I wept. That was the greatness of Ozzy Osbourne and company. Over the roaring undulations of Bark At The Moon, I mumbled my stunned disbelief to the Mickster with tears trickling down my face. Ozzfest 2007 wasn’t exactly my first time around the block. I know well the high of concert euphoria -- it is the heart of the Permanent Record -- but this was new, being so suddenly and totally overwhelmed. I stood almost frozen with my mouth gaping open a cavernous smile trying to internalize every detail of the fleeting moment.
The Mickster and I were technically third row but with the tight curvature of the closest seats and a little fan comradery, there was no one separating us from the right side of the stage. Just a few feet away, Zakk Wylde in black kilt loomed over us, attacking his bullseye spilt-tail with a berserker-guitar-warrior abandon. His long blond hair danced on end in the windy fury of the music. Far across the stage in all black sleeveless prison-wear, Blasko ripped into his bass with the bulging muscles of the Incredible Hulk. Shaking and turning his moppy head of blackness in an upright squat of sorts, he sneered out his own dominating presence. And then there was Ozzy, the original figure in black, doing exactly what he does best: radiating his very contagious joyfulness. Hopping... smiling… “I CAN’T FUCKING HEAR YOU!! GO FUCKING WILD!!!”
There are rare concerts when you hear more than the music; you feel what is between the notes and take inspiration from it. You see past the performance into another world of possibility and potential. It’s like having a spiritual gasoline thrown on the burning fires of your soul; lives can change in those kinds of moments. The Permanent Record now resumes with the story of my 2007 Ozzfest.
Have you heard that some people plan their summers around Ozzfest? That’s me. I absolutely plan my summer around it, specifically its stop at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA. There is no other annual North American metal festival remotely like Ozzfest. Headlined by metal’s greatest bands, the main stage lineups are consistently strong with an exciting second stage that provides an exposure to bands many people -- myself included -- might never hear live on their own. Ozzfest has its share of critics and nay-sayers, but my response is simple: FUCK YOU and stay home while the rest of us have a great time. Ozzfest is unquestionably the most special annual metal date on my calendar but the reasons go beyond the show itself. As the years begin to pass by you, entire days with old friends, especially the kind that know where all the bodies are buried, happen less and less frequently. You really cherish them when they do.
The Mickster and I buy the Party Like A Rock Star (PLARS) package every year, something we don’t do for any other tour or festival. What’s so magnificent about PLARS? Your main stage seat is one of the best in the house. On second stage, PLARS buys you access to the shaded riser that houses the soundboard. Beyond a stellar central view of the performers and pits, it provides a pocket of personal space that is impossible to find in the throngs of thousands crushing forward toward the stage. Monster Energy provides cans of free energy drink all day long in a private cooler. PLARS gets you into the little VIP bar that sits off the main stage. Under the twin big tops of Shoreline, it provides quiet seclusion -- which the riser does not -- from the craziness of the glorious freak show outside. Near its entrance, the PLARS Host keeps station throughout the day. I like having a friendly, familiar face on hand to deal with stupid shit should it arise, although it rarely does. Although the backstage tour is largely routine for us, it’s still fun to go behind the scenes and learn something new every year. Taking pictures of the set lists that are taped to the floor of the main stage comes in handy for METALSETLISTS. Last but not least are the little gifts we get from Ozzfest; the little kid in me loves wondering what the present will be. PLARS helps make Ozzfest different than any other metal day of the year bar none.
“MOTHER FUCKER!” That’s probably not the reaction Sharon Osbourne wanted me to have about the “historic and groundbreaking” changes to Ozzfest 2007 announced last February. Turning Ozzfest into FREEfest may have been brilliant marketing but the announcement, taken literally, didn’t leave a lot of room for PLARS. Personally, I’d rather pay the premium for my seats upfront and the other little perks to which I’ve become accustomed over the years. Ozzfest quickly faded off my mental radar in favor of Sounds Of The Underground III as my new special-as-it-can-be-even-if-it’s-not-Ozzfest metal day of the summer. About two and a half months later, I purchased Ozzy’s new album -- it is new Ozzy music after all -- with the promise of a presale distribution but even that early date earned me only lawn. I closed my browser in frustration and a little sadness. ADD covered the real ticket redemption for us a few days later on May 12th because I completely forget about it.
Twelve days later, Blabbermouth
spilled the beans on Ozzfest’s PLARS package. Their story mentioned an email with a special password for the VIP presale. Quickly checking my inbox, I found nothing, but my spam filter snagged the magic words. Ozzfest had made a private announcement regarding PLARS 48 hours earlier, and I had missed it. Not unlike that first plunge on a tall roller coaster, my stomach dropped to the floor just as it always does when I’m about to get my Ozzfest tickets. I rang up the Mickster, and he quickly purchased them (Section 101, CC, 3-4). Hot Damn! We were going to Ozzfest!
Despite my newfound bliss, I posted a bitter-intended-to-stir-shit thread about the announcement: “Prices Of VIP Packages For Free Ozzfest” in our Misinformation And Propaganda forum. Bouville would have immediately recognized that title for exactly for what it was. He frequently lauded my ability to complain, even to the extent of noticing that I occasionally complain about the quality of my own complaining. Secretly, I worried about our seats because I’ve been up close and to the sides at Shoreline, directly in front of the PA. It’s great being so near the stage but you hear nothing but mud in those locations.
