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Ozzfest Report - July 18 in Bristow, VA

Photo of Slipknot

Band Photo: Slipknot (?)

On Sunday, July 18, 2004 I enjoyed one of the best Ozzfests I've witnessed at the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia, despite a day that started off pretty bad. To put it all in perspective, I'll start at the beginning. I awoke to prepare for the day and immediately noticed that my right eye which was slightly irritated the day before was swollen half shut. After 30 minutes or so of being awake, I was developing a serious headache from the pressure of my swollen eyelid being open. Although I had fully intended to arrive at Ozzfest by 9:30 and see every band perform, I quickly resigned to going in to the hospital to have my eye checked out. The decision was an easy one because the headache was already terrible and I could only imagine the situation worsening throughout the day as dust, rain, sweat, and/or sun screen got into my eyes.

After two hours in the hospital to get some antibiotic eye drops, I was on my way. One side effect of the eye infection was that I was forced to wear glasses instead of contacts, which totally sucks - it's kind of hard to headbang with glasses on.

Factoring in travel time, I arrived at Ozzfest just two hours into the show. The weather was overcast and comfortably cool 70's. They were calling for a 60% chance of rain, but the weather was holding, despite passing through some rain on the drive to Bristow.

Unfortunately I missed many bands I was looking forward to see such as Lacuna Coil, Darkest Hour and Atreyu, but I arrived a couple songs into Magna-Fi's set. I was glad to get to see them perform, but only had time to snap off one photo. The crowd reaction was lukewarm, but I thought the band had a good sound live and fit in more than expected.

Let me go off on a tangent and say that the experience of watching the show with a photo pass was very different. But it was a welcome change, because I hate what they've done with the second stage at the Nissan Pavilion the past two years - they've moved it out into a fenced-in area of the gravel-covered parking lot. It's further from most everything else and they have set up the sound and video booth as well as two large Playstation sponsored seating areas blocking much of the view of the stage once the crowd reaches a decent size. The bottom line for me is that it's plain uncomfortable to stand on gravel for six or seven hours with nowhere to sit and rest my feet (and knees and back - I'm over 30, ya know.).

Anyway, the setup was that we'd photograph the first few songs from between the barriers and stage and then move off to the side of the stage for the rest of the set. Off to the side was essentially right behind the gap in the barrier where they let the stage divers back into the crowd. Not having a full view of the stage, I found myself watching crowd surfers and security - the coolest and friendliest bunch I've every met - pull crowd surfer over the barrier and send them on their way back into the crowd. It's always interesting to see all sorts of characters at an event like Ozzfest. Other than the people who were so fucked up they had no idea where they were or what the guy directing them back to the crowd was saying, everyone seemed cool and like they were having fun. There were quite a few larger and/or muscular guys who were so happily surprised security didn't let them fall on their ass once over the barrier that they'd get to their feet and grab the guy who caught them and give em a big hug. I thought I was tearing up over it one time, but then I remembered that was just the puss...

Back to the musicians, next up were Devildriver. I've been "on the fence" about purchasing their album, but their performance was excellent and got the crowd going a bit more. I love their style of music. I find Dez's voice a huge asset to the band while playing their aggressive "deathcore" style music. He beats out your typical death-growler because you can often understand what he's saying, and he sometimes throws in some different sounds, which are always welcome change in extreme music. A good performance makes for an easy sell and I was going to find myself planning to buy a shitload more CDs before the day was over.

I was curious to hear Otep, whom I've had heard of but not heard or seen. The singer, who happens to be the roughest female singer I've seen live yet, brought out what appeared to be a severed pigs head and stuck it on a mic stand. It was a quite amusing stage prop. I knew something was up when a security guard warned me to watch myself because it was going to get crazy. And it did get pretty crazy with more corwd surfing and shoes being thrown. Otep started off with some heavy, abrasive metal, but some of the later songs had longer jams and vocalizations that left my focus trailing off at a couple points.

