Ozzfest '97 May 24, 1997 Nissan Pavilion Bristow, Virginia

Ozzfest '97 review / Date Reviewed: 19 Jun 1997
Reviewed by: (Gary M. Gettier)


This was perhaps the greatest concert I've ever seen. What made it even more spectacular was where I was sitting, 3rd row center. I had never been this close to the stage for any major concert. Needless to say it is an excellent vantage point. The day started with my fellow concert buddies and I drooling over our awesome seats. It was beautiful day for a concert. The sun was out all day but it wasn't too hot.

We goofed around for awhile and caught the first act on the 2nd stage. First up was Drain S.T.H., an all female band from Stockholm, Sweden. I had bought their new CD _Horror Wrestling_ about a week before the show, and found that they sounded much better live. These ladies can rock. Their sound is similar to early Alice In Chains, and is full of catchy riffs and cool solos. This was a great way to begin the day.

Next, we were back to the main stage to check out Powerman 5000. We waited about 30 minutes for them to take the stage. This turned out to be our longest wait for the day. I bought the Powerman 5000 CD _Mega!! Kung Fu Radio_ right before the show. I didn't like it that much, but it was tolerable. The show was rather annoying. The first words uttered from the mouth of the singer were dissing the Lollapolooza show. I thought this was rather lame as Powerman 5000 could easily fit in with that event. Besides, the comment was unnecessary. Each of their songs were very similar: start out slow and soft, then go crazy, jump all over the stage playing the same riffs over and over. The one thing I liked about the band was the extra percussionist they had. He was doing some interesting things that saved the music from being a total disaster.

Next up was Neurosis on the 2nd stage. Never before have I seen such an intense band. These guys were so intense I would not have been surprised if their faces exploded. These guys could bend steel with their minds. Their set started with a several minute long 2 man drum solo (not a typical one) by the guitarists. Each of the guitarists had drums which they banged on from time to time. Their music is long drawn out noise with indecipherable vocals. I was very unimpressed with the group's latest _Through Silver and Blood_ (though I'm a major fan of some of their previous releases) and most, if not all, of their material was from that album. But, their intensity and dedication to the music overwhelmed me. They were incredible.

Back to the main stage to see Machine Head - we might have missed a song or two. They played mostly stuff from their album _The More Things Change_ which is less impressive than their debut (ed.note: no way, both their CD's rule!!). I knew the older songs better and would rather have seen those. They put on a good show, though nothing they do is that original. Their songs are just a bit too similar for me.

Not too long after, Fear Factory took the stage. I didn't want to miss any of this show, so I decided not to go to the second stage this time. I saw Fear Factory previously when they opened for Iron Maiden last year. This show was probably better. This is the ultimate industrial / grindcore band, and they have one of the best metal vocalists leading the way. Burton Bell is an amazing vocalist. He can yell, scream, and growl with the best of them, and then, can quickly go mellow. The set included songs from both _Soul Of A New Machine_ and _Demanufacture_ as well as a remixed kind of "dance" track from _Remanufacture_ which was a nice change from the other songs.

We then ran over to catch Drain's 2nd set (each band on the second stage played twice). For some reason they played some of the same songs they played on the first set. The moshers were going crazy and stirring up dust. Drain deserved to be on the main stage.

After a long wait in the beer line, I got back just in time for Type O Negative. They were a refreshing change from the other bands' "in your face" style. Peter Steele was really calm and mellow which fit in well with their type of music. Much to my delight, most of their set was from _Bloody Kisses_, and included excellent Type O style covers of "Cinnamon Girl" and "Light My Fire." After it looked like they were finished I was expecting an encore but Peter ripped the strings off of his bass, so that was the end.

Then, we hightailed it back over to catch Neurosis again. We got there just as the previous band finished. While Neurosis was setting up we were yelling things like "Raze The Stray" which seemed to annoy the guitarist in front of us. Oh well. After only 10 minutes, Neurosis continued their intensity. After the show, we yelled out things like "do a club tour" and the guitarist actually broke a smile!

