Columbus, Ohio promised sunshine for Day Two of Rock on the Range, and by early Saturday morning it was pretty evident that we had no such luck. Sponsors and staff manned each and every entrance to Crew Stadium, armed with ponchos to hand out to already wet and weary rangers. What looked like a sea of garbage bags was really a dedicated horde of music revelers who stuck it out right from the start, filling the Ernie Ball Stage up in preparation for some Christian rock.
Kicking off the festivities was female fronted Stars In Stereo. With everyone’s ears still ringing from the night before, the melodic tone of front woman Bec Hollcraft’s vocals were a great way to ease into the harsher male dominated lineup to follow. Fellow Christian rockers We As Human hopped on next, wowing the crowd with their nonstop antics. Between climbing the scaffolding, towering high above the stage, and jumping into the pit for some crowd participation, the set was anything but dull.
The Main Stage didn’t get off to quite as energetic of a start, with opener Rev Theory clearly growing frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm. As the rain poured down for the worst storm of the day, the band did their best to distract the crowd and finally succeeded when they broke into “Hell Yeah”, during which it was nearly impossible not to crack a smile.
The Jägermeister Stage hosted one of the biggest breakout acts of the weekend next. Pennsylvania’s Crobot reminded rangers what true rock ‘n’ roll is all about – dirty, grungy hooks to bring the genre back to its purest form.
The sun finally started to “Shimmer” when Fuel took the stage to rock out to some newer tracks followed by the old favorites. The second half of their set was a welcome throwback for twenty-something’s to reminisce their glory days.
Winning the award for quirkiest band of the day was Sweden’s Avatar. The metal band’s short Jägermeister Stage set provided some unique entertainment while the main stage was set up for Pop Evil.
With a recent string of #1 singles under their belts, it was no surprise that the main stage was packed when Pop Evil arrived. Drummer Joshua “Chachi” Marunde moved around more than most singers do, and frontman Leigh Kakaty made sure the crowd was awake by jumping in for “Last Man Standing”. The real show began, however, when members of the armed forces joined the band on stage to close the set with “Trenches”, featuring a jaw dropping collaboration with Run DMC that had everyone talking for the rest of the day.
Another new act hit the Ernie Ball Stage next, Texas natives Nothing More. They incorporated some unique elements, including a separate small drum at the front of the stage that frontman Jonny Hawkins would drum and jump on throughout the set.
Theory of a Deadman lit up the main stage with some entertaining singalong tracks, including “B***h Came Back” and “Bad Girlfriend”, as well as throwing in a more serious ballad, “Not Meant to Be”. With everyone bouncing and singing along to each of the songs, it was clear that the band was a Rock on the Range favorite.
The Pretty Reckless, the second of two female fronted bands slotted for Day Two, hit the Ernie Ball Stage. Lead singer Taylor Momsen’s voice was a force to be reckoned with, and the overall charismatic nature of the band shone through throughout their set. Chevelle began what was to be a heavy night to follow, building up the energy level that would remain until the final band left the stage with nonstop crowd surfing and moshing. The band may be a trio, but lead guitarist/singer Pete Loeffler had no problem amping up the crowd on his own.
With the side stages closed for the evening, it was finally time for Slayer.
The pit suddenly transformed into a hulking mass of muscles and bald heads, scaring away the younger crowd for the duration of their hour long set. Holding nothing back, the band powered through an intense set, clearly unaffected by recent lineup changes. Closing out with “Raining Blood”, Crew Stadium exploded into a frenzy of bodies flying in every imaginable direction.
Not to be outdone, Avenged Sevenfold brought their spectacularly haunting stage set up to close out Day Two. With too many hits to choose from, the band did their best to please everyone from the most diehard fans to brand new ones, making sure to include a few from each album. Without the addition of fireworks and pyrotechnics, the set would arguably be one of the best of the day. With them, it was a no brainer.
Midway through the set, lighters filled the sky as the band slowed things down a bit to honor the band’s late drummer, Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan. Frontman M. Shadows took a moment to let the crowd know that they are not a band to usually use tracks in their live show, but revealed that that the vocals we had been hearing in the background all night, in fact, belonged to Sullivan. An impressive guitar solo preceded the final few songs of the night, wrapping up with “Unholy Confessions”.
Stay Tuned for Day 3 coverage tomorrow!