Monday, July 2, 2001
Osbourne, Manson Men of the Hour at Ozzfest 2001
By LINA LECARO, Special to The Times
Is heavy metal's commercial success dampening its intensity?
That was the question that seemed to linger in the sweltering, 100-plus-degree air at this
year's Ozzfest on Saturday at the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion.
From tattooed prancers and masked thrashers to Gothy
crooners and bewitching elder statesmen, Ozzfest 2001 served up one of the strongest
lineups of metallic pandemonium ever, but with the sounds going back and forth between
radio-friendly grooves and earsplitting clatter, it was hard to know where the festival's
musical heart really rests.
Things didn't get off to a smooth start because many fans,
especially those coming from Los Angeles, were stuck up to a numbing three hours in
traffic because of a backup in getting to the freeway offramp leading to the venue. That
meant fans missed the early performers, including Otep, Union Underground and Mudvayne.
Bands such as Linkin Park, Crazy Town, Disturbed and Papa
Roach have achieved major sales with their blend of thrusting riffs and angst-riddled
melodies, but none really goes for the full-throttle sonic chaos that's made modern metal
an enduring underground phenomenon.
While these "nu-metal" acts deserve credit for
bringing heavier music to new audiences, the headbanging purists that Ozzfest was
originally created for seem to like things even more menacing.
Not to say that the above acts' performances weren't
powerful. Linkin Park and Papa Roach were particularly tight, with each band spewing their
hits with rhythmic precision. Both boasted vocalists whose heartfelt wails and words
evoked the pain and frustration felt by many adolescents.
Still, it was the clamorous reverberations of head-shrouded
Slipknot that seemed to satisfy the noise-hungry audience most. Wearing matching black
jumpsuits embellished with the band's bizarre symbols and their signature creepy masks,
the nine-piece group was as ominous visually as sonically.
The fiendish group's speed-metal-style tunes seemed to
possess the crowd, and "Heretic Song," from the group's next album, offered an
almost rap-like brutality that will likely keep its fans addicted, even if it won't propel
it into the mainstream.
* * * Not
surprisingly, it was gloomy bad boy Marilyn Manson who tied the extremely diverse show
together. Now as recognizable as the celebrities whose names he's appropriated, Manson
nevertheless remains an iconoclast.
Manson's ability to walk the line between pop star and
outcast--something he demonstrated when he fondled a topless female during his version of
the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams"--is not unlike metal legend Ozzy Osbourne
The similarities between the two showmen were especially
clear when Osbourne and Black Sabbath closed the show. Guitarist Tony Iommi was a dynamo,
offering intricate solos that only a guitar god can pull off these days, but it was
Osbourne, as always, who stole the show with his devilish presence and whiny howls.
The current popularity of heavy-metal music may take it in
new directions, but if Saturday's show proved anything, it's that, right now anyway, there
truly is something for all rock-lovin' camps. Even if the current metal craze dwindles,
there will always be a boisterous underbelly waiting to emerge, and no matter how trendy
or untrendy it is, Ozzfest will likely continue to expose it.