The List: 11 essential acts to see at Rock on the Range 2018

Brad Keefe

To the delight of Midwest hard rock fans (and the chagrin of Clintonville Facebook forums), Rock on the Range returns to Mapfre Stadium this weekend.

And while most recent years have been fully sold-out before the weekend, there are some single-day passes available for Friday and Sunday, which, as you'll see below, are the only days that matter.

We aren't digging for deep cuts. These are the top acts in order of priority. These go to 11.

1. Tool (Sunday, 9:20 p.m.)

It's been 12 years since Tool played Columbus, and while a long-long-long-awaited new album is finally being recorded, there's no guarantee the band will play here again. Do. Not. Miss.

2. A Perfect Circle (Friday, 8 p.m.)

Maynard James Keenan is pulling double-duty this weekend, the first time Tool and APC have both played at a festival since Coachella in 1999. Material from new albumEat the Elephant will be a welcome counterpoint to all the aggression elsewhere in the lineup.

3. Quicksand (Friday, 5:45 p.m.)

One of the most criminally underrated bands of the '90s, Quicksand reunited a few years back and felt as relevant as ever. These post-hardcore legends should be mentioned alongside acts like Fugazi and Helmet.

4. Baroness (Sunday, 5:30 p.m.)

Beautiful, brutal and heavy as eff, you should never miss a chance to see Baroness. But if you want added incentive, the band introduced its first female guitarist in Gina Gleason. Her resume includes an all-female Metallica tribute band called Misstallica and Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson-inspired production.

5. Greta Van Fleet (Friday, 3:30 p.m.)

Yes, every few years another young band comes along that's going to “save rock 'n' roll,” but these kids from Michigan have got the '70s swagger down.

6. Alice in Chains (Friday, 9:30 p.m.)

If you ever had the privilege of seeing Layne Staley perform, you know that he was, in every sense, irreplaceable. But current singer William DuVall is more than an uncanny soundalike, he's a pure rock frontman. And Jerry Cantrell solos bring goosebumps.

7. Babymetal (Sunday, 7 p.m.)

Who knew that J-pop and shredding metal would go together like peanut butter and jelly? You won't have much more fun than this.

8. Body Count (Friday, 5:45 p.m.)

The most egregious schedule conflict of the weekend is pitting Ice-T's metal band against Quicksand. This one gets added points for the current climate where the controversy in 1992 over “Cop Killer” doesn't feel the least bit dated.

9. Andrew W.K. (Saturday, 5:45 p.m.)

Rock on the Range knows its core demo, and it isn't me, as this is the only act I can't miss on a Sunday headlined by Stone Sour and Avenged Sevenfold (predicting the biggest crowds of the weekend for these). It'll be a daylong party, weather-permitting, but it will never party harder than this set.

10. Stone Temple Pilots (Sunday, 6:05 p.m.)

I wish I had better last memories of Scott Weiland than his 2015 set at ROTR, just some six months before his death of an accidental drug overdose. These songs are well worth giving new vocalist Jeff Gutt a chance to step up.

11. Pray for Sleep (Sunday, 12 p.m.)

OK, here's a great story for the weekend. The winners of a contest by 99.7 The Blitz, these Columbus youngsters are playing this slot at Rock on the Range in lieu of walking in their high school graduation. If the rest of the weekend doesn't make you feel old, this will do it.