Review: Two days at Sonic Temple Music Festival

It had been four long years since I last saw a concert at Historic Crew Stadium, home of the Sonic Temple Music Festival. The 2020 event was cancelled due to the entire world shutting down. 2021 was cancelled as well due to lingering fear peddling and no word on ever was publicly made that I’m aware of as to why the event didn’t happen in 2022. As someone who is one of the originals from 2007 when this event was formerly known as Rock On The Range, the pilgrimage to Columbus for this festival kind of became ingrained into my psyche. For this year’s festival, I only visited on Friday and Saturday. While pulling off of 17th Avenue onto the festival grounds, I was met with a rush of familiarity and memories with friends and strangers. Unfortunately, I arrived too late in the day to park in my usual spot under the shade of the infamous Pee Tree. If you’ve ever pre-gamed for this festival with me and my friends, you should remember the Pee Tree. Good times.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get down on Friday in time for Black Stone Cherry. one of my long time favorites whom I first discovered on those very grounds. While walking in, Badflower had just started their performance, but I was headed straight to the Octane Stage for Dorothy. I watched the rest of Badflower’s set from the video screens as Dorothy’s stage was being put together. She remains rock & roll’s best kept secret. She’s got a powerful voice. She’s got a great, hard rocking band behind her. She’s authentically authentic. Due to being a festival performance, the 7 song set was all too brief, especially after getting to see her perform a headlining set on her own tour last year. With that said, the band made the most of their 40 minute slot. Quite literally, their frontwoman stopped the show to shout a prayer over a fan that was having some sort of medical emergency. The show did not continue until security and medical personnel confirmed that the individual was okay. While there were a few dozen apparent nonbelievers that were looking for a reason to be offended and left, I found it refreshing to hear this woman bring everything to a halt and immediately reach out for divine intervention for a complete stranger in need. How sad it is that in today’s age, someone could be offended by somebody praying over somebody in distress. Dorothy Martin is admittedly no saint. She has been open for years about vulnerable moments in her life, her own demons and the things that have led her to her renewed faith. At a festival that had tents devoted to tarot card readings, tents devoted to coven members, and countless performers and fans wearing and saying things that blaspheme virtually every religion on earth, it is absolutely mind blowing that there were a vocal minority of people complaining about someone praying and making sure the devil wasn’t welcome to harm her fans. I know, not very “metal” of me to have this take, but oh well, I’m not ashamed. Anyway, the rest of her performance continued without incident and as always was one of the highlights.

Dorothy performing “What’s Coming To Me” at Sonic Temple Festival, May 26, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio.

From there it was to the main stage for the rest of the evening for me. As always, Illinois’ alt metal titans, Chevelle were their typical solid selves. Having also seen them multiple times, this three-piece isn’t there to be flashy. They show up and let their music speak for them. In their fifty minute set they fit in as many songs as the evening’s headliner, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Sandwiched between Chevelle and the Friday headliner was Seattle’s Queens Of The Stone Age. They aren’t my typical go-to type of band, but their set was fine and lead vocalist Josh Homme remarked that it was their first gig in five years. I’d have flipped them and Chevelle, but no real complaints there. QOTSA also managed to play an 11 song set, matching the output of the final band of the night.

Chevelle performing “The Red” at Sonic Temple Music Festival, Columbus, OH.
Queens Of The Stone Age performing “No One Knows” at Sonic Temple Music Festival in Columbus, OH.

Friday night’s headliner marked the return of a festival favorite; Avenged Sevenfold. The three new tracks were fine, and expected on an album tour. It was that there was only eight other tracks during their performance that puzzles me. I love A7X and have been a fan of theirs since the early 2000’s. Yet every time that they have headlined this festival, I don’t think they’ve ever played what is a proper headlining set. In 2018 they played a whopping ten songs and didn’t encore. In 2014 they played thirteen. In 2011 they played ten and in 2009 as the direct support to the headlining Motley Crue they only played seven songs. I don’t get it. Again, Friday night in 2023, they only played eleven songs and forget an encore song or two; because they stopped playing twenty minutes before their advertised set time was supposed to end. Again, I love this band, but if there is a physical reason that they can’t play a proper headlining set then drop them to the direct support and let them play for an hour since that seems to be about what they want to do.

The band sounded better than I anticipated. The new songs are growing on me. I don’t understand the shock that people have expressed in their new sound. This has kind of been the trajectory that they’ve been heading for awhile now. I’m all for being creative and trying to grow. I do hope, however, that they are all in a good place and are taking care of themselves both in body, mind and spirit. I can’t put my finger on it, but something just seems like members of this band may need some help. They’ve been through a lot. I hope for the best and I hope to see them again, but ending a major festival performance 20 minutes earlier than what was advertised and what people paid a lot of money for makes it seem like maybe things aren’t just quite right in A7X world.

  • Avenged Sevenfold Set List Columbus, OH
  • 1. Game Over
  • 2. Afterlife
  • 3. Hail To The King
  • 4. We Love You
  • 5. Buried Alive
  • 6. So Far Away
  • 7. Nobody
  • 8. Nightmare
  • 9. Bat Country
  • 10. Unholy Confessions
  • 11. A Little Piece Of Heaven
Avenged Sevenfold performing “Bat Country” at Sonic Temple Music Festival in Columbus, OH

I trekked back down on Saturday for my most anticipated concert of 2023: KISS. I”ve been a KISS fan since I was about fifteen years old since Santa Claus, apparently growing tired of my rap phase, gifted me the iconic Destroyer album for Christmas. From the first time I heard “Detroit Rock City” and “God Of Thunder” among others on the record, I’ve been hooked. I first saw KISS in 2003 with my Dad on a co-headlining tour with Aerosmith. I saw them a second time with my brother in 2009 in Cleveland where they had the curious choice of having Buckcherry as their opening act. Anyway, every time that KISS had came to town since then, they’ve eluded me for whatever reason. To say that I had been waiting for that concert for a long time would be an understatement. To pass on the goodwill that my Dad, er, Santa Claus passed on to me; I took my 13 year old nephew with me for his first large scale concert experience.

