Rock on the Range 2018 has now come and gone, and while the legions of fans are back home in the real world; the work for those behind the scenes for next year's event will probably begin in short time. To put on an annual event of this magnitude is no small task. With 2019's plans likely already in the works; these are the top five reasons that you need to go to America's largest rock festival: Rock on the Range.
1. The music
It should come as no surprise that the absolute main reason to check this festival out is the music itself. The festival now has 12 years of history on its side to prove just how successful they've been in hauling in top-flight talent from around the world. Obviously, for any festival to be successful financially, they have to have a proven track record when it comes to the bands at the top of the bill. The headliners. Those are the ones that move ticket sales. While there have been tremendous headliners in the past as well; look no further than this year's top-billed acts: The mighty Alice in Chains, Avenged Sevenfold, and Tool. Without legitimate headliners, this event would not be able to draw the crowds that it does. All three put on fantastic gigs that were a perfect cap to each night.
Having legitimate headliners also allows the organizers to take risks throughout the rest of the lineup to make it more appealing to lovers of all genres. The big dogs at the top afford the festival the leisure of booking local acts like Pray For Sleep, whose members skipped their high school graduation on Sunday so that they could open the days festivities! The variety that makes up the bill each year separates this festival and brings refreshing up and comers like Greta Van Fleet and Joyous Wolf to the masses. Those two bands and their throwback vibe are at the forefront of a traditional rock revival that also includes fantastic groups like Them Evils and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown. If that's not your thing, you can always check out the dozens of punk, metal (seriously, if you missed Power Trip, you missed out), or metalcore bands that will be there throughout the weekend as well.
If you dig rock music, you will absolutely find something for you there. After all, this is where rock lives.
2. Iconic moments
Over the years, there have been moments that will be forever inked into rock lore. Moments that happened at Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio. This festival started in 2007 in true iconic fashion with the legendary ZZ Top at the top of the bill. Since then there have been moments that will stand out for decades to come for those that have been doing this since the beginning.
2013's festival saw Korn reunite with guitarist Brian "Head" Welch at ROTR. The 2017 tributes to the deceased Chris Cornell were the type of moments that rock fans will tell their grandkids about and say, "I was there." This year saw the triumphant and phenomenal return of the Stone Temple Pilots. Since their last time performing at ROTR they've seen both of their former lead vocalists pass away, yet are persevering with solid new music and haven't lost a step in the live setting. At the bare minimum, they were a top 5 act this weekend out of 60 and very well might have been the absolute best.
3. The tailgating
Columbus already has a proud tailgating tradition as the epicenter of college football's most glorious team. Rangers absolutely live up to the reputation, though, and the parking lot at MAPFRE Stadium becomes a mecca of grilled meats, coolers of various beverages, corn hole tournaments and much more beginning early every morning. Those with the coin to spare, go even harder in the Rock on the Range campgrounds. With some pretty elaborate camping and tailgating setups, part of the fun of this festival is absolutely arriving by 9 or 10 each morning and living in the moment. Finding your happy place and not being in a rush to get in before the music starts will allow for a much more enjoyable experience.
4. The family
Whilst taking in the tailgating scene, you will absolutely make new friends. While the vast majority of those in attendance are Ohioans, the rest of the country is always well represented and the festival even brings in a sizable amount of fans from around the globe. Buffalonians and the BillsMafia always are certain to make their presence known throughout the weekend. West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan will too; as well as virtually every other state in the Union. One year you might make new friends from Canada who need to be introduced to local delicacies like White Castle burgers and buckeyes. Maybe you'll bond with some Kentuckians over the excellent music that is Sabaton. Perhaps you'll fist bump every other person you see in an Iron Maiden shirt over the course of the weekend. For the record, that will require a lot of fist bumps.
Most of these are people you'll never see again in your life, but for those three or four days they become your crew. If you haven't experienced it, it might be hard to understand. But once you have, you'll just know; and perhaps the bond you make with your new friends will carry on for years to come. When those bonds are formed, you join ROTR fan pages on Facebook and stay in contact until next year and do it all again.
Once you do this, it will be in your blood. After three days of rocking out with the likes of Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, and Godsmack you will likely be sunburned, dehydrated, tired and bruised. Sunday night you practically can't wait to sleep in your own bed again, and while the weekend is gone in a fleeting instant and reality settles back in on Monday, you'll yearn for it again and again. Around October, once the outdoor concert season in the Midwest is winding down, you'll start to get antsy. That anxiety will only grow for the next few weeks as you await the Cyber Monday lineup announcement for Rock on the Range. From there through May it will start to consume your supposed free-thinking mind. You'll reserve your hotel or campsite. You'll start planning on which bands you're going to see. Then you'll nervously anticipate the release of set times that might force you to make difficult decisions. By mid-April, time will really slow down to a crawl as you begin counting down the days. Soon, you'll start debating with yourself about whether this is normal, then Armed Services Weekend arrives and with it comes Rock on the Range. And before you can answer the normalcy question, you'll already be turning off of 17th Avenue into the lot to begin again.