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Junkman's Adventures! Rock On The Range 2012

By Junkman, On-Air Personality
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 12:48 AM

Junkman's Memories in Photographic Glory Below

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As the official kickoff (for me, anyway) to the summer concert season, I headed out as I have, since its inception in 2007, to Columbus Ohio for what has grown to be one of the biggest rock festivals in the US. “Rock On The Range” is the festival put on by Right Arm Entertainment in association with AEG Live and it is held May 18-20 at Columbus’s Crew Stadium, home to the Columbus Crew professional soccer team.

ROTR has, and continues to spotlight the best and freshest rock acts on 3 stages, along with corporate sponsors Monster Energy drink, Jagermeister, and F.Y.E. Past appearances have been as diverse as ZZ Top, Stone Temple Pilots, Deftones, and Limp Bizkit. Bands on the second stage that have grown to be main stage performers include Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm and Papa Roach.

As my cohorts and I invaded Columbus on Friday night, we made it down to the Crew Stadium, picked up our credentials, and caught part of the opening night party. Dubbed the “Friday Night 4Play’, it gave the early arrivals another reason to party and maybe get used to the madness that the weekend surely would bring. “Hells Bells,” my old friends Black Tide, and a killer set from Foxy Shazam started things out. We decided to bail before 80’s “hair-band” tribute Hairball did their set, after all it was going to be a hot, sweaty pit of pure rock for the next few days.

Saturday morning for me started out on the main stage inside Crew Stadium with a rousing performance from Adelitas Way, a rockin band of youngsters from Las Vegas. I had previously seen them in their hometown, and, despite their popularity among the young “Skinny Jeans crowd,” they didn’t do too much for me to separate them from a lot of the new bands out there. Nonetheless, it was a nice wake up for many.

My real wakeup was from the next band on the main stage, a band I’ve become quite fond of, Halestorm. Hailing from Pennsylvania, and led by the sister and brother team of lead singer guitarist Lzzy Hale and drummer Arejay Hale, this band has quite a future ahead of them. To put it in laymans terms, they KICK ASS! Coming off the release of their new CD “The Strange Case Of’,” the band tore it up on stage. Lzzy Hale is a fireball on stage, from the opening chords of “Love Bites (So Do I),” to some of their previous tunes like “I Get Off” that had the early afternoon crowd going nuts.

Guitarist Joe Hottinger, and bassist Josh Smith round out the quartet, and I must say, they are about as solid a young band as I’ve seen in a while. Their fan base was out in full force as well. I was told that the F.Y.E. booth at the show completely sold out of their merchandise, which the band happily signed after they completed their set. Check them out at www.halestormrocks.com.

I then bolted to the Jagermeister stage, located outside the stadium to catch one of my other favorite acts of late, Rival Sons. And what a great idea that was! This band from Long Beach, California put on maybe the best set of the day, in many opinions. Singer Jay Buchanan reminds me of a young Robert Plant and combined with the retro riffs of guitarist Scott Holliday, they make quite a team. Songs like “Pressure and Time,” and “Burn Down Los Angeles,” got the already sweltering crowd even more heated up. I truly see great things for this band in the future. Speaking of which, they have a new release coming out this summer, and will be touring in Europe. Don’t miss this band! Log onto www.rivalsons.com for more info.

Theory Of A Deadman were next on the main stage, and did what they do. Fairly entertaining, catchy songs. The crowd surfers really picked up during their set. Singer Tyler Connolly and his hair-do (looks like someone melted an LP record on his head..) are the main focus of this band, and the chicks dig him. The song “Bad Girlfriend” got the crowd extra amped up. Fun band to watch.

I decided to check out the grounds of the event next, missing sets on the main stage from Chevelle, and Kyng on the Jagermeister stage, although I did catch a few songs from Cavo on the FYE stage, and I must say, they have gotten a lot tighter than when I first saw them. There were a lot of vendors set up around the perimeter of Crew stadium selling everything from band merch, to basics like food and drink. Yes, I saw lots of guys pounding shots of Jagermeister in the blazing mid-day heat, raising no doubt that by the time the evening wore on, they would be passed out somewhere.

One of the best sets of the day, as far as I was concerned, took place on the Jagermeister stage with In This Moment. This Hollywood band just flat out rocked it. Singer Maria Brink is and has been, quite a visual presence on stage. But I really got an idea how sonically brutal she can be. Yes, guys, a real screamer. Decked out in a funky, white, poofy, nurses outfit (sorry, “Fashion Police,” I don’t have the right terms…) and sporting a bejeweled hat, all eyes were on her during the set, as she wailed at the top of her lungs throughout.