About the time I'd heard enough of Otep, God Forbid took the stage next. I've seen them once before at last year's HeadBanger's Ball concert in DC and just couldn't get into them. I liked how they sounded a little more this time, but still couldn't get into them much. The crowd reaction remained good, and the music was getting louder with each band.

I was really looking forward to Unearth, who came out rocking hard. They played a very fast-paced set. The only thing I didn't like about their set is that the melodic elements are almost entirely lost in the live show - something that plagues this whole new wave of melodic metalcore. Still, I knew many of their songs despite their new album just arriving in the mail today and enjoyed their set thoroughly, short as it was.

Finally the headliners of the second stage were to begin with Richmond Virginia's Lamb of God. In a short period of time, I've managed to see them three times now, which is as much as I've seen any other band play live (except Ozzy, thanks to Ozzfest). Lamb of God is one of the rare bands that sounds better live than on their albums and the fans seemed to appreciate it. Somehow their stop-start, arhythmic style comes across more like flowing thrash live, and I am a sucker for good thrash metal! They put on a killer performance with songs from their first two albums and even a song from their upcoming album "Ashes Of the Wake" which I liked the sound of a lot.

It was also around this time that the sun started really breaking through the clouds and got really hot and stuffy in a short period of time. The crowd was getting larger and packed harder against the front barrier and quite a few people up front started passing out from the heat and dehydration most likely.

Lamb of God also did the much-discussed "Braveheart" thing with the crowd where they tell everyone to split down the middle and charge each other on the count of four to "Black Label".

Hatebreed took the stage next and played a decent show. I'm not really into their music that much, but recognized several songs in the set. Hatebreed sound less new-school metalcore, but man were they LOUD. They got a decent crowd reaction as well.

We weren't allowed to shoot Slipknot, so I missed the last song or two of Hatebreed's set while returning my camera to the car. I returned to watch Slipknot among the rest of the crowd and was surprised how low the volume was for their set - it didn't seem as loud as Hatebreed or Lamb of God. The band opened with several songs from their first two albums, and finally broke out with Duality off their latest release. I actually preferred the old material more, but it was all getting great crowd response. I slipped out a couple of songs later, feeling nauseous and weak, to get food and drink and locate the press tent. Slipknot were putting on a decent show, but their live show wasn't doing anything for me...or maybe it's just that I wasn't feeing well?

Before I knew it, a roar and music erupted from the main stage as Black Label Society began playing. From the lawn seating, the system sounded muffled and either the system or the breeze was causing fluctuations in the volume of the music reaching us. When I arrived the crowd was fairly subdued, with the exception of one guy wearing a leather vest with confederate flag on the back playing air guitar. I like a few of their songs, but BLS sounded muffled and muddy most of the set, with Zakk's voice lost in the muddy mix as well.

The crowd responded a little better to Superjoint Ritual, featuring Phil Anselmo, best know as the frontman for Pantera, but the sound system did not. It still sounded a bit muddy and was difficult to catch the riffs and grooves. To make matters worse, there were intermittent blasts of high-end as well. It seemed almost as if there was a threshold that when broken, the speakers emitted sound very loudly, but otherwise hardly at all. I enjoyed a few of their songs, but I was anxious to hear the other bands and for the sound system to be corrected.

Next, Dimmu Borgir took the stage. I was somewhat surprised by the warm welcome they got. It was not fantastic, mind you, but more than one could expect a black metal band to get here in the US. I didn't know a damn song they played, but they sounded good and the sound problems seemed to be clearing up. Dimmu were plenty heavy and quite atmospheric, making them one of the best black metal bands I've heard and the best I've seen live (beating out Cradle of Filth at last year's Ozzfest). They had a lot of change-ups in the their music as well, which keeps it interesting, especially in light of the simplicity of much metal from the past decade or so. Still, there is just something not right about a black metal band playing during the day. I felt that the show and ambiance would have been much better at night and outside as such.

