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

Day three was the really the best of the days as far as line up goes. I was fairly excited to see a bunch of the bands. First up on the mainstage was 10 Years. I had the chance to hang out with these guys a few years ago when they toured supporting Korn along with Mudvayne, they are fantastic people. They have a distinctive sound, heavy on the melody and interestingly long instrumental endings to their songs. They played a flawless set and had the crowd paying close attention. Front man Jesse Hasek found his way into the crowd a few times, which added to the crowd participation.

I ended up heading over to the Art of Dying set back at the Jager stage. This is yet another Canadian band (I was starting to see a little theme happening). They played a good set of rock and roll, nothing to write home to mom about. I kind of roamed around the festival a bit while Evans Blue and Pop Evil played since they both pretty much suck in my opinion. I have to say; the ROTR organizers run a tight ship. Probably one of the overall better run summer festivals, I imagine if they tried to take it on the road it might be a different story. If I had to pick one gripe it would be the big tractor-trailer of death, which was the "Camel Cigarette Experience." It came complete with a couple fairly haggard, skimpy dressed women greeting the throngs of sheeple into the trailer. Why they would promote that shit is beyond me, maybe the ‘Truth’ campaign team of cigarette bashers were busy.  

All That Remains lit the fire under any sedentary ass in the stadium. They played the main stage and frankly it’s about time they started to get a little recognition. Phil Labonte is a hard working front man who has fronted early Shadows Fall and as of last year Killswitch Engage temporarily, while Howard Jones took a leave.  All That Remains is a no frills, straight to your face metal band. They cranked out a blistering set of songs including some from their latest album "For We Are Many."

Trapt played the FYE stage and front man Chris Taylor Brown instantly had the ladies rubbing their legs like crickets. His definitely has one of the better voices in radio rock. The band played a tight set full of singles from 2001’s Headstrong to some new songs off the "No Apologies" album

Black Label Society needs no introduction; if you’ve made it this far into my synopsis and you haven’t heard of them, just punch yourself in the face. This is Zakk Wylde's band make no mistake. He is a rock legend who has his pretty white Les Paul that his parents bought him dangling from a hook in Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Any person left drooling on themselves after All That Remains played, was most certainly wide awake from the thunderous, blues infused metal smacking their eardrums. A little known secret is that I find him somewhat gratuitous and irritating at times yet hypnotizing and genius as a player.

Bullet For My Valentine is a melodic metal band from Wales. They have a lot of old metal influence that bleeds out of their songs (Iron Maiden is one that comes to mind). I really enjoy this band and was pumped for their set. They blasted out songs that many in the crowd knew and sang along to. I have seen these guys a few times, last was at the Mayhem Festival outside of Los Angeles and they are always consistent, if you like metal then you are missing out if you don’t have their albums.

The biggest ‘fuck all’ of the entire festival came on the news that Stone Sour abruptly cancelled. Apparently the drummer Roy Mayorga suffered a stroke. My good friend Johnny Chow (bassist from Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy) informed me Roy was head banging while performing and thought he pulled a muscle, it turns out he pinched an artery which caused a stroke. The great news is that he is expected to make a full recovery. Stone Sour is one of my favorite metal bands, which is ironic that my least favorite rock band should take their place in the time slot.

Puddle of Mudd fucking blows and the gods agreed, the skies turned black, the clouds opened up and dumped on their talent-less asses, which created another bit of irony…puddles of mud. As soon as they finished their set one of the most pronounced rainbows I’ve ever seen appeared in the sky letting us know rock would indeed return.

Rock returned in the form of Disturbed. With 11 Million albums sold they were another heavy hitter on the bill. As they hammered out many of their radio hits, the crowd pulsated and chanted lyrics. The crowd by now was wide-awake and cooled off from Crom’s wrath of rain on Puddle of Mudd’s set. Disturbed took the crowd into nightfall and left them in A Perfect Circles capable hands.

This is why I drove to Columbus. A Perfect Circle is a collection of talented musicians who joined together for one purpose, and that is to construct artfully crafted, masterfully composed music. Billy Howerdel has proven long ago that he isn’t just a guitar tech, but a gifted composer and Maynard James Keenan is arguably one of the best vocalists and lyric writers in the past 20 years of rock and roll. It is these two that give APC their signature sound. James Iha and Josh Freeze are also heavy hitters in the industry; James Iha as guitarist for the smashing Pumpkins and Josh Freeze with NIN, The Vandals and countless session hours. Together with newcomer to APC, bassist Matt McJunkins the band took the stage. By the time they hit the stage the crowd had thinned out. Whether it be for sheer exhaustion or the simple fact that the many crowd riding idiots couldn’t justify riding on the palms of others to slower songs…who knows? They played an awesome set to an attentive crowd. Maynard’s voice was impeccable and the players were spot on with their respective instruments. They played a cover of Depeche Mode’s People are People as well as Annihilation (a Crucifix cover) both from the APC Emotive album. The night ended on a strong note with a true super group. I look forward to the new APC music that is rumored to be released this year.

Overall ROTR was a great experience. I would suggest getting out to this show if you like what you here on the radio. Most of these bands will be rolling into a town near you on separate tours and festivals this summer so get out and support them and keep them inspired to make more music. On an ending note Jesus never showed up for the party like he was supposed to headline the Rapture on Saturday at 6pm Eastern Time. Better luck next time…maybe his tour bus got a flat.

Mike Suicide