Guitarist Chris Howarth, and the rest of the band, also had their own look going on. Kind of a “Mud People Zombie” sort of thing that was both scary and cool at the same time. So was the mid-set crowd mosh around the sound tent. A friend recorded it from on top of the stadium, looking down, and I gotta say, it was a sight to behold! I have become an instant fan of this band, do NOT miss them when they come to your town. Great new CD as well, “Blood” and it was represented during their set.

Next up on the main stage was none other than everyone’s favorite ex-Guns N Roses guitarist Slash and his band, featuring Miles Kennedy on vocals. Officially (actually, this is what was written on the bass drum head…) they are known as “Slash-featuring Miles Kennedy and the Conspirators.” This band has been busy as of late, releasing 2 albums in the past year or so and touring constantly. Technically, this band is as solid as they get, although, I’m really tired of hearing him re-hash old GnR songs, but the crowd, naturally eats it right up. “Halo,” and “You’re a Lie” were the only songs represented from their excellent new CD “Apocalyptic Love,” but then again, it was a short set due to the amount of bands performing. As I mentioned, they were well received from the sunburned and sweaty crowd, who seemed to get more energetic as the set progressed, not an easy job, considering, again, the vast amounts of bands on the bill.

As a great change of pace, I decided to head to the FYE stage to check out a few songs from Cypress Hill. After shooting a few tunes with my trusty camera, I actually found myself on the side of the stage during their set. Also during the set, a nice breeze kicked in, sending huge clouds of marijuana smoke from Cypress Hill’s ever present blunts right at me. Soon stoned, with an amazing contact high, I found myself dancing like an idiot, along with everyone else. All I needed was a 40 oz Malt Liquor, and I swore I was a total “Baller,” as I, and the entire crowd rapped along with “Insane In The Brain,” and busted out my white-boy move.

OK, so after THAT visual, I composed myself, pulled my pants back up to waist-level (WASTE level was more like it….LOL), and turned my baseball cap back on visor side front. I chugged a Monster Energy Rehab drink, which incidentally, I found to be the ultimate cure for “Cotton Mouth,” and I was ready to make my way back to the main stage for a rowdy set from Five Finger Death Punch.

Now, I had spoken with our friendly security chief down there in the photo pit early in the day. Very nice guys, all of them, a real change from some of the lunk-heads I’ve encountered in various arena’s in Southern California. Anyway, he explained to me that, in preparation for FFDP’s set, they had DOUBLED the amount of security in from of the stage. The reason for this is because in the past singer Ivan Moody has encouraged the crowd to go over the security barriers like the soldiers stormed Normandy beach during world war 2.

As a matter of fact, they actually opened with “Under And Over It,” come to think of it. Coincidence? Ya think so? Crowd surfers by the hundreds headed to the front of the stage, like salmon ready to spawn. Ivan Moody even addressed the issue. “Before we came out here, they said they doubled security for us, because we have the most violent fans here” he exclaimed. “I said we’re just having a good fuckin’ time.” He then asked everyone in the crowd to shake the persons hand next to them. The crowd obliged, and, after saluting the members of the military, dedicating their fine version of “Bad Company” to them and soldiered on with an amazing set. Pretty cool stuff, and I have to say it, they came out looking like heroes to the still swelling crowd. Even security was smiling, although they were still pretty busy playing catch and release with the crowd surfers throughout.

Shinedown followed FFDP, and as tough as that may seem to do, they were up for the challenge. Singer Brent Smith, who has gotten in terrific shape as of late, possesses one of the best and strongest voices in rock. Busting out of the gates with “Sound Of Madness,” followed by the one-two punch of “Diamond Eyes” and “Enemies,” the energy from this band hit a feverish pitch. But, just like that, they took a left turn towards the end of the set and brought out stools for a mini-acoustic set of their killer version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic “Simple Man,” followed by “Second Chance’ and “Fly From The Inside.” This set showed the kind of diversity that has made them headliners on stages everywhere, and a prime spot on the main stage at Rock On The Range.

