Rock on the Range 2011 Day 1

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Monday, May 30, 2011

I know I start out every review of ROTR by saying “this year was my favorite”, but every year the people behind Rock on the Range manage to outdo themselves and Rock on the Range 2011 was no exception to this. Though we were initially only credentialed to cover the second and third stages (just like in 2009 and 2010), but once we got to will call to pick up our passes we were given a pleasant surprise – we’d been bumped up to main stage (allowing us coverage to all bands playing the festival). What a great way to start the weekend.

Two of the weekend’s biggest events were the idea of the world coming to an end at 6pm Saturday (which obviously didn’t happen) and the attendance record being smashed by nearly 10,000 people from the previous year.

[DAY 1]

Trust Company:

Opening up the weekends festivities on the second stage was hard rock juggernauts Trust Company. Most people remember them for their radio smash hit “Downfall” from back in 2002. After a two year hiatus, the band reunited in 2007 and slowly started rebuilding their fan base, touring their asses off, signing to E1 and eventually earning a coveted spot on the Rock on the Range line up.

Though the fans who attend Rock on the Range tend to be more open minded towards new bands and music compared to most festivals, I was still worried about how the crowd would receive Trust Company, if they’d remember them and if they’d like them.

I found out my answer before the band had even stepped on stage. Some of the crowd in the front row started chanting “TC TC TC”. From the photo pit it’s hard to gauge exactly how big a crowd is, but once I was able to leave the crowd was massive; way bigger than I’ve ever seen it for a festival opener.

After releasing their newest album, Dreaming in Black and White back in April the band has started incorporating more new songs into their set such as “Close Your Eyes (‘Til It’s Over)”, “Heart in My Hands” and “Dreaming in Black and White” while playing fan favorites like “Figure 8” and their signature closer “Downfall”.

It was great to see Trust Company back on a big stage. Few bands have worked their asses off and paid their dues to the extent TC have. While I’ve seen them many times on smaller stages, I’ve never seen the band rock harder than they did to open Rock on the Range weekend for thousands of crazy rock fans. It was a beautiful sight.

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

Setlist: (not in order)

1. Figure 8
2. Close Your Eyes (‘Til It’s Over)
3. Hover
4. Heart in My Hands
5. Falling Apart
6. Dreaming in Black and White
7. Downfall

Finger Eleven: 

Finger Eleven was actually one of the first bands I was ever able to shoot live when I covered Rock on the Range 2008 so it was kind of nice to see them again and see how they still were.

Though vocalist Scott Anderson was mostly stationary all night, the rest of the band members made up for it, most notably guitarist Rick Jackett and drummer Rich Beddoe.

Behind songs like “One Thing” and “Paralyzer” the band managed to get the crowd into their set, but by the end people were definitely starting to get bored. Overall, just as good as they were in ’08.

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

Egypt Central:

Though I’ve listened to Egypt Central for a few years now, this was the first time I’d actually seen them live. After reviewing their newest album, White Rabbit, I was really curious how they’d be live.

The group played two of my favorite songs off the new album – “Ghost Town” and “Kick Ass” — and the band had one explosive set. Vocalist John Falls had a very strong voice live, though it occasionally faltered and felt forced. Bassist Joey Chicago had more energy than anyone in the band and was constantly running around the stage frantically, pumping up the crowd; even those watching from the balcony above the third stage.

Despite being stuck on the third stage, Egypt Central did a great job of working with the crowd they were given and made for one hell of a surprise band for many people.

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

Rev Theory:

Much like Finger Eleven, Rev Theory was one of the first bands I ever got to shoot (though in ’08 they were still known as Revelation Theory). They’d managed to go from opening the second stage in ’08 to second band on the main stage, a significant jump (though I’m still wondering why they were on main). Regardless, the guys in Rev Theory put 110% into their set and did their best to show why they deserved to be on the main stage.

Though I’ve never really been a fan of the band, I was blown away by how much their stage presence has changed in the last few years. Vocalist Rich Luzzi tried his best to get the crowd involved; constantly running from side to side, leading chants and telling the crowd to scream but to little to no avail. Despite the lack of love from the crowd, I was very impressed with Rev Theory.

Vocals: 8.5
Crowd Response: 7
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 8

Setlist:

1. Dead in a Grave
2. Light it Up
3. Wicked Wonderland
4. Far From Over
5. Hell Yeah
6. Justice

Crossfade: 

Despite the fact it seemed like most people consider Crossfade nothing more than a one-hit wonder band, a lot of people still turned up well before their set even started to see the South Carolina-based band perform.

