Day two of Rock on the Range (ROTR) in Columbus, Ohio proved to be just as exciting and slightly more eclectic than the first. The rain that had been threatening the whole weekend finally manifested itself, although it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There were intermittent showers throughout the day and into the evening, but none so prolonged as to dampen the festivities. The show went on as planned, and featured some of the most extreme music of the weekend from the likes of the Devil Wears Prada. Here are the five best moments from the day.
5. Saboton’s mock guitar battle. In a moment of levity for the Swedish musicians who make very serious metallic war hymns, frontman Joakim Brodén started talking about how he could play guitar and insisted that guitarist Thobbe Englund hand over his axe. Englund obliged and Brodén proceeded to play a pedestrian version of the riff from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” Englund then replied with a ridiculously proficient, lightning-fast solo to put Brodén to mock shame. A bit cheesy for sure, you have to give them credit for adding a dash of humor to their set.
4. Special Guest Saint Assonia - the unnamed special guest on the schedule that had everyone wondering turned out to be a new band by former Three Days Grace frontman vocalist Adam Gohtier, Saint Assonia, who played their first live show ever to open the day on the mainstage. It’s the second year in a row a former vocalist’s new project has had their live debut at ROTR, last year’s being Danny Warsnop's (ex-Asking Alelxandria) We Are Harlot. Gontier gushed about how great it was to be debuting there, and launched into a version of “I Hate Everything About You” three songs in just in case people needed a reminder of where he came from.
3. BABYMETAL. It’s not often that you can say that a metal act is adorable, but that was the case with BABYMETAL, a unique Japanese band. They are a hybrid of a metal band and what is known in their home country as idol music. After a humorous Star Wars-style video intro explaining how the band is the future of metal The musicians - silent men in all white with white face pant - launched into a repetetive metallic grind, only to have three school-aged girls in matching black and red outfits jump out onstage to sing and dance in unison. It was very... cute.
2. Ministry’s Al Jourgensen insults the audience. Leave it to the famously cantankerour Jourgensen to insult his own audience and get them to chant along with him. The opening number of their set started out with a recording of him repeating “You’re stupid,” over and over again, which is also how their last and final album From Beer to Eternity opened. It was a bit tongue in cheek to be sure, and the audience not only seemed unfazed but actually joined with him. For his part, Jourgensen, who also supposedly hates performing, seemed genuinely disappointed at the short set time, complaining that “They only gave us 40 minutes to play some of our best” music.
1. Judas Priest and Rob Halford. It would be remiss not to mention the performance of archetypal British metal demigods Judas Priest. The band played an energetic set in spite of their advancing age, and Rob Halford’s banshee wail and extreme vocal range remain impressive. Even though the band haven’t announced their retirement yet (they have actually retired and subsequently renounced retirement already), it still may have been one of the last chances for audience members to see the group live.