My Ozzfest menstrual cramps passed in a couple of days. ‘Happy’ didn’t quite cover my joyful anticipation of Thursday, July 19th, 2007. ‘Wood’ got a lot you closer. Over the next several weeks, the Mickster and I traded almost daily phone calls to discuss any and every aspect of Ozzfest. Who exactly were most of these bands? Would anyone even really show up for second stage? How many orcs would 3 Inches Of Blood destroy? What would Ozzy sing from [i]Black Rain]/I]? What would the rate of ticket redemption be like given the free codes? What would the rhythm of the day be like given the mid-day start compared to the 9:00 AM starts of prior years? What would the PLARS gift be? Would there be an Ozzfest 2008 and what about the lineup? I sent the Mickster obscene metal text messages for a good straight ten days before the show.
As the magic date approached, the Man took a giant duke on the Mickster at work; he would have to come and go a couple of times throughout the day. The Mickster tried the Monster Energy drink box route but none of their codes worked for him; ticket redemption was a goat rope for a lot of people. Fortunately, Live Nation made available piles and piles of free tickets (4 per person) at the Shoreline box office the day before the show, so we both picked up a set. The Mickster only needed a couple but we thought others might need them. Strangely enough, we couldn’t give them away to anyone.
There’s already an Ozzfest Survival Guide floating about the Internet but I should really write my own. Shoreline is really good about letting backpacks into the venue, so I always spend the night before Ozzfest provisioning for the next day: show schedule, set list notebook, pencils, intelligence on the bands, camera, ear plugs, an iShuffle for the entrance line outside the gates, medical kit, spare contact lenses, my regular glasses, crocs, extra socks, and a clean set of drawers. Laugh all you want you. A change in shorts on a hot day can give a man new life. Ditto for the socks and crocs when the feet begin to ache after walking around all day. My chosen attire for the day: a black “I Fling Poo” monkey tee, tattered Levi short pants, green backpack, some cheap $5 Walmart sunglasses, a bunch of skull bracelets I beaded together, my leather Indy hat, and some beat-up tennis shoes.
The morning of Ozzfest came early but I still managed to bolt the house on time at 8:30 AM for the hour-long commute into Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, the molasses afterbirth of rush hour traffic stunted my progress, and each of my scheduled pre-concert errands took longer than I anticipated. The Mickster had meetings, so he would have to meet me inside Shoreline itself. Graciously, my bass teacher, Glen Douglas of The Project Studio in Sunnyvale, let me park my car at the studio and drove me over to the amphitheatre, saving me at least an hour parking and hiking into venue proper.
Doors were at noon with the first band, The Showdown, opening the second stage at 12:20 PM. Nile was scheduled second at 12:45 PM, and I really wanted to hear them. I jumped out of Glen’s white Cherokee about 11:30 AM. The entrance line wrapped around the front side of the venue and past the loading areas, all the way to Shoreline Blvd near the entrance of the golf course. Security then pointed out the line continued across the street into the very outer brown grassy parking lots I evaded by parking at The Project Studio. This length of line, I had never seen at Shoreline, although it would be right at home at the Hyundai Pavilion in Devore, Ozzfest’s largest tour stop. Security practically cavity searches everyone there, so it can take hours to get past them. Granted Shoreline doesn’t have to deal with Hyundai’s problems, I didn’t imagine the line taking much more than an hour.
Some scruffy bastard in a wrinkly red and white Hawaiian shirt -- probably a scalper now that I think about it -- hit me up for tickets, so I gave him two. I was in a great mood and didn’t really care; maybe he needed them or just the money. Whatever. I’ve waded through a lot of concerts the last two years because I brought too much non-metal baggage to the show. Not today… nothing was spoiling Ozzfest, short of a death in my immediate
family, natural disaster, war, or act of Sharon.
Standing in the heat of the midday’s sun all alone can really suck, even with iShuffle buds jammed in your ears. So I started talking with two teenagers behind me, John and Chase, and we didn’t stop talking until security asked to search my backpack at the front gate. We bantered about the different concerts we had attended, bands we had in common (Iron Maiden, Arch Enemy, Edguy), upcoming shows, how some artists don’t always appreciate their fans, and how much we appreciated the artists that do. I shared my Trivium story from Sounds II, relaying how dismissive and uninterested they were to me in the line for autographs. John and Chase also mentioned they enjoyed my review
, a local band that is kicking some serious ass. That was pretty good way to start off the day. METALSETLISTS is a small metal site but we’re getting noticed out in the real world.
A quick note to those guys: I checked out 7th Son
out of Las Vegas. Very 80ish, and they have some thrash about them. I like V (inspired by the film) the most from their demo tracks posted on myspace. Time To Burn will probably appeal to a few people here.
The opening of Nile
’s “What May Be Safely Written” -- so I thought but Ithyphallic was very new to my ears having been released only 48 hours prior -- blasted from the second stage as I finally made it into the venue. Nile was on early! FUCK! Instinct told me to dart over to the second stage, but the Mickster needed me to handle our PLARS business in the opposite direction at the VIP bar near the main stage.
Resigned to missing Nile’s twenty minutes set, I quickly stopped to pick up my annual Ozzfest program because there wasn’t a line at the merch booth near the front gates. I get the oversized glossy tour book every year. It costs $20 and contains background on the bands and lots of pictures along with a few ads from the main sponsors. A real coup to score my program so quickly and early, this particular merch queue is normally six peeps deep throughout the day. None of the other merch interested me after a quick glance. Same shit, different year. Even the Ozzfest tour shirt looked like a 2006 re-dux. Were prices a little higher too? I wasn’t sure.
A familiar face from last year, Alan Schiff was Ozzfest’s PLARS coordinator again. He hooked me up with our second stage PLARS passes, scheduled our backstage tours, and revealed the PLARS prizes for 2007: guitar picks with the Ozzfest logo on one side and the current year’s band logos on the other, all packaged in a nifty pouch. Ozzfest did that two years ago, so I was like “Damn! I was hoping for something different.” They’re still cool, and I’ll have fun playing with them. Alan also gave us some Jagermeister lanyards for our passes, although I brought the one I won in 2005 for dunking the filthy clown -- foul mouthed dirty bastard that he was -- with throwing skills finely tuned behind a little league home plate.
