tribute to the band.
The main stage kicked off with Trivium who didn’t impress me because they seemed lost on a massive stage. Wolfmother on the other hand were amazing and probably my pick for best band on this day! Straight up 70’s riff rock with just a touch o’ psychedelia, Wolfmother sounded great with fuzzy guitar tones, classic rock vocals & killer groove.
Mastodon sounded great but Alter Bridge blew them away as far as I’m concerned. There was a point where Alter Bridge’s drummer almost got hit with a beer bottle during their set and that was a massive problem at this show; they sold beer in plastic bottles and the idiotic drunkards in the crowd were throwing the bottles at the bands throughout the entire show! Five Finger Death Punch had the largest crowd of the day next to Kid Rock who closed the show. 5FDP sounded great and the crowd loved every second of their set.
I give 5FDP props for addressing a major problem on the main stage. Ivan screamed at the crowd, “If you don’t stop ripping off girl’s tops when they crowd surf I will personally come out there and kick your ass!”. I saw it first hand, every female that crowd surfed had some lame ass pulling their top up to grope them and that happened all weekend on the main stage.
Kid Rock opened with a country rock song and I’ll admit that I didn’t care for his intro but by the time the 2nd song of his set kicked in I was hooked and enjoyed Kid’s set. Kid Rock has a large onstage band which is a far cry from when I saw him many years prior with Joe-C.
All in all Rock on the Range 2014 was an amazing experience and I have to thank Kaitlyn & Brooke for putting up with my dumb ass all weekend.