Live Review: OZZfest 2010, San Bernardino – Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Devildriver, Black Label Society, Halford
Mon, 16 Aug 2010 10:49:49
OZZfest 2010 showcased everything that's right in modern heavy metal.
From the unbridled, unnerving brutality that was Goatwhore's second stage salvo to Mötley Crüe's fist-pumping main stage rager, OZZfest 2010 highlighted the cream of the underground crop as well as the legends on the scene that still have it.
However, at the San Bernardino kick-off, one band fit snugly between those two extremes, and that was Devildriver. Their early evening show rapturously roared with a Pantera-style gusto that teetered between death metal technicality and hard rock infectiousness. The band ignited 45 minutes of metallic steamrolling with "End of the Line." Frontman Dez Fafara slowly stalked the stage before erupting with a scream that could be felt all the way at the top of the lawn. His voice seamlessly careened from cryptic verses into chaotically cathartic choruses. Fafara conjured pure destruction, belting out the song's hook like the very fate of metal depended on it. "Pray for Villains" walked the line between calculated sonic violence and anthemic arena brilliance. Drummer John Boecklin played at light speed, while allowing each groove ample room to pummel. For "I Could Care Less," guitarists Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer stirred up an eerie darkness on the intro that quickly launched the biggest sing-a-long of the band's set. Kendrick and Spreitzer are one of the best duos in the genre, carefully mixing a European-style intricacy with old school grit. "The Mountain" further cemented the axemen's supremacy, while bassist Jon Miller hairwhipped the crowd into oblivion. Miller also laid down an earthquaking sonic rumble that Satan himself couldn't break through.
"Before the Hangman's Noose" shook the venue with its syncopated guitar guillotine, while "Hold Back the Day" stomped out its own Vulgar Display. Before "Meet the Wretched" bashed it all home, Fafara smiled and exclaimed, "Let's see what happens down here and fucking up there," pointing at the lawn. All hell broke loose, and Devildriver ended the set victoriously.
On the heavy side of things, Goatwhore sparked fist-pumping across the crowd with the maniacal metal mastery that is "Carving Out the eyes of God" and "Apocalyptic Havoc." The band assaulted the senses with a combination of sludged-out NOLA groove and uncontainable black metal bashing. Meanwhile, Exodus's speed-freak thrash ripped faces after an ominous acoustic intro.
Drowning Pool slid through a hyper-charged list of hits including the Alice In Chains-y "37 Stitches" and a scorching "Step Up," fueled by C.J. Pierce's flawless soloing. Before an eerie "Tear Away," singer Ryan McCombs announced, "I want to take you back to OZZfest 2001-2002." There was no time warp necessary though, as the track sounded more vital than ever.
Before "Bodies," McCombs asked, "Can we make some memories here?"
With the ensuing mosh pit, those memories were covered in dirt, blood and sweat—just like all great OZZfest moments.
No one on the face of this planet can shred like Zakk Wylde. Black Label Society's second stage headline stint showed a band that's "stronger than death" with grooves stronger than all. Wylde's fleet-fingered virtuosity anchored "Crazy Horse" and "Overlord" from the band's gut-busting new offering, Order of the Black. Simultaneously, he sang his soul out with the hooks matching the riffs. Somehow, Wylde manages to do it all perfectly and with a big smile. "Parade of the Dead" barreled through the crowd's screams with its thrash-ed out bludgeoning, and "Fire It Up" was so catchy, it could've even sparked some dancing. "Stillborn" closed out the mayhem with a few final solos from Wylde, making for the ultimate metal show from the ultimate shredder.
Back on the main stage, Nonpoint's "What A Day" revved up the crowd with its insanely catchy refrain, while Halford sounded pristine during the dark "Golgotha" and soaring "Nailed to the Gun."
Nothing all summer will compare to the one-two punch that was Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne though. Mötley stormed the stage with "Kickstart My Heart" as Vince Neil declared, "Make some fucking noise!" The audience obliged as fireworks exploded all around the band. The legendary foursome beamed with a youthful exuberance as they criss-crossed each other in front of a steel cityscape behind them that resembled Los Angeles in Demolition Man. Mick Mars lit up the fret board on "Wild Side," while "Shout at the Devil" reverberated with genuine vigor. There was a clanking futuristic fire burning in the embers of "Saints of Los Angeles," which proudly carried through the packed venue with same power of "Looks that Kill." Nikki Sixx stood emblematic of all things badass churning out the groove on "Livewire." "Home Sweet Home" is the ultimate power ballad to this day, with its soaring piano and Neil's undeniable croon. The Crüe closed out the set with "Dr. Feelgood" and "Girls, Girls, Girls" ensuring booty-shaking and headbanging all over the venue.
Ozzy Osbourne is one of the greatest entertainers in history—regardless of genre or medium. Ozzy's set at OZZfest 2010 showed him at the top of his game, and it's remarkable just how magical and "fucking metal" he is after all these years. Granted, he is the Vito Corleone of the genre, but no one can touch him.
One reason, Ozzy's still relevant is he embraces modern pop culture, while flipping it a giant middle finger. His opening montage was utterly hilarious. Similar to previous years, Ozzy inserted himself into a variety of the modern zeitgeist's most famous and infamous works. As an Avatar, he exclaimed, "I'm feeling a little blue. Are my balls blue too?" Then in a pivotal episode of Jersey Shore, he took Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's spot and asked, "Who brought the fucking midget?" in regards to Snookie. The biggest laughs came when Ozzy popped up as Beyonce in the Lady Gaga video for "Telephone" posing a question that everyone wants to ask to Gaga, "What the fuck are you wearing?"
The only thing that could top that intro was the 90 minutes of music that followed. Ozzy kicked off the set with a blazing "Bark at the Moon." During the chorus, Ozzy barked with a nearly orchestral howl that immediately brought the crowd to its feet and kept them there for the entire show. His voice was utterly impenetrable, and he injected a new life into the classic track. It was riveting hearing this track so goddamn energized. Meanwhile, guitarist Gus G. engaged a sensory assault all his own with perfect playing. He and Ozzy shared that classic chemistry and it bubbled over at all the right moments.
"Let Me Hear You Scream" resounded with the same palpable power that "I Don't Know" did. "Mr. Crowley" cast a psychedelic spell on the crowd with Ozzy's voice and Blasko's bass swirling in unison. "Fairies Wear Boots" transported the audience back to the beginning but with a distinctly 21st century flare from Tommy Clufetos's percussive mastery. Gus G. pulled off the mind-bending "Suicide Solution" solo with precision and poise, while Blasko infused "Iron Man" with swagger and style.
"Road to Nowhere" felt poignant and poetic, as Ozzy crooned out the chorus, and "Shot in the Dark" could've awoken the dead with how much passion he put behind it. "Killer of Giants" and "Fire in the Sky" were rarely heard treats for the ready and willing crowd.
At one point, everything came together. Ozzy stared out at the amphitheater with a wide grin and announced, "I fucking mean it when I say I love you people! Man, God bless you all."
He blessed them once more with "Paranoid" and "Crazy Train," and walked off stage to a resounding roar. Ozzy's still king, and his kingdom flourishes…
Were you there?