Dear Ozzfest Santa,
Do you know what I would really like next year? A 2008 Ozzfest program. In 2004, we received the autographed program. 2008’s doesn’t need to be autographed; I’ll ask some of the Ozzfest crew to sign it instead.
What makes Alan worth the money we pay for PLARS? Here’s one small example: He noticed the way I separately placed my PLARS pass and laminate pouch containing my ticket on the lanyard hook instead of all together in the pouch and through the key ring. Everything is protected better Alan’s way, making it less likely than my pass or ticket will be stolen or lost in a crowd or mosh. In the final moments of the day, this attentiveness may have saved all my credentials. Read on.
While waiting for the Mickster, Alan and I shot the breeze for a few minutes. He commented how much he likes working PLARS because of the people it brings out. Similar packages from other tours bring out the wealthy but PLARS tends to bring out fans and I agree with him, given the people I see in the PLARS riser. On the main stage, a few people every year make me wonder if they know they’re attending a metal show but the fans outweigh the Silicon Valley Phil Units who show up late expecting a Neil Diamond concert.
After discussing METALSETLISTS, Alan patiently listened while I unloaded some serious bitching about Ozzfest.com’s new site. The redesign offers a lot of new social networking features but neuters forum functionality (i.e decent search, new threads/posts). ADD and I had a very difficult time tracking information from the first Ozzfest shows because of the deficiencies. Alan called up their webmasters because he thought it would be good for someone like me to talk to them but they wanted a pm instead. I don’t blame them; there are some crazy fuckers on ozzfest.com.
A couple notes on Ozzfest personnel we’ve met in the past: Eddie Webb
has moved on to a DJ job in Las Vegas and is raising hell with the other jockey’s. Rigger Dan, you’ll always be part of our Ozzfest.
As I departed for the second stage, the Mickster made his triumphant arrival but with some unexpected bad news. We had to do the backstage almost immediately, so he could get back to work. Now, that didn’t stop us from getting our first beer of the day. Again, no lines. Our tour guide, Big Dave Moscato
, was waiting back at the VIP area and told us we had five minutes to finish our large beers. Mickster dropped his beer straight down his throat, slightly impressing Big Dave. The Mickster is one of the few guys I know that can bong a beer out of a cup. I took an eternal minute to finish mine. The Mickster already kicked my ass, so why rush it?
This year’s backstage tour lasted about 15 minutes; normally, it runs about twice that. I didn’t mind the short length because I really wanted to hit the second stage. Afterwards, Big Dave posed for fun pictures with all those who asked, and I had him sign my Ozzfest program. I usually get autographs from the tour guides and PLARS staff; Alan signed shortly thereafter.
Given the abbreviated length, here’s the backstage tour as we’ve experienced it over the years. The first stop is the soundboard in the middle of the amphitheatre. We meet the engineers working it, and someone explains its general operations in layman terms. We learn what makes Ozzy’s soundboard special besides the $500,000 ($2004) price tag. We briefly talk about the giant video screen that travels with Ozzfest, how the crew assembles it, and how much it weighs. This year, Big Dave mentioned the water-cooling it requires. My favorite past factoid from the first station: Ozzfest clears the venue about an hour after Ozzy leaves the stage. That’s tight.
The second stop is at the front of the stage near the first row. Now at this point, I’m usually scoping out our seats, ignoring the guide, and screaming at the Mickster, “Shit! Can you believe how fucking great our seats are?!?” Meanwhile, the tour guide talks a little about the rigging above our heads, lights, and other special effects. Big Dave skipped all this entirely this year.
After everyone is done snapping photos, we go backstage. The time of day determines the path, what we see and whom we see if anyone. In 2004, Bill Ward was milling about with his drum tech. We can peer right into racks and boxes full of gear and props, although we’re not supposed to touch anything. Photos are kosher.
Eventually, the tour group ends up on the stage itself, and the guide explains why Ozzfest is so good at logistics and changeovers (layered equipment, drum kits on rollers, lots of practice). He lets our group mill about the stage for a few minutes for photo ops. At this point, I normally snap pictures of the main stage set lists.
Leaving the stage itself, the guide takes us past a lot of the backstage offices and dressing rooms, although we aren’t allowed into any of them or any specific artist access unless they are meandering about on their own. We meet a lot of random Ozzfest staff, although I immediately forget their names because it all happens so quickly. We walk back to the VIP bar, and thus the backstage tour ends.
There’s one special item I want to document for the record this year. On the left side of the stage, there’s a veiled catwalk from which the chosen can watch the performances. I finally noticed the little staircase leading up to it, thus solving a four-year personal mystery of how they get up there.
The Mickster raced back to his office, and I walked to the second stage and the PLARS riser via the beer stand. No line again. No line in the restroom either. Including the engineers, there were only about a half dozen people in the riser. Big Dave was already on stage introducing the next act, Chthonic.
is a melodic black metalish band from Taiwan. Although they may be big in Taipei with six studio albums and a greatest hits collection, I don’t think I was the only American wondering, “Who the hell are these guys?” It didn’t help that I had a mental block against spelling their band's name correctly either. So what about them got my attention? Chthonic not only wears corpse paint but there’s a female that wears corpse paint and happens to play the bass. A Metal Trifecta!
I spent most of Chthonic’s set on the front rail of the riser to the immediate left of the soundboard. With a slight breeze floating over crowd, I smelled my first drifting pot smoke (L’Odeur D’Ozzfest) of the day followed by a nasal choking from the dust kicked up by the circling moshers twenty feet away.
