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Friday September 1, 2000

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The Land of Ozz

By Ty Young

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Ozzfest blends new heavy bands with master metal icon

All inhibition, sanity and -for much of the crowd - clothing was shed when Ozzfest rolled into Phoenix last night.

With an audience that spanned nearly five generations, each band added their own personal touch to a festival depicted to the celebration of fervent emotion, loud screams and for the most part, indistinguishable lyrics.

In true festival form, fans were treated to side shows like "Be the Meat in a Lesbian Sandwich," and "Ride the Bull From Hell." Tattoo artists and photo booths were also present, giving fans distractions from the performers.

Still, the night belonged to the music and Osborne, whose career of hard-hitting metal music has defined and inspired years of hard-core rock fans.

Opening with a spoof of the now infamous "Wazzup" Budweiser commercial, Osborne donned a giant afro and gave the signature line in true comedic fashion.

From there, Osborne took the fervent crowd on a roller-coaster ride of heavy metal and heartfelt ballads, as well as his own unique brand of stage performing.

Oblivious to the perpetual Arizona drought conditions, Osborne dosed the crowd with gallons upon gallons of water from cannons mounted to the stage, as well as two hand-held hoses that he wielded during every song. The crowd mopped up the water with their bodies, feeding off the hydration like desert plants.

Osborne engaged the crowd, from the young children sitting atop their parents' shoulders to the elder statesmen in the audience, in typical Ozzy fashion - with a lot of screaming and shouting.

"You know what man? I know you guys can get fucking rowdier than this," he screamed. I'm not gonna continue until every one of you gets fucking rowdy!"

The crowd responded every time Osborne beckoned for their attention. Even when his words were indecipherable, the audience blew up in a reaction to his voice.

Prancing around stage and hopping up and down, Osborne showed that while time has taken some of his physical ability, there is no replacing his heart and energy. While singing, he stood as stoic as a statue in true Ozzy style, but between the lyrics, he ran around the stage, poured water on the crowd and unleashed the level of electricity that has defined heavy-metal for years.

The touring band was exceptional as it kept pace with famous Black Sabbath and Osborne classics like "Mr. Crowley," "Crazytrain," and "Suicide Solution." Prior to playing "Flying High Again," Osborne prepped the crowd for a potential drug-induced cloud of smoke and lighters.

"Let me ask you a question. Is there anyone in the crowd who smokes dope?" he asked. "I've smoked my fair share and I'm still around."

The simultaneous echoing of lighters could be heard throughout the as the air was filled with smoke.

Taking a step back, Osborne played "Mamma I'm Coming Home" with enough heartfelt emotion that it looked like his black eye-liner was going to smudge from tears. The crowd held up its lighters and, with the demonic stage set and torches, gave the appearance of an early Halloween at Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion.

While the audience was certainly appreciative of Osborne's legacy, all of the musicians involved in the festival paid homage to the metal-god's presence.

"More than anything else, Black Sabbath is what turned me on to guitar," said Godsmack guitarist Tony Rombola. "With Ozzy, I followed his career, followed every record, learned every song. I'd say he's a huge part."

Representing the Christian Rock crowd was Payable on Death, known as P.O.D. to metal fans. While lyrically their music was uplifting, it was a far cry from the gospel music that religious music groups have been stereotyped with.

Playing popular hard-core tunes such as "Southtown" and "Party all night long," the band took a relatively apathetic crowd into a moshing frenzy. Under the backdrop of a dreadlocked Jesus surrounded by cherubs, frontman Sonny called out to the audience, urging them to get out of their seats and slam to the beat. The crowd answered with loud cheers and a small mosh pit .

Dosed with funky base lines and energetic guitar rifts, the audience removed their inhibitions and grooved with the beat. Despite playing a mere 30 minutes, P.O.D. displayed why they are one of the most popular metal bands to come out of San Diego in recent years.

Tommy Lee's newest band, Methods of Mayhem, introduced a new sound to the Ozzfest patrons. Incorporating rapper Tim Murry and a touring DJ, Lee exposed the audience to a sound much different than that during his Motley Crew days.

