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Rock on the Range 2011 - Columbus, Ohio - May 20- 22, 2011

Review/photos - Mike Suicide

This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Rock on the Range (ROTR) in Columbus Ohio’s Crew Stadium. I always enjoy the trip to Columbus, the city residents are gracious hosts and quite friendly. As in years past the line up usually consists of your basic rock radio station hit makers. The bands include pioneers, currents and up comers but nothing in the mix too avant-garde or over the top.
Being that it was the 5th year anniversary, ROTR added a Friday night pre-show to commemorate the milestone with acts Steel Panther, Danko Jones, Lez Zeppelin and Red Line Chemistry. I missed both Lez Zeppelin and Red Line Chemistry due to the drive in from New York.  Danko Jones is a band hailing from Toronto, Ontario that is fairly popular and was well received, I thought they kind of stunk.

The real stars of the Friday night pre-show was Steel Panther. This is a 1980’s circa hair metal parody band. They started out as an L.A. house band that garnered so much following they won a record deal. They don’t take themselves seriously and neither did the crowd, which spent much of the time with their mouth open. Their big hit is "Community Property" which is quite hysterical, head over to Youtube and get clicking on some of their videos for a good laugh. The surprising fact about this band is that they are extremely talented musicians and can play as good as any band on the ROTR lineup.

Saturday, day two of the festival was a sunny and warm day, perfect day for a rock show. I made my way into the press tent to see who was there willing to have a conversation. I was supposed to have a chat with the Black Veil Brides but they couldn’t break free. I bumped into the guys in Hourcast who were more than happy to chat with RMS. They are currently on the Uranium tour as support for Black Label Society along with All That Remains. This was their first time performing at ROTR. They are a band out of Boston Mass. That formed in 2004. Their set was pretty good. They were well put together with an electronic fused metal sound. Check out Hourcast’s latest album "Dystopia" in stores now.

Due to the three-stage set up you have to pick and choose the bands you want to see on the Jager and FYE stages but the shows organizers planned it so that any main stage act was not really overlapped by the second stage acts. The point is I didn’t get to see every band so I had to make some choices. I have an old love of all things heavy so I zipped over and caught Asking Alexandria. They are a Metalcore band out of England. They played a ripping set, blending the throaty growls of hardcore with the melodic sounds and vocal breaks of pop metal. Speaking of Pop metal the one and only Sebastian Bach from 80’s hair band Skid Row joined them on stage for their cover of "18 and Life." Asking Alexandria is on the come up, you will be hearing more from and about these guys.

Next up on the same stage was Crossfade. These guys are a little too ‘jock rock’ for me but I think 2 Cents’ lead singer is an obnoxious shit talker so I stayed. They have a few radio hits and were surprisingly well put together. I will respect any band with a strong command of their instruments and this band had that and more.

After Crossfade I bounced over to the Jager stage to see the Black Veil Brides and see what all the buzz was about. They are a Myspace generated band out of Cincinnati Ohio who portrays an image of KISS meets Motley Crue. Their biggest hit is "Knives and Pens" which received over 25 million views on Youtube. They were awarded Revolver Magazine’s Golden God award for Best New Artist.

I stayed for half their set, which I found impressive, then I shot back over to the FYE stage for My Darkest Days.  This band has this year’s strip joint song "Porn Star Dancing" which the crowd sang along to enthusiastically. I might add that they managed to get plenty of girls shirtless during their set. This was another Toronto band featured on the bill.

I was fairly impressed with the early afternoon sets, which included a Mainstage performance from Sick Puppies, they’re a three piece group from Australia who has had a huge amount of success on Youtube. You’re "Going Down" is arguably their biggest hit and they are real catchy and had the crowds attention through their entire set. Hinder was up next, they are as radio rock as you can get. Their formula is repeated in almost every band in this genre. They really are talented musicians so even though they aren’t breaking any new ground, they make the crowd move and that’s what ultimately matters.

POD was up at the Jager stage next and they did what they do, and the crowd responded positively. When I originally read the line up I wanted to see four or five bands total. The rest I could basically give two shits about. Truthfully (as my musical tastes change with the passing wind) I tend to like my music both full on brutal or alternative and intellectual.

Anyway I have a profound respect for Miles Kennedy so I was pretty stoked to see Alterbridge. I had a chance to catch up with Miles in the media tent and he was gracious as always. We talked briefly about his days in the Mayfield Four and tours with one of his favorite bands Big Wreck. Alterbridge didn’t disappoint, they played a string of hits from both Alterbridge albums.

The most comical and absurd artist on the bill was Danzig. He sounded like shit and looked like a car show Elvis impersonator. Most of the crowd stood around in horror and disbelief that this sack of shit actually fronted the legendary Misfits. Please Glenn if you’re reading this…get your fucking shit together, get a Twist O Cain or fade into obscurity.

Next up was Staind. These guys seemed to be on autopilot. They say the road makes the band, and if this is true Staind is in fact a true, bona fide rock and roll band. They are road tested. They played their set so competently you would swear someone just piped the master recordings through the monitors. They’ve sold over 15 million records making them one of the top-selling artists on the weekend line up.

Korn was next. After a few years of tumultuous seas, Korn still has ‘it’. After ‘Head’ and Silverias departure Korn seemed a bit off kilter last year but they stepped it up this year. They have enlisted Ray Luzier as their full time replacement on drums and he fills the spot well. They cranked out a ton of hits and even a Pink Floyd cover. With over 40 Million records sold they were by far the biggest selling act on the bill. Avenged Sevenfold was next. These guys are quite possibly one of the most over rated bands to get top billing that I have seen on a rock festival. Needless to say I split and hit the Columbus streets for some drinks and beat the concert traffic.

For Day Three review click here