Ozzfest: Live Review
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
August 14th 2010, San Manuel Amphitheatre, San Bernardino CA
When I left my house at 10 in the morning for my first ever Ozzfest experience, I knew it was going to be another epic metal journey. It turned out to be much more than that, a wild roller coaster to put it mildly.
Part 1: Sandwiched Between Music And Interviews
I was looking forward to seeing the bands on the 2nd stage as much as the main stage acts, may be even more so, as Skeletonwitch, Exodus and Goatwhore are three of my absolute favorite bands. The whole reason for leaving at 10 AM was to make sure I was able to catch Skeletonwitch's set, scheduled from 12.45 to 1.10. However, that didn't happen as I was made to wait more than an hour for the press credentials to come through. At 12.45, I heard the band starting off their set.
I said fuck it, I ran down from the box office to the backstage entrance by the 2nd stage to somehow make my way in, but it didn't work. So I had no choice but to head back to the box office. Even after waiting for a further 20 minutes, I wasn't given a press pass. I needed to buy a ticket to get in. My good friend Jose was nice enough to buy me a ticket instead. I finally made it inside, exactly at 1.15, when Skeletonwitch were getting off stage. This was the worst possible start I could have imagined, missing the band I was so eagerly waiting to see. A few minutes later, bassist Evan Linger came up to me as he recognized me from the time I had interviewed him earlier this year. I told him what happened and he said the show went great and he felt bad that I missed it. Not only me, everyone in the press and photographer contingent missed it too. Special thanks go out to my friend Brandon for filming this video of Within My Blood, making me feel like a part of the first row, at least the day after the show. Another friend of mine Dominic showed me the new shirt he had just bought, and fuck, it was the most amazing Skeletonwitch shirt I had ever seen. The back had the words 'Eat some fucking pussy' on it, enough said. Scott, if you're reading this, dude we need another Skeletonwitch show in LA! Anything, even a half an hour set would do. Please??
Next on my agenda was to try and get going on the interviews I had scheduled, without a press pass! I called the Exodus tour manager Ross and tried to explain the situation to him. Thankfully, because of the fact that I had interviewed Exodus thrice this year already, I knew exactly what he looked like, complete with his red baseball cap. I spotted him easily and yelled out waving my hand frantically. He took me to the tour bus and it was good to see all the Exodus guys again. This time my interview was with frontman Rob Dukes. It turned out to be an epic interview as Rob really opened up with his answers and expressed his thoughts without holding back one bit. Unfortunately this meant that I had to miss Kataklysm's set, but they'll be back around here pretty soon so I'm sure I'll make up for it then. I also happened to miss a band called California Wildebeest, a band I had never even heard of.
As I exited the tour bus, I heard Goatwhore start their set opener 'The All-Destroying' and I ran as fast I could to get back out in front. I was in no mood to miss even a single minute of their set. From then on I just let the music take over my mind and body as I moved perfectly to the rhythm of every passing song. At a Goatwhore show, you don't stop banging your head. You only go from fast to slow, and back to fast again. After the opening song, I needed a song like 'Provoking The Ritual Of Death' to slow it down just a tad. There was no let up in intensity whatsoever. I went absolutely fucking nuts during 'Carving Out The Eyes Of God'. If I ever get down to making another one of my nerdy lists again, I would make one on 'best live songs of 2010', and this song would take the number 1 spot without a shadow of doubt. They had a couple more songs for us, and ended their literally mind blowing set with 'Apocalyptic Havoc'. I was glad that I was able to induce some of my own expressiveness and energy into someone else, as a random dude put his arm around my shoulder to head bang together, although he couldn't keep up with me for the entire duration of the song.
Next up was an interview with John Boecklin of DevilDriver. For this one I had to make the trek to the backstage area of the main stage. Manager Aaron escorted me to the dressing room and introduced me to John. It's always a pleasure talking to members of this band, as they are all genuinely cool people. This was no exception and the interview went very well. The room in which I was doing this interview also happened to have a laptop that was apparently being used to print out all the set lists for the night! I saw a printout that had the word 'Halford' in bold, but I somehow avoided reading further. John was nice enough to offer me a bottle of water after the interview was done to keep my water supply going, something I gave a lot of importance to on a hot day like this. During this time I didn't really regret missing Saviours' set as I wasn't very familiar with the band anyway, but as I stepped out of the DevilDriver dressing room, I realized that there were only minutes left for Exodus' set to start, and I ran to the 2nd stage.
Exodus came out all guns blazing with the first two songs off of their latest album Exhibit B. The words 'Exodus' and 'general admission standing room only' go hand in hand as they are a band you couldn't possibly imagine sitting down to. You'd think that watching a band for the fourth time within a 6-month period would get old, but definitely not the case with Exodus, such is the youthful, almost child-like exuberance the band members bring out in their fans. Even if Exodus played the exact same set every single time, I would still have as much fun seeing them do it. The new songs were even more brutal in their impact than the last time I saw them live, partly because the fans must have gotten a lot more familiar with them and also because this was a more energetic bunch of metalheads in general that gave a great response to bands like Skeletonwitch and Goatwhore earlier in the day.