My first impression of Chthonic had nothing to do with their music; their sound was off somehow. It was distracting enough that I found it a little difficult to find my place in their music initially. Very different from typical Norwegian black metal expression, Chthonic’s corpse paint conjured up images of evil porcelain dolls. During their second song, I noticed a strange instrument that lent their sound a little creepiness. My program (that $20 investment paid off with the first band) listed it as a hena, a two string violin common in the East. Ozzfest.com
likens “the sound of the Hena [as] one of grief and sorrow.” Blabbermouth
described the sound as “kind of like a woman crying.” Combined with the bassist’s morose backing vocals, Chthonic's music was angrily eerie. I’d peg them somewhere near Cradle Of Filth minus Dani’s massive whoring but with a better overall story based on their own culture. Chthonic delivered a good performance for my first band of the day; I liked what I heard and now left wanting more.
Before their third song, Chthonic’s front man bitched about the lack of recognition that most countries and international organizations give to Taiwan, singling out the United Nations for a specific lashing. They should get together with Dave Mustaine and do a follow-up for the special edition of United Abominations. As Chthonic wrapped up their set, I made the minute walk to the main concessions to recycle my beer and get a fresh one -- still no lines in either place.
In This Moment
was just coming on stage as I returned, a band from which I expected absolutely nothing even with
the presence of a female. I didn’t know anything about their music, so I was pleasantly surprised that they sounded like All That Remains, only with the girl on vocals instead of bass. I should apologize to In This Moment because by even mentioning All That Remains, I have totally alienated them from any chance of popularity on METALSETLISTS. Sorry. But hey, In This Moment, I like you… does that count? Megadeth
is taking them out on tour after Ozzfest, and I’ll be looking forward to a slightly longer set.
Maria Brink, their vocalist, wore this blue dress and I was really stuck on it. Sure, she was pretty in it, but more importantly, that blue dress was perhaps the most metal thing I saw all day. How is Dorothy’s dress metal? Metal decries the herd mentality. However, our sea of black represents just another herd -- one of black sheep but nonetheless another herd. Metal people can still be a bunch of fucking sheep. I advocate the third path: rebel against the rebel and radically do your own thing. Not fuck you... FUCK EVERYBODY.
In This Moment provided the soundtrack for one of my most cherished memories of the day. Those quiet opening notes of Beautiful Tragedy struck a very calming nerve in me, so I retreated to the steps in the middle of the riser. With a summer’s breeze gently tickling my long hair against my warm and slightly tiring face, I let the music carry me wherever. Life was good. Full beer in hand. Comfortable music. There were only a half dozen people in the tent; I was in a crowd of thousands with several feet of personal space and nobody fucking with me. I was happy to be alive and at Ozzfest. One of the reasons I love music so much is that just listening to that song can take me back to that moment.
During band changeovers, Big Dave was typically on stage downing Jager shots, telling jokes, and pimping his own merch. “What’s the difference between a priest and pimple? The pimple waits until you’re 15 before coming on your face.” There were a lot of happenings near second stage that I completely ignored, mostly out of laziness. Both Monster Energy and Jagermeister buzzed with activity, as did the beer garden about 100 yards away. One security guy gave me a little shit when I brought back a full beer to the riser: “You can’t do that in front of a sober Irishman.”
was the only new band -- new to me anyways -- whose album, The Hinderers, I purchased in anticipation of Ozzfest. I saw their video for Subterfuge on the Headbanger’s Ball several weeks prior and thought it was cool. Even cooler, Daath is a reference to a dark kabballah of sorts, probably as close as I’ll ever get to domestic Jewish black metal.
As Daath began their set, I noticed a couple of moshers parading a handwritten cardboard sign reading: “Show Us Your Tits!” In past years, that sign would have read “Show Us Your Tits For A Beer” but those guys must have taken FREEfest to heart and expected their only annual titty flash to be free as their Ozzfest ticket.
Unfortunately, The Hinderers did not translate live well. I’m not sure whether Daath executed poorly or it was just more of the same crappy sound I had been experiencing all day. Unexcited and unimpressed, my attention turned to the freak show barker about 50 yards away; $5 would have bought me a date with a two-legged dog. Someone should have silenced that fucker when the bands were performing. I don’t want to hear about the biggest tits on man or woman while I’m busy trying to find my place in the music of a band that I want to like. Daath had been fun on the iShuffle.
Thus annoyed and distracted, my attention moved on to a loose screw on the riser floor. I pocketed it, a free Ozzfest souvenir. Last year, I picked up a cool rock on the ground. Free. In 2004, Zakk Wylde tossed a Miller Lite at Motorhead Jeff from main stage, and I saved his life by catching the nearly full can. I even drank it for him. All of this nonsense is more interesting to me that what I heard from Daath.
3 Inches Of Blood
almost suffered a similar fate. The sound remained so problematic that I had trouble distinguishing the new tracks off Fire Up The Blades. I know what 3 Inches Of Blood sounds like live, having seen them a couple of times already on their own. This was not
it. Jaime Hooper, 3IOB’s growler, wasn’t performing because of throat problems; I, for one, missed him. Fuck most of you. I say he’s necessary. Their guitarist made a valiant effort to substitute but it just wasn’t the same. I really like 3 Inches Of Blood but their Ozzfest set was a personal buzz kill and a massive disappointment, the biggest of my second stage. The orcs were probably thrilled too; 3 Inches Of Blood barely rolled a single 1d4, thus sparing most of their lives.
