It’s mid-May in the Midwest and for many Americans that can mean just one thing: it’s time for Rock on the Range (ROTR). This year, in its ninth annual incarnation, the festival spans three full days and features more than 50 bands across three stages along with a comedy tent. Even though Day 1 on Friday was during the work week, it didn’t stop throngs of people from across the nation and beyond from descending on MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, which in the fall is the home to Ohio State Buckeyes football.
The weather couldn’t have been better. It was warm and partly sunny, with a cool breeze that cut the heat from the sun. The concert featured acts ranging from openers like Shaman’s Harvest and Columbus’s Own XFactor1, to blistering afternoon sets by the likes of Hatebreed and the Dillinger Escape Plan. Headliners Marilyn Manson and Slipknot, both of whom are returning headliners, lasted well into the still-warm evening hours, with a feast of intense sonics and visuals. There was no shortage of interesting happenings, but here is a list of the top five moments:
5. Islander frontman’s epic walk. There was plenty of crowd surfing throughout the day. But vocalist Mikey Carvajal of buzz band Islander took things to another level by getting the packed audience to hold him up as he stood up and walked around. It was like he was floating above the crowd.
4. Live’s set. Sure, the band ruled the airwaves in the mid-1990s but soon shrunk into obscurity and is now continuing on without iconic frontman Ed Kowalczyk. But Chris Shinn is doing an amiable job of filling Kowalczyk’s vacant shoes, and it was great to hear classics like “I Alone” and “Lightning Crashes” played live. Plus, it goes to show that the audience at ROTR is open to hearing music other than driving heavy metal.
3. Brian Posehn’s comedy set. You may be familiar with Brian Posehn either from his standup or for his work on shows like New Girl and The Big Bang Theory - he’s one of those guys that you’ll know him when you see him. Anyway, he had a solid comedy career before he started talking about being a metalhead onstage, but once he did he soon found an audience that clearly loved him. Posehn was in his element headlining the comedy show Friday night, evoking howls of laughter from a packed crowd. His self-deprecating routine was too profane to share here, but suffice it to say it was hilarious..
2. Marilyn Manson’s weaponized microphones. It’s been years since Manson was seen as a genuine threat to the American mainstream. Perhaps he was trying to reassert his own dangerousness when he removed his mic from its stand to reveal that its handle was shaped like a gargantuan knife. He later switched mics to one with a brass knuckles handle. Maybe he was trying to tell us that he still can pack a punch.
1. Danny Worsnop’s mic stand. As it turns out, ROTR is very patriotic. The show on the main stage kicked off in the early afternoon with the national anthem and a salute to the armed forces. We Are Harlot, who by the way played their first live performance at last year’s ROTR, dug in to crank out their set immediately afterward. Frontman Worsnop’s (ex-Asking Alexandria) mic stand had a worn American flag hanging from it, which fit the patriotic mood perfectly. The strange part? Worsnop is British.