We arrived in time to catch From Ashes To New on the Octane Stage. Hailing from neighboring Pennsylvania, these hard rockers were really good. They brought great energy and packed 9 songs into their forty minute set. See my confusion with Avenged Sevenfold? They were given 90 minutes to headline the event, played for 70 minutes instead, and only played 11 songs. Anyway, for being the first band my nephew ever got to see at a festival, they left a lasting impression on him and I was impressed as well.

From Ashes To New performing “Panic” at Sonic Temple Music Festival in Columbus, OH.

Following them were Sweden’s Avatar. Their performances are always entertaining. For those of you that might not be familiar; imagine Alice Cooper’s theatrics meets King Diamond piercing vocals meets Swedish heavy metal. It makes sense to me. I’m here for it and the crowd reaction was great, particularly for “Smells Like A Freakshow”. I must wonder, though, if those same complainers about Dorothy shared any complaints about the subject matter from Avatar’s performance. I’m doubtful. Anyway, this is a band that I recommend people to check out if you are a metalhead that might be looking for something new.

Avatar performing “Smells Like A Freakshow” at Sonic Temple Music Festival in Columbus, OH.

For the rest of the evening it was time to venture from the Octane Stage into the stadium for the big acts. For the first time in awhile at this event, Rob Zombie was not in a headlining role. He understood the assignment though. Zombie is a huge KISS fan and was all on board with being the act that got the privilege of opening for them. I’d have made some changes to his set list, but as always he worked the crowd into a frenzy with his unique brand of grooving “dance” songs that tackle Gothic era horror and comics. I’ve never not enjoyed myself during a Rob Zombie performance and yesterday was not an exception.

Rob Zombie performing “Scum Of The Earth” at Sonic Temple Music Festival in Columbus, OH
  • Rob Zombie Set List Columbus, OH
  • 1. The Triumph Of King Freak (A Crypt Of Preservation And Superstition)
  • 2. Superbeast
  • 3. Meet The Creeper
  • 4. Shake Your Ass – Smoke Your Grass
  • 5. Living Dead Girl
  • 6. More Human Than Human
  • 7. Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown
  • 8. Scum Of The Earth
  • 9. Never Gonna Stop ( The Red, Red Kroovy)
  • 10. Well, Everybody’s *Friendly* In A U.F.O.
  • 11. House Of 1000 Corpses
  • 12. Thunder Kiss ’65
  • 13. Dragula

An hour after Zombie’s set finished, it was time for KISS. They did not disappoint. This band takes a lot of flak from people and some of it deservedly so; but their live performances are rivaled by very few acts and it makes me happy to see that they are ending this thing in a fashion where they are still able to put on a great show. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are well into their 70’s and it would be easy to phone it in on this last run of shows that will see their touring days come to an end; but they aren’t. Columbus, OH was treated to the “hottest band in the world” one final time and packed as much into a 90 minute set that I think they could. Getting to share it with my young nephew made it even cooler. With every explosion, rising platform, spitting fire, and blood capsule trick; I would look over and see a thirteen year old boy with a look of awe on his face that I was hoping for. Outside of Metallica at Rock On The Range 2017, KISS firmly planted themselves as the best performance in the event’s history in my not so humble opinion. It was awesome, for one last time, to lose our minds in *Columbus* Rock City with KISS.

KISS performing “Detroit Rock City” at Sonic Temple Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
  • KISS Set List Columbus, OH
  • 1. Detroit Rock City
  • 2. Shout It Out Loud
  • 3. War Machine
  • 4. Heaven’s On Fire
  • 5. I Love It Loud
  • 6. Cold Gin
  • 7. *Tommy Thayer guitar solo*
  • 8. Lick It Up
  • 9. Calling Dr. Love
  • 10. Psycho Circus
  • 11. *Eric Singer drum solo*
  • 12. 100,000 Years
  • 13. God Of Thunder
  • 14. Love Gun
  • 15. I Was Made For Lovin’ You
  • 16. Black Diamond
  • 17. Beth (Encore)
  • 18. Rock & Roll All Nite (Encore)

Brit Floyd brings another great gig to Columbus

Everywhere you look, there are tribute acts these days, that are keeping the music of rock’s greatest legends alive. Most of them do a great job of that. Brit Floyd, however, is in its own separate category. Most tribute acts don’t have their own PBS special. Most tribute acts aren’t playing in some of the largest venues available. The attention to detail is what sets them apart from any other tribute act out there. This music certainly speaks to me and I can appreciate the effort that they put into it, allowing these iconic songs to breathe and remain relevant for decades after their release.

So it was, when the band visited Kemba Live (formerly Promowest Pavilion, The LC Pavilion, and Express Live) for their annual tour across the U.S., keeping these timeless songs alive for legions of Pink Floyd fans. Making this tour a little extra special, is that it is coinciding with the 50th year anniversary of the release of their iconic album; The Dark Side Of The Moon. It is one of the greatest selling records of all time and excitement was in the air because on the run of current gigs, they are playing the album nearly in its entirety. For a band that has no shortage of legendary records, it is no small feat to play one of them in full and still appease fans clamoring for the rest of the catalog as well. Yet, they did just that, as they do each time.