My frustration with the sound boiled over, so I started taking more notes about my own thoughts and worried less about set list acquisition. Too much of the day’s music was unfamiliar, and I was rarely making out titles even when announced. Concert in and out, my notebook works for METALSETLISTS but there times I just want to enjoy the day and not worry about getting it all right. Besides, the Permanent Record documents my concert experiences; it doesn’t drive them. If you were wondering why all the set lists are missing, now you know.
3 Inches Of Blood gets a METALSETLISTS pass for Ozzfest. I’m not holding their set against them, citing poor sound and a missing member. That’s what I’ll keep telling myself. All of you can be damn sure I’ll catch up with 3IOB when they swing through the Bay Area again in the Fall. Hopefully, High Tower
will open for them again.
The PLARS riser was virtually empty throughout most of the afternoon. Our location doubled for accessible viewing so a few wheels chairs rolled in and out, never staying very long. Only one couple never left the shade, and I decided to ask them a few questions about Ozzfest for The Permanent Record. Their names were Leland and Leah, real Ozzfest veterans whose attendance stretches back almost a decade. “If you’re a fan, you play the money.” Leland wasn’t too happy about the Free part of FREEfest. He thought the concept impacted the overall lineup compared to years past. Leah wasn’t happy about the entire code-ticket redemption process, which resulted in their purchase of PLARS this year. I also asked them to note specific areas of improvement for 2008, and they singled out some details like the lack of chairs in the PLARS riser and A.W.O.L. porta-potties on the second stage. Normally, the festival plants commodes in the prime real estate Monster Energy occupied at the border choke point between the second stage lot and the main concessions concourse.
I kept chuckling to myself when talking to Leland. The guy was huge -- Mr. Clean but with more tattoos. His favorite band was Hatebreed, and he even had some kind words for Slipknot. I was chuckling not at him -- both Leland and Leah were really nice and I enjoyed their company -- but because I kept imagining the murderous beat down that a member of our whiny teenager demographic would receive saying to his face the stupid shit that they post here about the bands they hate so much.
Usually, the Mickster and I do the Village Of The Damned -- is it even called that this year? -- in the afternoon before the non-rotating second headliners perform. It was time to go but it wasn’t nearly as much fun as usual between an absence Mickster and seeing a lot of the same crap for sale from prior years. The 2007 Village seemed about two-thirds its regular size, no longer running the entire length of the concessions area. One booth pirated the FreeBSD Daemon for a baby’s bib. Assholes. Some of the booths that I noticed missing: the rock climbing wall; the obscene clown dunk; kick a soccer ball at a guy’s head; balloon dart throws; two of the more profane and vulgar shirt booths; and the bb gun shootout. I (heart) Vagina and Higher Ground returned but there were fewer booths selling the same bongs. None were selling swastika leather wristbands as in past years. There wasn’t even a titty painting booth, almost an Ozzfest institution. This place was now more the Village Of The Mildly Fucked than The Damned.
As I strolled around, I ran into this guy with a Magen David tattoo, one with some embedded Hebrew. My Hebrew isn’t so good but I can definitely spell. Yud… Shin… Ayin… The lack of vowels confused me. I stopped and asked him about it. It was Jesus, Yeshua in Hebrew. He smiled; I sighed. Unsure of who was on second stage, I asked another dude what band was playing. “Who cares? They fucking suck!!” The Mickster would have answered the same if the Man wasn’t stepping on his testicles at the office.
My Ozzfest shopping budget was a lot smaller this year. I only bought a couple of stickers for my $100 black Ibanez beater bass. “No. Dude. Seriously. Fuck You.” will theme nicely near the existing stickers: Maiden’s Benjamin Breeg portrait and a chuckling hand-drawn-styled Mickey Mouse. I’ll have to order this black shirt I found for next year’s Ozzfest: “Eat Shit and Die Mother Fucker”. Maybe I’ll wear it with some corpse paint.
As I finished up with the Village, these crazy girls in demonic wolf chick costumes began howling and stalking concert-goers. Each of them wore matching tight grey pants and half-tops along with furry bracelets and white face paint. I’m not quite sure what was with the goat skull business cards. Clive Barker should use these freaky performance artists in his Hellraiser remake; even Pinhead needs his bitches.
With the Mondo Generator now on second stage, I went to the very empty VIP bar for some quiet time and to wait for the Mickster. That provided me an opportunity to talk with some Shoreline employees about what I perceived as a really slow day because of the missing lines in concessions and the head. They blamed the day on which the show was held, although 2004 was also held on a Thursday and the place was packed. For a few minutes, the bartenders inadvertently entertained me while trying to kick out these kids that were escorted inside to a table by Shoreline staff. How many times do some people have to be told that bars do not provide daycare in California?
set was almost over before I returned to the riser, not that I really cared at the time. In 2005, Behemoth opened for King Diamond at the Pound
and I was really disappointed: “The sound on [Demigod] is massive but their live performance of the material sounded really thin.” What I briefly heard from Behemoth at Ozzfest was what I had hoped to hear at the Pound two years earlier. I really regret missing their set. Next time.
may be the only hardcore band right now in my iTunes library of 13,000 songs. I bought The Rise Of Brutality as an introduction to the band back in the days of my concert study guides, the one specifically for Ozzfest 2004. Hatebreed preaches self-discipline and self-reliance, and it’s a message our youth should hear more often. Their songs lack the complexity of a Dream Theater but progressive bands aren’t allowed to play with the unbridled passion that Hatebreed injects into their music; it might inspire movement in their statuary concert fans.
