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Rock on the Range at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, OH

Rock on the Range just wrapped up its 11th year, having established itself as the biggest rock festival in North America. This year, attendance hit an all-time high with a total of 135,000 people over three days. The weekend started off with a dark enough cloud over the festivities, with the sudden and untimely passing of Chris Cornell. Additionally, the festival saw some of the most consistently menacing weather it it’s history. In spite of it all, the show went on!

These troubles only added to the unique appeal to this particular weekend. It seemed as though Columbus, Ohio had become the epicenter for those wishing to grieve the loss of one of rocks greatest vocalists.

The weekend was never short of tributes to Cornell, with songs covering the whole range from Temple of the Dog to Soundgarden and Audioslave. In place of Soundgarden’s expected headlining spot on Friday night, there was a special video tribute to Chris Cornell, as well as a brief, two song acoustic set from Corey Taylor and Christian Martucci of Stone Sour, where they performed Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike.” It wasn’t the grand rock finale to the evening that fans had initially expected, but it certainly allowed those in attendance to reflect on the passing of Chris Cornell in both a classy and fitting way. Stone Sour also kicked off the weekend at a special Rock on the Range Kickoff Party, where they covered Soundgarden’s “Outshined.”

Other Cornell tributes throughout the weekend included Live’s cover of Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway,” The Pretty Reckless’s cover of Audioslave’s “Like A Stone,” Bush’s cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” and Alter Bridge, who covered the Beatles “Blackbird.”

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Over the course of the weekend, close to 60 bands performed, including Live’s first reunion performance since 2009 (outside of their webcast reunion this past December), Bush, The Offspring, Korn, The Pretty Reckless, Volbeat and Alter Bridge.

The big headliner for the weekend was Metallica, closing out the festival on Sunday in support of their new album ‘Hardwire…To Self-Destruct.’ Throughout the day, thousands of fans packed the floor of the stadium to secure their spot for Metallica, and not even a torrential rain delay would move the most dedicated from their post. Metallica delivered as expected, opening with the title track “Hardwired” and playing hits spanning their career including “Master of Puppets,” “Creeping Death, “One” and “Enter Sandman.”

Rock on the Range has grown into so much more than a concert experience over the years. Throughout the weekend, attendees could not only catch their favorites among almost 60 bands performing, but they also had an enormous array of local foods to choose from. Additionally, the FYE tent was set up where fans could buy music from most of their favorite artists to later get signed over the weekend. There was no shortage of entertainment, no matter what part of the festival grounds you were on. Unique experiences were supplied by Monster Energy, Jack Daniels and Zippo, to name just a few.

One thing is for certain, the crew at Danny Wimmer Presents, AEG Presents and MAPFRE Stadium had their work cut out of them this year. Despite all obstacles, they delivered the biggest and best version of Rock on the Range to date.

Text and Photos by: Charlie Meister

**Disclaimer: The words in Music Connection's Photo Blog Live Music Reviews" are opinions expressed by the writer/photographer and may not reflect those of Music Connection magazine.