As always, they weaved back and forth through some of Floyd’s greatest anthems, while also sprinkling in some of their more obscure songs from the 1960’s Syd Barrett era as well as some of the lesser known 80’s and 90’s tunes. Led by guitarist and lead vocalist Damian Darlington, he is also their visionary and musical director, Brit Floyd keeps the show fresh each year by mixing in new songs and utilizing the effects and production that you would expect from a tribute of this magnitude. Like stated earlier, the attention to the details makes their live performances a spectacle to both be seen and heard. The lights and lasers are phenomenal and the musicianship is flawless; but the trio of backing vocalists (Eva Avila, Genevieve Little, and Chess Galea) are the piece that gives this show the authenticity that you want. Avila, in particular has the tall task of tackling the vocal solo for “The Great Gig In The Sky”; and with each year that passes, she nails it with perfection and receives a very well deserved standing ovation.

This show is worth the money you’ll spend to see it. After seeing the legendary bassist and vocalist of the original band last year; Roger Waters puts on a phenomenal show to this day, I must admit that it is always refreshing to see Brit Floyd allow the music to do the talking. Floyd can certainly be taken for a thinking man’s band, which is why Waters’ chastisement of western politics isn’t necessary between the songs as they already make those statements on their own. There is no need for us and them banter at a Brit Floyd show, and as the performance moved forward and the sun set on the Columbus skyline, the aforementioned lights and lasers took over the night sky and further enhanced the experience. Seriously, choose any colour you like, and it was represented in a storm of flickering lights and atmospheric lasers; namely on songs like “One Of These Days” and Comfortably Numb”.

I think the thing that sets the Floyd music apart from its contemporaries is that the music grew with them and their experiences. There is something in their discography  for any and everyone. I’m not what you would expect to be the stereotypical Pink Floyd fan. I’m polar opposites with Roger Waters in many ways, but as I’ve aged and hopefully became more wise, the different eras of this band resonate in different ways. That’s also why I never tire of this music. I can listen to this band at all times. When pondering the meaning of life, The Dark Side Of The Moon, is the go-to. If I want a good story that weaves through the effects of war, trauma, and brain damage, fame and fortune and its inevitable crash and burn, then I’ll put on The Wall. Angry at the world and politics in general? Animals will scratch that itch. Have a need for introspect and longing for the way things were or might have been? Throw on 1975’s Wish You Were Here. Reflecting on life, past mistakes, being present in the now, and looking to a different future? Go ahead and listen to The Division Bell. And on and on. I’m convinced that there will never be another band that will be able to eclipse what Pink Floyd’s music did. I love the blues. I can listen to straight ahead, blues based rock music with the best of them. But Pink Floyd is and was something different. Theirs is a music that you feel. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Pink Floyd live on their final tour, because I was eight when they visited Columbus’ famed Ohio Stadium and played to over 75,000 fans. That is still the largest, non festival concert crowd to see a band in the Horseshoe. With that being said, I’m very grateful that a band like Brit Floyd exists so that I can also enjoy these songs in a live setting and hear them the way  that they are meant to be heard. With Brit Floyd continuing to be on top of their game, I look forward to future celebration tours for some of these other albums as well. Come to think of it, 2024 will mark the 30 year anniversary of both The Division Bell and the tour that would be Pink Floyd’s last. Perhaps, next year’s trek may honor that. Whatever is next, I look forward to the experience.

Brit Floyd Setlist

  • 1. Speak To Me/Breathe (In The Air)
  • 2. What Do You Want From Me
  • 3. Yet Another Movie
  • 4. Round And Around
  • 5. Empty Spaces
  • 6. Young Lust
  • 7. Sorrow
  • 8. The Gunner’s Dream
  • 9. Time
  • 10. The Great Gig In The Sky
  • 11. Fearless
  • 12. Pigs (Three Different Ones)
  • 13. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
  • 14. See Emily Play
  • 15. High Hopes
  • 16. Money
  • 17. Us And Them
  • 18. The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
  • 19. Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2
  • 20. Wish You Were Here
  • 21. One Of These Days
  • 22. Brain Damage
  • 23. Eclipse
  • 24. Comfortably Numb
  • 25. Not Now John
  • 26. Run Like Hell

Ranking: Foo Fighters

The inaugural Sonic Temple Music and Art Festival made its debut in 2019. The final headliner to close out that event was the Dave Grohl led Foo Fighters. After back to back to back years of COVID related issues preventing the festival returning until now in 2023, it is fitting that Foo Fighters will return to once again to close out the festival. When the concert used its former moniker, Rock On The Range, there were several iconic moments that perhaps can only be appreciated if you were there. Special moments that make your hair stand up and gives you goosebumps. The tributes to Chris Cornell by Corey Taylor and Taylor Momsen come to mind just days after Cornell’s passing. Soundgarden were set to headline the event that year. When Foo played in 2019, they also laid claim to some of those special moments. Actor and comedian Pauly Shore was at the concert to headline the comedy tent and had just lost his dad in the nights before. Grohl and company brought Shore up on stage and when they performed “My Hero” in dedication to Pauly’s dad, there couldn’t have been a dry eye in the stadium. Later, they also brought out The Struts lead singer Luke Spiller to duet with Taylor Hawkins on the Queen and David Bowie classic “Under Pressure”. That moment was pretty special at the time, but even more now due to Hawkins’ untimely passing last year. I’m confident in my belief that when they return to the main stage at Historic Crew Stadium next month, that there will be another moment or two that will be cemented in the lore of this festival.

