Rock on the Range Day 1 Round-Up

By on May 19, 2014

Is there anything better than live music?

On a chilly afternoon in Columbus, Ohio, the 8th annual Rock on the Range (commonly known as ROTR) began with thousands of metal and rock fans flooding into the perfectly designed Crew Stadium. Dubbed “World’s Loudest Month” by many, the event has grown larger since the first Rock on the Range in 2007 and even spawned a Canadian Rock on the Range in Winnipeg, Manitoba; the Canadian Rock on the Range only lasted three years because inclement reared its ugly head every year ruining the event.

Rock on the Range has had incredible and well-known bands headline the event every year and this year it is no different. Day 1’s headlining band is none other than Guns N’ Roses – spoiler alert: Axl Rose showed up on time! I will get to Guns N’ Roses in a minute, but first I will recap the day and the bands I was able to get to see perform today – I could not be at all three stages for every band, so if your favorite band is not mentioned, I apologize.

Photo Credit: Kelsi Rupersburg

Photo Credit: Kelsi Rupersburg

Performance of the Day: Killswitch Engage (Monster Main Stage)

Killswitch Engage was by far the best act of the day and easily the most engaging (I couldn’t pass up a pun there). The intensity and stage presence from every single member of the band was stupendous and I couldn’t believe how extraordinary Jesse Leach’s voice was in person. Audio does not even come close to how great his voice is in person – truly astonishing. I am still in such awe of his performance alone. Killswitch Engage has my vote for headlining a day of Rock on the Range next year.

Not just about the sex appeal: Butcher Babies (Jägermeister Stage)

Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd proved themselves to casual metal fans today that they are much more than just two women in seductive clothing. I was simply blown away by “I Smell a Massacre” live. The raw emotion demonstrated by Harvey and Shepherd should be lauded and will be remembered by all fans – hardcore and casual – that attended Day 1 of Rock on the Range. Along with Harvey and Shepherd, the three other band members should be lauded as well for their performances today: Henry Flury, Jason Klein, and drummer Chris Warner were stellar today too! Butcher Babies brings the heat.

Photo Credit: Kelsi Rupersburg

Photo Credit: Kelsi Rupersburg

“We love God and rock n’ roll!”: Thousand Foot Krutch (Ernie Ball Stage)

Canadian Christian rock band, Thousand Foot Krutch (TFK) was astounding and extra metal today. I had always been familiar with TFK, but had never seen them live. Their set had the crowd roaring, crowd surfing, and singing along from start to finish with exceptional vocals from Trevor McNevan. I may have missed it somehow, but McNevan did not seem to mention their untitled upcoming album. Nonetheless, TFK was impressive live and was a great start to the day.

“This is for Dimebag”: Down (Ernie Ball Stage)

Heavy metal supergroup, Down, brought down the house as the last act of the day on the Ernie Ball Stage. Emotions ran high after vocalist Phil Anselmo harkened back to ex-Pantera band mate Dimebag Darrell’s murder in Columbus, Ohio a decade earlier. You could feel Anselmo’s pain through every word he spoke; however, he stated he felt no animosity towards the city of Columbus.

It gave me chills during the speech and added to the atmosphere of rock and metal fan unity. Anselmo put everything in perspective for everyone in attendance today.

Photo Credit: Kelsi Rupersburg

Photo Credit: Kelsi Rupersburg

Fan favorites: Seether (Monster Main Stage)

After Seether’s passionate set, I asked a few “Rangers” (term used for attendees of Rock on the Range) of their favorite performance of the day. “Seether – bar none,” said Pete from Kentucky (he only wanted his first name printed). Pete continued, “Each of the songs they played are favorites of mine and I assume those songs were favorites of the other people here considering the crowd was just as loud as Seether.” He also was partial to Butcher Babies he went on to say.

Another Ranger, Amanda Nolan, went on to say that, “Every band that has played on the [Monster] Main Stage has been exciting! I haven’t really left the main stage area aside from [restroom breaks] and to get food.” For each performance at the Monster Main Stage, the crowd doubled and then some. The largest gathering in the main stage area (which is inside Crew Stadium) would be for the headliner – Guns N’ Roses.

Axl Rose takes stage on time!: Guns N’ Roses (Monster Main Stage)

The headliner for Day 1 played like they were supposed to – exceptional. Though the height of Guns N’ Roses’ popularity was “before my time,” I still have a great deal of respect for their talent and what they mean to music as a whole. There were mixed emotions before GNR’s set from the perspective of the rock fan. Some fans were there to give Axl “another chance”; some fans wanted to see Axl “f*ck up miserably”; and some fans believed that GNR were going to be the “best act of the whole weekend.”

I honestly have nothing to compare GNR’s Day 1 performance to other than YouTube videos or previous articles written about them, but I decided I would go into their act with an objective mind – watching as if it were the first time I had heard them. To put it bluntly, they were good.

Axl’s “hired guns” performed stupendously from beginning to end, never missing a beat. Axl even, dare I say, sang like he did in the ‘80s/’90s. I am particularly partial to “Welcome to the Jungle” because of my allegiance to the Cincinnati Bengals (it is the song that is always played before games), yet it was the most invigorating song of the night for the entire crowd. The crowd really came alive for GNR and GNR came alive for the crowd. It was a sight to behold.

Afterwards, I took a gander at Rock on the Range’s various social media accounts and just as I stated above, fans had mixed reactions to GNR’s set. You cannot please everyone. Nonetheless, GNR did great on Day 1 of Rock on the Range and that is all that matters.

Make sure to catch my other articles on the other two days of Rock on the Range!

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