Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival took place this past May 16th-19th at the Historic Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio with more than 138,000 fans converging on Buckeye nation over 4 days. With more than 120 bands on four stages over the course of four days there was lots to see. Nothing was the same as previous years, as the layout changed once again to accommodate the 4th stage, and more vendors.


Driving in, you could tell something was different, as people were being pushed to a far lot on the Expo Center grounds, and the walk was longer than usual. A buzz in the air, and the complaints online were soon put mute as the stage used for second main was MASSIVE! Taking a whole section of the parking lot, it seemed like second stage might be the same size… or dare I say it… larger than the interior main stage. The sheer size of the stages presence in the parking lot could not be missed, and the extra square footage was more than utilized for bands like Black Veil Brides, Avatar and Sleep Token.


Bright eyed and bushy tailed I walked from an uber drop point what seemed like miles to the entrance and did a quick tour to get the lay of the land. I did notice that the time schedule for this year had many overlaps so speak. With two stages running almost simultaneously throughout the weekend. It made for some tough choices, and a lot of running to catch bands that played at the same time.

I was able to catch a bit of the end of Nita Strauss before running to Drowning Pool and Catch Your Breath. I had never seen Magnolia Park before but was advised not to miss it as the Orlando pop-punk band have quite the following. They did not disappoint! Heading to the main stage P.O.D. was just getting into it as the crowd began to filter in more and more. From Nova Twins to Theory of a Deadman, and then to Fire From The Gods, I kept working the stages, and the music never stopped. Even between songs, you could hear another stage ringing out in the air.

The Ghost Inside has been on my list to see ever since reading about their horrific accident back in 2015. I remember seeing them on smaller stages around Detroit, and on the Warped Tour circuit back in the day but haven’t had the chance to see them since. Playing the second primary stage (Cathedral) midafternoon, their set was too short for me, but they played all the hits, and the crowd brought the pain.

Mudvayne got the evening going on the main stage (Temple), followed by Kerry King and his new band. German party band Electric Callboy had a crowd fit for main stage on one of the smaller side stages, with everyone signing and dancing together. Half techno rave dancing, half mosh pit, rough housing it seems like it shouldn’t mesh well… but it definitely does.

Evanescence, Judas Priest and Cypress Hill gave the crowd a bit of a mixture before the first headliner choice of the weekend. Closing out the night as main headliner was Disturbed on the Temple Stage, while Machine Head closed out a small side stage. While some people are fans of one or the other, some people had to make the ultimate choice and sacrifice one over the other. I went with Disturbed as I’m a sucker for a bit of Oh, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah!!!

Day 1 Photo Gallery – Sean Matthews Photographer:

Photo Credit: Sean Matthews


I wandered in a bit after doors and was serenaded by Point North before setting my gear up and heading out to another personal favorite Nonpoint. Front man Elias Soriano is always a great person to run into, and just adds to the personability level of the group overall. I never miss their performances if I can. New Years Day followed, and after a few I roamed over to Movements as they were one of my “never seen before” bands that I didn’t want to miss.

As Anthrax took to the stage the stadium was starting to fill in, seeing how people might have hit it too hard the night before. The first moment where I look around and thought “Wow, I’m glad this stage has a ton of space” was when Black Veil Brides took to the secondary stage out front, and you couldn’t see an inch of the parking lot from the front rail to the Dive Bar at the rear. With the following that Andy Biersack and the guys have amassed, this seemed almost like a hometown show (they formed originally an hour north in Cincinnati in 2006). Seether never disappoints, and Canadian rockers Sum 41 (on their farewell tour) played like they did back in the early 2000’s with fans screaming, crowd surfing and moshing throughout their hour-long set.

Falling In Reverse, took to the main stage with pyro… enough to heat the stage, and with the wind, burn a few people. Drummer Luke Holland took a few hits before some pyro was turned off near him, and it seemed like their guitarist might have gotten in the back of the arm as well. Stopping the show multiple times, lead singer Ronnie Radke, made sure they could continue, and hyped the crowd in his usual provoking manner. Short-lived in pain, Alex The Terrible from Slaughter To Prevail made an appearance on stage during the newly launched hit song “Ronald” just as he did the weekend before at Welcome To Rockville.

Rise Against closed out the second main stage to a monstrous crowd, before the second choice of the weekend happened. An older generation made their way into the stadium to see legends, The Misfits (original lineup) while a younger generation made their way to a smaller side stage to watch Avatar perform at night (which honestly is how they should be seen). The theatrics that this quintet from Sweden have created are amazing to see as intended, and usually they’re earlier on the bill and play during daylight.

