By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Photos by Greg Burk
A LOCUST MADE OF CLOUDS, BIGGER THAN AMERICA, hung in the sky over Ozzfest 2001, at the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion, outside San Bernardino, the last day of June. The insect's solitary eye, a waxing moon, shone down brightly on the baking throng, as if contemplating whom first to devour. An airplane trailed a banner: "Sin, death, Christ. Read John 3:16." Other reading material: many tattoos. Also T-shirts: Black Sabbath, Quiksilver, Cholos Rule, Lakers, Gilligan's Island, I Am Satan.
"Satan?" said a guy in a freeze-framed food line. "$4.75 for a hot dog -- that's Satan."
The reviews that follow won't include all the performances, a deficit that reflects attendee realities. Those wishing to eat, drink and urinate spent approximately 40 percent of their within-the-gates time in lines. Also, few witnessed the first four hours of bands (Hatebreed, Nonpoint, Beautiful Creatures, etc.). Not that they didn't want to. Average drive time from L.A. to within five miles of the site: 1.5 hours. Average "drive" time for that last five miles: 2.5 hours. Afterward, average time from arriving at car to egress from parking lot: 3 hours.
It was worth the pain if you truly love modern heavy metal. Or whatever you want to call it. One 28-year-old woman with a temporary insect tattoo on her bicep suggested "angry-male music."Listen to Black Label Society: Real Audio Format All For You
Zakk Wylde, the most radical human within several hundred miles, saw fit to observe from the microphone that Limp Bizkit sucks, an opinion not shared by most concertgoers, who greeted a flesh-shredding set by Wylde's Black Label Society with stunned incomprehension. Part of the gap is generational, widened by the patriarchal beard that the former Ozzy Osbourne sideman has sported for the past several months. But the real mystery was Wylde's fingers, which fluttered through improvisations of such complex hostility that many must have wondered how he did it, considering that the heavy metal electric guitar is now used almost exclusively for rhythmic accents and sound effects. Black magic?
The young dudes in Taproot clearly wanted to distinguish themselves from the dark hordes, dressing in white, playing songs with hooks and offering spring-tension rhythms. In spite of this, they went down strong -- must be 'cause they were in California, where it's sunny.
Crazy Town, though they're locals, didn't approve of sun, or of Hollywood Babylon, calling it a "plastic city." One felt most ashamed of oneself. Tall in stature, tall in attitude, these gents fell short only in imagination. Good slow grooves, though.
The groove was also the thing for Disturbed, fronted by a vocal-guy, David Draiman, who competes manfully with Fred Durst in the "bald prick" sweepstakes and who occasionally does a passable imitation of James Hetfield. Half the audience was glad to "get down with the sickness"; half was more interested in the trash fires on the hill.
Linkin Park didn't even have a decent groove. Whiners.
Two impressive things about the masked army Slipknot: The feedback they generated before they came on, and the way they whipped their green dreadlocks and headbanged in sync -- nice update of the Four Tops. You can get better horror masks on Hollywood Boulevard, though. Slipknot shocked the crowd by announcing that the corrupt record industry was deliberately withholding their already recorded but yet unreleased next album from their fans. You too may have noticed how music corporations prefer not to make millions on popular bands.
MUDVAYNE SINGER KUD SET THE TONE FOR THE whole fest by proclaiming early on, "I'd like to kill every fucking one of you." Murder and suicide: There's just no denying that many people now see those two acts as the central metaphors for their lives. When the master of ceremonies in the corpse makeup and the priestly vestments hammered a 5-inch nail into his sinus, pulled it out and licked off the blood, he plainly believed he was making a statement many watchers could identify with, and he was right. The overall level of life affirmation was near zero; even sex wilted in the blast of cheerful nihilism. Fake tits were solidly represented, and it would be insulting to assume that either displayers or oglers miss the parallels between augmentation and self-mutilation.
Marilyn Manson It was again left to Marilyn Manson, that veteran self-mutilator, to serve up a positive message. Cross-gartered and coifed in a rearward-flowing Afro, he introduced "Fight Song" by saying, "They want us to fight each other," and went on to offer his typically incisive critiques on drugs and depression ("The Dope Show"), powerlessness and anonymity ("The Nobodies") and gun worship ("The Love Song"), while his band gave an unassailable seminar in precision, dynamics and the art of noise. Needless to say, Manson always wants it both ways, so when he had opportunities to grope and simulo-fuck willing groupies onstage, he grabbed 'em. The scariest thing about his show was how unscary it seemed in context.
Rumor had it that Ozzy Osbourne was suffering from an ear infection, so when he repeatedly screamed "I can't hear you" at the audience, it may not have been just his usual act. Anyway, he and the rarely assembled rest of Black Sabbath bulldozed brilliantly through their hits, and only a small percentage of the crowd didn't stay to the end. Especially strong were a slow-grinding rendition of "Iron Man" and a definitively nuanced (the word really applies nowadays) "War Pigs," where drummer Bill Ward sounded as if he were playing one long, seamlessly connected series of rolls. The lone new selection, "Scary Dreams," turned out to be a slow blues -- un-ambitious, but Ozzy plainly felt it in his soul.