With Dimmu Borgir's set finished, I was eagerly awaiting my current favorite band. Slayer played a somewhat short set. They played only two songs off their latest album - Disciple and Payback, the latter of which I was happily surprised to hear - none from their previous Diabolus In Musica and a decent dose of thrash to hauntingly heavy classics. While short, it was a good set and good performance. I tend to prefer Slayer indoors, however

Slayer still had not altered their set to include Angel of Death, so don't get your hopes up that they are listening...

I knew their set was almost over when I recognized the intro to Reign In Blood. Just then a cool breeze swept over my sweat-drenched t-shirt back and a chill ran down my spine, which I thought was as much from the tight playing of this thrash classic as the breeze. With perfect execution, and despite not leading into Postmorthem, it was a great finale for my favorite band of the day.

Finally, the more-or-less headliners for the night were Judas Priest, reuinited with originally singer Rob Halford. They had cool stage props and broke out with Electric Eye, with Rob singing from inside a huge eye on stage. At first it was hard to see him at all. The crowd gave Priest a fantastic welcome and response and the band rocked through their first song and several classics. Honestly, even before Elevtric Eye was over, it became apparent to me that the riffs and guitars felt very thin and simplistic. I was mostly bored with the next few songs, until they got into some slower songs that did not rely so heavily on the guitar riffs.

It was then that I realized how this year's Ozzfest had stuck to the formula once again. Typically the thrid to last band plays some extended jams and mellows the crowd out (or attempts to while they throw shit out of boredom). In past years I've attended Ozzfest this slot has been filled by the likes of Tool, Primus and System Of a Down. This year's Slayer certainly did not fit the bill.

A couple of songs into Judas Priests slower part of their setlist, debris started flying and I realized their set was long enough to cover both the winding down period AND the ramping up period before Ozzy takes the stage. However, I was skeptical if they could regain the energy. They played on with what seemed like a very boring setlist, many classics well remembered seemed thin and bland. With a planned encore, Rob rode onto stage on a big Harley motorcycle and Judas Priest launched into Hell Bent For Leather. They did recapture their energy and the crowd and ended on a fairly high note with "You've Got Another Thing Coming".

With the many questions around Ozzy's health and the drama around reforming Black Sabbath, I was interested in seeing if they too could pull off as good or better a show than Judas Priest. The crowd response was good, but playing their famous brand of stoner/doom metal, Black Sabbath are not exactly ones to stir up the crowd as much as many other bands. Still, Ozzy was nearly flawless and it was a spectacle to see the original members back together. Sabbath played a medium-length set of many of their most well-know classics.

While I'm not old enough to appreciate them when they released their many albums with Ozzy, Black Sabbath is a band I've been gaining more and more respect for and interest in over the years - it never seems to stop. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the classics in the true style of the original musicians. Every one of Tony Iommi's riffs and solos felt exactly right and fitting, as opposed to times when Ozzy has performed Sabbath classics with Zakk on guitar.

Overall, despite the problems I had that day, 2004 was one of the best Ozzfests I have every seen.

In summary, here are some highs and lows for the day:

Lows: too many long taped/sampled intros, missing the press tent and interview scheduled, main stage sound "issues", accidentally spotting a guy behind me vomiting volumes, eye infection, badly sunburned forehead and nose.

Highs: Photographing the second stage, no rain, Unearth, Lamb of God, Black Sabbath the band selection overall kicked ass!, hardly a wait to get out of the parking lot.

UPDATE: I've finally posted my photos from the second stage. You can check them out in the photo gallery.

deathbringer's avatar

A self-described "metal geek," Doug Gibson has been listening to heavy metal for more than twenty five years and designed and coded Metal Underground.com from scratch over ten years ago.

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19 Comments on "Ozzfest Report - July 18 in Bristow, VA"

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Anonymous Reader
1. brokenwings13 writes:

great review, it seems that Slayer being who they are probably won't put
Angel Of Death in their set list. SJR is just an annoying band, Phil won't go
away ever!! Devildriver's cd is good too, go and buy it, if you don't like it, there's
always ebay or that buy back thingy at Hasting's.