Day 2 show closer Incubus, while very popular, was a strange choice as headliner, as far as I was concerned, although, give a hand to the promoters of this event for once again, having crossover artists help draw the most diverse group of music lovers to this event. Singer Brandon Boyd is the total focus of this band, and judging from the screams of the ladies in the audience, everything he does is alright by them. Me, not so much, and I bailed after the opening riffs of “Pardon Me,” early in the set. Hell, it was going to be a big day on Sunday, traditionally when the heaviest acts of the festival play, and there was a party in downtown Columbus Saturday night, put on by a friend, featuring an open bar, which would be attended by many of the bands that performed on Saturday. Let the festivities continue, and our group assembled and headed downtown.

Sunday morning, as you can imagine, happened way too fast. Shook off the funk from the late night party, battled the traffic, (hell, I’m from LA, this ain’t nuttin…) and made it to Crew stadium, in time to see the opening act on the main stage, my old friends Black Stone Cherry. Hailing from Kentucky, these guys are road tested, and get better every time I see them. Drummer John Fred Young is a powerhouse on drums. I’ve described him to many as a young John Bonham, a real heavy hitter.

Blasting out of the gate with “Maybe Someday” from their first, self-titled release, the band played their usual high energy set with songs from all 3 of their albums. Guitarist Ben Wells was all over the stage jumping and flailing away at his cool guitars. Singer Chris Roberston has a great set of pipes and plays a mean guitar. A great way to start the day, and as it turned out, there were a few bands that should have watched BSC. Their energy was above and beyond a few of the other bands on the bill.

I headed to the Jagermeister stage to check out another band that I’ve been wanting to see- Eve To Adam, and they did not disappoint. High energy, cool tunes and a nice cover of Alice Coopers “Schools Out” just in time to kick off the summer. Back to the main stage I went, and it was getting hot and sweaty. I decided to grab a drink in the media tent, and again, Monster Energy Rehab, was my savior! I checked out the crowd, which I figured would be packed with “Goth Types” considering Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie were appearing that evening. What I saw was mostly average kids, dressed in shorts and tees, thoroughly enjoying themselves. The merch and food booths were doing a great business. Water was about $4 dollars. Beer was about 8 bucks on average. Burgers and pizza and the usual snack stuff were reasonably priced. The FYE booth had bands appearing for signings all weekend, and CD’s were selling at a rapid pace. All good news, for the promoters of the festival.

Appearing next on the main stage was the Darkness, a band that had made a splash a few years back, then disappeared because of the cliché of substance abuse and burnout from singer Justin Hawkins. Well they are back, my friends. What an entertaining set! Hawkins is a great front man. Yes, his falsetto voice can be annoying, but he uses that stage like he owns it, even standing on his head and clapping his feet during part of the performance. A highlight was during the end of “Black Shuck” which opened the set. Hawkins jumped off the drum riser and did a split in mid-air ala David Lee Roth on the cover of the Van Halen 2 album. I watched as every photographer in the photo pit doubled checked to make sure they got that shot. Alas, I just missed mine…

Volbeat followed the Darkness and just killed! This is another of those bands that you simply HAVE to see live. Danish metal with a nod to rockabilly is how I might describe them. Singer Michael Poulsen has a great delivery, and said he LOVES Johnny Cash. They brought the heat as well, literally, during “Guitars, Gangsters, & Cadillac Blood” I could see him trying to wipe the grease from his hair that was melting into his eyes, making his face a white, slimy mess, on this hot afternoon.

I decided to hit the media tent and take a break. I missed a few sets from bands that I like, including Trivium and Mastodon, but I took the time to talk with various band member s close up, including Black Tide drummer, Steven Spence, various member s of Anthrax, Lacuna Coil’s Andrea Ferro, and “American Idol” metal head James Durbin. The tent was air conditioned and was centrally located between the stadium and the FYE stage, which is where I headed for what I found to be the best back-to-back sets of the day. I had not seen Down in a while, and, as I made my way into the photo pit, there was a feeling of extreme excitement throughout the crowd. That excitement soon turned into chaos, as Down ripped through a killer set. Philip Anselmo was on his game, goading the crowd, having a blast throughout. Opening with “Hail The Leaf” and dedicating it to “all the weed smokers out there” (no, today I did not participate…) Down proceeded to get the crowd on its feet, and in the air as well, as crowd surfers rained from all angles. “What do you wanna hear? I’m deaf, old, crazy and crippled” Ansemo exclaimed before launching into “Bury Me In Smoke” and with that, Pepper Keenan and the rest of the band launched into that song to close the set. Anthrax drummer jumped up on the drum kit halfway through the last part of the song, adding to the most insane set of the weekend. Backstage afterward, that band and everyone in sight were glowing, and still feeling the energy that had just happened on the relatively small side stage. And, if that wasn’t enough, Anthrax was up next!

