Rock On The Range 2018: Still The Best Bet For Hard Rock And Heavy Metal Fans
Don’t get me wrong; I love The Killers as much as the next festival-goer—I won’t say the same about the Chainsmokers—but the bitter truth is the stateside festival market has swelled obscenely over the past few years, to the detriment of all parties involved. Promoters build carbon copy lineups across the country and scratch their heads as attendances dwindle, failing to realize that fans will eventually stop shelling out their hard-earned cash just to watch identical sets from Halsey, Zedd, Portugal. The Man and Foster the People.
As long as American festivals continue to offer more of the same, they’ll fail to draw bigger and better crowds every year. That’s where Rock on the Range strays from the path.
Since 2007, the Columbus, Ohio festival has waved the flag for hard rock and heavy metal fans in the United States. What started as a modest, one-day gathering of 35,000 people has since evolved into a three-day outing that drew 135,000 attendees in 2017, resulting in its fifth consecutive sellout.
These days, customer loyalty is paramount to a festival’s enduring success—something Danny Wimmer, founder of Danny Wimmer Presents and Rock on the Range co-producer, has always kept in mind. “Rock on the Range was really the first major hard rock festival in the United States,” he says via email. “It spoke to a loyal segment of fans who were searching for something to call their own. It’s the community of fans that make Rock on the Range a success year over year. They are emotionally invested and we communicate with them year-round.”
Having a top-tier lineup doesn’t hurt either. On Monday (Nov. 27), Rock on the Range announced the bands playing its 12th installation—scheduled for May 18-20, 2018—and it seems poised to maintain its winning streak.
Tool, Avenged Sevenfold and Alice in Chains will headline this year’s Rock on the Range, held at Columbus’ MAPFRE Stadium. The festival serves as a stopgap for Avenged Sevenfold between their North American and European headlining tours in support of their latest album, 2016’s The Stage. (They opened the North American leg of Metallica’s WorldWired tour last summer.) It also marks Alice in Chains’ first live performance since 2016 and, if guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s previous statements hold up, could coincide with a new album. Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, meanwhile, will pull double duty over the weekend, performing with A Perfect Circle as well. Both acts toured North American arenas and amphitheaters this year.