Started in 1994 after the death of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s disbanding, Grohl formed Foo Fighters as a side project for him to continue to make music. Initially, he played all of the instruments, as this was meant to simply be a creative outlet for him to share his ideas and songs that he hadn’t previously done in Nirvana. The quality of the songs and the demand for more, ultimately led to putting together a group of musicians to tour and make subsequent Foo records with. It paid off as the Foo Fighters went on to become one of the biggest rock bands of the past thirty years, selling millions of records, playing concerts to millions of fans, and ultimately getting themselves inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2021! Don’t miss them during what is sure to be an unforgettable performance in May. Tickets can be purchased here! As always, I’ve linked my Top 20 Foo Fighters songs for your listening pleasure below, but please make sure to vote in my poll at the top of the page to let your choice be heard!

  1. Let It Die
  2. The Pretender
  3. Everlong
  4. Times Like These
  5. My Hero
  6. Best Of You
  7. Learn To Fly
  8. These Days
  9. Walk
  10. All My Life
  11. Monkey Wrench
  12. I’ll Stick Around
  13. Breakout
  14. This Is A Call
  15. Big Me
  16. Run
  17. No Way Back
  18. Have A Cigar (Pink Floyd cover)
  19. Resolve
  20. Generator

Ranking: KISS

Far and away, the most intriguing band coming to this year’s Sonic Temple Music and Art Festival is none other than KISS. Unlike the other three headliners, KISS will be making their first appearance at either Sonic Temple or its predecessor Rock on the Range. The legendary quartet’s appearance will not only be their first time at the Historic Crew Stadium, but it will also be the last time to see KISS in Ohio, as they are on their final tour. For real this time. They’ve announced that they are down to their last 50 shows and will officially end their touring career in their hometown New York City at the end of the year.

With a catalog of songs that began 50 years ago and album sales of over 100 million worldwide, Columbus is set to witness what will surely be another iconic performance on the main stage. In fact, there’ve only been a handful of bands that got their start in the 70’s that have played the festival. The very first headlining act for Rock on the Range was the legendary ZZ Top and in 2013 Cheap Trick were the direct support for Korn. As great as both of those performances were, KISS will likely set a new standard for what a festival headlining performance should look like. Although they haven’t played this venue yet, the two KISS shows that I’ve been fortunate enough to witness were both fantastic.

A KISS show has all of the elements needed for a great live experience. Pyro? Check. Wall of sound? Check. Spitting both blood and fire? Check. When you combine all of that with a set list of iconic sing along song and a rabid fanbase known as the KISS Army; you’ll be in for a good time! All Columbus needs to do now is show up and show out, and prove to Mr. Gene Simmons that at least in Ohio, rock is NOT dead!

Now, check out my list of the 20 Most Essential KISS tracks. I’ve linked them for your listening pleasure! Did I get it right? Vote in my poll above for your favorite KISS song!

  1. Black Diamond
  2. Love Gun
  3. Detroit Rock City
  4. God Of Thunder
  5. War Machine
  6. 100,000 Years
  7. She
  8. Parasite
  9. Hard Luck Woman
  10. I Stole Your Love
  11. Strutter
  12. I Want You
  13. Deuce
  14. Shock Me
  15. Cold Gin
  16. Calling Dr. Love
  17. Got To Choose
  18. Shout It Out Loud
  19. Do You Love Me?
  20. Crazy Crazy Nights

Ranking: Avenged Sevenfold

With the recent release of their new single, “Nobody”, and their new upcoming album Life Is But A Dream…; Avenged Sevenfold seems like the proper place to pick up my series on the bands that are going to be playing at this year’s Sonic Temple Music Festival. A7X is no stranger to Columbus’ Historic Crew Stadium, they’ve played this event under its former moniker, Rock on the Range, in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2018. They headlined a night of the festival during those three most recent appearances. This will be their first time back since the name changed to Sonic Temple, but they will once again be headlining the evening. They’ll likely also be supporting the new album when they take the main stage in May. With the record set to come out in early June, Sonic Temple seems like a logical time to try out the new tunes on the 40,000 plus that will be in attendance.

Avenged Sevenfold has always held a special place to me, as they are one of the metal bands that I grew up with. I was still pretty new in the world of metal as a 17 year old kid when I first heard “Chapter Four” while playing Madden NFL 2004 on my PlayStation 2. I remember thinking that they sounded unlike anything that anybody else was doing at the time. Two years later, when they once again appeared on Madden NFL 2006 with “Bat Country”, I was hooked. After hearing “Bat Country”, I decided to start going back into their catalog and discovering their earlier work. I’ve always enjoyed whenever I’ve been able to find an up and coming band before they break through into the main stream. Of course, a few years later, they would absolutely explode and crossover from metalcore favorites to mainstream giants with the release of Nightmare in 2010.

Similar to Metallica and the grief they get about the “black” album, A7X had a noticeable change of sound as well as the tragic death of one of their bandmates. I tend to disagree with those that disparage either band. Yes, their sound changed with the “black” album and Nightmare, but both records flat out rock. They are still heavy. I often try to rationalize with the detractors by telling them that musicians are artists first. An artist doesn’t make a living by painting the same picture over and over. As a band ages and their experiences change, it is natural for their sound to change. That has nothing to do with “selling out” and everything to do with life’s greatest truth: growing up. If KISS wrote “Christine Sixteen” at this point in their life; that’d be pretty weird. Likewise, why should we expect a band like Avenged to write a song like “A Little Piece of Heaven” in their forties?