The day was exceptionally special for Lee. Brandishing a beer on stage, Lee held it up to the crowd and explained the occasion.

"After two and a half years...a judge let my ass of fucking probation," he screamed. "There's nothing more that I'd like to do than drink this with all you motherfuckers."

The crowd jumped to its feet, celebrating this momentous occasion with the Methods of Mayhem guitarist.

Adding to the club-metal sound was Incubus, whose DJ-induced brought the fans into a fever of slam-dancing bodies. Frontman Brandon Boyd brought out his bongo drum, merging jungle-techno beats with hard-core metal guitar rifts.

While the crowd was passive at first, they jumped out of their seats when Incubus began playing radio hits "Pardon Me," and "Stellar."

The most interesting element to the Incubus set was certainly the backdrop they played under. The band's name was lost in the picture - an Asian man copulating with a young female while surrounded by octopus.

Following Incubus on the main stage was Static-X, who brought their high energy stage presence to a crowd hungry for an excuse to mosh. Frontman Wayne Static used his multiple-octave shouting to entice the crowd into a writhing mess of bodies. Static's voice and vacant stare moved the crowd in any direction he pleased as he prowled around the stage.

After a much needed break, the band toweled off and played its final song, radio hit "Push It." Bass player Tony Campos gave up his instrument and joined the mosh pit as Static continue to search audience for people sitting down.

Godsmack was up next and brought out even more out of the energized crowd.

With seizing strobe lights and a fan-friendly voice, Godsmack wowed the audience for nearly an hour. Frontman Sully Erna called out to the audience, begging for more energy, more electricity and more moshing.

"You guys have rested long enough," bellowed Erna. "I can see all of you sitting down. Let's move this place around."

The crowd followed suit, giving even more as it writhed with moshing bodies - which was not enough for Erna and the rest of the band.

"That's the most boring mosh pit I've seen in my entire life. Let's get the fuck up," he screamed.

Once the audience brought its cheering and dancing to an acceptable level, the band played its radio hit singles "Voodoo," and "Keep Away."

Following Godsmack on the main stage was Pantera, who brought the heaviest metal sound of the night. With a smoke-filled stage show and reflective, piercing lights, the band brought all the fans to their feet. A large bonfire was lit in the center of the lawn section, enticing fans to light articles of clothing on fire and swing them around in a frantic display of emotion.

When the band played one of its most popular songs, "Walk," the crowd sang along. Their voices echoed throughout the auditorium, inspiring Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo to call out in a haunting, thundering voice.

"We're a pure metal band - strictly metal­" he yelled. "We've never let you down. All this jumping around is a bunch of shit. I want to see some head-banging and some fuckin (mosh) pits."

Once again, like minions of a dark religion, the crowd obeyed, stepping up their frantic pace into a rage of electricity. Anselmo, who earlier threatened to stop playing if he did not see the crowd reacting to his liking, thanked the fans.

Relegated to the second stage, bands Kittie and Disturbed displayed the reason why they were included on the Ozzfest bill.

Opening their half-hour set with frontman wheeled out on stage in Hannibal Lector garb, Disturbed blew the crowd away with their high energy sound. After removing the insane asylum gurney and mask, the band proceeded to play a blistering set, receiving a huge crowd response.

As the only female group on the bill, Kittie proved their worth as they played a giant set, incorporating radio-hits "Brackish" and "Charlotte." Removing themselves from the stereotypical female-band sound, Kittie exposed the aggression that has distinguished the young band as one of the hardest-rocking groups currently in the music scene. While the crowd was very receptive to the show, there were some in the audience who were disturbed with the performance- evidenced by the few people sitting down throughout the show.

"I thought Ozzy was a disappointment," said University of Arizona finance senior Jason Hyams. "I saw him in '92 on the No More Tears tour. I thought he did a much better job (back then)."

Overall, the show was a spectacle of sites, sounds, and most of all, metal. With the change in direction that heavy metal is now facing, Ozzy Osborne did his best to bring it back to where it once was.

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