Ozzfest / Aug. 22, 2010 / Camden, NJ
Several downpours drenched the Susquehanna Bank Center during Ozzfest's visit to Camden, N.J. on Aug. 22, but they did little to dampen fans' spirits they waited for music's Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, to make his grand entrance.
Ironically, rain began falling in earnest while Drowning Pool was playing the Monster Energy Drink second stage in the late afternoon. The audience watched the group soldier through its set, which closed with hit "Bodies," before ticketholders for lawn seats scurried for shelter in bathrooms and the indoor concourse for nearly an hour. The interruption forced Black Label Society, which was supposed to close the second stage, to cancel its performance. Nonpoint restarted the concert on the main stage as scheduled. A few more cloudbursts later soaked concertgoers on the lawn -- whom gamely accepted that getting dry was not an option -- before the heavens produced a double-rainbow all-clear for the rest of the evening.
Motley Crue, Halford, Devil Driver and Nonpoint supported Ozzy Osbourne on the main stage of his namesake festival this year, bolstered by second-stage bands Skeletonwitch, Kataklysm, Goatwhore, Saviours, Kingdom of Sorrow and the aforementioned Drowing Pool. While Crue and Halford (fronted by Judas Priest singer Rob Halford) had their legendary status and catalog going for them (plus plenty of pyro on the Motley stage) and Nonpoint presented a hip-hop-influenced, alternative style, the festival's lineup primarily consisted of growled, heavy hardcore vocals metal short on songwriting diverse enough at this point to gain any crossover attention. Not long ago Ozzfest vaulted such names as Slipknot and Godsmack into mainstream acceptance, and it's been a long time since the genre has yielded new icons whose legacies could rival that of Osbourne himself.
Performance wasn't an issue, however. The crowd moshing for Kingdom of Sorrow, Goatwhore and Drowing Pool proved these bands can command a stage. The audience, which gradually filled the venue as the day dripped by, was well-entertained for the price of its $25 ticket, which included the parking fee.
Osbourne couldn't have ordered a better backdrop for his arrival. After playing a reel of videoclips that comically superimposed him in pop culture phenomenons like "Twilight" and "The Jersey Shore," he took the stage with "Bark at the Moon" as a nearly full moon shone over the amphitheater. While not always vocally on point Osbourne was full of energy and smiles, constantly clapping and and jumping at his mic stand. Anyone who was smug about escaping the rain with a pavilion ticket were in for it when he repeatedly-and profusely-doused the people in front of him with a fire hose.
Bringing a new jolt of life to Osbourne's set was Gus G, who doubles as guitarist in his own band, Firewind. Before landing the gig with Osbourne, Gus G's presence was largely confined to progressive rock circles and guitar aficionados, but any Ozzy fan who never heard of him before knows who he is now. It's hard enough to walk the path blazed by late guitarist Randy Rhodes, and Gus is also playing in the shadow of guitarist Zakk Wylde. (For years, Wylde's Black Label Society has played Ozzfest, with Wylde joining Osbourne onstage later in the day.), but this new kid on the block has nothing to worry about. Playing as if he first picked up guitar in the womb, Gus zipped through such classic songs as "Suicide Solution" and "Iron Man" like second nature.
Even though Gus measures up to the standards of his predecessors, he needs to keep an eye out for the next generation: For "Crazy Train," Osbourne brought a 9-year-old Japanese wunderkind named Uto onstage to join the band. Playing rhythm on a black-and-white polka-dotted flying V guitar as big as himself, the boy rocked out like a pro to the huge delight of the crowd. As Osbourne hoisted Uto up on his shoulders like he once did with Rhodes back in the day, he held aloft the physical evidence that Rhodes' legacy lives on-and that rock'n'roll will never really die.