Rock On The Range Day 2 (Sunday, May 22nd 2011)

Actually, this was the third day of rock n’ roll goodness, but it was the second ‘official’ day of the festival. If you’ve been following along, you already have that figured out.  Anyhow, here’s the highlights of the rainier, muddier second day;

Saving Abel – Get the ‘Show Must Go On’ award for lead singer Jared Weeks discretely vomiting into a bucket just prior to walking out on stage (blue vomit, so I hear).  Whatever that drink was, I’m guessing he won’t be ordering it anytime soon.  Regardless, the band played a rockin’ set & no one in the crowd were even suspicious of his suffering.

Pop Evil – Out of Michigan were a pleasant surprise, being not so much ‘Pop’ but a whole lotta old fashioned rock n’ roll (I guess that would be the ‘Evil’ part).  They reminded me of a ballsy Creed but looked like an Outlaw biker gang.  Definitely check’em out!

All That Remains & Black Label Society – Two bands that I’ve seen countless times, and never tire of either of ’em.  ATR was possibly the heaviest thing to hit RotR this year, singer Phil Labonte running amok across the stage with boundless energy.  Songs included ‘Forever in Your Hands’, ‘Hold On’ and of course ‘Two Weeks’ was their finale.  Zakk Wylde had to have scared the hell outta some of the younger rockers, with his blistering fretwork, angry vocals and street smart stage presence.  No ‘In This River’ sadly but he did play (among others)  ‘Concrete Jungle’, ‘Parade of the Dead’, a relentless 7 min. guitar solo and closed it all out with ‘Stillborn’.  Watch & learn, young ones.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – First time I’ve ever reviewed a band I didn’t hear.  Yep – got in line for an autograph thinking that guitarist Duke Kitchens (pictured with his reality escape kit) was Zakk Wylde.  Awwwkward.  Nice bunch of guys, and I promised I would review their sampler CD at a later post (which I will).

Puddle of Mudd – Get the ‘Just Damn Glad To Be Here’ award as they were the last minute replacement for Stone Sour, who had to drop off due to sudden illness.  Ironically, they were the only band that it rained for all weekend.  Vocalist/guitarist Wes Scantlin made the most of his time by energetically dominating the stage before eventually diving into the crowd itself much to the chagrin of the security folks.  Top notch set included ‘Control’ (with some War Pigs goodness), ‘She Hates Me’, a cover of AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T’ and of course the radio staple ‘Blurry’ – which I must admit I have a fondness for as well.

Hollywood Undead – I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – one of RotR’s strengths is the variety of the acts it offers.  Case in point – Hollywood Undead are a Rap/Metal act I wouldn’t normally give 10 seconds of my time to hear.  Now, having seen them headline the second stage, I’m impressed.  Unlike conventional hip-hop, all instrumentation was played by. . . musicians.  Not sampled.  If there were drums, there was a drummer.  Guitar riffs – a guitarist jamming it out.  HU had by far the strongest crowd reaction of the weekend, and deservedly so.  Just seeing ‘Hear Me Now’ performed live was an amazing experience.  Check’em out, seriously.

Disturbed – I’ve often been critical of this band in the past, but their influence is undeniable.  Sporting a state-of-the-art stageshow, David Draiman & co.  delivered a true metal show deserving of headliner status.  Many who witnessed it, and then ‘A Perfect Circle’ after them, wished Disturbed had been the closing act.  They should’ve been.  Arena metal performed about as flawlessly as it can be done, with a dizzying array of radio hits.  ‘Nuff said.

A Perfect Circle – Was ultimately a disappointing end to a stellar weekend.  The video monitors were shut off (much as vocalist Maynard James Keenan has them shut off for Tool shows) without regard to the fact that 30,000 people were trying to see the band’s little ant-sized bodies on a dimly lit stage.  And of course, MJK stands to the back so only his silhouette is visible.  Fuck that!  Glad they played ‘Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums’ and ‘Judith’.  Otherwise, the visual fest that they SHOULD’VE been, considering their considerable talent and catalog of songs, was usurped by Disturbed.  Long live the new kings, I guess.

All in all, Rock On The Range continues to blow me away and with the ever increasing range of musical variations they present year after year – I’m hopeful this mammoth event continues here in Columbus for years to come.  Join me next time, won’t you?

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