We missed the first few songs from Pantera's set. For me, Pantera's show was the highlight of the day. I had a nice buzz from the beer, and I don't think I've ever been "in" to a show more. All these years, and these guys still smoke. Phil is an excellent front man for the band, and seems to have cleaned up his act. About the 2nd to the last song, some idiot fans on the lawn started throwing sod. Eventually, the sod made it on to the stage nailing Phil and the boys on a few occasions. The band didn't seem to mind but I did. For fear of getting nailed in the head, I had to keep turning around. I snagged a few pieces of sod headed my way, and threw them back into the crowd. After the set, Phil asked that nobody throw grass at Ozzy. To my knowledge, no one did.

Much to my surprise, most of Ozzy's set was older material, many songs from my favorite album, _Blizzard Of Ozz_. Before the set, they had some hilarious video clips with Ozzy implanted into TV programs and movies. Great stuff. I timed by men's room visit perfectly to miss "Mama I'm Coming Home." I really hate what Ozzy has become with his music, though I appreciate him a great deal for doing this event. Ozzy had a water cannon on stage and soaked many fans as well as the bouncers. It was funny the first few times, but he overdid it.

By the beginning of the Ozzy set, the bands on the second stage were finished, and most of the crowd was in the main stage area. Unfortunately, many people tried to sneak down to the front rows. During the Ozzy set, the front section was overcrowded with obnoxious idiots who weren't satisfied with just jumping up to better seats, so they stood on chairs, and many of the shorter people in the crowd had trouble seeing the stage.

After a few Beavis and Butthead cartoons, Black Sabbath was the finale. I should say Black Sabbath minus Bill Ward. Mike Bordin (from Faith No More) played drums for Black Sabbath as well as for Ozzy. I was very impressed with this show. It seemed like these guys were never apart. The set consisted mostly of the greatest hits. Probably the most memorable part of the whole day was watching Geezer Butler's fingers plucking his bass. Amazing. Everything was going fine until Ozzy said something like "Everyone, come on down." Well, during the encore, "Paranoid", some fans took his statement literally. Many people rushed the stage. Some actually got on the stage. One even tackled Tony Iommi. It was chaos. In fear of being trampled to death, I pushed my way through mounds of people and twisted metal chairs and made it to the aisle, unharmed. Others were not so lucky.

The Good

The down time. I must tip my hat to the stage crews. There was never more than a 20 minute wait between any bands. And of course (most of) the bands who all seemed to enjoy themselves. Best Buy for giving me a free 2-CD (after mail in).

The Bad

Fellow concert buddy Leo losing his wallet, and someone NOT returning it. Come on folks.

The price of shirts! $30 for an Ozzfest shirt. No thanks. The bands on the 2nd stage were selling their shirts for a moderate $16.

The fans. Fans at the Ozzfest showed yet again that metal fans are the most idiotic around. The "sod" incident was bad enough, but the stage rush at the end was just ridiculous. And moshing, I just don't get it. For many it seems like the only thing to do at a concert. I'd rather watch the band and enjoy the show.

The bouncers. What a bunch of wussies. I was screaming at them after the stage rush at the end of Black Sabbath's set. They had NO control of the situation. Many were standing around just watching it happen. Towards the end, they were not checking ticket stubs in the front section. It almost looked like they were scared. And, they never forced people to stop standing on the chairs. They were a joke.

The Ugly

The people! Eeech. Nose rings, nipple rings. Fat guts hanging out. Big ol' birthmarks. Tattoos everywhere. What a sight.

Oh, and Logan Mader's hair (Machine Head), green and yellow, and braided. And his chest was sporting some of the ugliest tattoos I've ever seen.

The friggin' clown in the dunking both who was at it all day with the same insults ("you've got more chins than a Chinese phonebook"). I never dunked him but hit the arm twice. What a rip! But, I got a free Drain S.T.H. poster.

Like I said, this was the best day of music, ever. Special thanks to my partners in crime: Greg, Ram (who brought along his thesis and will soon be Dr. Ram), Brian, Joe, and Leo. I had a blast guys!