Hyundai Pavilion; San Bernardino, CA; 07/31/04

Reviewed by Keith Guillotine & R. Scott Bolton

Keith Guillotine: A couple of Rough Edge staff writers were invited to attend Ozzfest 2004 at the Hyundai Pavilion, (better known as the Glen Helen Pavilion) in sunny southern California on Saturday, July 31st.  It was a great time!

R. Scott Bolton: The drive was a bitch but we knew it would be. Not only were there thousands of people crowding into San Bernardino, the freeway that takes you to Las Vegas isn't too far away and it was swamped, too!

Guillotine: We arrived a little late (a little too much pre-fest partying?) and didn't get a chance to sample the sounds of some of the newest bands out there.  We arrived just in time to see Lacuna Coil take the stage so our apologies to those artists we missed.  I'm sure they did their best to get the crowd started on a day of rock'n'roll fun.  

Bolton: I can say this - by the time we did get there (just before noon) the Ozzfest crowd was already primed and ready to go. Those early bands - Darkest Hour, Every Time I Die, Magni Fi, Devildriver, God Forbid and Throwdown - must have done their job well. However, there was about a half hour difference in posted performance times and actual stage time. I wonder if one of those bands we missed got bumped or didn't make it ...?

Guillotine: I got a free CD sampler from the Ozzfest booth and want to say that Magna Fi and Throwdown both sounded great.  I'm sorry I missed their performances.  If they come to a local venue I'll definitely pay to check them out.

Bolton: And I was sorry we missed Devildriver since one of the bandmembers is from our area.

Guillotine: We did arrive in time to see Lacuna Coil, a band that I very much wanted to see.  This Italian based group has a hauntingly melodic European sound that sets them apart from other metal bands.  Up next was Otep, another good band with a lot of potential.  Check them both out of you get a chance.

Bolton: It was shortly after Lacuna Coil took the stage that I began to realize we could tell how well each band was connecting with the audience by how high the cloud of dust the mosh pit kicked up was. The stage was built on what was basically a huge dust bowl and, when the moshing began, the more intense it got, the higher the dust cloud. I must confess that from our vantage point, we couldn't see a lot of the bands through all of the dust. We certainly heard them, though!

Guillotine: Then came Bleeding Through.  To the producers of Ozzfest 2005:  Please don't consider these guys when deciding next year's lineup (if they even still exist in a year).  Personally, I give them four months before the lead singer gets fired and/or the band breaks up completely!  If you have a chance to see these guys, I recommend giving your ticket money to the homeless and running your finger nails down a chalkboard instead.  They spent more time trying to convince the audience they were great instead of actually playing music.

Bolton: I hate to diss any band, but I have to agree with Keith here. Bleeding Through were the disappointment of the day, churning out a wall of pure noise that only barely resembled music.  I will give them Dust Cloud credit, though. Although they were far from the highest of the day, they weren't the lowest, either.

Guillotine: Other opening bands on the side stage venue were:  Atreyu, Lamb Of God, Hatebreed, and Slipknot.  All great, made the first half of the show enjoyable.

Bolton: Dust Cloud ratings for these bands: Atreyu - impressive; Lamb of God - huge; Hatebreed - not bad; Slipknot - tornado. Slipknot have been quoted as saying they asked to play the second stage this year and they couldn't have made a better choice. Their performance topped off a great day of second stage entertainment and got the fans in just the right mood for the main stage.

Guillotine: The second half of Ozzfest started out even better. However, they did throw in a group called Superjoint Ritual.  Maybe it was because they followed Black Label Society (a band that kicks ass no matter where they play), or maybe they just weren't any good.  Either reason, these guys didn't impress me at all.

Bolton: Black Label Society started off the main stage entertainment with a bang. Zakk Wylde and company came to kick ass or chew bubble gum ... and they were all out of bubble gum (apologies to John Carpenter). Keith's right: Black Label Society sound great no matter where they play and Zakk's genuine appreciation of the audience's interaction made it all the better. I can't say the same about Superjoint Ritual. I was actually looking forward to Phil Anselmo's new band ... that is, until Phil opened his mouth between songs. Talking about the size of his penis ("This crowd's almost as big as my dick!"), threatening people who didn't get the band ("If you don't like what we're doing, meet me around back and I'll kick your ass!" and "If you don't like Superjoint Ritual, you can suck my dick!") and, worst of all, calling himself the king of heavy metal and hardcore (especially considering the bands that were to follow him), Phil earned himself a 50/50 split of wild cheers and pissed off boos when Superjoint finished their set. His final words, "Hail, Satan!" made much of the crowd roll their eyes in scorn.

Guillotine: By this time the sun was going down and the craziness was starting to escalate.  I'm not a big fan of Slayer, but I will admit they did a great job in keeping the crowd rowdy.  By this time the chicks with painted-on shirts were starting to get dressed (bummer), and the "bonfire squad" was getting to work running around putting out trash fires like keystone cops.  It didn't matter though; as soon as they left each fire to attack another, the fans had the blaze going again and people were moshing in tribal frenzies.  I saw as many as ten fires all going at the same time.  Too cool.

Bolton: Dimmu Borgir took the stage before Slayer and I was stunned to discover they sound nearly the same live as they do in the studio. It seemed to me that the band's complex sound would be nearly impossible to perform live but damned if they didn't do it. The band's energy roared off the stage and swept into the audience, especially the man in the row in front of me who stood, danced and sang every lyric of every song Dimmu Borgir performed. He was in his own personal heaven. Slayer did what they always do - played fast and furious. It seemed to me, however, that everything was played by rote. The band didn't seem to have any passion for what they were playing. Luckily for them, their music is intense and ferocious and the audience didn't care. 

Guillotine: Anyway, the last two bands were Judas Priest and of course Black Sabbath.  This was Ozzfest ... I don't know what else to tell you, except that during the Black Sabbath show there was a full moon out directly facing the stage (think about it).  You either love this shit or you're reading the wrong website.

Bolton: I had the good fortune to see Priest with Rob Halford years ago at the Los Angeles Forum but I have to tell you the band is better today than they've ever been. Priest had the audience eating out of their hands for their entire set. Rob Halford was the star of the entire festival, strutting around the stage with more energy than anyone half his age has any right to. His voice seemed a little rough at first but then smoothed out and become the Voice that all metal fans love. And it was something to turn around and watch about 50,000 heavy metal fans singing the lyrics to "Breakin' the Law" in unison. "Painkiller" was another highlight. The band seemed to be in perfect unity and played with a new hunger and ferocity. If Priest's performance at Ozzfest is any indication, their new CD is going to kick some serious ass.

Sabbath, closing the evening, was exactly what you'd expect them to be, with a little bump here and there. Ozzy was out of control, apparently borrowing some of that energy that Halford brought to the stage. The same can't be said for Tony Iommi, who seemed a little stiff, although still brilliant, for most of the performance. And it didn't help that the mix was bad and that his guitars were too loud compared to the other instruments and a little tinny. Still, it was great to see Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill on stage again. One could only wish that they had some newer music to play than the antiquities they brought out again this evening. I mean, you can never hear "Iron Man," "War Pigs" or "N.I.B." too many times, but it'd be nice to have something, anything, a little fresher. 

Overall, though, Ozzfest 2004 made me remember how much fun a full day live music event can be. I can't wait for next year!

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.