MTV News Online
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Three years ago, Ozzfest's entry into the then-overpopulated festival-tour landscape was met with snickers and forecasts of failure.
But, as Phil Anselmo barked during Pantera's co-headlining set at Ozzfest 2000's kickoff on Sunday, "Yesterday don't mean sh--."
With Lollapalooza, Lilith Fair, and H.O.R.D.E. in drydock, Ozzy Osbourne and his metal-minded cohorts seemed to be heartily enjoying the last laugh when the new edition of the now-reigning summer-festival champ got under way.
"Metal never dies," Static-X frontman Wayne Static said of the tour's staying power. "Sometimes it's not on the radio and sometimes it's not at the forefront, but heavy rock or metal, or whatever the hell you want to call it, has always been around and will always be around. Metal fans are the most hard-core, loyal fans. There's always going to be an audience for this kind of event."
Bolstering that point, a sellout crowd of 19,000 braved searing sun, stifling humidity and a brief but very heavy downpour at the Mars Music Amphitheater for the first date of the metal trek, which this year offers Osbourne, Pantera, Static-X, Godsmack, Incubus, P.O.D., Soulfly and 12 others. What those fans found were a collection of heavy music's finest celebrating their success on the main stage and a new breed of up-and-comers optimistic about turning their second-stage spots into career-making gigs.
"This is a great opportunity for us to play in front of a sold-out, big, packed house with a lot of great new bands," Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul said. These are Pantera's first U.S. dates in support of the recently released Reinventing the Steel. "It would be an easy choice for us to go headline, but having been part of Ozzfest in the past, we know how much fun it is, and there was no way we were going to pass this up," Paul said.
"It's the easiest tour in the world, and the funnest tour in the world," Paul added. "We call it 'the golf tour' because every day off, I get to play golf or I get to go fishing."
But Pantera were all business during their opening-night set, coming across like men on a mission in serving up the bare-knuckled, straight-up metal of Reinventing the Steel.
"Goddamn, it feels good to be playing Florida right now," frontman Anselmo declared as the sheer force of new tracks, such as "Hellbound" (RealAudio excerpt), "Goddamn Electric" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Revolution Is My Name," seemed to beat the rain away.
Such was the sentiment for much of the day on the main stage as the Ozzfest 2000 crop settled in for a two-month party. "I'm so happy to be here, playing to you lovely Floridians, instead of sitting in some f---ing jail somewhere," ex–ex-Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee declared during his band Methods of Mayhem's set.Lee served four months in Los Angeles County Jail, after pleading no contest to spousal-abuse charges in May 1998, and spent this Memorial Day weekend locked up again, for a probation violation.
No one seemed to get a bigger charge out of Ozzfest 2000's coming-out party than Osbourne himself, who lurched, hopped and swayed through an hour and a half of material, smiling like a Cheshire cat the entire time. Ozzy slammed together plenty of Black Sabbath nuggets, including "N.I.B.," "War Pigs" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Paranoid," solo hits such as "Crazy Train" (RealAudio excerpt), "Suicide Solution" and "Flying High Again," as well as the latest in water-gun technology for a set that was part heavy-metal Karaoke, part water-park attraction.
"It's always to cool to see Ozzy," Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera said. "I don't know what it is, but the man is the bomb."
While Osbourne and other big metal names consistently bring fans to the gate, Ozzfest has become just as well known as a launching pad for new talent. The tour has helped such bands as System of a Down, Static-X and Slipknot find gold and platinum sales success, a fact not lost on the fresh faces playing this year's second stage.
"It's gained a reputation of having awesome bands on the main stage, and the second stage [is] where you can see up-and-coming acts, so I think that there's a nice balance," Kittie singer Morgan Lander said. "If you do Ozzfest, you're destined to do at least somewhat well in the world."
Kittie seemed to follow through on that with their first-day performance, using their prime 5 p.m. slot to whip the thousands of fans congregated at the second stage into a churning pit, no doubt gaining some new fans.
"People come to see Pantera and they accidentally wind up seeing Deadlights or Slaves on Dope, or whatever, because the side stage is out there with all the booths and the food, and you can't help but accidentally see some bands," said Static, who credited Ozzfest with helping his band break through to the masses. "Metal fans like anything as long as it's hard and it rocks and it crunches, so if you're good and you're there, you're down, man."
"You still have to deliver," Slaves on Dope frontman Jason Rockman said. "As great of a slot as it is and as much of a push as we're getting — being the first band on Ozzy's label — it doesn't mean we're going to have an easy ride of it, because with these kids, if you suck, you suck. It doesn't matter who the hell backs you."
TapRoot, who have made the trek from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Ozzfest's second stage, are also well aware that opportunity and execution are two different things.
"Every day you go out — whether you're sick and tired and want to go to bed or you want to throw up or what have you — you've got to dominate out there," guitarist Mike DeWolf said. "That's the opportunity that's there for us. We just have to take it."
The band held true to that ethic on day one, fighting midafternoon high temperatures that almost wilted a couple of bandmembers, to deliver a set that saw several in the crowd singing along, and hundreds of others grinding along, for the ride.
— Robert Mancini