Hatebreed was WAY too loud at Ozzfest, heavenly perfection to my ringing ears. With all the open space in our riser, I cut loose hard for Hatebreed with both arms pumping and hair flying everywhere. I can’t really describe Hatebreed’s performance much because my eyes were closed in total concentration. Thrashing around so violently, my body began to fail me a bit but I gave up what I could. God damn, that was a fun set. Like Beautiful Tragedy, a few Hatebreed songs -- Songs like This Is Now, Live For This, and Destroy Everything -- now take me places too, a substantially more violent headbanging nirvana.
Between songs, Jamey Jasta proved himself the best front man of the second stage. “Swing your bra, unused rubbers or whatever you got… let’s clear the air.” It didn’t work but the number of people obeying him was impressive. Jamey recognized and thanked the Bay Area bands that paved the way for so many in metal and hardcore; that was awesome. Before Destroy Everything, Jamey reinforced Hatebreed’s positive message of solving your problems by taking control of yourself, “the most destructive force in the universe.” Not so cool was the nine year old he pulled off he rail in front of the kid’s father. Hopefully, Jamey acted to stop a potentially dangerous situation; I’ve seen musicians do it before. You don’t take a child that young even near the pit, much less the rail.
Normally, I eject from second stage early enough to see the opening band on the main stage but the show schedule padded an extra twenty minutes this year. That allowed me to stay with Hatebreed until Jamey announced the last song. I said my goodbyes to Leland and Leah and headed to the main stage VIP bar (now only about 1/3 full). I met some girls there and hung out for a few minutes. The Mickster sent a text that he was on the grounds, so I bailed out for our seats.
A few minutes into Lordi
’s set, the Mickster arrived, a beer in hand for each of us. He didn’t waste much time: "$100 says I can rush the stage and climb that ladder before security throws me out." My quick calculus included the pain of getting to my car still at the Project Studio a few miles away and exactly how bad his wife would kick my ass for his arrest. His proposition was just too expensive even if I had received the money in exchange for his climb; Mrs. The Mickster never forgets.
METALSETLISTS’ whiny teenager demographic undoubtedly harbors scorn and contempt for Lordi. Is it really any surprise that I enjoyed them second only to Ozzy himself? Lordi opened with pyro BEFORE even playing a note! The rain of fire and explosions continued unabated throughout the entire set, including a chainsaw, a light anti-tank rocket, a +5 scepter of glorious metal might, and finale sparklers on their guitars and bass. Somebody forgot to tell Lordi they were just opening
the main stage and not closing it.
“FUCKING GWAR RIPOFFS!” A thirteen year old can easily distinguish between extraterrestrial galactic warriors of chaos and domestic movie monsters. GWAR and Lordi have no more in common than the wearing of costumes. GWAR disembowels popes and presidents while hosing down the rail with their blood. Lordi does not. GWAR goes out of their way to offend; Lordi does not. They rely on more traditional effects that old fucks will associate with a KISS concert.
“FUCKING KISS RIPOFFS” Lordi freely admits KISS as an inspiration, although they’ve blended the classic horror genre significantly more into their interpretation. I yelled at the Mickster during their set, “This is a fucking KISS concert! I love it!” At times, Lordi’s music is clearly more rock than metal, and that’s going to upset some people here. Whatever. The weekend before Ozzfest, I happened to play Destroyer while tooling around the house. KISS was the first real rock band in my life; Destroyer -- SHOUT IT, SHOUT IT, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! -- was my first real album. For the same reasons many people hate Lordi, I adore them.
Unfortunately, a lot of people stayed in their seats for Lordi -- not that it means much because that’s the nature of the American amphitheatre. Me, I went totally fucking ape shit the entire time throwing horns and headbanging as hard I could, resorting at times to a method I shall just call “the fat guy technique” to avert unconsciousness. Whenever my energy level waned and the dizziness increased from over-exertion, I braced one leg against my seat to prevent my falling off the Earth. Whenever I was too winded for even that, I grabbed the seatback in front of me as if trying to rip the fucker from the ground and thrashed around the best I could. No one has ever accused me of lacking heart.
During the last song or thereabouts, Mr. Lordi came out wearing a short purple jester hat. As their set ended, I was hoping for a pick from the guitarist from the Black Lagoon but instead Mr. Lordi walked over and pointed at me. He gave me his hat, a god damn metal Mean Joe Green moment. A real chick magnet, I wore proudly it the rest of the night.
Besides Hard Rock Hallelujah, I have no idea what Lordi played because every song was new to my ears. It didn’t matter. I loved it all. Hopefully, I won’t fall out of love with it equally as quickly. If you can’t enjoy Lordi, the musical stick up your ass is your problem. This band kicks ass!
never had a real chance with me. No band -- short of an Iron Maiden or Edguy -- could follow up Lordi that night. The change over between sets allowed me to decompress for a few minutes but there was no way that Static-X’s industrial nu-rhythms were going to top what I just experienced. Wayne Static, a human relative to Castaway’s volleyball Wilson, was fun to watch with his goofy spiked hair and facial expressions, and so was their guitar player in a quiet John Myung sort of way sans John’s immense chops. The Mickster and I watched about half the set before bailing out. It wasn’t Static-X’s fault; I just had nothing left for them. When they come around this fall with Shadows Fall and 3 Inches Of Blood, I’ll give them another shot.
Famished and exhausted, the Mickster scored us some burnt flesh in the form of chicken sandwiches. I don’t remember tasting mine. Excluding it, my Ozzfest diet had been: two small breakfast burritos and a coke in the early morning, five beers throughout the entire day, and a lo-carb monster energy drink during Hatebreed’s set. The Mickster finished dinner while we walked around the Village. He wasn’t particularly impressed with the Mildly Fucked motif either.
