Over the weekend, the Columbus Crew maintained their status as the number one soccer club in MLS. Their home venue had a hell of a time while they were in Toronto. Crew Stadium hosted Rock on the Range for the second straight year, and in keeping with the precedent set by their club, did it in number one fashion. During the second day, the MC proudly reported to the “Rangers” that they had converged upon and created the most highly attended rock festival of 2008! (thus far).
The two-day concert was a whirlwind collusion of bands. Twenty-seven bands were on the bill ranging from Ashes Divide to Five Finger Death Punch, Drowning Pool to 3 Doors Down, Disturbed to Serj Tankian, BobaFlex to Filter. Only one band, Flyleaf, canceled their set. Not only did they bow out of Rock on the Range, they canceled their last 5 stops on their current tour due to the fact that their singer’s voice has been strained and needs a bit of convalescence – feel better soon Lacey, the weekend certainly could have used your particular feminine touch.
The headliners were the highlights; as one might expect. Saturday night featured Disturbed and Stone Temple Pilots. Disturbed got the crowd all – well, what else – disturbed with the largest, most brutal mosh pit of the festival. At the exits, many of the concertgoers could be heard commenting that Disturbed alone was worth the price of admission. Finishing up the night with a new beginning, Stone Temple Pilots reunited for the first time since 2002. Their fans had held out a long time and the band rewarded their patience by playing a substantial set of 17 songs which sounded like a‘best of’ capping the evening off with ‘Dead and Bloated’ which may have been the best single-song performance of the entire weekend. By all appearances, any animosity between suited up front man Scott Weiland, drummer Eric Kretz, and the the DeLeo brothers seemed to be water under the bridge and well downstream. The band’s collective performance was a perfect appetizer for the rest of their tour. Hopefully they will honor their fans with another album after the tour.
Sunday night, 3 Doors Down preceded Kid Rock as the headliners. 3 Doors Down played an impressive set, solid in their own right; but it seemed a bit like they wondered in on somebody else’s party and were asked to play because it’s common knowledge that they are good, and because the hosts are polite. The attendees were polite and 3DD received appreciative accolades from the nearly 30,000 stone-cold rockers. However, anyone who was there to see this single band probably had less appreciation for the rest of the lineup who all conjured up more thrashing and surfing from the ranging masses.
Kid Rock reminded everyone that he is an individual within the music industry from his very first song – “You’ve never met a M* F*er quite like me.” Indeed Kid, indeed. He braided songs in and amongst others and proved himself a true musician by playing nearly every instrument on the stage. Consistently, he also weaved into his show two entertainers of yesteryear, Peter Wolf and Rev. Run. Both were welcome surprises to most of the fans. It became apparent that Kid Rock does what he likes and sings what he likes, with whom he likes. That or he lost a bet to the old-timers and repayment was repatriation back to the stage via his show. In actual fact, Kid Rock’s Rock on the Range-closing set was the most original, not-off-the-shelf, true-to-the-roots show of the weekend.
Of the other 27 bands consensus on the grounds seemed to favor Finger Eleven, Airborne, Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, Rev Theory, BobaFlex, Killswitch Engage, and Drowning Pool; along with the headliners. Perhaps bands Drive A, Shinedown, Staind, and Seether could have strained a little more as the horde was heard sulking about lackluster performances.
Speaking of lackluster, the weather was petulant but better than predicted. The thunderstorms which had been predicted since Monday never materialized and the range stayed dry. However, it was cool for mid May and with high winds, there were more in jeans and hoodies than shirtless and shorts. That’s not to say the hard-core were not there. The sun was warm, and with rampant tailgating, there was likely plenty of ‘anti-freeze’ to embolden the ‘true’ rockers. Their tattoos simply had goosebumps, and their mohawks leaned a bit in the wind.
Another complaint that must be made was the difficulty with which one need navigate between Crew stadium’s brand new main stage and the ODPS second stage. The second stage was outside the stadium, most directly accessed by four exit tunnels. This caused unnecessary congestion and petulance. A suggestion for Rock on the Range 2009: Put the second stage at the south end, inside the stadium . . . where stages used to be set. By doing so people who pay the large ticket prices can actually see every band on the docket. This will also alleviate the muddy mess that the west lot became (imagine if it actually had rained as forecasted). If it must remain so, then at least make use of the multiple screens and sound system to pipe the live concert outside to the thousands inside whom reluctantly took a break and stayed inside because they could not fit into the side yard.
To close on a positive note, the crowd was something for the festival to be proud of. Sure, there were several rowdies who imbibed on too many $8 beers and got ousted; but, there were several experiences of crowd surfers who lost items, generally shoes and wallets, and got them back! I heard that same story several times during the weekend, and experienced it once firsthand.
All told, the weekend festival was a raging success. The bands seemed to enjoy the festival atmosphere and could oftentimes be seen amongst the crowd or at least on the side stages to take in the other acts. Ivan Moody, the lead man for Five Finger Death Punch was out for almost all the bands on the main stage, and it was not uncommon to see the bands wandering around outside between the two stages and around the autograph tent. Likewise, the fans received praise from each of the bands for being the best rock fans they’ve ever seen. They all closed by politely decreeing Columbus their favorite place in the whole of the planet - a sentiment they will probably utter many other times, in many other cities, but one they will definitely repeat if they return to Rock on the Range 2009.
Photos of STP's grand return to the stage below
Shots from Day One
Shots from Day Two
More shots to be added at a later date
Review by Brett Carmichael
Photos by David Heasley