In a relatively short period, Rock on the Range has become THE premiere international rock music festival. The 2015 festival, held May 15th through the 17th at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, hosted incredible bands AND fans from all around the world.
This year’s Rock on the Range crowd, affectionately known as “Rangers”, included folks from all over the United States, many from Canada and Europe, and some from as far away as Japan. Additionally, bands performing at the event hailed from countries such as Denmark (Volbeat), Sweden (In Flames), New Zealand (Like a Storm) and Japan (BABYMETAL) to name a few. There were also numerous bands from both the U. S. and the U.K., including the legendary Judas Priest.
There were three stages operating throughout the weekend. The Jagermeister Stage included bands music fans need to know. The Ernie Ball Stage hosted up-and-coming bands. And, the Monster Energy Main Stage hosted the bands fans love. All three stages included an eclectic blend of music from the hard driving yet strangely idol inspired BABYMETAL to Yelawolf’s rap, rock and blues fusion. There were unique didgeridoo sounds from New Zealand’s Like a Storm and Tech N9ne dominated with his brand of rapid fire rap. In fact, rock fans loved the crossover so much that they chanted for Tech N9ne to come back for “One more song!”
The festival also encouraged gender diversity in, what is normally, a male dominated realm. Rock on the Range included lady rockers such as Taylor Momsen (The Pretty Reckless), Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Maria Brink (In This Moment) and a supporting performance by Dessa Poljak (Silencio) with Motionless in White.
And, finally, the festival did not limit the diverse fun to just music. The Rolling Rock Comedy Tent included performances by comedians Joe Howard, Brent Terhume, Mark Poolos, Jim Florentine, Brian Posehn, Bill Arrundale, Jay Snyder, Bill Squire, Don Jamieson, Jim Norton, Chad Zumrock, Craig Peters, Jake Innarino, Rod Paulette and Rob Schneider. Yes, Rob Schneider!!
The entire weekend was sold out and there was a throng (actually an understatement) of people in attendance enjoying all FOUR stages. The shear number of Rangers could have easily spelled problems for a less prepared staff, but the Rock on the Range folks have this down and improve with each successive year. There was plenty of friendly staff on-hand including security and emergency workers who kept everyone safe and happy. Additionally, there were plenty of vendors at the festival including an influx of great food options.
Obviously, with such a large crowd, getting anywhere near the stages was, at times, difficult. The venue was prepared with large screens for close up viewing on the sides of the Monster Energy Main Stage and the Ernie Ball Stage. This year, the main stage included vertical screens on each side of the stage which made for some stunning images of, generally, the vocalists. That was also a bit of a problem for many in attendance on Friday and Saturday. Whoever was filming or directing for the screens only seemed to shoot the main stage vocalists, and often poorly at that. During Marilyn Manson’s set, for example, fans farther back only saw Manson on the screens or set pieces instead of the rest of the band. As one fan said, “Most of us are music purists. We love the music and the bands, not just personalities.” Fortunately, the problem was resolved on Sunday and the camera work stellar. Either the person at the helm finally got the knack, or someone else was sitting in.
Another difficultly in a sold out stadium was the practice of seat saving. For the festival, Rangers purchased floor tickets or bleacher seats. The ticket purchasers for the floor also had access to the seats in the stadium for the main stage. And, every area was general admission. So, one or two people would save rows of seats for people who were down on the floor or at other stages during performances. If people did not have ‘seat savers’ they were out of luck for anything other than the top back of the stadium for the main stage performances. General admission is a good idea, but it might be helpful in the future and, perhaps, a bit more fair to band seat saving.
In all, though, minor difficulties with seating and viewing, paled in comparison to the amazing performances throughout the weekend. Highlights included comedian Brian Posehn, bands Breaking Benjamin, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Slipknot, In This Moment, Papa Roach, Godsmack, Ministry, In Flames, Hollywood Undead, The Pretty Reckless, Anthrax, Halestorm, Volbeat, Motionless in White, Rise Against, Linkin Park, Tech N9ne and, the still amazing, Judas Priest!
Everyone in attendance at the 2015 Rock on the Range fest will definitely concur that an amazing and memorable weekend was had by all!