# Jul 22, 2004 @ 12:10 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. darkstar writes:

Sucks that you missed Lacuna Coil. They're awesome live. I saw Devildriver open up for Opeth a few months ago...wasn't too impressed with them. I'd love to see Slipknot and Slayer.

# Jul 22, 2004 @ 2:43 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. deathdestroyer writes:

about the part of the review where you said sabbath does not sitr up the audience like other bands.i guess you did not see all the fires and shoes and bottles and rocks and sh** up on the lawn.this is not the best review of the nissan show.

# Jul 22, 2004 @ 3:27 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. deathbringer writes:

They didn't stir it up as much as Judas Priest. I attribute it to their musical style. The place was already a disaster from people throwing stuff throughout the Priest set.

# Jul 22, 2004 @ 4:42 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. brokenwings13 writes:

deathdestroyer!! how do you know? i'm sure you saw everything but reread the
the review. deathbringer didn't see it all that well from where he was. plus he has an
eye infection, by the way, how's that feeling deathbringer???

# Jul 22, 2004 @ 10:25 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
6. chuck writes:

Denver 7/24 was a huge disappointment! I'm an old guy of 38, but appreciate the new scene as well!Devildriver's Dez carried them for their brief stint to open things. Nothing impressive about them! God Forbid was up next and Doc and Dallas were very good, but could not carry them through their 20 minutes. The crowd lost interest after a few minutes. Unearth left no positive lasting mark on me. Everytime I Die should have died once more on the highway somewhere between Tennessee and Colorado! The little queer front man set the crowd off with his God complex and rude comments. He sucked and was out of his element on Ozzfest. A wanna-be, but never will be, young Mick Jagger rip off! Lacuna Coil was all I expected. They were a treat after queer boy and the "guys". The crowd appreciated them as well! Bleeding Through belongs in the category of unimpressive afterthoughts by Sharon and crew! After stomaching "little d*** (wanna be) Mick" of ETID, I had to eat even though he made me lose my appetite. The $37 hot dog was a welcome respite. At least I could digest that! I returned for OTEP who was better than 2002 in Denver, but still a flash in the pan with a cult following and nothing to offer. Throwdown? Who were they? The best out of the non talented vocalists (screamers). Magna Fi had some talent. The vocals and lead guitar woke me back up. They may have also been out of their element because they actually had some musical ability. Lamb of God was obviously a crowd favorite. Not mine though! Hatebreed had a decent show and I visted with them for a bit in the Jaeger tent.Slipknot did not live up to the hype. BLS and Zakk showed up as usual and are talented. Superjoint Ritual and Phil in particular should pick up a dictionary, or thesaurus and learn a new word or two that doesn't start with, or include an F. Dimmu Borgir, although not a crowd favorite put on a good show and will be around for awhile. Slayer's King was King in the guitar department; the sound was good and Kerry was very kind to the people he signed for. Judas Priest blew the doors off of the young "wanna be's but never will be's". They need to look to Rob for some vocal talent, or style, and actually sing once in awhile. They were the big dogs of the day. Ozzy disappointed me, off key, forgotten words, classless attire in the company of Bill, Geezer and Tony. I feel with the Tony and Ozzy hype that Bill and Geezer carried them through. I was hoping to see the best metal show ever, but didn't. The price of admission and everything else inside the gate was not worth it to me, a long-time metal fan!

# Jul 26, 2004 @ 4:27 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
7. pooploser writes:

that braveheart thing is called the Wall of Death and i have been a part of one such spectacle at the Jagermeister tour with slipknot in april but i think it was fear factory playing at the time. (fear factory is horrible)

# Jul 27, 2004 @ 12:10 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
8. pooploser writes:

oh and chuck go kill yourself. it appears to me as if you want to screw rob halford or something. some of the bands that you said were unimpressive or have no talent in fact put on a great show and i can't wait for ozzfest aug. 14 at alpine valley. maybe you should just wait for judas priest to go on a headlining tour with ratt or twisted sister since your stuck in the 80's and you haven't shaved your mullet yet. no i'm not psychic or anything but something tells me you have the mullet to end all mullets.

