Review & photos by Rachel Jablonski
Ozzfest 2004 would not be as memorable as it is for me today were it not for some special people. I would like to thank the Lansing and Bonner Springs police departments for allowing my secondhand pot smoke infested mind to note detail. Were it not for Officer Mike of the Lansing force and Officer Miller of the Bonner Springs force, I would not have been able to clearly remember many of the details included in this Ozzfest review. Thank you boys, for loaning me your pens, holding up that piece of already stable wood, and reluctantly making a few arrests. I admire the deep appreciation held for the thunderous, booming bass drum. Job well done.
I would also like to thank my new friend Lisa from Independence, KS for her kindness and dedication. As a hardcore Lamb of God fan, she dared to reside in the front row during their set and consequently stumbled upon pandemonium. I would guess the experience was worth every scratch, cut, and bruise. Lamb of God, without a doubt, delivered the best set of the day.
On stage, flaunting an anti-Bush t-shirt with a picture of George W’s face circled and struck out with a red line, vocalist Randy Blythe was outstanding. The most intriguing vocalist in metal right now, in my opinion anyway, Blythe took control of the audience with his energized stage presence and tantalizing voice.
“I hate it when shit breaks and I gotta make up stuff to say,” Blythe said with a smile during a swiftly corrected technical difficulty. “Come on, make some noise! You’d think we’re in Nebraska!” Having driven to the show from my home state of Nebraska, I laughed thinking, what the hell is that supposed to mean?
Lamb of God possesses some dynamic that I’ve been missing in metal music for some time. The band’s musical assault at Ozzfest was moving, literally. Guitar attack and forceful percussion echoed with heads banging and fists waving. Off to my left pits broke out. The only disappointment of the set was the omission of “The Wall of Death,” which has been occurring at various times during the song “Black Label” on the Ozzfest tour. It would have been something to have seen and experienced live, the crowd split down the middle until cued to charge each other and create one massive pit.
Super fucking Joint goddamn Ritual, that’s right, playing the mother fucking worst fucking goddamn set of the day. I mean really, come on. What is your deal Phil Anselmo? Goddamn fucking right Phil did a lot of talking, a fucking LOT of talking goddamnit. More goddamn talking and fucking SWEARING than goddamn fucking music. It was just like when I saw Pantera at Ozzfest only a few years ago. Despite their huge catalog, Pantera ended up playing a disappointing number of songs. Phil just fucking talked too goddamn much. Again, now with his new project, vocalist Anselmo had even more ego-fucking-tistical speeches. “You have fucking grown up with me goddamnit, I am the fucking goddamn BLAH!” You’ve got to be kidding me Phil! All I can do is laugh. The insane amount of talking and swearing made more sense at this show than at Pantera however. Superjoint Ritual songs are relatively short and relatively unmoving. It fucking was a worthless goddamn set.
Throughout the day at Ozzfest 2004 a total of twenty bands gave all they had for an audience of metal fans more varied in age than one might think. Though the typical 15 to 35 year olds were present, I saw many older fans and some too young to know that they are even fans as well. The number of horns in the air were surprisingly few this year as there were remarkably less spectators than I have noted in the past. Many seats were left open and the lawn was not near capacity. The reason for the decline in attendance is not clear to me. The Ozzfest lineup this year leaned more toward real metal than the last few years. This would seemingly appeal to the metalheads that have boycotted the tour for the last few years due to mainstream rock bands being on the bill. Though attendance this year was slightly down, appreciation for performances remained heavy by those that were present.
Almost every band on the Ozzfest bill dedicated a song to the troops in Iraq. On the main stage Slayer was down to business playing song after song, with little to no talking in between, greatly contrasting the Superjoint Ritual set. When Slayer did take a quick break to dedicate a song to the troops, a plastic cup was thrown on stage almost hitting vocalist Tom Araya and spilling beer all over him. There was a long pause after this event occurred and the air became very tense. Finally, Araya spoke saying, “Do you know what it means to dedicate a song to someone?” followed by something to the effect of, “It is a song for them, to honor them, not for you to disgrace you dumbfuck.” The band went on, now with even more intensity than before, and tensions melted. In contrast to many of the other bands at Ozzfest, Slayer notably sounded original vocally with Araya’s rough, not melodic but not screamed, distinctive voice. This variation broke up what was beginning to be a redundant vocal fix of screams and growls portrayed by most of the other bands on the bill. The set flowed well making Slayer the best band I saw all day on the main stage.