August 14, 2010: The first date of this year’s Ozzfest tour kicked off in San Bernardino, California, on a hot and dusty day in this small town located just outside of Los Angeles. Kicking off the day was Immune, an unsigned pop-punk band local to L.A. who, along with California Wildebeast, were totally out of place with the rest of the lineup. (Luckily for Ozzfest, those two bands aren’t traveling with them.) Immune started on the second stage promptly at 12:15 P.M., which might as well be 6:00 A.M. in heavy metal time. However, by 12:45 the crowd was already starting to get packed, taking in a typically solid show by Midwestern black metal gods Skeletonwitch.
All photos by Gary Moratz
Sharon Osbourne appeared on the second stage to introduce little-known California Wildebeast, a band that was actually formed by Mike Fleiss, creator of the reality television show The Bachelor. Despite being an alternative rock outfit, they’re on the day’s bill because Fleiss is also working on a Black Sabbath horror movie to be scored by Tony Iommi. It was still awesome though to see the queen mother of metal herself taking the time to address the crowd. Say what you will about Sharon but she is a savvy, intelligent woman and truly an inspiration to many.
After California Wildebeat, the pace and the mosh pit picked back up with thrash/death metal band Goatwhore making their second Ozzfest appearance and performing a truly punishing set. Then Saviours, a stoner metal band from Oakland who have been generating quite a buzz lately, kept the frantic metal madness going. It’s tough for a band to give a fair representation of their material in a 25-minute set at a festival like this, but Goatwhore and The Saviours both managed to pull it off.
Thrash metal legends Exodus were up next and they never fail to give it their all. The fact that these guys have persevered over almost 30 years and the death of their lead singer is amazing—Kirk Hammett was in this band before Metallica, for God’s sake! The band opened with “The Ballad of Leonard and Charles” and “Beyond the Pale,” two songs from their new album Exhibit B: The Human Condition. The new songs stood up quite well next to old favorites like “A Lesson in Violence” from the band’s first album and “Toxic Waltz” from 1989’s Fabulous Disaster. Rob Dukes, the band’s current singer, got the crowd to separate then attack each other for one of the craziest mosh pits of the day.
Drowning Pool then took the stage and shifted the mood from pure metal to a little blues rock; it actually translated well alongside the other acts despite not being quite as heavy. The band played a mix of songs from all of their albums including “Feel Like I Do,” the first single from the band’s recently released self-titled album. They also played “Step Up” from the album Desensitized, and of course their hits “Sinner” and “Bodies” from their debut album.
Black Label Society followed Drowning Pool, a perfect musical transition, but before they could perform Jody Barnes and Jennifer Knorr had to get married. That’s right, married. Apparently Ozzfest emcee Big Dave was ordained as a minister for his brother’s wedding, giving Sharon Osbourne the idea to make a wedding package available along with the typical VIP packages for sale. One couple took them up on the offer and were married before thousands of screaming metal fans. Apparently they also got to eat wedding cake back stage with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne afterward—not a bad deal for heavy metal fans in love.
Black Label Society wrapped up the second stage for the day. Their set focused on material from Order of the Black released just four days before the show, including “Godspeed Hellbound” and “Overlord.” The band sounded great and even did an encore with their hit “Stillborn” from The Blessed Hellride. This was the fest’s only opportunity to see Zakk Wylde, given the fact that Ozzy now has a new guitar player, and it left Nonpoint and later DevilDriver to play to somewhat sparse main stage crowds. Still, a good amount of dedicated DevilDriver fans were standing on seats screaming lyrics and showing love to the band during a great set including “I Could Care Less” and “Fate Stepped In.”