They turned it up even further with 'A Lesson In Violence', a song that induced many a whirlwind of mosh pits among the highly responsive crowd. It was time to go completely fucking insane as the band hammered out the 'Strike Of The Beast'. Rob did his usual wall of death thing during this song and my goodness, it was the best wall of death I had seen whole year. If not for the life of the little recording device in my pocket I would have jumped right into it, for real. Well, I'll get another chance at their next show which isn't too far away. They ended their set with 'The Toxic Waltz' and 'Good Riddance' and thanked the crowd for showing up in large numbers. It was a skull crushing, rip roaring band bringing out the best in its fans and with due respect to all the "big names" on the main stage, Exodus were the best band at Ozzfest 2010, with Goatwhore taking the 2nd spot.
There was no time for a breather as I had my Kataklysm interview scheduled straight after. I met up with Jean-Francois and did the interview outdoors, by the side of the stage itself. My third and final interview of the day was also a success as we talked about a variety of things, including some stuff about a certain well-known band, stuff that I decided not to include in the interview out of sheer respect. JF had a beer in his hand, as every member of every Canadian band always does. I guess it brings out the best in them during interviews! So if you are an interviewer , the next time you come across a Canadian band, just make sure they have their beers on them. I'm already looking forward to doing another Kataklysm interview on September 16th, and seeing them perform at my favorite venue.
By the time I got back out into the crowd, Drowning Pool were about to finish playing, a band I really didn't care about to be completely honest. During this time I was also given my press pass, finally! What followed after their set though, were possibly the most ridiculous 15 minutes of my entire life, as a couple decided to tie the knot in the 'unholy matrimony' that was taking place on stage. For the life of me, I couldn't understand whether this was a joke or a supposedly serious wedding. I was told they actually paid money to have the 'honour' of having this done on the Ozzfest 2nd stage. I found it to be fucking unbelievable and as rightly said by the guy standing next to me, 'Oh my God, these were the longest 15 minutes of my life'. Anyways, after that was over, Black Label Society hit the stage and there was a massive surge towards the front.
Even though I was towards the side, it became too much even for me to bear. A pushy crowd is cool to be in if they are totally into the music, but it wasn't the case here. It was more like a bunch of drunken people who wanted to push forward just for the sake of it. I really didn't see anyone head banging or singing along to the lyrics. Fuck, they weren't even looking at the stage at most times and were just talking among themselves. I'm not generalizing the whole crowd, but this is how it was around me. It reminded me of the Metallica show in Tucson two years back, which I experienced in a similar outdoor setting and among a group of loonies that call themselves 'fans'. So I stepped back a bit to get a more relaxed view of the show. Even though the band itself put on a good show, delivering the songs well on an elaborate stage set-up, I never really got myself to enjoy it. For a band that was the headliner of this stage the set list was definitely lacking, may be due to the stupid fucking wedding that ate up a chunk of their time. The guitar solo was too long and they didn't even play songs like Suicide Messiah, Destruction Overdrive and In This River. Most certainly, there will be a better time and a better crowd.
Overall, I really enjoyed going back and forth between the music and the interviews. I was able to see the bands that I wanted to see and enjoy them to the fullest (except for the fact that I missed Skeletonwitch). When I first saw the line-up for this stage at the time of its announcement, I said to myself, 'Fuck! This is going to be fun'. It certainly was, and I would like to congratulate Sharon Osbourne and co for coming up with a killer line-up for the 2nd stage at Ozzfest 2010, as it was well worth the time spent checking it out.
Part 2: Stories From The Lawn
For the first time ever, I was going to see a show from the lawn section at the San Manuel Amphitheatre. I didn't know what to expect and I was looking forward to see what lies ahead. The first thing I noticed was, nobody was there to check your ticket when you enter the lawn! I guess its so fucking far away from the stage anyway that they don't care. Had I gotten my press pass earlier, I wouldn't have needed that ticket at all.
As I entered and found a spot in the first row of the lawn, I heard DevilDriver playing 'I Could Care Less', my favorite song of theirs. But because of the distance from the stage, I couldn't really get into it, no matter how hard I tried. Because this venue is so huge with a capacity of more than 60,000, the PA system is divided into two sets, one by the stage and the other in front of the lawn. Shockingly, the latter wasn't even switched on for the entirety of DevilDriver's set and the only sound we were getting was from the first set of PA. So even though they played for a good 45 minutes and had a good selection of songs, I couldn't hear or see shit. I tried my hardest to head bang but it just seemed like a stupid thing to do, with the lack of sound and the general lack of energy around me, with people preferring to sit on the grass.
After their set, I used the press pass to get to the backstage press tent and have some much needed food. Next up was Halford, a band I was very much looking forward to, to see how Rob Halford holds up on his own for a change. The PA, and even the screens were still switched off. They proceeded to play eight Halford tunes and one Racer X and Priest cover each. The new song 'Made Of Metal' sounded pretty good and quite honestly, the Racer X cover 'Heart Of A Lion' was the song I was most familiar with and ended up enjoying the most. Other than that, it was pretty hard to get into the music from that distance and with the shitty sound. But I'm afraid even the people up front weren't really making much noise either. In fact, looking around the whole venue I just saw people standing around. At this point, it was possibly the dullest crowd I had ever seen at this venue, which doesn't necessarily indicate the band's performance. The most excited the crowd around me (myself included) got was when two hot chicks started making out. They were really going at it, for a pretty long while too. There were tits and tongues involved. It was a sight to behold and at one point none of us were even looking towards the stage, which is by no means disrespecting the band. It's the fucking lawn and this is how it goes in here!