While Nightmare broke them into the mainstream, it also put them under the intense microscope of heavy metal fandom. In the world of heavy metal, there are only two bands currently that are bigger draws than Avenged. Iron Maiden and Metallica. And like those two bands, every song and album that Avenged releases will be endlessly scrutinized. For Hail To The King, a record that paid homage to their influences, they would hear criticism of ripping off of those bands. When they released The Stage they suddenly were too progressive for some. As expected, there were plenty of mixed reviews and opinions on “Nobody” upon its release last week. At first listen, it’s a far cry from their metalcore days. However, it has grown on me with each subsequent listen. I enjoy the progression of most of the bands that I listen to. At some point, bands have to decide whether they are content playing their greatest hits night after night like Journey; or do they want to continue to create and evolve. Some bands change their sound and it isn’t always for the better. I don’t believe that is the case most of the time, however. Some fans might fall off along the way, as has happened to all of the modern metal giants; but they’ve also gained more fans along the way. You can bemoan an album like Nightmare for marking a change in sound; or you can appreciate that an album of its stature opened up the band to millions of other people whom would have never heard them and then go back and discover their back catalog.

I leave you with my Top 15 Avenged Sevenfold tracks of all time! I’ve also linked them for your listening pleasure!

  1. Bat Country
  2. Beast And The Harlot
  3. Nightmare
  4. Seize The Day
  5. Hail To The King
  6. Danger Line
  7. Afterlife
  8. Almost Easy
  9. Shepherd Of Fire
  10. Chapter Four
  11. Buried Alive
  12. This Means War
  13. Welcome To The Family
  14. So Far Away
  15. The Stage

Did I get it right? Make sure to vote for your favorite in the poll above or sound off in the comments!

Ranking: TOOL

Headlining the first night of Sonic Temple 2023 is Tool. The legendary band hails from Los Angeles, California and are made up of eccentric front-man Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey and bassist Justin Chancellor. One of the most mysterious and private bands in rock music, Tool has released five albums to date. Their first studio album, Undertow, was released in 1993; while their most recent effort, Fear Inoculum, came out in 2019. Their works have certainly been created with quality in mind, rather than quantity. Nonetheless, Tool remain one of the most popular bands with one of the most die hard fanbases in the game. I once met a girl in a college music course, that was such a Tool fanatic that she argued that every album we discussed was somehow a ripoff of Tool. Even music by bands that predate this one by decades. I digress.

While she may have been a bit kooky with that take, there is certainly a reason that the band has sold over 14 million albums worldwide and sells out concerts everywhere they go. I’ve ranked my favorite Tool tracks and linked them for your listening pleasure below. When they make their second appearance at Historic Crew Stadium in May, which song will you be most hoping to hear? Vote in my poll or add a comment if I didn’t include your favorite Tool song!

Sonic Temple Festival finally returning in 2023

Finally. It will have been over four years since the last Sonic Temple Festival (formerly Rock on the Range), when it will make its long anticipated return during Memorial Day weekend to the Historic Crew Stadium. After a great festival in 2019, that saw an amazing performance by the Foo Fighters close out the event, Sonic Temple had been unable to go on during the following three years. 2020’s lineup had much promise. Initially, they were to have two headlining performances by the biggest band on the planet; Metallica. Unfortunately, 2020 happened and live music as we knew it ceased to exist for far too long. 2021 didn’t start out much better and the festival was cancelled for a second straight year due to there not being enough time to prepare for a festival of this magnitude so shortly after the pandemic was beginning to turn for the better. Why the festival didn’t return in 2022 is still up for debate, but it didn’t; and that left many to wonder if the original of these modern day Danny Wimmer Presents festivals would ever return.

Things began to trend in the right direction when a cryptic video was released this past fall from Historic Crew Stadium’s Main Stage and shortly after that came the official announcement that the festival would return in 2023. However, this will be the first time that the event doesn’t fall during Armed Forces Day weekend and will instead expand to four days and be held during the Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day weekend and rock & roll music in Columbus, OH (thank you QFM 96) have a long history and this event should be one for the ages. Particularly, now that the lineup has been announced, this year’s event will be the place to be over the holiday weekend. Let’s break down the lineup:

Thursday May 25 features one of the most requested headlining acts every year with TOOL. They were at the festival once before, in 2018, which would wind up being the last year that it was called Rock on the Range. The alt-metal band will once again be directly supported by the same band that opened for them last time; Godsmack. The Boston hard rockers have played this event several times, including as the first day headliner in 2010. They’ve always put on a great show, and with this tour supporting what the band is calling it’s last album, I’d expect nothing less this time around either. The rest of Thursday will also be highlighted by Columbus’ own Beartooth with the highest billing they’ve had here, Welsh metalcore giants Bullet For My Valentine, Los Angeles’ Bad Omens, and 80’s crossover thrash/punk pioneers Suicidal Tendencies.

Friday May 26th brings back another festival favorite and one of the most requested acts each year with heavy metal titans and headlining act, Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged has previously played the festival four times including headlining performances in 2011, 2014, and 2018 although this will be their first time performing here since the event switched names. Their direct support will be 90’s rock outfit Queens of the Stone Age. They’ll be making their Crew Stadium debut; and at a festival that has a history of some iconic surprise appearances and special guests, I have to imagine there could be a special guest appearing during their performance. I believe that Friday, overall, will also be the strongest day of the festival. The undercard features some really great live bands including: hard rocking three piece Chevelle, thought provoking Badflower, the current queen of rock music Dorothy and her outstanding live band (read my 2022 review of her here), and modern Southern rock heavyweights Black Stone Cherry.

