Ozzfest 2006 Comes To Bristow, Virginia
Band Photo: Atreyu (?)
Another year, another Ozzfest. After a star-studded lineup for its ten year anniversary last year, Ozzfest was faced with the challenge of putting together yet another great lineup for its eleventh year. When I went to Bristow, VA on Sunday, August 6, 2006, I was wondering just how good a lineup they managed to scrape together. I knew the bands that were playing, but the real question remained whether the main stage bands could hold their own with primarily younger, nu-metal bands on it and Ozzy closing out the second stage.
The temperatures had fortunately dropped from the 105F degree humid days of only a few days earlier, but the sky was crystal clear for most of the day and the intense sun beating down on you in the 90F degree temperatures was still enough to take a lot out of you and require constant re-hydration.
Once again, I managed to miss some good bands I'd hoped to see play the second stage. Arriving only a little late, it then took an hour to actually make it through the line and into the Nissan Pavilion. During that time, I managed to hear a little of the Red Chord and Strapping Young Lad, having already missed All That Remains.
The second stage was fairly good this year, with highlights being Unearth, Full Blown Chaos and A Life Once Lost, and then Ozzy, of course. Atreyu had their moments, as did Between The Buried And Me and Walls of Jericho. Bad Acid Trip and Norma Jean just seemed too noisy overall, not establishing many good riffs or grooves.
With Black Label Society and Ozzy closing out the second stage this year, there seemed to be lacking the big name younger bands closing it out. While Unearth and Atreyu are fairly successful acts, they don't have much on recent headlining acts such as Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Slipknot and others. Given the void of classic metal and older, established acts on the main stage as well, this was somewhat disappointing. While Ozzy and BLS are big names, they are the usual fare for Ozzfest.
Furthermore, with Ozzy's closing of the second stage this year, there was a barrier erected around "the pit" area of the second stage, and only ticket holders could get in. So not only could us lowly lawn ticket holders not get up close to see Ozzy for once, but we couldn't even get up close to see any of the second stage bands as in years past.
Overall, Ozzy did a good job on the second stage. His voice held up for the most part with only a few errant notes, in what was a decent hour-long performance.
Dragonforce started playing the main stage almost immediately. The main stage and especially audience reaction seemed pretty subdued for most of the evening with the initial bands appealing to specific niches. Dragonforce was fast, but had that cheesy power metal vibe to it. Lacuna Coil put on a good performance, but sounded much more nu-metal than I've ever heard them. Without the vocals of Christina Scabbia, one might have thought Korn were playing up there. Hatebreed arguably had the most energy and aggression in their music, but their straight up, no frills hardcore style clearly did not appeal to the masses either.
Avenged Sevenfold had some heavy riffs in their older material, but overall put on a lackluster performance with the exception of their cover of Pantera's "Walk" with Bleeding Through's Brandan Schieppati on vocals. The cover was so well executed and Brandan sang Phil Anselmo's style of vocals so well, that this song was not only the highlight of Avenged Sevenfold's set, but of the entire night.
Disturbed and System of a Down followed and both put on decent performances, but performances that were mere shadows of their main stage debuts that impressed me in previous years. Both bands focused heavily on their newer material, which is arguably not as strong (or at least heavy) despite the increased album sales. System of a Down played at least the first 45 minutes of their set of only new material from their latest releases, Mesmerize and Hypnotize. Both bands' guitars did not sound like the typical down-tuned nu-metal that is so critical to their respective sounds, and therefore the guitars sounded weaker overall. In addition, neither bands' vocalists sang with the precision or intensity of either their studio recordings or their past Ozzfest performances. As stated, the performances were adequate – even somewhat enjoyable – but they were a far shot from replacing the typical main stage headliner-caliber bands such as Slayer, Tool, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and others who have played the main three slots in years past.
In the end, Ozzfest 2006 in Bristow, Virginia was an enjoyable day out. Half of the fun is always in the atmosphere and reading what's on people's shirts and such. The performances weren't bad but the lineup wasn't as strong as it could have been. Ozzfest 2006 may go down in history as the least memorable Ozzfest in the eleven years, even if remembered for Ozzy playing the second stage and one killer cover of "Walk."
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