Behind-the-Scenes at Rock on the Range with Festival VIP Marshall Kilpatric
Marshall Kilpatric, a drummer by trade, primarily plays in the rock and metal circuits and has experienced his fair share of concerts and festivals from the inside … as a performer. As the winner of the Mercury Insurance Festival VIP trip to Rock on the Range 2015, he and his longtime friend – and bandmate – Anthony had the chance to sit back, relax and take in the sights and sounds from the perspective of observers (and loved every second). Marshall shared some insights from their weekend to help future Rock on the Range visitors get pumped up for next year.
Q: What was the first thing you did once you landed in Columbus and traveled to your hotel?
Our very first item of business was familiarizing ourselves with what was around and close enough to visit. I had to constantly remind myself that, although I was in my element of being in a new city, which I’m used to through constant touring and playing at many festivals, I was just there to enjoy my time and have fun. It was funny how much I felt like I was supposed to be doing something work-related, but I got used to [relaxing] very quickly. So we spent our first night online looking for good local cuisine, and local live music venues to attend before the festivities began.
Q: What was it like to see the production end of putting on a festival?
Seeing the production end is something I am very used to, and made it feel like I was at home in my own environment. But viewing the internal workings of the AXS TV production truck, where the broadcast was being edited on the spot and sent out across the waves was the most impressive. It is quite a feat to see so many people working together in tandem, all focused on the same task, putting together the two dozen (plus) cameras from across the stadium (and even from the DirecTV Blimp from above!). Also, the simultaneous footage and audio all coming in to send out and be watched (truly) live across the country was very impressive.
Q: Where’d you stay in Columbus?
We stayed at the Columbus Airport Marriott. The hotel was only about 10-15 minutes MAX from the stadium.
On the first actual day of the fest, and with an attendance (from what I was told) of around 70,000 people, traffic was a nightmare. We had an 11 a.m. appointment to do our on-camera interview with comedian – and co-host of the festival coverage – Jim Florentine, who’s also the co-host of the VH1 Classic show That Metal Show. So, of course, as we were 5-10 minutes away [from MAPFRE Stadium], steam began to emit from under [our driver’s] hood and seconds later, there was an enormous huge BOOM! The radiator and cooling system hoses had all blown out. Stranded, by luck, we caught a taxi, who definitely saved the day.
Q: How’d you spend your downtime, if you had any?
Downtime was spent in our rooms soaking up the air conditioning. Once we made it through an entire day at the fest, trust me, we were wiped and our rooms became our sanctuaries. In fact, we ended up watching the day’s [Rock on the Range] coverage on AXS TV and then falling asleep within minutes.
Q: How did the VIP experience differ from a regular festival experience?
The VIP experience had several perks. We were given passes to what was called the Heineken VIP lounge, which became our daily savior – after walking the festival grounds and enduring the Midwest humidity and sun it provided us with an excellent view of the main stage, where we had an outdoor covered viewing deck. Inside, we were provided with a fully air-conditioned room, and also full catering for lunch and dinner. Our choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks were also provided. [It was] the perfect reprieve to regain our composure and energy to continue on with the day.
Q: Who was your favorite act to see at the festival?
By far, my favorite acts were Marilyn Manson, Ministry, and The Dillinger Escape Plan (who were also longtime touring mates from my time with The Esoteric and Black Light Burns). The Manson set was probably the best due to my personal connection with their band and crew, and my side stage view of the performance. I also have to say getting to see legends Judas Priest was a personal highlight.
Q: Who were some of the performers you discovered at the festival?
Acts Rival Sons and In This Moment were by far the best surprises I had not seen nor heard before. Rival Sons I had heard of before, but did not know how good they were live. They sounded like a good combination of some other bands I like, such as the Black Crowes and even a bit of the Rolling Stones. A refreshing sound amongst the other heavier acts. In This Moment had such a great stage production that made their show spectacular to watch.
Q: Did you get a chance to meet any performers or see any celebrities?
Having personal connections with Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Ministry made it more about catching up with friends. But meeting Jim Florentine was amazing, as I am a huge fan of That Metal Show (TMS), and I had the chance to speak with him about the show, and even crack some inside jokes only those privy to watching TMS would know. He is such a down to earth fellow and was a pleasure to speak with him.
Q: As an avid rock and metal fan – and a professional musician yourself – how did Rock on the Range differ from your other concert/festival experiences?
It was different coming from the spectator end of things and not as a performer. This did allow for more time to enjoy the festival, actually getting to watch the complete sets, and not have to abide by or stick to a tight schedule like I would have had to do if I was only there to perform or work the production. That made it much more fun, and something I had not been able to do in a long time.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
I simply just want to say thank you to you and Mercury Insurance (and AXS TV) for granting me this awesome experience. For anyone who is not already an industry insider, I would tell them to expect an overwhelming experience and to have the most fun possible. And for me, it was just that, even coming from a similar background. No matter what, having the opportunity to see and experience live music and art on any level should not be taken for granted, and any chance to take part should be taken advantage of without hesitation. I am truly grateful and very appreciative. Thank you!