Alpine Valley Music Theater
Aug. 6, 2000
Story by Tony BonyataLet's face it, heavy metal music is not an intelligent music. It's not meant to be cerebral or though-provoking. And although its message is often cloaked in the occult, with dark and macabre imagery, that's not really what makes it appealing to its fans. Heavy metal speaks not through words or melody, but through human angst, speed breaks, and churning rhythms. It's a feeling - when it connects, that starts in the base of the spinal cord and works its way up to the nape of the neck - causing uncontrollable convulsions to the beat of the drums, or headbanging as it's known.
Photos by Phil Bonyata
And although this phenomenon seems to be linked with high levels of testosterone, when that bat eating, crazy godfather of metal, Ozzy Osbourne, brought his family of hardcore musical misfits along with him to East Troy's Alpine Valley Music Theater as part of Ozzfest 2000 last Sunday, there were almost as many females slamming their craniums in the crowd as males.
Yes, boys and girls, moms and dads, that cyclic monster known as heavy metal music has once again reared its ugly head. Despite the lack of radio play and MTV coverage, the Ozzfest tour has proven to be one of the most successful summer tour packages going.
And for metal fans it's no wonder. On the Ozzfest tour, Osbourne plays the ring-leader to his huge musical circus filled with 19 bands playing throughout 12 hours on two separate stages.
Although this year's line-up isn't the strongest in Ozzfest history (that would belong to the '97 tour which featured Marilyn Manson, Pantera, Fear Factory, Machine Head and Ozzy reunited with his former bandmates from the seminal heavy metal band Black Sabbath), it still had enough old monsters and new blood to keep things interesting.
The second stage, dubbed "Never Never Land," featured alot of the newer acts such as Deadlights, Slaves On Dope, Reveille, Taproot, Soulfly and Kittie. While most of these bands, including the all-girl act Kittie, played fast and furiously, turning bones to paste with their angst ridden sets, it was the Michigan-based band Taproot that showed some of the most potential. With their alternative rock song structures and hardcore metal delivery these guys could be the closest thing that day to a thinking man's metal. Vocalist Steve Richards' snarled and brayed over guitarist Mike DeWolf's sonic blasts through a blistering short set that featured material from their debut album Gift.
The mainstage featured some of the bigger metal acts such as P.O.D., Godsmack, Static-X, Methods of Mayhem (fronted by Motley Crue drummer and tabloid poster boy Tommy Lee), as well as Ozzy and the 'cowboys from hell' that everyone was there to see that night - Pantera.
P.O.D. turned in a solid performance, despite arriving late from a flight from Pittsburgh and only having enough time for one number. Tommy Lee then unveiled his latest project, Methods of Mayhem, which was the one act that veered slightly from the heavy menu of the day. Lee, clad in a gray jumpsuit and short disheveled hair, looked like he just got up from working under a '57 Chevy. With Janes Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins aptly pounding the skins, Lee took to the front, with guitar in tow, and gave a crude but at times effective vocal delivery. Mixing techno and rap into the metal stewpot, Lee and company kept things fresh for the glassy-eyed crowd, who by that time were drenched in a mixture of sweat and Milwaukee's finest.
The band Incubus added a soulful, yet still hard metal edge to the show, while Static-X turned in a stunning performance, highlighted with a menacing industrial cover of Ministry's "Burning Inside." Godsmack's deep-throated vocalist Sully Erna, with his Reznor-meets-Springsteen mannerisms, delivered a spirited set as the rest of the band ran through thrashing numbers like "Voodoo," "Whatever" and from their forthcoming album "Sick Of Life," which featured a hypnotic, coagulating bassline.
It was when the Texas-based band Pantera took the stage, however, that the crowd erupted - the sky peppered with flying sod and a huge, unruly mosh pit forming in the center of the lawn seats. Although Pantera's albums often tend to get bogged down in their own heaviness, as live performers there's no one in the metal realm that can hold a candle to them.
Vocalist Phil Anselmo, with the long hair and beard of producer Rick Rubin, growled and spat venom at the crowd as guitarist Dimebag Darrell, bassist Rex Brown and drummer Vinnie Paul churned through heavy dirges that turned from speed metal riffs to thrashy power chords on a dime. In fact, their odd timings and drastic structures make these guys the most interesting band in their genre.
When asked if there were any bands that really impressed him on this tour and how everyone is getting along with one another, Pantera's bassist Rex Brown explained, "I wouldn't want to take one band and put it out there. I've been trying to watch all the bands, but some of them go on at ten o'clock in the morning, so it's kinda hard for me, you know, when I don't go to bed 'till about seven (AM) or so. I gotta get some rest. But I'm making a point to see every band out here. There's a lot of camaraderie between the bands. It's a big family kinda deal." Brown continued, "What our fans should expect from this show is blood, sweat and a bunch of beers."
Ozzy Osbourne, with his trademark long brown hair and a shirt with the word "evil" spelled out on his chest in glitter, finished out the show, somewhat anticlimactically. As always, he brought along a hot group of flashy young bandmates, but unfortunately Ozzy turned out to be a self-parody of himself. His performance was filled with an incessant amount of pandering to the audience ("Come on, I can't hear you," and "I wanna see your hands in the air") and the slow, tired movements of an old man as he shuffled across the stage and just barely stayed in time - clapping his hands lethargically above his head.
Ozzy ran through a host of dark, pre-goth numbers from his days with Black Sabbath, such as "War Pigs" and "Symptoms Of The Universe," and although his band briskly tore though them, the arrangements were a little too flashy - lacking the heaviness of the original Sabbath versions. He also presented songs from his solo career such as "No More Tears," "Mr. Crowley," the controversial "Suicide Solution," and the sappy ballad "Mama I'm Coming Home," which despite being somewhat lackluster, still saw the crowd on their feet with fists pounding in the air.
Although Ozzy's seen better days himself, the bands that he brought with him made for an interesting day. And, more than likely, alot of sore necks the following day.
Return to Reviews
Return to Menu