Wide range of rock

Columbus rock festival celebrates 10th year

By Justin Kreitzer

Rock On The Range—the largest rock festival in the United States—is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year with its best lineup yet. Headliners Disturbed, Rob Zombie and the Red Hot Chili Peppers along with Deftones, Megadeth, a recently reunited At the Drive-In and more than 50 other bands and comedians will perform in Columbus at Mapfre Stadium May 20-22.

Standing out among the bands on the schedule are prog-metal wizards Between the Buried and Me who will bring their blend of classic ’70s-era prog-rock and technical death metal to the Rock On The Range stage Sunday, May 22 in support of their recently released seventh studio album, Coma Ecliptic, out now via Metal Blade Records.

Dayton City Paper spoke with bassist Dan Briggs about their theatrical new album, playing outdoor festivals and more.

Your music is very experimental —Coma Ecliptic is described as a “rock opera”—yet, it remains cohesive; what was the inspiration for the album musically? 

Dan Briggs: …Musically, it was just from writing on piano, acoustic guitar … it just made [us] write in a different way, thinking of the focus being on the vocals, in the keyboards, just shifting all around. It really made for a dynamic writing experience in which we outwardly wanted to do something more theatrical.

Do you ever feel like you have to reign yourself in creatively to fit into a fan-based perception of your band?    

DB: No, we write music for ourselves. I think that’s evident by the path the band has taken artistically over the years. We have no intentions of repeating ourselves.

What do you like best about playing the big outdoor festivals like Rock On The Range?

DB: They’re all so different, I have no idea what to expect from Rock on the Range. Hopefully people will find something interesting about our band, and there will be some choice catering.

Many fans are excited to see your band perform, but what bands are you most excited to see during the festival?

DB: I’m just excited to see my friends in Code Orange, really. They’re a fantastic band that I feel a kinship with in terms of not abiding by any rules artistically and really pushing yourselves creatively as much as you can each time around.

Your headphones-worthy arrangements are intricate yet highly energetic, translating well to the live stage. What is your favorite song to play live and why?

DB: It always changes, and I’m so excited to play the full new album right now. But on this tour, “Ectopic Stroll” is a blast to play. It shows how theatrical the album really gets with our singer Tommy fully in character throughout, and, musically, it’s super quirky. We’ve got a fun surprise we’ll be playing at the fest, so hopefully people are into that, as well!

In addition to the great music lineup, stand-up comedians such as Nate Bargatze, Saturday Night Live alumni Jay Mohr and Bethany Dwyer will also perform sets on the comedy stage during the festival. Dayton City Paper spoke with Nate Bargatze about performing at music festivals, his influences, pilgrims and more.

What was the first joke you ever told?  

Nate Bargatze: If an educated guess is so educated then why is it a guess? That was the first joke I ever came up with. It’s not good. I know that now.

Who influenced you as a comedian and who inspires you now?

NB: [Jerry] Seinfeld and my dad, who is a comedic magician. Bill Burr, Kurt Metzger and Big Jay Oakerson were my influences when I got to New York.

How would you explain the concept of “comedy” to a pilgrim?

NB: Making fun of situations that you get into. Like, if you get lost walking around, we will make fun of that guy who got lost. If that makes sense.

You will be performing your insightful and unique brand of comedy at the Rock On The Range fest and at Bonnaroo.  Do you do anything differently to prepare for performing at these big outdoor music festivals?

NB: Not really. Just do the jokes I want to tell. Usually it’s younger crowds at Bonnaroo. So I might not do a ton of marriage jokes …

Are there any bands you are excited to see at the festival?      

NB: I’m not good with knowing bands. For Bonnaroo … Pearl Jam. For Rock On The Range, I’ll go with Big Jay, who is also there. He knows good bands.

If you had not become a comedian, what would you be doing? 

NB: Moving people. That’s what I did before and what I will go back to when this all falls apart.

Rock on the Range takes place Friday, May 20 through Sunday, May 22 at Mapfre Stadium, 1 Black and Gold Blvd. in Columbus. For more information, please visit rockontherange.com.

To reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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