Day 2 Photo Gallery – Sean Matthews Photographer:

Photo Credit: Sean Matthews


I arrived a bit later today and was serenaded by Canadian heavy metal band Kittie as I entered the grounds. I was looking forward to seeing Starset, as it has been years for me personally and was happy to see they have changed outfits, and are no longer wearing full face masks, and space suits. Matching jumpsuits, and lead singer Dustin Bates working the stage from end to end, was great to see, and the crowd was into every word singing at the top of their lungs. Flyleaf, with Lacey Sturm followed on the second stage before Breaking Benjamin took to mainstage and had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. Pure stadium rock on a Saturday afternoon, Breaking Benjamin was the perfect choice for early evening to get the crowd hyped.

I ran over to In Flames as I hardly get to see them either. Watching most of their set, the stage was a bit crowded for its size, as it overflowed to the stage next to it which was setting up for Amity Affliction. In This Moment sounded amazing, but only got through a few songs in their hour timespan due to multiple costume changes by lead singer Maria Brink. She is amazing at creating an atmosphere and pulling you in as a spectator at their show, but with a festival appearance in daylight, I would love to see her just come out and throw down like I remember all those years ago when I first fell in love with them.

Slaughter To Prevail was another of those talked about all weekend type shows, as everyone wants to see the insanity that is Alex the Terrible. He took time to thank everyone for making his dream come true, and then took the crowd into the hardest mosh pit I had seen all weekend. Staind is always a good show, they’ve been doing it long enough to sound amazing and everyone knows almost every word to every song, so it essentially becomes a HUGE sing-along. After seeing Black Veil Brides overwhelm the second stage yesterday, I didn’t think it could get worse… then Sleep Token played. Once again, a nighttime show makes them whole, so starting off in a dusk setting, they played us into the evening, and gradually the show grew in intensity until the end of their set.

This is when some people left. Which, to me is a bit odd, because Pantera was set to play in Columbus as the headliner for the first time in 23 years. Those who stayed were treated to a slaying of the classics, and even a surprise when Sirius XM’s Jose Mangin pulled Dimebag Darrell’s longtime partner, Rita Haney on stage to sing backing vocals during “Walk”.

Day 3 Photo Gallery – Sean Matthews Photographer:


Picking up today where I left off the day before… in the bands that start with “Sleep” genre, I was greeting by Sleep Theory who opened the main stage as we walked in this afternoon. Jumping from stage to stage, I caught Kim Dracula, Saliva, and Plush before taking a bit longer to enjoy the guys in Crobot on a side stage.

Taking me back to the 90’s, Bad Religion ran me through 12 hits spanning 8 albums in less than an hour, before catching up with Of Mice & Men who put the crowd into a frenzy on the second stage in the parking lot. Sometimes, it seems as though fans forget they’re on asphalt when they start getting really rough. While they didn’t have to stop the show, I did see multiple people come out of the masses holding parts of their bodies in some level of pain.

Red Fang, While She Sleeps, and Royal Blood continued out the afternoon, setting the tone for Ocala, Florida based groups Wage War, and A Day To Remember to basically play back to back to monstrous crowds. Wage War came out heavy, continuing the chaos started by Of Mice & Men who played the stage just before them, while A Day To Remember did what they do best. Brought the party into the stadium. It was a sing a long, dance a long, free for all, with beach balls and confetti flying throughout the whole performance.

British metalcore band Architects sounded great on the second stage out front, before Fred Durst and the boys in Limp Bizkit took over the stadium and turned it into what I can only describe as a dive bar cover band performance. Having DJ Lethal at their disposal, you really never know what it going to transpire. Coming out to “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Fred did his usual introduction of Wes Borland, before diving straight into “Break Stuff”, which caused the entire crowd to go from a sing-along to absolute bat shit insanity in two notes. Over their hour long set they performed 12 songs, intermixed with covers thrown in by DJ Lethal that including “Your Love” by The Outfield, “Faith” by George Michael, and even “Turn It Up, Bitch” that saw Sid Wilson from Slipknot battle DJ Lethal over a recording of the song.

I took a quick run over to Tech N9ne, who is always great to see live, before ending my weekend with 311. Like The Offspring, 311 keeps getting older, but sounds exactly the same as I remember all those years ago growing up in high school. I can close my eyes and it’s like I’m listening to the recording on a set of headphones. Slipknot closed the weekend on the main stage, continuing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their 1999 self-titled record. It doesn’t get better than that.

Day 4 Photo Gallery – Sean Matthews Photographer:

Photo Credit: Sean Matthews


Every year since I’ve started making the trek to Columbus for my May festival getaway, I’ve watched it grow, and shapeshift as its surroundings changed. From my first two-day Rock On The Range at Columbus Crew Stadium, with three sprawled out stages in opposite directions, to Mapfre Stadium stretched over 4 full days, and now to a thoughtfully designed layout encompassing four stages over four days, DWP really has created something amazing in the heart of Ohio.

They have made Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival a one stop shop for a variety of genres in the music world, giving fans a place to see all of their favorite bands (and a few amazing headliners) for a reasonable price. The 2025 dates have recently been announced, and next year’s Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival will take place over the weekend of May 8th-11th, with early bird passes being available in late summer this year. Head on over to their official page here to stay up to date and pick up yours when they become available.