This was another band I’d never seen before and definitely became one of my highlights of the weekend. With the help of great vocals from Ed Sloan and phenomenal guitar playing by Les Hall, Crossfade managed to blow my expectations out of the water and gain many new fans.

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

Setlist:

1. Colors
2. Already Gone
3. Lay Me Down
4. Killing Me Inside
5. So Far Away
6. Dear Cocaine
7. Cold

Sick Puppies: 

One of the few bands based outside the US, Australia’s-own Sick Puppies came back to play Rock on the Range for the second time and much like Rev Theory and Saving Abel, went from playing the second stage to the main.

Though the band is only a trio consisting of singer and guitarist Shimon Moore, bassist Emma Anzai and drummer Mark Goodwin, the band rocks like they’ve got ten members. I was pretty impressed with their intensity on stage and it was nice to see another band I hadn’t seen before since I was unable to cover their set in 2009. I’ve never been a big fan of their music, but their live show definitely made up for it and I would highly recommend them live.

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

Setlist:

1. War (Street Fighter)
2. Cancer
3. My World
4. Odd One
5. Should’ve Known Better
6. Maybe
7. You’re Going Down

Black Veil Brides:

Aside from maybe one song, I’d never really heard of Black Veil Brides prior to this show. At first glance, their personal appearances were highly influenced by glam band Kiss. With a flare for the dramatic, Black Veil Brides put on one hell of a set and definitely top five for the day.

Vocalist Andy Biersack managed to keep the crowd involved for the entire set while guitarists Jinxx and Jake Pitts were frantically running from side to side making sure the crowd was singing along.

On CD, I’ve never really been a fan of the band but with their on-stage personas and level of enthusiasm it’s hard not to like this band live. As stated, they were definitely one of my top bands of the day.

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

Setlist: (approximate setlist)

1. All Your Hate
2. Children Surrender
3. We Stitch These Wounds
4. God Bless You
5. Sweet Blasphemy
6. Fallen Angels
7. Knives and Pens
8. Perfect Weapon

Hinder: 

After spending years trying to avoid ever seeing Hinder, they finally caught me. I suppose it wasn’t all bad; they were substantially better than I was expecting and it was another band to add to my list that I hadn’t seen – which is a rarity now.

I’ve never really been a fan of the “raspy” rock voice, i.e. those of bands like Buckcherry and Hinder, but for some reason I could tolerate Hinder’s live. Vocalist Austin Winkler had great poise on stage and was able to perform the entire set without his voice being affected.

While I will still continue to attempt to not see Hinder any more, I can safely say that for this time I was pleasantly surprised by the band and would urge those who are fans to go and see them.

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

Setlist:

1. 2 Sides of Me
2. Up All Night
3. Use Me
4. What Ya Gonna Do
5. All American Nightmare
6. Lips of an Angel
7. Get Stoned

P.O.D:

One of the many bands I used to love back in the day that I never got the chance to see until recently – and well past their prime. It could be argued that P.O.D. haven’t really been relevant within the mainstream music scene for the better part of a decade, but that didn’t stop a huge crowd from turning out to watch the band close out the Jagermeister (third) stage for day one.

They played a “greatest hits” set list comprised mostly of songs off their multi platinum 2001 outing Satelliteas well as their big single “Southtown”. Despite the hype surrounding them I wasn’t blown away by their performance. Though all the members had relatively good stage presence and energy, it never really felt contagious.

Even when vocalist Sonny Sandoval jumped off stage, hopped on the barricade and sang directly into the crowd, I never quite felt that spark that other bands had given off that day.

Still, I was pleased by the set list and overall performance the band gave and it was definitely great performance if for no other reason but nostalgia.

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

Setlist:

1. Without Jah, Nothin
2. Set it Off
3. Boom
4. Southtown
5. Youth of the Nation
6. The Messenjah
7. Alive

Alter Bridge:

Despite my love for all the individual members of Alter Bridge, I’ve just never been able to get into the band. Mark Tremonti is an amazing guitarist and great to watch perform. The same can easily be said for rhythm guitarist and lead singer Myles Kennedy and the remaining members of the band.