# Jul 27, 2004 @ 12:27 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
9. chuck writes:

Your name is appropriate! No mullet, but some class as opposed to you. Rob told me he'd be waiting for you. You don't get round lips from eating square meals!

# Jul 27, 2004 @ 10:10 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
10. Big Dan writes:

I'm only 21 and even I know that Rob Halford is a better vocalist than ANY ONE on second stage. and what is this thing with mullets these days? man I wish I had one, what's wrong with mullets? Although I don't think that anyone should take vocal lessons from Rob or anything, because that was an 80's thing Ozzy, Rob, Axl, Bruce,Bon etc...were all awsome and still are, but the high pitched vocals don't work unless you are from the 80's. (hey chuck if you like 80's style music, you might want to check out "Children of Bodom" they don't have the 80's vocals, but everything else sounds pure 80's)
Anyway the real reason I wanted to post a response:
I'm not sure if you're from the DC, VA, or MD area deathbringer, but I've been to a good amount of concerts at nissan pavillion, and the sound is always sh**. it's always muffled and muddy. The AC/DC concert I went to there a few years back for the stiff upper lip tour was the only concert I've seen there were the sound actually was decent, but then again AC/DC doen't really have a ton of bass in there music to make it sound muddy. Anyway, everyone go back to argueing.

# Jul 27, 2004 @ 11:53 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
11. brokenwings13 writes:

Im only 16 and I know all of that. And the sound probably at the Nissan doesn't sound muddy until you've been to the Launchpad in Alburqurque. absolute crap.

# Jul 28, 2004 @ 1:06 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
12. deathbringer writes:

I have been to 3 or 4 other Ozzfests there and never experienced such poor sound quality as this year's first few mainstage bands. It's not always perfect, but it was bad enough this year that it made it hard for me to enjoy (or check out music I haven't heard already) the first few bands at all. It really was not bad starting with Dimmu I think.

# Jul 28, 2004 @ 8:15 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
13. chuck writes:

Thanks BIG DAN! Of course I think everyone should have their own sound and "not take vocal lessons" from anyone. A lot of the second stage bands were so similar simply because of the lack of differentiating vocal styling. Not sure what pooploser's problem is. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I appreciate his as well. Just expressing mine. I like the new metal genres, but do think they lack talented frontmen for the most part. I'm not talking about their showmanship, just their musicianship. I am sure a lot of them could sing if they made the effort. Have fun everyone!

# Jul 28, 2004 @ 11:33 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
14. miriah writes:

7/24 dever funkin rocked
slipknot was the f***ing sh**
so was hate breed, otep,
and lamb of god
but do you know who really f***in sucked a$$
lacuna coil and god forbid
hell yeah
but that f***in sh** rocked hard
denver colo 7/24/04 ozz fest