After Halford finished their set, I went back to the press tent and wasn't at all planning to check out Motley Crue because I don't give a flying fuck about their 'music'. But then someone told me about a titty cam and I figured what the hell, let me just watch them solely for that reason. I was seriously disappointed as there was no cam and no tits. It was sad to see the whole place packed for this band and nowhere near packed for much better bands like DevilDriver and Halford. The good thing for me was I met up with Brandon and Dominic and together we ridiculed and made fun of every fucking song. Our own high-pitched screams were much better than anything their singer managed for the 75 minutes they were on stage. The only good thing about their show was the pyro. The PA got switched on for a brief moment but was promptly switched off again! Another highlight of the set was when a hot chick in a bikini sat up on the railing in front of me and totally blocked my view. That was good in two ways as firstly, the only thing I could see for a good few minutes were her tits and secondly, I was spared from seeing the band on stage. She asked me, 'Are you able to see?' I said, 'Yeah sure. I can see just fine.'
It was finally time for Ozzy to hit the stage. Every time I had seen Ozzy before this, I ended up losing my fucking mind. But this time it was his very own festival, and I was already getting thrilled at the prospect. The lights went out, and yes of course, the PA and screens were turned on. A six-minute long pre-show montage ran on the screen. It showed Ozzy pulling off spoofs of the movies Avatar, Twilight, The Hangover and Iron Man, the TV show Jersey Shore and pop icon Lady Gaga. The piece that drew the loudest cheers was the Twilight part where Ozzy appears in place of Robert Pattinson and says, 'Vampires are pussies. I am the prince of fucking darkness.' The footage gave way to the band as they appeared on stage with the ever-awesome 'Bark At The Moon'. The song rocked as it always does. I didn't know or care about the rest of the crowd, but I was going nuts. The title song of the new album was up next. I don't think it compares to any of the classics, but it's catchy and certainly a good live tune.
It was back to old school Ozzy as 'Mr. Crowley' and 'I Don't Know' were the songs that followed. No matter how many times you see these, they just never get old, such is the timeless quality they possess. Talking of timeless, they brought out some Sabbath next, with 'Fairies Wear Boots'. For me it was the most enjoyable Sabbath tune they played all night and I sang every word of it. They surprised us with the next song 'Road To Nowhere'. Although it slowed down things quite a bit, it was a nice addition as the lighters were out for this one. My favorite Ozzy song 'Shot In The Dark' followed, and I almost cried due to sheer happiness. I seriously hope that this song never leaves Ozzy's set. This led straight into Gus G's guitar solo. It was funny to think about the fact that both Zakk Wylde and Gus G performed on the same day, and Gus' solo was much better done in terms of the duration. Bassist Blasko and drummer Tommy Clufetos also joined in as it turned into a jam. Tommy's bit was specially good to watch, as his drum kit was propelled several feet in the air.
'Suicide Solution' followed that little session and it wasn't nearly as much fun as Shot In The Dark. I feel it drags a bit in live shows. Next up was 'Iron Man' and it was absolutely fucking amazing. Then came a song that Ozzy hadn't played since forever, 'Killer Of Giants'. It was really refreshing to see him bring out these deep cuts and not only was it a big 'fuck you' and a slap on the faces of those ruthless critics, but also something to ponder for people who come to an Ozzy show expecting only the greatest hits. The delightful 'Rat Salad' led into yet another rarity, 'Fire In The Sky'. I would have been perfectly happy even if they had repeated the exact same set list from the last time I saw them, and getting all these surprise additions was a bonus. On the contrary, 'I Don't Want To Change The World' wasn't much of a rarity and I feel it's about time they got rid of it.
They ended the set with the staples 'Paranoid' and 'Crazy Train'. It was pure delight to see 9-year old guitar prodigy Yuto Miyazawa on stage for Crazy Train. I had seen the kid perform at a show last year and I knew it right there and then that one day he would be noticed by the Ozzman himself. It was endearing to watch him perform with a guitar that was almost as big as him, and to see Ozzy carry him on his shoulders as he played the solo note-per-note as it's supposed to be played.
I lost my mind yet again at an Ozzy show, even more so than I imagined I would. Ozzy's performance was great, on key and full of energy. The classics were as powerful as ever and the deep cuts were a pleasant surprise. People who keep saying 'he used to be great and isn't anymore' need to shut the fuck up, because Ozzy still is, greatness personified.
Overall, Ozzfest 2010 was very eventful and I look forward to more moshpits, interviews, cold water, tits, lesbian lovers and most importantly, some more great music at next year's edition.
Looking for the best cable deals? Check out Cox Phoenix!