Ozzfest 2004

Exploring The Village of The Damned
By the time Otep left the stage, it was just after 1:00 PM and it was getting really hot.  I realized I hadn?t eaten anything since the night before and took the time during Darkest Hour and Throwdown?s sets to scout out the renowned ?Village of the Damned.?  This metal shopping mall is comprised of vendors putting on the hard sell ($45 t-shirts, $20 CDs),  tattoo and piercing booths, carnival games you have to pay for to win ?free? Ozzfest samplers and what seemed to be the hot spot?the body painting booth.  What goes better on a hot day than heavy metal and scantily clad girls?  Heavy metal and girls wearing nothing but spray paint, of course!  The only problem was that most of the girls getting painted were, how shall I say this delicately, not exactly getting a lot of amorous looks from the guys they were hoping to attract.  The girls seemed to be of two camps: pasty, overweight Goth girls and 40-year old cougars with skin like a leather wallet.  On that note, I don?t what is sadder: a heavy set, barely legal girl desperately trying to get attention by walking around with her bare boobs hanging out, or the dirty bastards old enough to be their fathers waiting to leer at them when they come out of the booth?  Another sad state of affairs was the girls who were flashing guys in exchange for beads.  Being as hot as it was, the majority of the female attendees were decked out in bikini tops and denim cut-offs (or less) and it was a veritable skinfest.  The ones with even a shred of self-respect kept their tops on but it wasn?t a rare sight to see some willing chunky girl surrounded by ogling guys weaving beads at her.  Sad, sad, sad?

The food kiosks were absolute highway robbery.  $8.00 for a cheeseburger?!  $7.00 beer?!?!?!?  $3.50 for a half liter of water?!?!?  I guess it?s no different than going to a ballgame but when your entire daily sustenance is based on being able to afford these exorbitant prices, it?s scary.  I had $20 in my pocket and that had to get me through the day.  Luckily the venue kept the media refreshed otherwise I would have up shit creek without a paddle.


While I licked the paper container clean?at $8.00, not a crumb was going to waste?I missed the first part of Lamb of God?s set.  I did manage to hear ?The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion? and a killer new track, ?Laid To Rest? from their upcoming album, ASHES OF THE WAKE.  I wanted to see the now infamous ?wall of death? during ?Black Label? but I missed it.  For those who haven?t heard, vocalist D. Randall Blythe incites the audience to split into two factions and when he says go, the two sides run directly at each other in a Braveheart-like clash of bodies.  They seemed to be the talk of the second stage afterwards, so I think I missed out big time.


Hatebreed was up next and while they seemed to be a hit among the crowd, these guys sure can?t seem to get any respect anywhere else.  Maybe it?s vocalist Jamey Jasta?s gig hosting MTV?s Headbanger?s Ball that lost him some cred, but I say any guy who brings heavy music back to the rap-laden music channels should be commended.  That aside, Hatebreed seemed to put on an energetic set, just like when I saw them open for Slayer in early 2002.  All their big songs were trotted out (?Before Dishonor,? ?I Will Be Heard,? ?This Is Now?) and they played quite a few others that I didn?t catch.  No less than THREE circle pits were generated at one time and the crowd definitely let out some built-up aggression.

Tear It Down
Straight To Your Face
Empty Promises
Burial For The Living
Burn The Lies
Live For This
Beholder of Justice
This Is Now
Last Breath
I Will Be Heard


Headlining the Ozzfest second stage seems like a bittersweet proposition.  On the one hand, you are the darlings of that stage and generate the biggest crowd.  On the other hand, you must not be quite good enough to be on the main stage with the big boys.  I saw Fear Factory headline the second stage in ?99 and they performed circles around rubbish like The Deftones, who are still one of the most boring live bands I have ever seen.  Who decides these things?

This year?s lucky band was none other than Iowa?s favorite masked men of mayhem, Slipknot.  I saw Slipknot at Vancouver?s Croatian Cultural Center way back in 1999 when they were opening for Coal Chamber and they blew the headliners off the tiny stage.  Their debut album had just been released and buzz was beginning to generate.  The Croatian Cultural Center looks a high school gymnasium and sandwiches about 400 people between its stiflingly hot walls.  At the time, they were still relatively unknown and seeing nine guys in boiler suits and masks crowded on to the stage was a sight to behold.  The crowd appeared stunned and the band almost literally brought the house down.  Five years later, they have certainly become better known and their third album, VOLUME 3: THE SUBLIMNAL VERSES, is still gaining them more new fans.  Backstage, I saw the Slipknot bus pull up and out came vocalist Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root.  Despite the sweltering heat (the tar was actually sticky and lifting in the parking lot), Taylor was dressed head to toe in black with a wool cap pulled down below his ears.  Taylor was followed pretty closely by the band?s handlers shoving cell phones at him, so I only managed to get a few words out before he was ushered away.  Call it mallcore, call it nu-metal, but I still believe that Slipknot?s self-titled album is one of the best METAL albums to have come out in the last five years.
At precisely 3:50, the crowd was instantly whipped into a frenzy as Slipknot prepared to overwhelm the maggots in attendance.  The opening notes of ?742617000027? came over the speakers for what was to be fifty minutes of pure chaos.  Seeing the band on a MUCH larger stage and in daylight certainly made this performance less commanding than the previous time I saw them, but the crowd was going absolutely berserk.  The band has more than it share of critics, but no one can deny the fact that Slipknot knows how to entertain a crowd.  Even in the baking sun (they must have been cooking in those suits and masks), they put on a hell of a show, playing a good selection of tracks from their three albums.  The newer material lacks the intensity of tracks like ?Surfacing? and ?Spit It Out? but the band still shows some chops with more radio-friendly fare like ?Duality.?  The crowd was none the wiser as a guy in a wheelchair got hoisted up and surfed the whirling mosh pit while the band tore through “The Heretic Anthem.”  For a band who I would have thought was without shock, Taylor exclaimed ?I thought I’d seen it all but that’s some serious shit right there!”

