Saturday May 11th, the regional music community came out in full force supporting the Columbus rock scene and the 7 bands that made it to the battle of the bands finale for the coveted opening spot on the hallowed ground of Crew Stadium for Rock on the Range 2013. The winning band would perform on the same stage as Thousand Foot Krutch and Beware of Darkness among others. They’d also be performing on the same collective bill as In This Moment, Ghost, Lamb of God, Skillet, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden…no pressure.
The showcase was sponsored by Columbus’ Fox 28 News, 99.7 The Blitz, Zombie Tapdance Productions, Columbus Recording Studios, Music To Go, Local Rock Showcase, Stover Photography, Chris A Photography and X13 Sound Services.
Starting on March 22 with Auntiem, Devil By Design, Ironhead and The Last Rise, 37 bands played their best to earn the holy grail of local gigs. Other participants included 3rd Degree Burden, Autumn Burning, Blanch Devereaux, Despiragon, Exist Beyond Ruin, Overtheory, Trabue, Murnane Tribe, Error 504, Downsick, Liecus, Dressed in Electric, 8lb Pressure, A Nameless Tragedy, Hollywood Red, Black Dragon, Citizens Brigade, Viper, Liquid Ghandi, Antaean, Mason Made of Scars, Grit n Steel, Detrimental, Echoes of Empathy, Enemy By Mourning, Infidel, Mari Jayn, Second Sight, Imperium, Roxy Mae, Strikken, Country Club Commandos and Cross Solder.
The seven finalists would all play in one night, the winner to be determined by 2 anonymous judges and crowd voting. Cross Solder, Devil By Design, OverTheory, Error 504, 8lb Pressure, Hollywood Red and Infidel all earned their spot in the night’s grand finale to go play ‘Where Rock Lives’ the following weekend. Each band put on a spectacular performance giving their very best to the crowd, playing like they were already at ROTR. Whether you were a die-hard local, casual club goer or from elsewhere stopping by, you could tell by the crowd’s energy and the excitement, electricity, adrenaline and vibe pumping through the place that tonight would be epic. Tonight Columbus was united, jamming the house in support of the local scene. Regardless of whoever you followed or liked, everyone wanted and got a great musical showcase.
The Alrosa Villa staff was very impressed with the promotion by bands, sponsors and the local community, making the finale a victory in and of itself. The competition started 4 years ago with club founder Rick Cautela sending one local winner to the big show. Assistant Director of Entertainment Tara Cautela has taken it to new heights in recent years.
The first of the finalists Lancaster’s Cross Solder opened the show with What I’ve Become impressing with some down and dirty southern raunch rock and blues. Chadd Lunn’s raspy vocals paid tribute to Bobby Ellsworth and borrowed the ‘Blitz’s’ intense wide eyed glare. The boys played like they were hungry for their next meal whether it was up from the gutter or down from the penthouse. If Dave Mustaine was in a hard rock blues band and looked like Tom Cruise, we’d have Mr. Lunn. Soldering their own sound, they Light Up the Sky playing All I Need and the brand new dark sing along ballad If I Die. Another new one, Shameless, changed between slow melody and fast hard chug with butterfly knife quickness. They finish, playing the pied pipers with a private symphony for Mr. Mustaine. Look for their first record coming soon.
Playing the night’s sophomore set from the depths of hell with a sound straight from the narrow Harley riding rockslide looping roads under the LA sun were Devil by Design. Though some of them might be too young to remember the beer soaked, hairspray drenched metal heyday of the sunset scene, they play with a healthy appetite and appreciation for their musical forefathers. Think if LA Guns, Motley Crue and GNR had a chance to defend their stripped turf from the Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden Seattle invasion. The seeds of DBD would’ve been spewed out on the pavement, pushed to the curb and left to spawn. They open going hog-wild turning the keys on their EP title track Let the Devil Drive, and why not, there’s no need to sell their souls… yet, but having the devil at the wheel can give them rock n roll immortality. It’s better to Burn out than fade away as the song goes. They play their music like the hard drinking road gypsies they emulate with a little bit of hair, punk and Ramons thrown in to balance the octane with heavy sedation. Travis Halley has channeled the presence of Jim Morrison, Danzig and Layne Staley with a rosy swagger minus the suspenders. They break out the state plated ballads singing about the west coast wonderland bringing the 1980’s to 2013 without roses or thorns. Revolver video-single What if I Die cranks out the praises and hard luck perishes of the lifestyle accompanied by a little shelter from the Stones. You never know when it’ll be your time to go to paradise city. Can’t get the new album tune Outta My Head and for good reason. They finish blowing their set to Pieces taking the tour bus to home sweet home. Their 6 song EP Let the Devil Drive from BFX records is available on iTunes.
