Rock on the Range 2010

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This was my third year covering Rock on the Range and my favorite time to date. There were so many great bands, people and vibes from this year’s event. Unfortunately we were only credentialed for media and a Kicker/Jagermeister (second/third stage) photo pass, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying some of the best bands that played the festival as well as the many attractions.

Playstation once again was a sponsor of the festival, bringing a giant trailer full of plasma screen TVs and PS3’s set up for festival goers to try out the newest and most exciting games on the market. Monster Energy drinks was another big sponsor, passing out free drinks to all festivalgoer’s. Harley Davidson also partook in the event, showing off their newest rides and housing some exclusive interviews with Papa Roach and Rob Zombie.

Richy Nix:

Opening the festival and the Kicker stage was rap-rocker Richy Nix. Attempting to fuse singing, rapping and hard rock seemed like it would go over relatively well considering some of the other bands on the bill, but unfortunately Richy Nix’s talent seemed to fall on deaf ears and a mediocre crowd. Most people were still entering the festival as his set was winding down and the ones who were already there didn’t really seem to be enjoying it. I, however, very much enjoyed his set. I thought it was a bit forced due to the fact the crowd was clearly not feeling him, but from simply a musical stand point I was very impressed. He played a few of his bigger songs including “In My Head” and “Slipping Away” to a bit more crowd approval. I don’t expect him to gain any real fame or notoriety but it was definitely catchy music and a fun set to start off the festival.

Vocals: 8
Crowd Response: 4
Overall Sound: 8
Band Activity: 8
Overall Rating: 8

Taddy Porter:

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this band. I’d never heard their music going into the show and while there was a relatively big crowd (for a band playing this early on the third stage any way), I had no idea how they would be. They pleasantly surprised me. They had a great energy, especially lead guitarist Joe Selby who was soloing every five seconds, flashing grins at the crowd and playing back-to-back with singer/guitarist Andy Brewer. Playing their radio smash hit “Shake Me”, Taddy Porter was definitely a pleasant surprise for all those who chose rocking early on over pre-gaming in the parking lot till the main stage started.

Vocals: 8
Crowd Response: 7
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 9

Adelitas Way:

I had the opportunity to cover Adelitas Way at last year’s installment of Rock on the Range too so I was looking forward to see how, if at all, their live performances improved/differed from last years. Unfortunately I didn’t pick up on many improvements but that was okay because their set last year was very good and this set was no different. Lead singer Rick DeJesus has great stage presence for such a young singer and the rest of the band do a great job of constantly moving around and enticing the crowd to sing along. Playing their smash hit “Invincible” as well as “Dirty Little Thing” and “Last Stand” made for an exciting set and I doubt this will be the last we’ll see of them at Rock on the Range.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 9

Halestorm:

I’d originally planned on shooting Nonpoint during this time slot (for those unaware, the second and third stages overlap so we had to pick and choose what bands we wanted to cover on each stage) but was enticed over to Halestorm on the promise that their live show was phenomenal and that they were an overall great band to shoot. Boy was that true.

Singer/guitarist Lzzy Hale (no, that’s not a typo) began singing before anyone from the band came out onto the stage. Singing their signature “a cappella” style intro leading into their off-the-wall drummer running behind the kits with the bassist and lead guitarist in tow followed by Lzzy Hale still belting out the words. Over the course of their 25-minute set they played a plethora of radio hits including “It’s Not You” and “I Get Off”. Halestorm was definitely the sleeper band of the weekend behind their onstage antics and singer Lzzy Hale’s gorgeous vocals. I was very glad I decided to watch their set over Nonpoint’s and I highly recommend Halestorm to anyone who hasn’t listened to them before.

Vocals: 10
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 10
Band Activity: 10
Overall Rating: 10

Skillet:

I’m always worried when a crossover Christian band like Skillet plays a festival of this magnitude that a bit of preaching is bound to follow. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. Singer and bassist John Cooper had a pleasant voice and a lot more energy than I was expecting and guitarists Korey Cooper and Ben Kasica were constantly running around the stage, pumping up the crowd and jumping off risers. Ending with their big songs “Monster” and “Rebirthing”, Skillet put on a great live show and was another pleasant surprise from a band I didn’t have high hopes for. While it’s hard to get past “Monster” being a rip-off of Three Days Grace’s “Animal (I have Become)”, it was a great way to end their set and get the whole crowd involved that had been slowly growing through the course of their set.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 10
Overall Rating: 9.5

Setlist:

1. Hero
2. Whispers In The Dark
3. Comatose
4. Awake and Alive 5. Monster
6. Rebirthing

Killswitch Engage:

The second stage closer for day 1 of the festival are heavy metal titans Killswitch Engage. What made this show all the more special was the triumphant return of singer Howard Jones who had to leave their previous US tour with The Devil Wears Prada due to injury (or getting a former porn star pregnant…depending on which story you believe). It was as if he’d never left. Coming out with his comical side-kick guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz, Killswitch Engage started off strong with “Rose of Sharyn” and never let the crowd stop for breather. Plugging through their modest 45-minute headline set to songs like “Fixation on the Darkness”, “Reckoning” and their signature cover of Dio’s classic “Holy Diver”. Their cover was more appropriate now than ever after the passing of Ronnie James Dio. You could see the entire crowd giving Dio’s signature devil horns in remembrance. Killswitch Engage never disappoints and their second time at Rock on the Range was no exception.