# Jul 28, 2004 @ 8:34 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
15. miriah writes:

oh one more thing people = sh**

# Jul 28, 2004 @ 8:35 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
16. tori writes:

Chuck is my dad and he has a lot of things wrong and a lot of things right. Devildriver came on at 9:30 and they were awesome. they are way heavier live. I don't think Coal Chamber will ever get back together though, because after a few more years in Devildriver, Dez won't be able to sing. Then God Forbid came on. They were one of the the only good metalcore bands of the day. The whole band was playing good. Now, 90% of the bands on the stage were metalcore so they all sounded alike and only three of them were any good (Devildriver, God Forbid, and Throwdown). I'm talking about bands like Unearth, Every Time I Die, Bleeding Through, Atreyu, Darkest Hour and all of those. lacuna Coil and Magna Fi were good. Magna Fi opened with a note perfect version of Eruption. I could tell it was perfect because I know every single note of the first two Van Halen albums. Throwdown was one of the best Metalcore bands. I like their older stuff better where they actually sang once in awhile, but they're still good. Their new sound is pretty similar to Hatebreed. One reason I liked them was because they played a Sepultura cover. (Roots bloody Roots). Lamb of God was pretty good. They are not metalcore just pure 100% metal and had some of the best guitarists all day. They never did the Wall of Death in "Black Label" or if they did, I missed it waiting in line to meet Kerry King. I also missed Hatebreed but I'd seen them before so I didn't really mind that much. They sounded pretty good from where I was standing. By the time Slipknot came on I was still standing in line to meet Kerry but I was standing on this metal fence thing so I had a perfect view of them. They only played a couple new songs but they they were still good. They played way better than on the Disasterpieces DVD. Then I met kerry and he signed my War at the Warfield DVD. At that time slipknot was already playing their last song so we headed over to the main stage. We found our seats and waited for about 10 minutes then Black Label Society came on. They were better than the last time I saw them. Zakk has a good lineup right now and he should stick to it. Plus, they played my favorite BLS song, Funeral Bell. Next came Superjoint Ritual. They were one of the worst bands of the day and Phil got really annoying. They sound more like death metal than hardcore live. I just sat down for them. I'll stand up when Phil goes back to Pantera... or DSown. Down is better. Then Dimmu Borgir came on in all their makeup, leather and spikes. They were one of the best all day. They played all their best songs and just ruled. Then it was time for Slayer. I guess Tom finally realized he's too old to scream like on their older records so he just sang the lyrics and they sounded great. Kerry was the best guitarist all day and Dave was the best drummer all day. They had had the best sound of anybody. But they never played Angel Of Death, Dittohead, or Seasons in The Abyss. Everybody was excited for Judas Priest and I really didn't know that much about them but they were awesome. I knew some of their songs but not all of them. Rob stepped out of a giant eye for Electric Eye then disappeared for a minute. Then he came up out of this elevator thing. He had a bunch of entrances and costume changes and stuff. It was pretty cool. There was about a half hour between Priest and Sabbath. I don't know what my dad's talking about, Black sabbath was awesome! I've seen Ozzy solo a few times but never Black sabbath. By the way, Ozzy was dressed nicer than Bill, not that I care but, he's wrong about that. All in all it was a great Ozzfest and If you think Korn, Disturbed, and Marilyn Manson are better than Black sabbath, Judas Priest and Slayer then you have a serious probvlem. I like those other bands but there's no competition

# Jul 30, 2004 @ 2:18 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
17. yo writes:

No dinner for Tori tonight!

# Jul 30, 2004 @ 2:34 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
18. Ben writes:

Yeah i went to the nissan pavilion show. f***ing awesome. Some of the first few bands didn't interest me much. I tried my luck at that Tama fastest feet booth, i had it for a few hours! but anyway yeah throwdown was great, that roots bloody roots cover was almost exactly like sepultura's. then devildriver, man they were great, they played their songs real well. And i saw slipknot, they were f***ing awesome, even though i was pretty far back. i didn't see much of black label society, but the sound system was real muddy. then superjoint, they were good but they don't sound as great live, and plus phil just shoulda stuck with pantera. then slayer. they were soo great they need a bigger set, they did play a lot more older stuff than usual, and dave is so great. oh and there is nothing wrong with not actually singing in a band, oftentimes there's more energy when some dudes f***in screaming his lungs out. it's all a matter of opinion, you can't really say that screaming in a metal band is no talent because that is a part of metal. it's not a matter of showcasing talent. it's having fun.

# Aug 4, 2004 @ 1:25 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
19. brokenwings13 writes:

exactly Ben, your having fun and who cares? isn't that what we should all be doing?
i know all of that sounds so corny and stuff, but i had a really good day for once.

# Aug 5, 2004 @ 1:28 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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