The first day of Rock on The Range, perhaps the largest pure rock festival in the United States, kicked off in dramatic fashion on Friday night with headlinng performances from Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Slash and more. This is the first in a series of recaps from correspondent Ryan Book.
11:45: The weekend kicks off on the Ernie Ball stage with Shaman's Harvest, a band from Jefferson City, MO that has served as the kick-off act previously in Rock on The Range history. On the other side of the venue, Columbus locals X Factor 1 also start its set, as another repeat opener.
12:30: Rock stars are notorious for bad outfit decisions. Islander guitarist J.R. Bareis can't be faulted for his tack-on dinosaur tail, however.
1:05: Rock on The Range has always prided itself on celebrating veterans as it traditionally takes place during the Salute Our Troops weekend. No band today feels more American than the sleaze-rocking We Are Harlot, despite the group having a British lead singer in Danny Worsnop. The group made its live debut at Rock on The Range last year.
1:32: First cover of the day: We Are Harlot handles Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down."
1:40: It's far too early to assign the "most gothic" prize but expect Vamps to make the shortlist. The vampire-themed band (who Music Times interviewed during March) somewhat shock the crowd with the prevalence of its keyboards...which are played by gas mask-wearing Jin (that's his full name). Exciting set.
2:15: Aforementioned fans perturbed by the keyboards really have their minds boggled by Apocalyptica's three-cello attack. Watching Perttu Kivilaasko, Paavo Lötjönen and Eicca Toppinen attack the "frets" is reminiscent of a gentleman's Iron Maiden.
2:45: Those hoping for Corey Taylor, present for his headlining gig with Slipknot tonight, to show up for his collaboration with Apocalyptica—"I'm Not Jesus"—seem to be disappointed as the band launches into its final song.
3:08: Your correspondent was about to compliment a concertgoer on his excellent Quailman costume (from Doug) but then noticed that he was doing something NSFW to his presumed girlfriend. Maybe later then.
3:30: Live may have released its multiplatinum Throwing Copper more than 20 years ago, but it's still big-stage material at Rock on The Range (good for them). Fans are slow to react to the opening salvo from the band but as soon as the band lays into the opening of "I Alone," the crowd wakes up. Coincidentally, both the band onstage and the weather look like "Lightning Crashes" will soon happen.
Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato is the hero Columbus needs...not the hero Columbus deserves. (Photo: Ryan Book)
4:15: Dillinger Escape Plan is noted for ignoring rules and norms onstage. This is on display at the Ernie Ball Stage as vocalist Greg Puciato climbs both amp stacks and the rigging, while guitarist Ben Weinman chucks his instrument into the drum set (no Colombian drug lords this time around however). The good news is us media folks—who generally get three songs to shoot photos—actually get somewhere in the six range as security can't tell where one song ends and another begins.
4:50: Breaking Benjamin opens with "So Cold," a single that takes us back to high school...when that music video was the creepiest thing on Earth. Ben Burnley reassures us that it's just a song by flashing the horns as he performs. Check out our interview with the band on Monday as we discuss said-creepiness and the recent reformation of the band.
5:40: Yelawolf becomes the first hip-hop act to perform at Rock on The Range in the event's nine-year history (not counting Limp Bizkit during 2010). He reminds fans that he's "not outta place / I'm from outer space" in his opening number. Before the band comes on stage, attentive eyes can take account of his band's "rider," laid out across the fender of a classic Chevrolet (converted into the station for his DJ): Four bottles of water, two cans of Monster and six cans of Budweiser.
6:15: Don't get your hopes up for a Guns N' Roses reunion. Instead, get your hopes up for Slash playing classic Guns' tracks with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Among the earliest songs played in the set are "Night Train" and "You Could Be Mine," the former of which Kennedy has a much more successful swing at.
6:47: A woman approaches your correspondent to inquire if he actually knows who Pelé (he's wearing a New York Cosmos T-shirt). She is "proud" of him for confirming yes, he's aware of the greatest soccer player in history.
6:58: Covers continue as Slash and company bust out more GN'R: This year's rendition is "far and beyond" better than the Guns' rendition at the 2014 festival, according to your correspondent's uncle-in-law, a dedicated Ranger. The band also digs out a slice of Velvet Revolver, airing out "Slither" from Slash's other smash band. Let's see if former Revolver member Scott Weiland vengefully busts out the track tomorrow with his band, the Wildabouts.
7:15: Two loyal stagehands are tasked with ensuring the white sheet keeps still at the front of the Ernie Ball stage in preparation for Falling In Reverse. They patiently wait through a two-minute, pre-recorded sermon on the state of humanity before finally letting go. The band enters to blast of confetti, as colorful as the tattoos covering its members' arms and necks. It's the best special effects we've seen so far today but we have a hunch perpetual showmen Marilyn Manson and Slipknot will raise the stakes.
8:00: Manson seems to have borrowed some fashion advice from Empire of The Sun, with a bright blue makeup bar across his eyes. That said, things he didn't steal include cutting himself and rubbing the blood on his face as well as doodling on himself with lipstick. Every moment onstage is an eye-catching one for Manson. Accordingly, your correspondent aims to make the image below into the next popular meme.
9:30: We're not sure how we feel about the Satanic head that's been gracing the main stage all day, ready for Slipknot's set...it just isn't as anatomically correct as the Fame monster from Lady Gaga's 2011 tour. The rest of the decor is a blast, sometimes literally. Stairs light on fire, flames shoot in sync with the bass drums of Jay Weinberg. The best are the scissor lifts operated by-or perhaps not operated by—Shawn "Clown" Crahan and Chris Fehn. The pair rise and fall almost at random, occasionally spinning at nauseating speeds. Slipknot has impressed us every time we've seen them live, and quite a bit of that credit goes to Crahan and Fehn for what can only be described as "antics."
Slipknot goes for a cheery decor (Photo: Ryan Book)
10:20: Crahan takes a break from his usual percussive duties to deliver the best note of the night: a series of crowbar blows to a metal keg as part of the bridge during Slipknot's hit "Duality."
10:35: Corey Taylor, who has spent most of his non-singing time to finding new uses for the word "motherf*cker," decides that tonight's crowd of nearly 25,000 would be ideal for breaking the band's record for "most people to 'jump the f*ck up'." Taylor traditionally commands his audience to do so midway during the song, and today he commands the entire stadium get on the ground for several minutes until told to do otherwise. Your correspondent obliges him, despite having God-awful knees. We just don't want to be called "motherf*cker" again.
10:58: We're out of Maphre Stadium two minutes early...just in time to sit in traffic for more than an hour before getting out of the lot. Saturday attendees: Park on the East side of Ohio State University's nearby campus and then walk, rather than pay $20 tomorrow for this mess. Traffic control is sorely needed.