Rock on the Range 2017 in review

 

Day 1. Friday

First off. My first ROTR. My SNL had an extra wristband so I was chosen by my daughter (his wife of course) to go with him since she couldn’t.

I have attended other festivals so I sort of knew what to expect but the rain was unforgiving and a headliner at times. And on all three days. In Kentucky where I live, It’s in a bend in the Ohio River. Storms come up, give it their best shot and are gone in a matter of minutes and we fire the grill back up. I noticed in Columbus the storms are like unwanted guests that show up and don’t want to leave. Seems like the clouds just parked themselves over the arena.

 

BearTooth. I had never heard of them. My SNL had. They were good. Seems like every band was required to say, “This crowd looks F’ing Sexy” and “Now get those f’ing circles going” and a large amount of gratuitous use of the F bomb. Lol. All good. I am no prude. Just noticed most bands said the same thing. I was up in the bleachers and it was cool to see an older set of parents bring their young son. (Maybe he was 12?) to the show. He stood up in his Beartooth shirt and fist pumped and sung along to every song looking like a first-class nerd with his parents but looked like he had a good time. He would look at his parents I presume for their “ok” from time to time. After that band, they got up and left.

 

I don’t know what order the bands are in and my SNL wanted to cover the side stages too so we were back and forth. “Thrice” was on the main stage and I had heard of them too. But most bands that play in Drop D or Drop C to me all sound the same so nothing jumped out at me. They did Hurricane which I am familiar with though.

After that. The evacuation screens went up. It was nice and sunny out. Seemed like a mistake. Anyway, the staff wouldn’t let you stay in the bleachers. Everyone was ordered off the field. We went under the concourse with thousands of other people asking why we all had to evacuate. The cellphones were almost useless. I could text but I couldn’t pull up the weather. Neither could my SNL. I am assuming the cell towers in that area were overwhelmed with traffic. We were under the concourse still buying overpriced 10 dollar beers when everyone under the concourse were ordered to leave that area too. So, we all moved out to the front gates. Well, then the police showed up and were somewhat forceful in ordering people to leave. By then it was raining. No batons but saying you have five minutes to leave or else and using their crowd control voices. We took off for the trees. Bad place to be. Then the storm really hit. Winds and lightning and torrential rains. At that point I was completely soaked for the first time there and wet feet make me miserable. Lol. The arena was closed for a couple of hours.

We listened to XM radio and checked the ROTR website when we could get online to get updates. When they started letting people back in we saw Chevelle. Another band that people like and it was ok to me.

It started getting dark and the Friday curfew was supposed to be at 11pm but due to the storms, XM was reporting the curfew was pushed back until 1am. Octane radio was there doing live broadcasts too. Bush was on stage and they were decent. Had more songs that I remembered them having. Gavin did a tribute to Chris Cornell too. I think they opened with machine Head.

Next up was the band “Live”. Up into this point the stage hands had been swapping bands out in a timely matter. Almost like clockwork. But with Live it took for what seemed forever with what little gear they had on stage. It didn’t help that by the time they were going on (I think it was 11pm). It was already in the 50’s and we were still soaking wet and freezing. The local radio DJ’s came out and kept asking everyone to stick around for the Chris Cornell tribute.

I thought they killed it. It was a nice breath of fresh air. They were in standard tuning (ok maybe a half step down but no drop tuning) and it beat hearing cookie monster vocals all day. Not that Cookie monster vocals are bad but they all sound the same to me…  The bass player looked like any Midwest area local bar band bass player. The singer announced and thanked ROTR for having them and said it was the first time the band had played together in 8 years. Just because I am goofy like this, the guitar player, and drummer botched the opening to “Lightning Crashes” and the singer “walked them back around” and got them back on the same page…They did “I walk the Line” and that was cool. They also did “I am the Highway” which was awesome I thought.

