Ozzfest Report - 12 July in Mansfield, MA
Band Photo: Slipknot (?)
So, after quite some time and many doubts I have finally decided to share my thoughts about this year's Ozzfest. Actually, it's my first time on this festival since I'm from Europe and I've only been living in U.S. for two years now. Please, do consider this as you read along :)
I got to the Tweeter Center around 10:15 in the morning. Being my first time there, I wasn't sure how the whole thing was gonna go. The first thing that looked very weird were all those people on the parking lot who had brought BBQs and coolers and were hanging out by their cars. Very American, I thought.
I got to the will call window and had to wait for a person to come and escort me (and my camera) inside. The chick showed up in about 5 mins and took me to the second stage where Magna Fi were just starting their set. I hurried and snapped a few shots. Those guys were playing well but were sticking out of the metalcore- geared second stage and didn't seem to get the appreciation of the crowd.
Next were DevilDriver. To my astonishment all the kids in the crowd spontaneously cheered the band with the finger. Still can't figure out why?
Being from Europe I am quite unfamiliar with the local nu metal and hardcore scene (broadly speaking). Since I don't have a profound understanding of those styles, I can't really form any opinion on most of the bands on the second stage.
The above statement refers to DevilDriver, God Forbid, Unearth, Every Time I Die and Otep (oh, wait, I remember Otep- that chick was making out with a "severed" pig's head). I was eagerly waiting to see Lacuna Coil- personal faves and good friends of mine.
They played a rather short set (oh, well)- only 4 songs off of their 2002 release 'Comalies'. Swamped, Daylight Dancer, Tight Rope and Heaven's A Lie to be exact. This band is truly amazing live, they put their souls into what they're doing. I get a kick out of watching them all headbang in unison. Cristina is absolutely gorgeous ( I think that's a well established fact by now) and they're the friendliest rockers I know.They received a very warm crowd response, thanks to the massive radio play by the local WAAF.
Then followed Bleeding Through. The vocalist had this goth/punk thing going on. By the way, that's another thing that looks pretty weird to me- the goth and metal clothing seem to be overlapping in America, while in Europe they're quite distinct and have little in common. Anyway, the music again wasn't quite my taste. Their bassist was doing those huge spinning air kicks. Kinda cool.
Lamb Of God played intensely. At a point their vocalist asked the crowd to separate in the middle and charge at each other. Over the years, having had some black eyes and fat lips, I've learned my lesson and now I stay away from this kinda thing. But the youth will learn through their own experience. Actually, I didn't see if this went through or not for I had to take pictures.
Next on the bill were Hatebreed. They've been around for quite some time now (at least compared to the majority of the bands on the second stage). The crowd was out of their mind. We (the photographers) had to be escorted out after the 3rd song and leave the cameras in our cars (no one was allowed to shoot Slipknot), so I didn't get a chance to see the whole set.
After about 30 mins I was back inside where Slipknot were just about to get on stage. And then, Praise The Lord, there were some chicks flashing the crowd. That's the second time I've witnessed a phenomenon of that kind (the first one was at the 2002 GNR show, but then the chick took it a step further and showed some much more private parts) and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Only in America!
The crowd was visibly increasing at an exponential rate. Slipknot showed up in full attire. Now, risking the animosity of many of you, I don't really see why this band is so popular in U.S. I was puzzling over the same mystery about Korn years ago. Slipknot are good musicians, no doubt about that, but I really don't like their music. Out of curiosity, I stuck around for the first song. They were pretty... amusing to watch.
Having had a big enough dose of sun and aggressive music for the day, I grabbed a beer and wandered around the Tweeter Center. It was about 4:30 when I found my seat at the main stage. Black Label Society were starting off their set and the crowds coming from the second stage were flooding the place.
The only song from Zakk Wylde's new band set that I was familiar with was Stillborn. They got a lot of cheering for their final song, Berserkers.
