The second day of the 2015 Rock on the Range hard rock music festival was the scene of intermittent rain, most of which was very light — but the music came in a downpour.
“You havin’ a good day, Ohio?” yelled Austin Carlile, singer for Of Mice & Men.
If there is a limited appeal of post-hardcore bands that mix wild screaming with clean-sounding vocals, Carlile and his band pushed those limits and made it beautiful.
Here and there during the festival, people could be seen crowd surfing while in wheelchairs in the hours on end of jumping and bumping.
The rain that day came down heaviest when Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts played on the main stage.
Weiland, originally of notoriety for singing in the band Stone Temple Pilots, had a reddened face and seemed visibly inebriated in some way. He looked into a stadium that was as empty as it was wet, with only several thousand people in the standing area and the seats of the stadium perhaps five percent full.
The people who could’ve taken up the empty spots missed a chance to see the guitar player pick the strings with his teeth as part of solo, and a showcase of rock ‘n’ roll that had a down-to-earth purity to it.
The emptiness of the stadium was caused by the rain and not by the music.
Many people avoided the rain by standing in places where they could not see the main stage — in the upper concourse behind the lower deck and under the overhang of the upper deck of seats.
The rain lessened as Babymetal took their stage in the parking lot.
Babies and metal don’t usually go together, and the crowd had a few minutes of anticipation before seeing where the name came from as the instrumentalists in the Japanese band jammed on.
Then three teenage girls wearing bows in their hair and extremely poofy, knee-length skirts popped out onto the stage.
If not for their synchronized dancing and singing, three of them would have been an adorable non-sequitur.
Babymetal is a baby, and it came from a meeting of Japanese teen pop music and above average quality metal music.
The crowd showed their love, but most of the them had no idea what the words were. That didn’t stop singer Suzuka Nakamoto from shouting, “sing it” four or so times. Out of the crowd came an awkward effort to phonetically imitate the words.
Another metal madame at the festival was Maria Brink, singer for In This Moment. Brink had a powerful, murky, syrupy voice, and with each outfit she wore for each song, looked like a female Disney villain gone wild.
In This Moment was the heaviest act of the festival since Slipknot the day before, and if you saw someone staring at the singer’s legs it would have been easy to snap them into attention because the music was just as captivating when you closed your eyes.
One of the most youth-dominated crowds at Rock on the Range showed up for The Devil Wears Prada, and the band had a riveting, martial sound with the heavy timing of their drums.
The beat got people to throw themselves around, and there was a steady stream of high school kids running out from near the stage and back around the side of the crowd after a trip crowd surfing.
Goofy high school kids were the only people I thought listened to Papa Roach, and the singer’s combination of a goofy fauxhawk hairstyle and excessive eye shadow seemed to confirm this for a moment.
I was dead wrong, as Papa Roach got more people in the crowd moving with more energy than any band that wasn’t explicitly a metal band.
They absolutely rocked, far from a last resort when it comes to good music.
It was as easy to love Papa Roach as it was hard to eat while Ministry was grinding away — the bass in their industrial metal sound was so deep that it seemed like every cell in your body was forced into a mosh.
As they played their first few songs, I was having an overpriced festival meal and it seemed like the food going down my throat was moving around from the very lining of my throat and walls of my belly rippling with the vibrations of the notes.
Their first few songs were too few, and Ministry singer Al Jourgensen knew it.
“Motherf—–s only gave us 40 minutes to do some of our best songs,” Jourgensen said, going on to say that his band could play “at least 42 minutes of good s—.”
The rally of great metal bands continued with Godsmack.
Their frontman Sully Erna dedicated a song called “What’s Next?” to the people of America’s military.
Later in their set, the audience was given a challenge.
The band wanted to see if the crowd in Columbus could be the wildest of any during their current world tour. Erna said that as of now, the record was held by Sydney, Australia.
He said that it was the chance for the Columbus crowd to be part of a documentary about the band that is being produced.
If being a record wild crowd could get the audience a chief place in film, the crowd made a run for it — but nearly two days of the festival fatigued some of the audience, and any lack of Columbus, Ohio, in Godsmack’s documentary could be attributed to that.
One of the last things they played was an instrumental medley of famous songs, including parts of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” AC/DC’s “Back In Black,” Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” and Metallica’s “Creeping Death.”
They might have played tribute to Judas Priest, but Judas Priest was the next act.
Now, if the members of Saxon are old wizards of metal music then the members of Judas Priest are metal’s dark druids, and they had cast a black magic spell over the audience 15 minutes before they took the stage.
Singer Robert Halford came onto stage wearing a giant black leather trench coat with little metal spikes all over it like the spines of a reptilian android. At 63 years old he looked cooler than most will ever be in his aviator sunglasses.
He walked slowly onto the stage with his shiny black cane, an elder statesman of metal.
A light drizzle began as they played their first songs, and they played a mixture of beloved classic songs and those from their newest album.
Halford commented that he had wanted to play at Rock on the Range for a while, and said that the band has been around for so long that they are celebrating multiple anniversaries at once.
Technically, the band has existed for 46 years, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of their album “Defenders of the Faith.”
For the song “Hell Bent for Leather,” Halford rolled on a motorcycle into the front of the stage. There were endless screams from the crowd, but Judas Priest could not give as much as the crowd wanted to take. Their last song was a rollicking rendition of “Living After Midnight,” and the festival would live for one more day.