As soon as Live was done the stage went dark and the side screens lite up with a candle blowing and a photo of Chris in the background. The stage lit back up with a soft spot and two bar stools and two acoustics were sitting on the stage floor. The music started and it was Chris singing “Halleluiah”. I was up on the 3rd tier stage left and to look out and see thousands of people singing along, well it was touching. He wasn’t the voice of my generation but he was to them. A young couple in front of me were standing and the guy was holding his girlfriend or wife and she was balling. It remined me of that famous photo of that couple at Woodstock. I get it. Very touching and much props. The vid screens switched to Chris doing “Imagine” on acoustic in what looked like in front of the Hollywood bowl. Once again hearing it sung back by thousands of people was awe inspiring and emotional. Cory Taylor and his Stone Sour guitar player came out. They played “Wish you we here” by Pink Floyd and Soundgarden’s “Outshined”.

We left around 12:45am and they were still playing Chris Cornell songs over the PA. It was a long drive to get there and by that time I had been awake almost 24 hours and really wanted to get back to the hotel and change. It took about an hour to get out of the parking lot and to go 10 miles down the road to the hotel.

Day 2. Saturday

We got up late. Grabbed an Arby’s sandwich and headed to the arena.

My SNL likes “Fire from the Gods” so we were on the second stage for a while. We were able to get pretty close to the stage since it was early. The lead singer came off the stage and sang up by the barriers. Same spill about crowd circles and sexy crowd. Good band. Nothing jumped out at me but the crowd liked them.

We did the swag/merch crawl and looked at the booths and then headed over to the main stage to park for the rest of the day.

Seether. Does nothing for me. But I recognize a lot of their songs. People liked them.

Skillet. My friend used to be their touring sound guy up until a few years ago. They are a great band. The chick on drums was slamming it. They also have a hot looking chick on guitar who is married to the singer. As far a Christian rock bands, they are one if not the best touring xtian bands in the secular market. They don’t hit you with a bible they rock out and let the music do the talking. Great band. Had some cool KISS type staging too.

Alter Bridge Just slammed it. Miles is a great vocalist and guitar player. His vocals sounded like the studio work. He was spot on. I enjoyed their show. I was hoping they did Anastasia but that’s a Slash/Miles song. Glad, they didn’t play any Creed songs though…lol

Day two of evacuating the arena. Storms in the area.

Came back and got to see Papa Roach. Quite possibly one of the best bands there. Lots of energy and then bringing out the Ohio Marching band for one song! Lots of fun and Jacoby telling one girl in the audience that she had nice breasts! She was shoulder riding and she kept showing up on the screens store bought boobs and all!

The OffSpring were another good band to see. If you closed your eyes you had no idea that the “kid” punk voice was coming from a 51 year old guy. They had a lot of good songs and were fun to watch. Kevin the guitar player came across as the fun ole burnt up guy. All in all a great show and great songs.

Korn was the last band of the night. Huge stage set up. They came on and were rocking out. It was the first time I had seen them. They played parts of “Brick in the wall”, “We will rock you” and Cameo’s “Word Up”. Brain Welch was there representing with a huge printed cross on his t shirt. Good band, really cool to see Bagpipes again in concert. (I saw Nazareth in the late 70’s). Korn abruptly stopped playing a little after 11pm. Literally ended a song and was gone. They hadn’t played very long. The Evacuation signs came up and the show was over.

Day 3. Sunday

Got up to rain. Lots of it. So, we did the Wal Mart thing for a while. We also took ponchos this time when we went to the arena. We parked in the general admission parking lot all 3 days. My health thing on my phone said we walked five miles or more each day.

We got there as Every Time I Die was finishing up. My SNL is familiar with all those type bands… I was clueless. We were on the second stage area waiting for Zakk Sabbath to come out. He came out, stood on a platform. He used his new line of guitars. No bullseye Les Paul’s. None of the famous ones. Zakk’s vocals were buried in the mix. I almost couldn’t make out his vocals. He never said one word to the crowd. Not even sure if he even looked at the crowd. He might have played 5 songs. The last one being war pigs and he was gone. Totally a waste of his and our time. Very boring.

We walked around and checked out the 3rd stage. Nothing going on over there. So, we headed to the main stage and found some decent bleacher seats. The main stage area was starting to fill up and seats were getting rare to find.