Saturday May 27th keeps the party going with one of the most iconic bands of all time coming to make their Crew Stadium debut. This band will probably be making their final appearance in Columbus as the Saturday headliner, as they are on their extended final tour. Of course, the band I’m talking about is the one and only, often imitated but never duplicated, “hottest band in the world!”; KISS! The best iterations of this festival have been the ones that have included some of the true icons of rock and heavy metal (ZZ Top, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Metallica, Judas Priest, Saxon, Cheap Trick and Megadeth have all graced this festival) and this is just another legendary band for them to be able to add to that list. KISS will absolutely be the show of the weekend! Would there be anybody else that would be a finer direct support for them than Rob Zombie? I don’t think so. Zombie is another band that has graced this event multiple times, including headlining performances in 2012 and 2016. This pairing of shock-rock legends will be a great way to cap off an evening that will include earlier performances by the rising Vegas outfit Falling In Reverse, TOOL’s Maynard Keenan’s third band Puscifer, the always popular Trivium from Orlando, Cincinnati’s Black Veil Brides, classic rock revivalists Rival Sons, and Swedish metal act Avatar.

Sunday May 28th will see the Sonic Temple Festival come to a close with the same band that headlined its inaugural event under the Sonic Temple name. That band is the Foo Fighters. In what will surely be an emotional performance, as the band will now be trying to carry on without their long time drummer Taylor Hawkins, who sadly passed away last year. You know, though, that any time that Dave Grohl takes the stage that you are going to get a great performance. Both Rock on the Range and Sonic Temple have had their moments with emotional performances and this one will be no different. They’ll be supported by the alt metal quintet; Deftones. Other bands that are sure to highlight the day are Sublime with Rome, Taylor Momsen’s The Pretty Reckless, and Cleveland’s own Filter.

Tickets for Sonic Temple Art and Music Festival are already on sale and can be purchased here! You can also listen to “Ohio’s Best RockQFM 96 and “YOUR Rock Station99.7 The Blitz for ticket giveaways and promotions as well as news and updates for the festival. Who are you most excited to see perform at Sonic Temple in 2023?

Armored Saint/W.A.S.P. tour marches through Columbus

One of the most anticipated heavy metal tours in years made its way through Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday night. The tour package pairs up two of Los Angeles’ best metal bands to come out of the city during the 1980’s. In fact, both bands are celebrating their 40th years of existence on this trek. The Columbus gig, performed at The King of Clubs, on the city’s north side was the venues fastest sell out to date. The event sold out in just eight days, way back in January. For anyone claiming that the 80’s metal scene no longer has a demand, they’re sorely mistaken.

The evening started out with the usual controversy that has been following this tour from city to city. Headlining act, W.A.S.P. and their larger than life front man Blackie Lawless, were severely late to their “meet and greet” event prior to the show. An hour before doors were supposed to open, they got pushed back a half hour to 7:00. The only problem was they didn’t actually open until almost 7:40 p.m. I’m not sure if Lawless considered the fact that the fans were left to wait outside in sub freezing temperatures for nearly two hours, but surely he should recognize that the weather in Columbus, Ohio is not the same as in Los Angeles, California. While the delay did cause for some restlessness and frustration by those waiting in the long lines outside, all in all the crowd remained pretty upbeat in anticipation for the show.

Opening the event were one of the most underrated bands from that era; Armored Saint. Led out front by John Bush, one of the most respected vocalists in the metal genre, the band raced through their ten song set. As one should when they are celebrating four decades of music, ‘Saint played songs throughout the entirety of their career; including a trio of songs from their 1984 debut (March of the Saint) album to close the show as well as a couple of tracks from their most recent output (2020’s Punching the Sky). According to, last night’s show was the first in Ohio’s capital city for Armored Saint since 1987 on the Hell On Wheels Tour and only the third time they’ve ever played Columbus.

The combination of Bush’s soaring vocals over top of Phil Sandoval’s guitar solos worked the crowd into a frenzy and beckoning for “One more song!” well after the show ended. From my perfect vantage point, directly next to the sound guy, the band were in peak form. While they have been doing this for forty years, the energy on the stage and from the capacity crowd were reflective of the never ending passion between metal heads and the groups they follow. The fact that the venue was filled to capacity prior to the opening act, speaks to the quality of this bill and the loyalty to great metal music. Fans of metal music might not be taken seriously in the media, but you’ll be hard pressed to find fans more dedicated than them in any other genre.

Armored Saint set list 11/30/2022

  1. Reign of Fire (1991)
  2. End of the Attention Span (2020)
  3. Nervous Man (1985)
  4. Last Train Home (1991)
  5. Chemical Euphoria (1987)
  6. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (2020)
  7. Win Hands Down (2015)
  8. Can U Deliver (1984)
  9. March of the Saint (1984)
  10. Mad House (1984)

After a short break, the headlining act for the tour took the stage, and while W.A.S.P. has a little more history playing Columbus than Armored Saint; it was their first visit since 2010 at the famed yet no longer open, Al Rosa Villa. The aforementioned Blackie Lawless and his cast of LA headbangers dominated the stage as well. W.A.S.P. sounded great and certainly lived up to the hype that this tour has been generating from city to city. Unfortunately, their ten song set seemed all too brief, for a headlining act. They stuck to their early era material and biggest hits this time around with a lot of focus on their 1984 self titled debut album and 1992’s The Crimson Idol. Prior to the encore, they made their feelings known on censorship and the ole PMRC that made the lives of metal musicians pretty stressful in the 1980’s. For those of you that might not know, it was Mr. Blackie Lawless and his band W.A.S.P. that led records to be stamped with a Parental Advisory label when the content was deemed to be too mature or vulgar. Thankfully, free speech won back then and the bands actually flourished due to the extra attention that wives in Washington D.C. were giving to these bands at no cost.

