I've never seen heavy metal more alive than at Ozzfest 1999 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA. It's a tribute to the bands who play and a testament to the strength of the genre and the people who follow it. This time around, it looked as though the crowd was younger and more energetic.
Godsmack was the first band I caught on the main stage. They were decent with their chug-a-chug style of hard metal.
Primus were next. Being one of my favourite bands, they completely thrilled me. They opened with Pudding Time followed by Damned Blue Collar Tweekers where we were introduced to Buckethead (who literally wears a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) bucket on his head and a mime-like mask) who played additional guitars. Buckethead went to display his nun-chuck abilities in My Name is Mud ("So I kissed him upside the cranium with an aluminum nun-chuck"). In the middle of Too Many Puppies they teased the audience by breaking into the opening riff of Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne. They then opened with a new song, Anti-Pop which sounded like a typical Primus radio song (à la Wynona's Big Brown Beaver) except that Les Claypool didn't have that much melody in the lyrics (i.e., the lyrics were more intoned in the style of Mephisto and Kevin from the Chef Aid: The South Park Album). They finished the set with Harold of the Rocks. The only problem with Primus was that their set was too short!
As usual, Slayer opened by introducing us to videos of people cutting the band's name on their arms. They played a great set (not enough of their old stuff though) to a crowd that really got into them. One of the nice things about Slayer is that they remind us of the violence that occurs in our day-to-day life that others forms of media try to make us forget. And the reminder isn't subtle either---it's a full in-your-face assault to the senses, both in terms of the visual imagery and the music. The atrocities committed by humans upon other humans are arguably some of the most illogical acts ever and Slayer illustrate this beautifully by bringing the topic of death to the forefront.
I then moved to the second stage where I caught Fear Factory who did a great set consisting of tunes like Demanufacture, Replica, and Cars. Vocalist Burton Bell was as intense as ever, and the band was in fine form. Definitely a set that connected and resonated with the audience. After Fear Factory, I caught a bit of the Deftones who were also pretty energetic, much like the last time I saw them when they opened for KISS.
An elaborate set, pyrotechnics, scantily-clad dancing girls, clips of B videos, and camouflage makeup for the band marked the appearance of Rob Zombie. Basically this show (in terms of the visuals) was very similar to the White Zombie show about four years ago. Songs they played included Devil Man, More Human than Human, and Dragula. Cooler aspects of the set included Rob Zombie running out on the lawn and mixing with the crowd (prefixing it with "I'd rather be with you people instead of on this stage") and inviting Kerry King of Slayer to join him on stage.
Black Sabbath, the proto-metal pioneers who started it all and, in some ways, made it possible for all the other bands to be where they are today, came on to a rousing ovation. Vocalist Ozzy Osbourne was pretty good, jumping around quite a bit and entertaining the crowd, but his voice is clearly not what it used to be. However, the band was still a potent combination with the original lineup of Bill Ward on drums, Tony Iommi on guitars, and Geezer Butler on bass. They were even heavier and doomier than Slayer!
The tunes they played included War Pigs, N.I.B, Fairies Wear Boots, After Forever, Electric Funeral, Sweet Leaf (which until this show I thought was a song about a girl), Into the Void, Snowblind, Black Sabbath, Iron Man. They closed with Children of the Grave and came back for encore with Paranoid. As with last Ozzfest I saw, Ozzy's fascination with water remained unabated---in fact, this time the huge Ozzfest sign had squirters equipped with them and Ozzy got in the act by spraying water from the house on the audience.
Before Black Sabbath came on, we were shown a video explaining why the band reunited. The band closed with some pretty impressive fireworks. After Into the Void, Iommi played a cool guitar solo where a huge number of people in the audience had their lighters lit up making for a really nice effect. After the solo, Ozzy bowed down to him clearly embarrassing the amazing guitarist who has really carried the Black Sabbath flag all these years, almost single-handedly for many of them.
For the first time in a long time, I went alone to a concert by myself without a ticket and got a 10th row seat for $15 cheaper than the cost of the ticket! I really recommend this approach especially if you're into it for the music.
All in all, the Ozzfest is definitely a great show with great music and a fun crowd---probably the only festival worth going to these days in my view.
Alright now! Won't you listen? When I first met you, I didn't realise I can't forget you, for your suprise. You introduced me to my mind and left me wanting you and your kind. I love you, oh you know it. My life was empty forever on a down until you took me, showed me around. My life is free now, my life is clear. I love you sweet leaf, though you can't hear. Come on now, try it out. Straight people don't know, what you're about. They put you down and shut you out. You gave to me a new belief and soon the world will love you, sweet leaf. --Black Sabbath, Sweet Leaf