Ozzfest '99 Stages Sweltering Kick-Off In Florida

The day after the Backstreet Boys landed their brand of teen pop at the top of the charts with an earth-shaking thud, the musical compass swung back in a big way Thursday when the down and dirty rock of Ozzfest roared for the first time this summer.

"With the Backstreet Boys coming in at number one and breaking all kinds of records, we've got to congregate here and save our f**king lives," Rob Zombie declared from the stage of the Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Florida during his opening-day set.

Sure enough, Zombie's Ozzfest counterparts (including Black Sabbath, Slayer, Deftones, Primus, Godsmack, Fear Factory, System Of A

Down, and others) played like people with

something to prove. Never mind that the bands had to brave sweltering south Florida weather to do it. On a day when the sun was as brutal as anything coming out of Slayer's amps, both the bands and thousands of fans shrugged off the heat as just another speed bump on the way to a good time. No, neither rain, nor snow, nor temperatures hot enough to melt gravel can keep Ozzy and his heavy-hitting cohorts from making their appointed rounds.

"I get to see Black Sabbath for free everyday," Primus' Claypool said of the appeal of Ozzfest after doing time on Lollapalooza, H.O.R.D.E., Gathering of the Tribes, Woodstock, and just about any other festival show you can think of. "We've always been sort of a dude band, and this is a dude-fest, so it works for us. We got offered this and we got offered Lilith, and we opted to take this one," Claypool joked.

"To tour with Black Sabbath in and of itself is an honorŠ to walk on the same stage as them," Godsmack frontman Sully Erna observed. "This

is a band that we've listened to since we were kids, and who would ever know that they would tour in 1999, the original lineup, so we've been awestruck since we got here... It's f**king huge, from that wall to that wall, huge."

A few of the bands on the bill hinted that some musical cross-pollination may occur this summer with artists joining other bands on stage, but on Thursday all were content to go it alone and mark their territory for the summer. However, off stage the first signs of bonding were unfolding for these artists, who will spend the next two months together. The teens of Apartment 26 told of playing basketball with System Of A Down bassist Shavo Odadjian, Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares watched intently as fellow Los Angelinos Static-X opened the main stage, and members of Drain STH, Slipknot, hed (pe), Apartment 26, and Static-X huddled together in the crowd to watch Zombie's set.

Of course, there will be plenty of opportunity for quality time this summer.

Here's the winding path Ozzfest '99 will take this year:

  • 5/29 - Atlanta, GA @ Lakewood Amphitheater
  • 5/31 - Nashville, TN @ Starwood Pavilion
  • 6/2 - Charlotte, NC @ Blockbuster Pavilion
  • 6/4 - Washington, DC @ Nissan Pavilion
  • 6/6 - Philadelphia, PA @ Entertainment Center
  • 6/8 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Center
  • 6/10 - Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Center
  • 6/12 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Starlake Amphitheater
  • 6/14 - Columbus, OH @ Polaris Amphitheater
  • 6/16 - Mansfield, MA @ Great Wood Amphitheater
  • 6/18 - Mansfield, MA @ Great Wood Amphitheater
  • 6/19 - Hartford, CT @ Meadows Music Theater
  • 6/25 - Detroit, MI @ Pine Knob Amphitheater
  • 6/27 - Detroit, MI @ Pine Knob Amphitheater
  • 6/29 - Indianapolis, IN @ Deer Creek Amphitheater
  • 7/1 - Minneapolis, MN @ Float-ride Amphitheater
  • 7/3 - Milwaukee, WI @ Alpine Valley
  • 7/5 - Chicago, IL @ World Music Theater
  • 7/7 - St. Louis, MO @ Riverport Amphitheater
  • 7/9 - Kansas City,

    MO @ Sandstone Amphitheater

  • 7/11 - San Antonio, TX @ Retama Park
  • 7/13 - Dallas, TX @ Starplex Amphitheater
  • 7/16 - Vancouver, BC @ Thunderbird
  • 7/18 - Seattle, WA @ The Gorge
  • 7/20 - San Francisco, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheater
  • 7/22 - Phoenix, AZ @ Desert Sky Amphitheater
  • 7/24 - San Bernadino, CA @ Blockbuster Pavilion