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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Festival Review: Ozzfest 2006

Columbus, OH, Germain Amphitheater, July 21, 2006

Ozzfest returned to Columbus with a vengeance with acts such as Atreyu, Black Label Society, Dragonforce, Hatebreed, Disturbed and System of a Down. While heavyweights System of a Down and Disturbed headlined the show, the smaller bands that played throughout the day proved to be Justas entertaining.

Atreyu and Black Label Society closed out the second stage with a bang. Atreyu had an enormous crowd for their set and the band obliged them by spraying the crowd with water to combat the heat. The band had a lot of energy and seemed genuinely happy to be there. In between songs, singer Alex Varkatzas profusely thanked the crowd for braving the heat and made damn well sure that they knew that Black Label Society was next and Dragonforce was playing the main stage.

After Atreyus set, Black Label Society got ready to take the stage. A huge black banner with the bands logo blocked the stage from view as roadies moved equipment behind it. Wylde's chants tore through the crowd. An air raid siren blasted form the stage and a voice challenged the Columbus chapter of the Black Label Society to raise their beers and joints to the sky. The curtain fell revealing Zakk Wylde and his cohorts who proceeded to show the crowd what metal music is all about. They played three songs before Wylde introduced the band. He then played a screeching near-10 minute guitar solo that culminated in a cover of the Star Spangled Banner. He played behind his head, he played with his tongue, he played like a metal god before his loyal subjects. USA chants broke when the solo ended and Zakk raised his drink and said, "God bless the mutha' fuckin' troops!"

Dragonforce took the main stage by storm with a unique style for this year's Ozzfest. It was almost like having a flashback to 1985 complete with guitarists leaping off the drum riser, kicking the air, playing while leaning on each others backs, and best of all a keytar. Yes, you read that right. After their third song, the keyboardist jumped off of his riser, picked up a keytar and jammed on the fourth and last song. A longer set would have been much appreciated, but with some many bands on the bill, someone has to get cut.

Lacuna Coil took the stage after Dragonforce with no introduction and a mild crowd interest. While female vocalist Cristina Scabbia and male vocalist Andrea Ferro offset each other providing a good melody, the timing of the band on the first few songs seemed to be off. The high point of the set was a cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, which garnered a surprisingly strong crowd response.

"Its not going to get much heavier than this," growled Hatebreeds Jamey Jasta. And he was right. Hatebreed took the stage with a fury that got the pavilion crowd to their feet and mosh pits started out on the lawn. Jasta worked the crowd like a pro and more than likely gained many new converts to his style of hardcore music. Jasta got the crowd to take off their shirts and wave them over their heads like helicopters. Hatebreed played a new song off their newest release, Supremacy, and they dedicated their song, Puritan, to the Black Label Society and everyone else in the "old school."

Avenged Sevenfold took the stage just before Disturbed. As soon as the crowd saw the skull with wings ascend behind the drum kit, everyone went nuts. Most of the crowd was on their feet for the entire set of guitar solos, pounding drums and amusing stage lights. The biggest crowd pleaser was a note-for-note cover of Panteras Walk, to which M. Shadows dedicated to the best fuckin' guitar player who ever played metal, Dimebag Darrell. The last song they played was Bat Country, a song that sounds little like anything else in their set. It was somewhat of a letdown from the more classic-style metal they were previously playing.

Disturbed didn't need an introduction, as the entire crowd knew they were coming. More than a few fans could be heard yelling that Disturbed should have headlined the show. The entire crowd was standing for their entire set. After the first song, singer David Draiman, with a theatrical flare, introduced the members of the band. Two songs later, he then asked the amphitheater guests to hold up their lighters; before the sun had even gone down. Disturbed played all of their numerous hits in a solid by the numbers set.

System of a Down never ceases to amaze, and Ozzfest was no exception. Concentrating mostly on their last two albums, Mesmerize and Hypnotize, System did not disappoint. Classics like Chop Suey! proved to be great sing-alongs. In fact, most of Systems set had the crowd singing along. Mini mosh pits broke out throughout the amphitheater for almost every song.

While disappointing that Ozzy Osbourne himself wasn't present, Ozzfest is proof positive that metal and heavy music are making a comeback in today's popular culture that is dominated by hip-hop and pop punk acts. The entire show was entertaining and had something for most people, weather its body painting, glow in the dark thongs, marijuana leaf leis, or just people-watching; Ozzfest delivered.

- Tim Razler

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