red lights

Mullets, Mayhem and Metal

Ozzfest 2003
(Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Korn
Disturbed, Chevelle...)
Alpine Valley Music Theater
East Troy, WI
Aug. 2, 2003

Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson

Story by Tony Bonyata
Photos by Terry Mayer

Last Saturday marked the return of the multi-headed, heavy metal Hydra known as OzzFest to East Troy's Alpine Valley Music Theater. Spearheaded in 1996 by Sharon Osbourne, wife of former Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, this traveling all-day music concert was originally patterned after Perry Farrell's successful Lollapalooza festival from the early '90s - only after Sharon was turned down by Lollapalooza when she tried to get her husband on their bill. Having been told that Ozzy was basically washed up, Sharon decided to start her own music festival. But instead of featuring alternative rock acts as the former Jane's Addiction frontman did for his then-popular festival, Osbourne's concept was to bring together established and up-and-coming metal acts to open for a festival that would always secure her husband as the headlining act.
Disturbed Although the festival started out as a vehicle for Ozzy to perform, it was, more importantly, a way to get heavy metal to the masses. This concept not only kept Ozzy and his former band Black Sabbath in the minds of a new, younger generation, but at the same time also helped to jump start the careers of artist such as Marilyn Manson, System of a Down, Limp Bizkit, Queens of the Stone Age, Pantera, Slipknot, Fear Factory and many others.
Over the last couple of years Ozzfest has also had the privilege of added promotion due to MTV's immensely popular show The Osbournes, a reality / comedy show which follows Ozzy, Sharon and their two children, Jack and Kelly, through their unorthodox, dysfunctional, and often side-splitting, home life. The show has actually added a sense of humor to Ozzy's own live performance, which finds him clapping out of time and shuffling around the stage, much as he does in his own kitchen. Before his true character as the foul-mouthed, bumbling dad was revealed to the MTV generation, though, his tired, rock 'n' roll frontman schtick was downright sad. Now, with a heavy dose of self-parody, its downright funny.
Korn Although Sharon originally handpicked the acts for the festival herself, the job has more recently been relegated down to their children - the back-talking Jack and even fouler-mouthed-than-dad Kelly. The bands that the Osbournes have chosen for previous Ozzfests have featured virtually every style of metal known to both man and beast; speed, goth, rap, death, black and nu metal have all graced the two stages featured every year at this modern day freak show.
Despite the fights and violent moshing, Ozzfest is one of the few concerts that has financially faired quite well in the past. But this year the festival, like many other over-priced concerts in the midst of a sagging economy (including the newly resurrected Lollapalooza festival) are finding it harder to secure an audience willing to shell out big bucks to see a concert, even when there's over twenty bands on the bill. In order to fill empty seats, the festival's promoter Clear Channel Entertainment has recently reduced ticket prices to as low as $10 for lawn seats in certain cities.
Never one to skirt controversy, shock rocker Marilyn Manson, one of the bigger draws for this year's concert, has been banned from appearing at an upcoming New York Ozzfest. According to Pollstar, officials at Six Flags in Darien Lakes, New York are invoking a contractual clause to exclude Manson when Ozzfest stops there on August 11. Officials with the venue have said some people in the area are not comfortable with Six Flags hosting Manson. Of course, it's not too surprising considering that Six Flags promotes a more wholesome, family atmosphere, while Manson, on the other hand, is renowned for his outrageous and controversial stage performances where he skewers sexual, political and religious conventions alike.
Despite much of the success, tragedy has sporadically plagued the Ozzfest camp, from last year's death of Drowning Pool's 30-year old singer Dave Williams (caused by natural heart problems and not drugs, as originally speculated by many) to this year's banning of Manson in New York and 17-year old A&R music scout Jack Osbourne's recent stint in drug rehab, and now, for the first time in six years, disappointing sales. Whatever demons seem to follow, however, this monstrous metal festival always seems to rear its ugly head in the face of adversity.
The artist's who performed on this year's headline stage were, in order of appearance, Chevelle, Marilyn Manson, Disturbed, Korn and Ozzy himself. The second smaller stage featured Cradle of Filth, Voivod, Endo and Depswa along with another dozen metal acts, all hoping to get a life-giving jolt of electricity from rock 'n' roll madman Ozzy Osbourne.

Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson

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