Night usually descends on Shoreline about 45 minutes before the headliner -- traditionally Ozzy or Black Sabbath -- takes the stage. The cool evening air feels invigorating against the partial heatstroke of the day. Beer drinking time has long since past but the building excitement of anticipation keeps everyone high enough. The entire vibe changes as Shoreline approaches capacity, electric and about to explode. From our seats looking up toward the lawn, all the twinkling lights remind of an army waiting to do battle. When you’re so close to the stage with a few people nearby, it’s easy to forget about those 20,000 screaming souls above and behind. I have the same feelings of awe every year; Ozzfest 2007 was no different.
Ozzy’s pre-show Doctor-Doctor was a series of parodies
on the main stage’s giant video screen, spoofing Ozzy into popular television shows and movies. Ozzfest giving head to the Queen Of England was amusing but his spoof of Borat’s motel ass-in-face wrestling may have left scars on some. Other vignettes included Entourage with Drama in Las Vegas, Ozzy as Dr. Melfi of the Soprano’s counseling Tony and Carmela, Ozzy taking a crap in the middle of the floor on The Office, and Ozzy ripping the leg off Lady Ex-McCartney in Dancing With Stars.
Much of the stage began to glow in purple black light, and the video backdrop defaulted to a montage of floating crosses, you know the Christian kind for those who have been confused by black metal and can no longer tell the difference. Like miniature lightening storms, camera flashes lit random pockets of people up for a flash. Darkness draped over the amphitheatre as “O Fortuna” rang out over the PA, playing the band to the stage and into position. Ozzy screamed at the erupting crowd: “I CAN’T FUCKING HEAR YOU!” “ARE YOU HAVING A GOOD TIME?” “ARE YOU READY TO GO OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS?” “LET THE MADNESS BEGIN!” And off the band went with Bark Of The Moon.
I’m not sure exactly when the tears began. I remember staring at the stage with my mouth gaping open a silent, “What The FUCK?!!!” Frozen as a progressive fan in concert, I concentrated on absorbing every detail before me, lest I forget something. I marveled at the sight before my eyes, the sounds before my ears. I kept whacking the Mickster on the head, muttering, “Can you fucking believe this?” over and over again.
The Permanent Record is nowhere complete as a concert resume; I’ve probably been to 150 shows since METALSETLISTS started in 2004, and I haven’t reviewed or even discussed most of them the last two years. I have long since past the point of being star struck and count very few metal musicians as sources of inspiration, none as personal heroes. Something different was happening. Given my overall level of fatigue but especially that caused by two very emotional peak experiences of the day (Hatebreed and Lordi), the barriers that normally inhibit personal public displays of intimate feeling were down. I was letting it all in and all out, almost like when I play a Chopin nocturne on the piano for myself in the privacy of my home.
My emotional upheaval was largely inspiration in the presence of greatness. I’ve seen Zakk Wylde perform probably as much any band reviewed in the Permanent Record, and the man can hold down a show entirely on his own. Yet, I saw lessons in how Zakk served up the totality of his caged guitar fury for Ozzy. I thought about what it took to develop those guitar powers, what I could do in my own life to match the effort, and what I might achieve. That has nothing to do with being a guitar player -- which I’m not -- but with my own personal goals.
After all the things that have happened to Ozzy and those that he has done to himself, it’s amazing that he is still alive, much less performing annually at Ozzfest. Many on METALSETLISTS and elsewhere criticize him for everything from his wife to reality television. Ozzy’s voice isn’t always perfect but the man’s passion makes up for it. When Ozzy screams “Are you having a good time?”, I think he really means it. Rather than the self-parody our whiny teenagers mock in Ozzy, I see a man -- and not his age -- serving up a part of himself to bring an hour of joy to a couple of million people every summer. We all choose what we wish to see in this world and what I chose to see in Ozzy at Ozzfest 2007 was unbridled inspirational joy. It deeply affected me such I can not do it justice with my words.
Going way behind the music, I quickly overwhelmed myself with all these visions, some of past regret but so many more of a positive future. I learned a little something about letting more of myself into the world; the specific details are classified, mine alone for now. The doing comes first; the talk can come later.
Normally, Ozzy throws a few buckets of water into the crowd; the Mickster and I were excited about being in range this time around. A much grander effect, Ozzfest 2004 ended with these massive confetti cannons explosions, raining red, white, and blue confetti under Shoreline’s twin big tops for several minutes. Instead of buckets or confetti, we got rain. I don’t know when it started, how long or often, but it fucking rained! I stared up into mist, just as I did the confetti, only this was beginning of the set, not the end of the concert.
When it wasn’t raining, Ozzy was shooting the crowd with foam from a fire hose. Most of the people in the front rows looked like animated snowmen. There were so many smiles of admiration -- a lot of high-fives and hugs too -- celebrating how silly we all looked after being slimed with foam by the Prince of Darkness.
By the third song (Not Going Away), I was unfrozen and singing amazing well, something I do when no one can hear me. During Suicide Solution, Zakk took center stage and soloed for a brief eternity. Normally, I would bitch about such guitar wanking but it fit the night. I nearly lost my voice during I Don’t Know, my favorite solo Ozzy song of all time. Somehow, I pulled it together after resting a little during I’m Here For You. Before Ozzfest began, I told the Mickster that I was going to let it all out. And that near final burst of energy and singing made the few last songs a little blurry. I was getting it ALL out.
During either the end of Crazy Train or at the beginning of Paranoid, a mob rushed down the aisle and security was helpless to stop it from forming a small pit in front. It took me a couple of seconds to get my bearings and take my first steps into the madness. I quickly turned around and emptied my pockets in the Mickster’s direction. I plunged into the heart of the pit and ended up really close to the center; there was one person directly on the rail directly in front of Ozzy, another on the rail to his right. I was squished between the both of them but just not quite on the rail. A big bruiser came to my right and I started to push back but then just stopped. I put my arm on his shoulder and together we held our spot. A moment of tranquility, I let myself sway with the crowd, like a reed on a breezy pond. Staring up at Ozzy, he slapped a few hands as Paranoid closed out the night. My Ozzfest 2007 ended on a note of near metal perfection, all not bad for a show I almost didn't even attend.