As Lawless made sure to point out near the conclusion of the show, the concerts with Armored Saint have been selling out at venues across the country. With that kind of demand, hopefully these tours will become a little more frequent for these two giants of the early Southern California metal movement!

W.A.S.P. set list 11/30/22

  1. On Your Knees (1984) / The Flame (1984) / The Torture Never Stops (1984) / Inside the Electric Circus (1986) *Medley*
  2. L.O.V.E. Machine (1984)
  3. Wild Child (1985)
  4. The Idol (1992)
  5. The Great Misconceptions of Me (1992)
  6. Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue) (1992)
  7. Blind in Texas (1985)
  8. Animal (**** Like a Beast) (1984) *Encore*
  9. The Real Me (The Who cover) (1989) *Encore*
  10. I Wanna Be Somebody (1984) *Encore*

Iron Maiden defying the sands of time on current tour

August 2, 2005. That is where this story, and my Iron Maiden journey, begin. That date would be the first time that I’d see the band live. It was also the last time that they played Columbus, Ohio. Columbus is the closest big city to my rural home. In the subsequent tours since that one, I’ve traveled to Detroit, Cuyahoga Falls, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati to see the band; hoping that they’d someday return to Columbus.

As fate (and my luck) would have it, the mighty Iron Maiden announced a Columbus date for their 2022 World Tour, so I immediately bought tickets for myself and my normal crew to be able to attend. In a sick twist of irony, the Columbus date would be on a Friday in October. I’m a high school football coach and my favorite band would be returning to my city on a Friday night in October. You can’t make it up.

As Friday October 7th was approaching, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to miss the gig, I decided to gift a pair of my tickets to my metalhead cousin and his son and the other pair to one of my buddies from high school who hadn’t had the chance to see the band live before. They had a blast and enjoyed the show. That made not being there in person a slightly less bitter pill to swallow. Luckily, for myself, the story wouldn’t end there.

The above photo was taken in 2012 before some of my usual Maiden crew made the road trip to Indianapolis to see Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper on their Maiden England tour. The young lady that is circled in the picture is my daughter. She had no choice but to grow up with Iron Maiden in her life, because while she was a child, it was I who controlled the radio. As a toddler she would sing “Run To The Hills” word for word. I don’t know what kind of father that makes me, but it is the truth. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that she doesn’t listen to Taylor Swift and the atrocity that is Nicki Minaj. She does. She’s a fifteen year old girl. However, in recent months, those playlists have started to pick up steam in the right direction. Lately, I’ve been more likely to hear Def Leppard or Metallica coming from her room, than I am to hear Megan’s Stallion or whatever passes off as music these days. I’ll take that as a win!

She was pretty upset with me in 2019 when I took my brother-in-law to the Cincinnati show instead of her, and she was bummed that the Columbus date landed on a day that I had coaching responsibilities and her cheerleading. On Saturday, the next day, she suggested we go to Detroit the following day and see the tour there. I obliged and on Sunday afternoon, after my Buffalo Bills kicked Pittsburgh’s ass, we headed up U.S. 23 and voyaged up to the Motor City.

My two prior Detroit trips to see this band were at the Palace at Auburn Hills; a massive basketball arena that was seemingly an hour north of the city. This year the band was playing downtown in the city’s recently built Little Caesar’s Arena, home of the Detroit Redwings hockey club. This venue would prove to be far superior as a venue and a much easier drive than trekking all the way to Auburn Hills.

DONINGTON ON BAIN, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 15: Sharon den Adel and Robert Westerholt of Within Temptation perform at Day 3 of Download Festival on June 15, 2008 in Castle Donington, England. (Photo by Chiaki Nozu/FilmMagic)

Opening the night were the Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation. Fronted by Sharon den Adel, this band is one that I have wanted to check out for a long time. There are a lot of bands from this genre that I’ve been exposed to by listening to bands like Sabaton and Amon Amarth; but simply haven’t been able to see due to them not touring the States very often. I’ve seen other opening bands receive lukewarm to even poor receptions (cough, Bullet For My Valentine) by the tough Iron Maiden crowd. Within Temptation, however, were received well and put on a great set to warm up the event. I’d certainly like to see them again, perhaps in a smaller venue and a longer performance.

Within Temptation Set List 10/9/2022 Detroit

  1. The Reckoning
  2. Paradise (What About Us)
  3. Faster
  4. In The Middle Of The Night
  5. Stand My Ground
  6. Supernova
  7. Don’t Pray For Me
  8. Raise Your Banner
  9. Mother Earth

After their spirited effort, the wait began for the main event. To this point, my kid had only heard me talk about what a Maiden concert experience was like, but now she was about to go through it for herself. Normally, I’m one of the head-banging masses that’s playing air guitar for two hours and belting out every lyric to every song. For this first time gig with my daughter, I took a more subdued approach and really embraced the show and the atmosphere. In all honesty, it is becoming more rare that the kid wants to hang out with her parents. In a story as old as time itself, she’s obviously becoming more independent and has her own friends, a boyfriend, cheerleading and FFA to occupy her time. So, when she does actually want to go to a concert with her Dad, I kind of turn into a softy and just relish the experience.