The Pretty Reckless was up. Cindylou was looking fine but I could tell she was phoning it in. I don’t blame her. She did open for SoundGarden the night Chris died so it had to be still raw and unreal. I did notice that her band were all older guys. Nothing wrong with that. Just my observation. They looked to be in the mid 40’s. Still a good band to see and props for her keeping up her touring obligations. I probably would have cancelled.

Ok Primus. Who ordered this band? Lol. Wrong application. I only know them from the South Park theme in which they didn’t play. Very talented band but a jam band non-the less. Lots of hammer ons and whammy on the bass. I think they would have killed at a Greatful Dead festival or Lollapalooza festival. I felt like Les Claypool looked like Heywood Banks. I couldn’t wait for their set to end and that’s not like me. I give any one a chance but jeesh…Honestly, good musicians but did nothing for me. Zero, Zilch. Several stupid songs like “My name is mud”.

Volbeat. They use a lot of well used chord patterns but made them their own. I like them. The singer is a huge Johnny Cash fan and they did “Ring of Fire”. The crowd liked them. The set was almost over and they left the stage. The road crew started wrapping their gear up in rain tarps. Clearly a sign something was getting ready to happen. We didn’t get evacuated this time. Stage monitors were covered and so were the side stage mixing tents. The V.I.P. stands on the stages were emptied and then the heavens opened up. And stayed opened up. I saw ponchos, trash bags with arm sticking out of them all over the place. We were 3rd tier stage right in ponchos. Staying dry mostly but my back was getting soaked. I sat on my poncho wrong and it allowed water to gutter and run down onto my clothes. It rained and it rained. It wouldn’t stop. It probably rained hard for a good hour. Stage hands didn’t move Volbeat’s gear but continued running cables up front to the side areas of the stage. Volbeat came out and were acting like the show was over by throwing out t shirts in the rain and waving to people. Once the rain let up the gear was unwrapped and they came back out. The singer said he had to go take a piss and they had two songs left. I was hoping they would have called it but they didn’t. I knew after the rain the concert would run long and we had a 5 plus hour drive to get home and I had to go to work as soon as I got home with no sleep.

Metallica. I had seen them before. They were scheduled to go on at 9:45 pm but with the rain it was almost 10:30 before Ac/Dc’s “It’s a long way to the top” hit the PA and it came back to life.

The wait was worth it. They played both new and old material. James Hatfield introduced “Moth to a Flame” by saying that it seems when he plays this song the mic’s don’t work. Obviously, a jab at the Music awards show. He did call out some guy in the crowd by asking if he knew which way he was going. They ended one song and James said that one day they will get the ending right but so far it’s been 36 years and they haven’t yet. Lars looked like he was having fun. Doing his usual thing by ending a song and jumping up off his throne and running around his kit smashing cymbals. They played “The Unforgiven” and at the end James said “Chris, We forgive you”. I thought that was really cool and he sounded like he meant it. He later talked briefly about how some people think they need fortune and fame and in the end, all we all need are friends. Their sound was dead on. As we were walking in earlier I overheard two young guitar players behind me saying that all Hammett does is hammer ons to look like he is really playing hard and he isn’t. I wanted to say to them, Hammett plays for the song and not for the musicians that want to be cocky gun slingers but I left it alone. Does he use a lot of wah pedals? Yep. Does he do a lot of hammer ons? Yea but maybe that’s his style. Anyway, he doesn’t have to punch in tomorrow so he wins..lol The fireworks and flame show was killer. They had two sections of bleachers marked off so during the intro to “One” they had explosions and flashes like bullets strafing the seats. They even put up an evacuate the arena warning sign on the jumbotron.  I did think that Metallica jumped the shark a little when they brought out the giant beach? Drums/bongos and they all played them and Lars was conducting. They had two encores and it started pouring rain again and they continued. You could see them on the giant screens with rain pouring all over them too. Guitars were soaking wet. Much props for that. They could have bailed early but they played for over 2 hours. Great show and a great end to the festival. Last song was “Enter Sandman”. The arena field lights came on but you could hear the band on stage talking to people in the crowd as everyone was making their way to the cars. We drove all night. We arrived home at 5:30 am and I went straight to work! All worth it.

 

 

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