(Remember Alan Schiff, the PLARS host? My ticket and pass probably came home with me because he took a couple minutes to secure them properly.)
Once out of seats and into the concessions concourse housing the Village of the Damned, I yelled at the top of my lungs every few feet for no other reason than I was so fucking pumped up. My gutturals set off a chain reaction of screams and hollers; apparently I wasn’t alone in that special metal place. Really a thing of Bouville’s, I was going to yell BLAZE IS THE MESSIAH for him but instead offered a “Maiden!” near the entrance gates to which I received no reply. It didn’t matter; my voice was destroyed. I was done.
The Mickster and I have had Ozzfests where it’s taken over an hour just to clear the parking lot, much less get on the highway. We were on 101 back to the Project Studio in twenty minutes. My ears were ringing so loudly; my body, aching so good. I ripped out my disposable contacts and tossed them out the window. Damn, I wish could make a pill to relive that hour.
I introduced the Mickster to Glen and showed him around the studio and the new rehearsal complex. The Mickster went home; Glen and I went to In ‘N Out. He was hungry and I needed to celebrate the glorious night with a Double Animal, which I customarily consume as quickly and sloppily as possible. Normally, I don’t like all that crap on my burger but the tradition started with Motorhead Jeff and Ozzfest 2004 and now I do it after all great concerts. Lesser concerts just get a double double; maybe extra cheese with my extra cheese on special occasions. Over In N Out, we talked a lot about Ozzy and what made Randy Rhoads so damn special. I lack the guitar knowledge to really appreciate these things. We went back to the studio and Glen listened to me while I exuded my excitement and lessons of the night. A couple of hours later, I departed the studio. “Hey Glen!” “What?” I ripped out my gutteral roar of Ozzfest 2007 causing a Glen to chuckle a bit.
Traditionally, I close entries in the Permanent Record with an Eddie award, 10 Eddies representing ANY Iron Maiden concert because Maiden is the standard by which all metal should be judged. Unfortunately, the Eddie just doesn’t really work with some shows and experiences. You’ve read my story and shared the day with me, so I’m not sure what a couple of digits really accomplish nearly 9500 words later. Ozzfest 2007 in general -- Lordi’s and Ozzy’s set in particular -- will go down in the books as one of my most memorable metal moments. I’ve written the eulogy for the Eddie several times but never carried out its death sentence. It’s good time to birth a new Eddie for all concerts moving forward. I’ll be attended the Bleeding Through concert at the Oakland; the Slayer / Manson stop in Concord, the next night. Expect the new Eddie in those reviews.
Chthonic was a pleasant surprise, earning an iTunes download. In This Moment is now official member of Pavo’s Shitty Bands: the ones I enjoy and most others here hate. I picked up their debut. Ditto for Lordi. Last but least, I’m now enjoying Ozzy’s music more than ever. My old play list consisted of the Prince Of Darkness box set with the recent addition of Black Rain; now I’m exploring and enjoying back albums I own in further depth.
Daath has some work cut out for them and need to swing around the Bay Area again for a fair shake. Static-X will get another chance because they are coming around with 3 Inches Of Blood. Unearned at Ozzfest, I bought Static-X’s Cannibal because the amount of time I spent with Destroyer during the days before the show. Check out Static-X’s Destroyer video. It’s a roller derby and really funny. Behemoth isn’t totally out of my doghouse but I’ll probably ease up a bit.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that Ozzfest made 30,000 tickets available for Shoreline but expected about 18,000. Shoreline was full for Ozzy but a lot of people ignored the second stage. FREEfest received a lot of criticism for the weakness of its lineup. I’m a little worried because we never waited for a beer and experienced only one line at a restroom. During my stroll in the Village, I noticed seat upgrades for being sold for $20. Other complained about $20 parking, normally free in past years. I don’t understand the exact economics of Ozzfest but I don’t think it worked. Maybe it will be enough of a success as a first year trial to do it again next year. However it needs to happen, I hope there’s an Ozzfest 2008; one anonymous Ozzfest employee told me (s)he wasn’t sure if the tour would be back, that it was up to Ozzy. Honestly, I’m a little worried about the future of Ozzfest 2008.
Dear Ozzfest Santa
Thanks for such great Ozzfest. I’m not ready for the festival to end. And if it does.. well, I had the Ozzfest that you want to have if it’s your last. Tell the elves to put together 2008 and to remember my program. I’ll tell everyone about it here in the Permanent Record. Maybe start the show earlier too like in past years. There’s nothing like a death metal growl in the morning fog at 9AM.
2/1/07 -- Ozzfest Announcement February 6th 11AM PST
2/6/07 -- Ozzfest 2007....FOR FREE (NOT BULLSHIT)
3/13.07 -- Ozzfest 2007 Routing
3/21/07 -- First Confirmed Acts for Ozzfest 2007
3-22-07 -- NILE Comments on Playing Ozzfest
3/22/07 -- 3 INCHES OF BLOOD and DAATH Added to Second Stage at Ozzfest
3/29/07 -- BEHEMOTH Added to Ozzfest Second Stage
5/12/07 -- Any of you guys try for the Ozzfest ticket code thing?
5/24/07 -- Prices Of VIP Packages For Free Ozzfest
6/8/07 -- Ozzfest Code Redemption Weekend -- Get Your Tickets
7/11/07 -- Ozzfest Band Schedule Posted