Columbus, OH, Crew Stadium, May 19, 2007

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

For the first time in a long time, Columbus, Ohio played host to a large rock festival. Well, one that isn't commercially presented throughout the United States and Canada that is. Rock On The Range showed up out of nowhere with a date at Crew Stadium and a line-up that made almost anyone who listens to rock music perk up their ears.

 

Sold out long before the actual show date, Rock On The Range featured headliners ZZ Top, Evanescence and Velvet Revolver, but it was the second stage and earlier acts that helped propel this into one of the biggest shows in the Midwest. (Well, aside from Lollapalooza.) With bands like Three Days Grace, Buckcherry, Black Stone Cherry and Puddle of Mudd, fans of rock and roll enjoyed the great weather with set after set of radio friendly metal and blues-driven rock.

 

Surprisingly, the show went without many glitches. For a first-time festival at the stadium, one could have foreseen several problems, but aside from perhaps not enough entry points, Rock On The Range was very fan-friendly and allowed those in the pit to mosh, crowd surf and just release the energy and tension built up from a beating sun, thumping drum beats and screechy guitar riffs.

Whitestarr opened the day up with a second stage performance that allowed the few who could actually make it in get ready for the rest of the day. But 2 Cents and Operator were still playing to a sparse crowd as fans still made their way from tail gaiting and long lines. But once the main stage opened with Buckcherry, the mass were steadily making its way into the stadium and by the time Puddle of Mudd took the second stage scene, people were more than ready to let loose. But is was when Jacobi from Papa Roach sang half a song with the audience, when Austin Winkler of Hinder drank a fan's beer while giving the tens of thousands the finger from the barricade and when Wes Scantlin took the stage after so many years that really made the festival memorable and successful. After all, anyone can put a CD in to listen to music, but what makes a live show special is what the artists and audience to during the music, and Rock On The Range was filled with those moments.

Although Cleveland gets billed and booked as the rock and roll city in Ohio, Columbus music fans always seem to support the shows coming through, so it was nice for those in and around Columbus to be rewarded with a show such as Rock On The Range.

 

Due to the success of the '07 show, a show for 2008 is already being put together. And of course with success comes sponsorships. And with sponsorships comes what inevitably destroys most good festivals. But there is hope in that at least as of now, Rock On The Range is still a one-day show that lends itself to being more about fans and less about pleasing those giving huge amounts of cash. And the first ever Rock On The Range was exactly that, a show for and about rock fans.

 

The line-up was diverse yet not so diverse that people left after seeing only a few acts. Nor was there much in the way of crowd insurgence as because the bands were mostly along the same vein, the fans were more celebrating than looking for those enjoying a band they didn't care for. What made Rock On The Range such a success was not just that fact it sold out, but the fact that fans stayed throughout the entire day and didn't want to miss one band. It was a show that those who attended should be proud to say they were a part of because of how well the crowd reacted to the music and musicians, but also how well they interacted with one another.

Of course, 2008 is a ways away, but already fans, critics and musicians are looking forward to returning to Columbus to see what line-up will appear. And there is little doubt that those in Columbus will prove again that Cleveland isn't the only rock town in Ohio.

Velvet Revolver
Papa Roach
Buckcherry
Hinder
Three Days Grace
Puddle of Mudd