Another band I was able to cover at the 2008 edition of Rock on the Range, Alter Bridge haven’t really grown on me since and probably won’t any time in the foreseeable future. Alter Bridge performed with a lot of poise and showmanship that can easily attributed to their other bands; those being Creed and touring slots with Slash. Still, no matter how hard I tried – and I tried hard – I just couldn’t get into Alter Bridge worth my life.

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

Setlist:

1. Slip to the Void
2. Find the Real
3. Buried Alive
4. White Knuckles
5. Ghost of Days Gone By
6. Come to Life
7. Rise Today
8. Isolation

Staind:

Staind have always been one of the most boring bands to see live. Don’t get me wrong, they always sounded great live, but no matter what you’re told you can’t just sound good and expect people to come see you. You have to have SOME sort of effort on stage and Staind vocalist Aaron Lewis was notorious for being a zombie on stage showing little to no effort.

That being said, Staind did a complete 180 from every other time I’d seen them just in time for their performance at Rock on the Range. Aaron Lewis added screams, emotion and was constantly trotting from side to side while on stage. This was an aspect of a Staind show that I’d never seen and it was a great sight to see.

I hope for the sake of their careers they stick to this new formula, because this was by far the best I’ve ever seen them.

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

Setlist:

1. Spleen
2. Falling
3. Crawl
4. Right Here
5. Not Again
6. Outside
7. This is It
8. It’s Been Awhile
9. Mudshovel

Korn:

Following an unbelievably mediocre performance at Rock on the Range 2009 (though, in their defense, some of that was due to sound problems that plagued the main stage that year) Korn was still given a co-headliner spot for the festival. Thankfully the move paid off.

After losing founding member and guitarist Brian “Head” Welch in 2005 and drummer David Silveria in 2006 the demise of Korn seemed all but a certainty and despite the big tours the band really hasn’t proven skeptics wrong. One could argue (myself included) that they haven’t put out a solid album since Head and David left, but have instead been riding on their former success that’s how they’re able to stick around in the mainstream metal scene. The only thing worse than their albums has been their live shows. Bland setlists, lack of energy on stage and mediocre vocals from singer Jonathon Davis attributed to that.

With that said, Rock on the Range 2011 was their best performance since I saw the entire original line up at Project Revolution 2004. They were energetic, happy and Davis’ vocals were on point from the start of their set until the very end. The set list still left a bit to be desired, but I won’t be too nit-picky on them for that.

A great set from a classic band and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time in their career. It was great to see and definitely restored a bit of my faith in the band to go back to their true roots.

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

Setlist:

1. Blind
2. Here to Stay
3. Pop a Pill
4. Freak on a Leash
5. Shoots and Ladders / One
6. Got the Life
7. Alone I Break
8. Oildale (Leave Me Alone)
9. Falling Away From Me
10. Coming Undone / We Will Rock You / Twisted Transistor / Make Me Bad / Thoughtless / Did My Time / Clown
11. Y’All Want a Single

Avenged Sevenfold:

Despite vocalist M. Shadows blowing out his voice only a few days prior to their day-one headlining gig, Avenged Sevenfold were able to go on as planned (much to the relief of the 30,000 people in attendance).

After canceling their final stop on the tour prior to the festival a few days before and plenty of rest, Shadows was able to perform – and pretty well, I might add. With that said, I’ve never seen a vocalist take worse care of his voice than Shadows has over the course of the bands career.

Guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance have great musical chemistry together and are constantly posing together for shots. Gates especially is a ridiculously talented guitarist and it shows in his playing, even if he doesn’t really seem too into it right now.

Overall, while I felt the festival could’ve gotten vastly better headliners than a7x and A Perfect Circle, but Avenged Sevenfold did a lot better than I was expecting them too – especially M. Shadows – and definitely showed they were capable of getting the job done. I just wish they’d changed up their stage set up from previous tours.

Vocals: 7.5
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall Rating: 9

Setlist:

1. Nightmare
2. Critical Acclaim
3. Welcome to the Family
4. Almost Easy
5. Buried Alive
6. So Far Away
7. Afterlife
8. God Hates Us
9. Bat Country
10. Unholy Confessions

This year we couldn’t fit all our content into one article, check out Day 2 coverage here.

Also check out our interviews from the festival:

Asking Alexandria
Egypt Central
Crossfade
Escape the Fate
P.O.D.
Trust Company
Hollywood Undead
Disturbed
A Day To Remember 

Day 1 Photos (Bands Listed in Alphabetical Order):

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