How can you not get fired up at an Anthrax show? It’s virtually impossible. At 6 PM sharp, they took the stage, and were firing on all cylinders. Opening with “Caught In A Mosh,” many of the crowd were doing just that, as circle pits broke out all over. Singer Joey Belladonna was all over the stage, working the crowd into a frenzy. “Fight ‘Em Till You Can’t” from their latest CD “ Worship Music,” followed and was well received from the manic crowd.

Anthrax’s rhythm section, featuring rhythm guitarist Scott Ian, bassist Frankie Bello, and drummer Charlie Benante are about as good as they get, and blasting through the classics like “Antisocial” and “Got The Time” proved it. Great planning from the promoters, as Anthrax was the final act on the FYE stage. Who the hell else could follow them? The only issue that I had was that they were scheduled at the same time that Lacuna Coil was scheduled on the Jagermeister stage, so I missed them completely. I think I made the right choice. Anthrax rules.

Nearly exhausted, I headed back to the main stage for the final 3 acts of the event. Megadeth was next and they did what they do best, give the crowd and old-fashioned thrash metal set, from one of the “Big 4” of thrash metal. The stage setup was a virtual wall of Marshall Amplifiers, and believe me, it was the loudest set of the weekend. Dave Mustaine was in fine form, blasting through “Never Again,””Head Crusher,” and “Hangar 18,” and they were just warming up.

Mustaine repeatedly thanked the crowd, and told them about the video for “Public Enemy # 1” and how much he liked the fact that bassist David Ellefson is in bed with a monkey in it. They closed the set with the one-two punch of “Peace Sells” (featuring an appearance by band mascot Vic Rattlehead) and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” and, finally “Silent Scorn.” Again, a great loud thrash set from one of the best. As the road crew hit the stage to prepare for the last two acts, I decided it was “Beer Thirty” and headed to one of the stadium suites for a cold one. After enjoying that tasty treat, and grabbing a burger, it was now approaching dusk here in America’s Heartland. I looked at the carnage that today’s event had produced. Lots of passed out, sunburned people, barf and garbage, and lots of full trash cans. In other words-a successful Rock Festival!

Next up on the main stage was “Mr Shock Rocker” himself-Marilyn Manson. He and his eerily attired band, guitarist Twiggy Ramirez, Fred Sablan on bass, and Jason Sutter on drums (he, formerly of classic rock band Foreigner, and glam pioneers New York Dolls to name a few) endured what I thought was a slow start with “Hey Cruel World,” and “Disposable Teens,” that was plagued by a shitty sound mix.

Manson told the crowd he was from Ohio, and that some of his family members were in attendance, getting a boost from what I thought was a slow reception. I stuck around for a few tunes and that was enough for me. I was unimpressed. He DID play just about every song a Manson fan would want to hear, including the hits “Dope Show,” “Sweet Dreams” (Are Made Of These), and “Beautiful People.”

Show closer Rob Zombie on the other hand was great. His set, including lots of video, pyro, and robots was pretty exciting and scary. His band was excellent. As a matter of fact, there were two EX-members of Marilyn Manson’s band, drummer Ginger Fish and the amazing talents of guitarist John 5.

Opening the set with “Jesus Frankenstein”(“its pronounced Hey-Soos Fronkensteen LOL….) and playing favorites like “Living Dead Girl,” and White Zombie classics “More Human Than Human” and “Thunder Kiss ‘65,” they really gave the crowd what it came for. Lots of hits, great visual, great costumes, loads of fire, and to end it all, plenty of confetti!

Rock on the Range 2012 turned out to be one of my favorite trips to this festival, which I have been to almost every year since it’s inception. Not just because of the line up, which was well thought out and represented by a great variety of acts, but by the general atmosphere. I am indeed a “Ranger For Life” as they call attendees. I look forward to next year’s event. Hats off to AEG and Right Arm Entertainment for again, kicking off the summer concert season the way it’s supposed to be, loud, fun and well organized, and for a fine event. My thanks also to MSO PR and the city of Columbus for the hospitality, and good times. Again, I’ll be back next year.

Click here to see Junkman's Photo Album

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