It was then time to break out the big guns, starting with Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford’s self-titled spinoff band. He took the stage decked out in aviator sun glasses and a floor-length leather studded biker jacket complete with floor length arm fringe. He played a decent set of about 10 songs mainly from Halford’s catalog, though many people shouted titles like “Painkiller” hoping for a JP cover. They eventually got one—“Heart of a Lion,” featured on Priest’s 2004 box set Metalology as a previously unreleased track. Some highlights from the Halford catalog were “Resurrection” and “Savior” off the band’s first album. The band itself sounded very tight; there weren’t a lot of effects on the instruments or in the mix so you could really hear what they were playing. Rob can still belt out every extremely high notes perfectly and remains one of the most talented singers in heavy metal.
Motley Crue then hit the stage and proceeded to steal the show from Ozzy. It didn’t hurt that it finally got dark, giving everything a much more “metal” atmosphere. Starting off with “Kick Start My Heart,” the Crue came out to a flurry of fireworks and explosions, red lighting and a giant band logo behind them. They then spent over an hour tearing through their hits including “Live Wire,” “Shout at the Devil,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Primal Scream,” and of course “Girls, Girls, Girls” complete with the Harley motorcycle noises piped in. Vince Neil’s voice has gotten better since Crue Fest last year, hitting more high notes. He didn’t feel it necessary to sing every line of songs since the audience sang them for him, but no one seemed to notice. An especially epic highlight was when Tommy Lee played the entire piano intro for “Home Sweet Home.” Lighters and cell phones were quickly brought out and held by the crowd, which got misty-eyed while singing along—this was near L.A., after all, so the song was most appropriate.
As if fans weren’t already reeling from all they’d already seen and experienced it was then time for the man himself, Ozzy Osbourne. The giant screen above the stage began playing clips of popular TV shows and movies with Ozzy superimposed into them. In one, Ozzy wore makeup and a wig to play Beyonce’s part in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video by Lady Gaga, at one point turning to Gaga and saying, “You dress really weird, are you sure you’re not a man?” In another, Ozzy was Robert Pattinson’s puffy-haired “Edward” character from Twilight; when Kristen Stewart called him a vampire, Ozzy corrected her with, “Vampires are pussies, I’m the Prince of Fucking Darkness!” The final clip featured Ozzy proclaiming “I am Iron Man!” in, yes, the Iron Man suit. Seeing these was a little strange at first, but ultimately very funny.
Then the band finally came out playing “Bark at the Moon” with Ozzy having just as much energy as always, even at 61 years old, hopping around and clapping his hands in his wildman way. The set list consisted of mostly 1980s-era Ozzy including “Mr. Crowley,” “Shot in the Dark,” and “Suicide Solution.” This may have been an homage to his tour with Motley Crue more than 20 years ago, acknowledged as one of Ozzy’s most notorious (featuring an infamous ant-snorting incident). Missing from the set was any 1990s work like “No More Tears” or “Perry Mason,” but Black Sabbath were represented by “Paranoid,” “Fairies Wear Boots,” and of course “Iron Man.”
Zakk Wylde’s replacement on lead is 29-year-old Greek guitarist “Gus G” (somehow a nickname for Kostas Karamitroudis), who played with several acts including Arch Enemy and his own band Firewind before joining up with Ozzy. He has some pretty big shoes to fill including those of Toni Iommi and Randy Rhoads but he did it with no problem, pulling off every solo and not missing a note. An added highlight was the appearance of 10-year-old Yuto Miyazawa, the Guinness Book of World Records’ youngest professional guitarist and an Internet sensation who was introduced to Ozzy on Ellen DeGeneres’ TV show in 2009. He came out during the encore and played “Crazy Train” with the band on his Randy Rhoads-style flying-V guitar. Overall, Ozzy’s set was a bit more effects-laden than some of the others, but his band ultimately sounded fantastic and Ozzy’s voice is as strong as ever.
Ozzfest seemed like it was dying out in recent years with the “free” ticket disaster in 2007, the single date played in Texas in 2008, and no tour whatsoever in 2009. This year proved however that Ozzfest is back with a vengeance. Many people agree this was the best lineup in years. Let’s hope the legacy continues for many more years to come.