Then followed Superjoint Ritual. I've seen them live twice. I used to have a lot of respect for Phil before I saw him with his new band at the NEMHF last year. Some kids in the crowd were chanting "Pantera, Pantera" and he went "Fuck Pantera". I felt personally offended since I grew up with Vulgar Display and this really felt like a sacrilege. I honestly believe that this guy's vocabulary consists of about 50 words, and 30 out of those are fuck and the like. Literally every second word coming out of his mouth was fuck or fucking. I'm not really a prude but his excessive use of vulgar language is quite impertinent.
Anyway, I forced myself to sit through the first two songs and went to stretch my legs. Saw Marko and Criz from Lacuna and hung out with them till the end of Superjoint's set.
It was around 6 and the time had come for Dimmu Borgir to claim the throne that is rightfully theirs. Too bad the crowd didn't feel the same way. That's another thing about the mainstream American metalheads- they are pretty much ignorant of the European scene.No offense, I'm just expressing my observations of the last two years I've spent in this country.
So, Dimmu opened with Spellbound. I was headbanging violently and singing along but the rest of the crowd was very, very, very passive. I could only see a few (5-6) other people enjoying themselves (i.e.headbanging). Shagrath shrieked out "Stand up, this is not a church ceremony". I don't think anyone made out what he said though.
Then followed Vredesbyrg ( I was still singing despite the Norwegian lyrics) and that's when I started noticing that something was wrong. The drummer really was screwing things up and the rest of the guys were trying hard to cover it up (couldn't fool an old fan like me, I dare say I know every note in their music). At that time I didn't know that Reno couldn't make it because of visa problems but later on it all came clear- Nile's drummer was recruited for the job. I'm not questioning Tony's abilities as a drummer, of course; he's doing a great job in Nile, but Dimmu's style of playing is way faster and few are those who can achieve the triggering sound. But after all, without any rehearsals with the band, he performed decent.
The set went on with Kings Of The Carnival Creation, Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse and finally Mourning Palace. Pretty much their most well- known songs. By the end of their 30 min set I could hardly feel my neck so when Slayer came on stage I couldn't see them since everyone was standing up and I could barely move. Let alone stand on my feet.
They played for 45 mins and it was cool to see Slayer in the original lineup. I was kinda surprised they didn't play Angel Of Death, thus depriving us of Dave's prominent solo. Still the guys did meet the oldies demand with South Of Heaven and Raining Blood. The set was plain and simple- 45 mins of pure thrash metal aggression.
Next on the bill- Judas Priest. When the crew was prepping the stage I remember thinking that the whole thing reminded me of the golden days when heavy metal was at its zenith (not that I've witnessed that myself... long live video production). So, Judas played the longest set of the day and they undoubtedly introduced the most spectacular set of the day. I'm not much of a fan but I for one respect their music and what they've contributed to the metal scene.
On the opening of Electric Eye, Rob emerged on stage through the pupil of the giant eye hanging atop the drums platform. The attire was impressive. The set list was pretty much all-inclusive- ranging from Breaking The Law, Metal Gods and Living After Midnight to Painkiller and A touch Of Evil. At one point, a giant mirror ball was reeled in on stage- like the ones you could see in the 80's disco clubs and I swear I thought they were gonna play It's Raining Men. Well, they didn't. But Rob made up for it by riding out on a motorcycle on the encore.
Finally, it was time for Black Sabbath to perform. I honestly didn't expect much, given their age and Ozzy's health problems. Fortunately, they totally blew me away. As well as everyone else in the audience. They opened up with War Pigs and had some anti- war slogans on the projection screen. I'm not politically involved but I liked the analogy between Hitler and Bush.
Ozzy was constantly showering with a bucket of water but still looked good. It was a great show, very emotionally charged. When they played the legendary Snowblind, NIB, Paranoid and Into The Void I felt like a child whose greatest dream has come true. Tony is still the man, despite his acid scorched- looking guitar.
Sabbath were still playing when people started leaving because of the I-don't-wanna-get- stuck-in-traffic premonition. Again, I was genuinely annoyed by this kind of disrespect.
We were just going out when it started drizzling. A great finale for a great night.
You can check out the photos I took of the second stage in the photo gallery.
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