The Blister Exists
The Heretic Anthem
Spit It Out
Wait And Bleed
People = Shit


There was no break between the end of the day at the second stage and the beginning of the madness on the main stage, so the photographers were quickly ushered from the makeshift second stage in the parking lot across the grounds to the actual amphitheatre.  By the time we got there, Black Label Society had already hit the stage.  The stage itself is massive and there was plenty of room in front for the half dozen or so fellow photographers to move around.  Zakk Wylde looked ominous as ever with his Harley Davidson ?do rag, scraggly beard and sleeveless denim jacket.  His backing band consisted of second guitarist Nick Catanese, Craig Nunenmacher on drums and former White Lion bassist James Lomenzo.  Each member had his respective ?chapter? badge on and Zakk was spitting nearly as much as he was drinking beer.  The solos were stunning and his trademark bullseye guitar made an appearance, too.  Fortunately, the band didn?t play anything from this year?s wretched acoustic misstep, HANGOVER MUSIC VOL. 1, opting instead for the heavier numbers from their previous albums.  An acoustic set was my biggest fear because Zakk Wylde?s voice is nothing to write home about.  He should be shredding, plain and simple, and he did not disappoint, although their half hour set was over just as the momentum got going.

Funeral Bell
Suffering Overdue
Stoned and Drunk



The lowlight of the show had to be the appearance of Superjoint Ritual.  I had read that Phil Anselmo was using the stage as a soapbox for how the band was ?the future of heavy metal? and that Pantera was dead.  I enjoyed the first SJR album, USE ONCE AND DESTROY, and considered it to be an endearingly sloppy batch of songs that Anselmo had been sitting on that never quite fit the Pantera mold.  When its follow-up, A LETHAL DOSE OF AMERICAN HATRED, was released last year, not only did it seem rushed but it also lacked the gritty feeling of the debut.  The songs were slicker, the production better and it felt forced.  When the band came on stage, the first thing I noticed was that Anselmo had shed the long hair and shaggy beard he wore near the end of Pantera?s reign.  Instead, he was clean shaven and sported the drooping Mohawk he did when COWBOYS FROM HELL was released back in 1990.  While Black Label Society was hindered by a thirty minute set, Superjoint Ritual was mercifully cut off after the same time.  Anselmo pontificated that “there’s a bunch of cry babies about the war but if we weren’t the ones who did it, nobody else would have.”  He continued on saying Superjoint Ritual was at the forefront of heavy music and other such nonsense.  While Anselmo has retired his much better project, Down, in favor of Superjoint Ritual, this band is best left as a novelty side project and can hardly be considered leaders on the highway of heavy metal and if they do, in fact, reach that goal, God help us all.

The band came out with a definite energy and Anselmo set out to prove his points early on.  The obvious talent in this band lies in Hank Williams III, who is a bass master.  His spiraling whirlwind of hair and scrawny physique offset the rest of the band who are all big, hairy and tough-looking.  Jimmy Bower, formerly of Crowbar, is also a good reason to check out the band.  Much like Six Feet Under, Superjoint Ritual is a talented band that seems to be bogged down by the antics of its frontman.  While any talented frontman SHOULD be the focus of attention on stage (David Lee Roth and Alexi Laiho come to mind), Anselmo is but for all the wrong reasons.  I will give Anselmo credit that he seems to have finally sobered up and was looking quite fit after the last few years of becoming the long-lost son of late-period Jim Morrison.

Powering through a set that included ?The Alcoholik,? ?Personal Insult,? ?Fuck Your Enemy,? ?Waiting For The Turning Point? and ?Ozena,? Anselmo brought the same wheelchair guy up on stage after he was raised above the crowd and very nearly dropped on me.  Had I not offered to help the six burly security guys get this guy on stage, he would have come crashing to the ground!  Once there, Anselmo let him hang at stage left and commanded the crew to get the guy a beer.  Cool move on his part.  Before leaving the stage, Anselmo dedicated ?Waiting For The Turning Point? to all the skinheads (classy) and hoped everyone ?breaks their jaw eating pussy? until the next time Superjoint Ritual came around.  I suppose a few can?t wait but I think I can speak for most of the crowd and say don?t rush on our account.



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