Sonic Temple Arts + Music Festival, formerly known as Rock on the Range, celebrated its inaugural year at MAPFRE stadium in Columbus, OH, bringing in some of the biggest names in rock along with it.
Day 1 started off with Hands Like Houses, which was a real treat after having just seen them weeks prior opening up for Beartooth on their Disease tour. Let’s be real here, sometimes it’s hard to be excited and energetic at 11:30am in the muggy cloudy weather, but Hands Like Houses literally said “forget that” and the post hardcore Aussies had the crowd jumping the whole time, setting the tone for the rest of the day. There was no disappointment with any band performance here, with bands such as Badflower, Halestorm, Messugah, and Parkway Drive all destroying their sets there was no way to not be excited about what was happening and it was only the first day.
A special set that should be mentioned though, is Beartooth. Columbus is their hometown, and as someone who has made it a point to see most of their hometown shows this one was something special. After having just seen them at a sold out show on their Disease tour, it was really cool to see a large crowd waiting for them when they came back home. I’ve watched this band go from small house shows to now, officially, stadium shows, That feat in and of itself is absolutely incredible. Especially in just a span of 4-5 years. Hearing the crowd echo throughout the stadium during “In Between” was bone chilling in the best way possible and I am forever grateful to have witnessed that moment for one of my favorite bands.
Closing out the night were the incomparable Ghost and System of a Down. Both bands put on iconic show-stop performances for the sold out music festival, and ended the first day of this inaugural festival on a strong note.
The second day of Sonic Temple started off bright, early, and really, really hot. After finding a good parking spot, and arriving early, I was able to catch The Plot in You start off the day. A band I’ve seen multiple times, but never actually tire of seeing. Movements and Boston Manor also played, both bands are rising quickly through the scene, and also commanding the attention of every viewer passing by. Never a dull moment with either band. The real standout of the day was the incredible Fever 333, giving a captivating and heart racing performance that they’re coming to be known and respected. They are absolutely unstoppable right now. And speaking of unstoppable, Don Broco also played the same day. A band that is quickly rising in the US as fast as they have in the UK. Truly one of the best genre blending bands in the business right now. Tom Morello put on a show stopping set that started with him rising up in the middle of the crowd for the first song. If anyone can make a guitar literally sing or speak it’s him, and it was good to finally see him perform live after a lifetime of growing up on his music. Among other legendary acts were In This Moment, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, and Papa Roach, with Distubed closing out the evening (sans pyro due to high winds).
The third and final day of Sonic Temple started off rough with one of the stages closing down due to extremely high winds. Yungblood, The Struts, and Palaye Royale were the main events during the day, but unfortunately halfway through the main stadium stage was closed down, followed by a short evacuation of the entire venue, forcing the cancellation of co-headliner Bring Me The Horizon. But despite the weather and cancellation of several bands, the crowd rallied back together for ever iconic rock and roll superstar Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Closing out the evening, and the entirety of the inaugural festival itself, was Foo Fighters.
As someone who has spent their entire life growing up on the band, and seeing them multiple times, it was an absolute honor and privilege and be apart of their photo pit and witness them up close and personal. Everything that happened this weekend had built up to this moment, to see such an iconic band play a 2-hour set, and be introduced by Pauly Shore, was truly a personal defining moment. The band opening up with “Walk”, and dedicated “My Hero” to Pauly, who had just recently lost his father, and closed with crowd favorites “The Best of You” and “Everlong”.
Replacing a massive music festival is no easy feat, but through every trial and tribulation Sonic Temple pulled through and truly delivered an incredible lineup, with massive performances that won’t soon be lost on the sold out crowd that was there to witness it.