Vocals: 10
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 10
Band Activity: 10
Overall Rating: 10

Setlist:

1. Rose Of Sharyn
2. Reckoning
3. Fixation On The Darkness
4. A Bid Farewell
5. The Forgotten
6. My Last Serenade
7. The End Of Heartache
8. My Curse
9. Holy Diver [Dio cover]

Day 2:

Shaman’s Harvest:

Shaman’s Harvest opened up festivities on day 2. They were an interesting choice for Rock on the Range with an interesting mix between the harder sides of rock with the more country/blues side. Coming off recent stints of opening for AC/DC and Puddle of Mudd, Shaman’s Harvest took the stage here to mixed reviews. Singer Nathan “Drake” Hunts voice dragged a bit on certain songs but he gets major points for playing in his “boot” due to an injury he sustained several months ago. The rest of the band had a lot of energy and was a pleasure to watch. Playing through a modest 25 minute set including their rock hit “Dragonfly”, Shaman’s Harvest has a big future ahead of them and I look forward to seeing them as they mature over the coming years.

Vocals: 8
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 8.5

Noise Auction:

Last year Columbus’ own X Factor 1 opened the Jagermeister stage on Day 2. This year it was another local band by the name Noise Auction. The sound was similar, as was the look, but the quality was far superior. For all the hype that XF1 garnered ahead of their performance I was expecting the next big thing, only to feel let down. This year I didn’t hear much hype around Noise Auction so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Would they exceed expectations or just be another train wreck like XF1? Well, I decided to give the local music scene another shot, and I’m glad I did. They have mastered the hard rock sound and were able to cater to a large crowd hungry for the day to start off right. I very much enjoyed their set and ended up staying for the whole thing (which I didn’t do for XF1 last year). Watch out for these guys, they’ll be big.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8.5
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 10
Overall Rating: 9.5

Taproot:

I was really excited for the opportunity to see and shoot Taproot, especially considering they took the place of Cold who dropped off the bill last minute. They have a tenacity and energy matched by few bands on the bill and in general and were a pleasant surprise of the weekend. Singer Stephen Richards has a great ability of mixing melodic, catchy vocals with deafening screams and shrieks. Ending their set with two of their biggest songs in “Calling” and “Poem”, Taproot put on one hell of a performance and definitely won me over as a fan.

Vocals: 10
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 10
Overall Rating: 9.5

Setlist:

1. Smile
2. Now Rise
3. Again & Again
4. Myself
5. Fractured (Everything I Said Was True)
6. Calling
7. Poem

Mushroomhead:

“Wow”. That was the way that most people at Rock on the Range described Ohio’s own Mushroomhead’s set. The nine-man band is always associated with the more mainstream band, Slipknot. There are a lot of similarities between the two including costumes, personas, ridiculous theatrics and a skull crushing live show. While Mushroomhead has never been able to break into the mainstream metal scene in the way that Slipknot has, they retain their place as one of, if not the most captivating live show around. With 2 drummers based at the front of the stage, waters is pumped into the top of drums so every time the drummers bang the drums water is flung wildly into the air, soaking everyone around. If that wasn’t enough, their various guitarists and vocalists (one vocalist is covered in fake blood) are running around the stage screaming and flipping off the crowd. Opening with “43” and playing another big hit in “Sun Doesn’t Rise”, Mushroomhead brought the fury that Slipknot lacked the year before and then some. The Jagermeister stage was packed to the brim and people were even packing the upper level concourses to get a birds-eye view of the band. They are an unparalleled spectacle and deserve to be brought back and given a spot on either second stage or main stage for next year. Phenomenal show.

Vocals: 10
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 10
Band Activity: 10
Overall Rating: 10

Mastodon:

This is now the third time I’ve seen Mastodon, second time within 3 months, and I still can’t get into them. From a strictly musical stand point (excluding vocals) there is a lot to like. However, whenever lead vocalist and bassist Troy Sanders or guitarist and backup vocalist Brent Hinds starting “singing” I immediately cringe. I always thought it might be the sound quality that screwed up my perception of them live the last two times, but I have a hard time thinking the sound was bad for three straight shows encompassing 2 years. Regardless of my own qualms with the bands lack of talent in the singing department, the fans of Rock on the Range were salivating over their performance and were going absolutely crazy for the band to take the stage. As they did they immediately started into “Oblivion” and ended with their two biggest songs in “Blood & Thunder” and “March of the Fire Ants”. I still feel this band is way too overhyped compared to some of the other bands in the genre, but they must be doing something right to gain this much notoriety.

Vocals: 3
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 5
Band Activity: 5
Overall Rating: 6

Overall, this was another spectacular edition of one of the United States’ biggest and best rock and metal festivals. The sound quality for the main stage was greatly improved over the train wreck of last years and the efficiency of all the staff, security and crews were second to none. It was great to see Fuse’s Mistress Juliya hosting the event again and I can’t wait to see what amazing line up they get next year!

Photos (Bands Listed in Alphabetical Order):

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