And now for the thinking man’s metal mind, Battle for Rock on the Range gives you Columbus’s Overtheory. The band’s philosophy is to keep it simple but sounding damn good doing it. They’ve already accomplished quite a bit in their 2 year history playing Newport Music Hall and Screamin Willies among others, performing live on 99.7 The Blitz, and earning a Fishtank Audio contract by winning first place at Captain Jacks’ battle of the bands. Singer Dorian Gray was definitely the night’s unsilent Bob singing with a distinctly disturbed tone belting out Fatal Flaw for the fans. Bassist James Guest spent the set hauling his self-catapulting massive frame around stage, his body anxiously awaiting his head to fly off and crowd surf. Resembling a bald Vinnie Jones, it’s no wonder he plays like a meat train madman. They break out the toys tossing out the killer red balloons and the glow stix for trippy illumination. They’ve developed a sound bending the Alter Bridge between Chevelle, Breaking Benjamin and their own combination of technically complex, strong heavy rock.
Error 504 is the last thing you want to see on your computer screen but definitely worth the drive to hear if you’re in the area. The band is an amped up mix of mashed up hard rock and metal that’s shared stages with Bobaflex and Mushroomhead among others. Led by Dayne Sauder, the crew played a set heavy in sound and loud on performance with fans and followers yelling loud and proud for the 504. Opening with Give it Away, new tune Devil’s Angel and growling riff chugger Lil Red, Alex Mayer, part Eddie part Dimebag, shreds his way through their future early classics flailing his blonde terror mop, shredded mesh and well worked guitar strings through the evening set.Kin of Infidels Larry Coak, lil Evan was brought out on stage for the first of a few early rockstar of the future training sessions. They were all playing for a spot at Rock on the Range but also for their love, passion and dedication for the art, crowd and scene. Even if it meant piling $5000 worth of gear into a $500 dollar vehicle and driving the miles for the price of a tank back home. The crowd showed gratitude opening a nightmarish pit as they unleashed the evening’s ending tune The Reckoning. Check out new CD Vol 1 The Awakening on Amazon.
How many pressure points does the human body have? How many pounds of pressure does it take to break bones, crack joints and skulls or choke someone out? 8lb of Pressure was Columbus’ best sounding answer to Korn meets Metallica and Godsmack. Singer Brandon Sin spent 8 years with Tainted 13, bringing a Mike Muir/Evan Seinfeld resemblance and his angry, snarling attitude with him. No amount of pressure can Break them down. Cranking out loud solid metal peppered with some COC playing Sick of It, special guest star Mark from Sever made an appearance on War and Lil Evan came back up to adrenalize the crowd with a frenzied air guitar solo helping out the heavy Machine Head chug on Lies.
Now for the evening’s second helping of Hollywood and Vine, hair metal with a touch of Aerosmith and some harder spiked rock and roll punch, Hollywood Red. All the thrills are there as guitarist Jonathan Suh rips the notes out of his guitar with Van Halen speed playing Back for More and Burned Out sung with a soft smooth Mark Slaughter delivery by the young Harry Connick Jr looking Dominic Frissora. Don’t call him a pretty boy… or Floyd. Their sound incorporates the back canyon road tales of Wasp, LA Guns and GNR. They get a little weezy on Save Me, guys… say it ain’t so! They may be too young to remember most of the 80’s, but they’ve taken the classic sound bringing back memories for all the ‘older’ kids to remember the good times. They play their own semi-autobiographical Misfit Anthem aided by the visual lyrical dance interpretation of some lovely young lust. The young guns have been around since late 2011 and have a self-titled EP out.
Rounding out the evening with a crowd full of vocal supporters, tonight’s blasphemous heathens Infidel hit the stage. Music is their life, metal is their passion, mosh pits are their calling and they just kinda sorta happen when they play. Are you ready for some metal?! Larry Coake yells out calling for the opposite of murder with a shining gleam in his eye. With the inflamed skull Obituary’esque logo banner backing their deadly sound, they all get on their soapbox performing their best. There was no need to Beg for crowd participation. Though all bands were asked not to encourage pits being an all-ages show, sometimes the power of music just compels you. Coake’s spoken word screechy screaming delivery left his vocals Hangin by a Thread but didn’t stop him from touring the club spreading the word asking all patrons to follow him to Rock on the Range.
The excitement and tension built as the bands waited for the announcement of who would be playing Crew Stadium. The vocal majority was split between Infidel and Error 504. As the votes were tallied, the staff thanked all bands for playing a great show and welcomed them all to come back anytime. Regardless of who shared the Jagermeister stage next Sunday morning, the Columbus music scene was the winner tonight. Each band played like they belonged on stage holding nothing back and were destined for greatness. Then the announcement was made. The winner of the Battle for Rock on the Range was….. Error 504!
Congrats to Error 504 who played a great set at Rock on the Range, to the final 7 for making such a memorable night happen and all the bands that played and rocked The Villa over the past several months and to all the fans that make the scene happen.