Rock on the Range returns to Mapfre Stadium this weekend and pretty much every hard rock/metal band is on the bill. The 3-day fest is a great thing for Columbus and a great thing for music fans – if you were able to score a ticket before it sold out. But, along with Rock on the Range comes a radius clause in the contract that the high profile bands sign which prohibits them from playing a headlining show in Columbus or surrounding areas (typically 150 miles) for a certain amount of time (both before and after the ROTR date).
So, with that in mind, here are 5 bands that I’d prefer to see in a smaller venue as a headliner rather than on a multi-band bill in a stadium.
The Seattle grunge band reformed in 2010 and released a new album in 2012 and this year will mark their second Rock on the Range appearance (their first was in 2013). But outside of these shows, Soundgarden hasn’t played in Columbus. Following their Rock on the Range appearance, Soundgarden will make a stop in Dallas at a venue that holds about the same amount of people as Express Live which would be a GREAT venue for the band to play.
I caught this French metal band opening for Slayer at the (now) Express Live indoor pavilion in 2013 and they impressed me more than the headliner. Pretty sure I walked out of that concert saying, “I’ve found my new favorite metal band”. About 6 months later, Gojira had the unfortunate afternoon slot on one of the Rock on the Range side stages and while the music sounded great, something was lost watching the band perform in the daylight – the music is more impactful when performed on a dark stage with minimal lighting. Gojira performed a headlining set this week in Pittsburgh which is just outside the radius but I don’t anticipate them coming back to Columbus unless they get a support slot on a bigger tour (which might make them exempt from the radius clause).
Been on a strong classic rock kick – the bands in the ’70s knew how to rock and the music is timeless – and Rival Sons’ blues-based hard rock sound pays homage to acts like Zeppelin, Bad Company and Deep Purple. It’s no wonder that while they do club dates, Rival Sons has done plenty of support slots on huge arena tours opening for the likes of Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Deep Purple and Alice Cooper. The California-based band performed at Rock on the Range in 2012 and 2015 but if they’ve played a small show in Columbus, I’m not aware of it.
If Rock on the Range took place in England, Biffy Clyro would be one of the headliners. While I prefer the band’s earlier output (more emo-tinged, not unlike early Jimmy Eat World material), I’m still a fan of the arena-rock sounds of the Scottish band. If there’s any band on this list that I think might actually make a stop in Columbus in 2017, it’s these guys – and, if that happens, it’ll be interesting to see what size venue they would play (deserving of a sold-out Express Live show but more likely a well-attended Newport Music Hall appearance).
Some day I’m going to get one of those t-shirts that says “I May Be Old, But I Saw All the Cool Bands”. You might question whether or not +Live+ is cool (and that’s fair) but as somebody who was in their early 20’s in the early ’90s – and who watched MTV’s 120 Minutes religiously – the idea of seeing a reunited +Live+ (singer Ed Kowalczyk rejoined the band last year) makes me foam at the mouth. So far, it looks like +Live+ is only doing festival dates so the chances of them returning to Columbus in 2017 is not likely.