The 7 Best Acts at Sonic Temple 2019
The title speaks for itself. I attended the inaugural Sonic Temple Festival, the rebranded Rock on the Range (effectively). It was an adventurous weekend. Here are my five favorite acts, in no particular order:
FEVER 333: The band is without a doubt the current day Rage Against the Machine. In terms of attitude, definitely. What do you get when you combine massive riffs, hip-hop, and chaos? This. Jason Butler is as unpredictable onstage as he is down to earth offstage. This year, their performance found him running around with a trash can on his head, testing the limits of how far his mic cable would go, hiding under the stage rug, and ending the set in briefs.
THE GLORIOUS SONS: If you were ever wondering where southern rock went, look no further than this band. “Sawed Off Shotgun” is a festival crowd pleaser, and the crowd ate it and many other songs up, even as rain and wind threatened the set. I first saw this band open for Franz Ferdinand last year, and they are showing their versatility well.
JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS: A downpour and high wind forced the evacuation of Mapfre Stadium for over 90 minutes, but we came back in just in time to hear the aging rocker dole out the hits. Jett and company eschewed any thought they are mere has-beens, powering through a 30-minute set with attitude and enthusiasm. Also, this set proved that there isn’t something that brings together people of different ages and backgrounds quite like a classic rock tune—in this case “I Love Rock and Roll.”
THE HIVES: I went to this set for pretty much one reason—and that was to hear “Walk Idiot Walk.” Appropriately, the tux clad lads opened with this number and powered through a seven song set in the rain. When I accepted my fate that I would get wet, it became a bonding experience that I shared with crowd and band alike. At one point they exclaimed “do you hear anyone else playing? Do you hear the Hives playing? That’s all I have to say about that.” Touche, dudes. These dudes classed it up with some attitude. This band never would have appeared at Rock on the Range!
BOSTON MANOR: The lads from the UK brought the heat, and the vibes had nothing to do with how hot it actually was during their early afternoon Saturday set. Their 2018 release Welcome to the Neighborhood is perfect for the demographic. Anthemic rock. While it could be argued that minimal folks come to festivals like this for bands opening a side stage, there was no shortage of people singing along to their set and there was even a circle pit, at the band’s urging. According to them, it was the largest circle pit during their current run of shows in the States. Singer Henry Cox was a force of nature, jumping around the stage with infectious cheer.
FOO FIGHTERS: They had a set opener that I will remember for the rest of my life. After an introduction by Pauly Shore, Dave Grohl ran onto stage and bellowed at us “You didn’t think we were gonna play did ya?!” before launching into “All My Life.” The set was one full of the hits. They barely slowed down, only pausing to introduce the band, banter with (and at times poke fun at) the audience and each other. A particularly poignant moment occured when “My Hero” was played acoustic, and dedicated to Pauly Shore and his father who had passed away the night before. Columbus Music Commission executive director Bruce Garfield would later remark to me that Dave Grohl is a “man of the people” and that paints a pretty good picture for how the whole band, not just Dave, approach their shows.
BLACK COFFEE: Let me put it this way—they played a bunch of classic rock sounding jams and decided to award the side of the crowd who screamed the loudest with a banana (not a double entendre). They had some of my favorite stage banter of the fest, describing how guitarist Justin Young had injured his thumb fighting off a would-be thief trying to break into a neighboring band trailer. Also, they announced that they had signed to a TBA major label. Their confidence, chemistry, and raw talent are exciting to watch.