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 Rock” QFM 96 and “YOUR Rock Station” 99.7 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?