I’ve seen enough concerts throughout the years to be able to sit back and just enjoy it from time to time. This was one of those times. After a short wait, the familiar opening of U.F.O.’s “Doctor Doctor” blared over the P.A. and the mad dash began for four generations of Maiden fans back to their seats or the pit area for the long anticipated event. I’ve said this about a few bands that I’ve seen this year, and I’ll say it again, I think that perhaps the “layoff” for touring bands over the past few years may have been beneficial. Not that Maiden were struggling by any stretch. The Cincinnati show in 2019 remains the greatest overall concert I’ve ever seen; but there has been an urgency since live music has returned that has really been noticeable. They had three years of pent up aggression needing to be released and as always, Iron Maiden absolutely delivered.

This tour is a continuation of the 2019 “Legacy of the Beast” tour, however during the “down time” they put out a new album; the fantastic Senjutsu. For this 2022 trek, they changed up the set list a bit, so as to be able to include a few tracks from the new album. In fact, they opened the show with the first three songs on the record. When the album was first released, I recall lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson opining that the opening title track would someday make a great opener for a live concert. While I love the album, I didn’t share his sentiments when listening to that song. However, I was wrong. The thundering title track opened the show flawlessly and the band has never sounded better. I don’t know how they’re doing it but not only are they on the top of their game audibly, the visual aspects of the show continue to be a spectacle to be seen. I soaked in the opportunity of my child witnessing a Samurai version of Eddie (the band’s mascot) take the stage on the opening set, let alone the iconic Trooper Eddie, the giant Icarus inflatable, flame throwers, a replica WWII Spitfire bomber “flying” over top of the band performing below, and plenty of pyro. Things that up until then that she’d only heard me describe, she’s now seen on her own. It was a good night, even though she didn’t hold up her end of the bargain of staying awake on the ride home to help me combat the boring drive home. She didn’t even make it an hour into the trip home and was asleep before we’d even reached Toledo. Even though we didn’t make it back home until 2 a.m. and that made for an unfortunate 6 a.m. wake up call the next day, it was a trip that was well worth it. The experience was one that I hope will have a sequel on a future tour….

Iron Maiden Set List 10/9/2022 Detroit

  1. Senjutsu (2021)
  2. Stratego (2021)
  3. The Writing on the Wall (2021)
  4. Revelations (1983)
  5. Blood Brothers (2000)
  6. Sign of the Cross (1995)
  7. Flight of Icarus (1983)
  8. Fear of the Dark (1992)
  9. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)
  10. The Number of the Beast (1982)
  11. Iron Maiden (1980)
  12. The Trooper (1983) *Encore*
  13. The Clansman (1998) *Encore*
  14. Run To The Hills (1982) *Encore*
  15. Aces High (1984) *Encore*

Brit Floyd welcomes Columbus to the machine

2022 has been a good year for live music so far. Virtually everybody is touring and I’ve been able to catch a great deal of the shows that I’ve wanted to attend. There have been some outstanding shows this year and although they are playing covers; last night’s was the best so far. Brit Floyd, the all-star cast that relentlessly tours, keeps the timeless music of Pink Floyd alive in concert form. As they seemingly do each summer, they visited Kemba Live in Columbus last night, and played another concert for the ages. The authenticity of their sound and image is second to none.

As per usual in their performances, the concert was split into two acts. Heavy rains hit the city prior to the first set beginning, but the crowd packed in anyway and by the time the show started the skies had cleared. The instrumental “Cluster One“, the opening track off of 1994’s The Division Bell opened the evening. The band always does a great job of including as many of the hits as well as the obscure Floyd classics in their set as possible. That’s no small task, and with a catalog like Floyd’s, inevitably someone will always take issue with which songs are performed. I, for one, am baffled that not a single track from Animals was played last night. The set list was stellar and I won’t critique it, but ignoring such a monumental album blew my mind.
With all of that said, the songs were phenomenal. They dug deep into the Pink Floyd catalog and made sure to include all eras of the Pink Floyd sound. Led out front by guitarist/vocalist Damian Darlington and bassist/vocalist Ian Cattell, they’ve surrounded themselves with a cast of musicians that make sure that not even the smallest detail is missed when it comes to recreating this music. Even the outstanding backing vocalist trio, highlighted by Eva Avila’s performance of “Great Gig in the Sky“, make this the closest thing to seeing Pink Floyd live that we are going to get. I’ll be seeing Roger Waters live for the first time in a couple weeks, and I’m not convinced that his performance of his songs will beat their performance of his songs.

Getting to catch live versions of some of the greatest music ever created is always a blast. I was thankfully able to coordinate with one of my longest friends to go with me and take in the show. Pink Floyd’s music never ceases to hit me with a new message, whenever I go through one of my several Floyd binges each year. The tunes never seem to sound dated, although with each passing year it becomes more and more apparent that I can relate to them differently. In particular, the following from this Dark Side of the Moon classic.


Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire

Far away, across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees

To hear the softly spoken magic spell

Brit Floyd Set List Columbus, Ohio 7/27/2022

  1. Cluster One (1994)
  2. Learning To Fly (1987)
  3. High Hopes (1994)
  4. Welcome To The Machine (1975)
  5. A New Machine, Part 1 (1987)
  6. Terminal Frost (1987)
  7. Time (Breathe reprise) (1973)
  8. The Great Gig In The Sky (1973)
  9. Poles Apart (1994)
  10. Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) (1979)
  11. One Of These Days (1971)
  12. Echoes (1971)
  13. The Final Cut (1983)
  14. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (1967)
  15. Money (1973)
  16. Wish You Were Here (1975)
  17. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX) (1975)
  18. Comfortably Numb (1979)
  19. One Slip (1987) *Encore*
  20. Run Like Hell (1979) *Encore*