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[whitespace] Metal 2000

Ozzy Osbourne's OzzFest ruled the day at Shoreline Amphitheatre

By Sarah Quelland

By the time Ozzy Osbourne hit the stage last Saturday (Aug. 26) during OzzFest 2000's takeover of Shoreline Amphitheatre, the day had disintegrated into a blinding blur of sound. Close to 20 bands performed on two separate stages with the first kicking off the event on the second stage around 10:15am. It was a long day.

For the duration of the afternoon, the second stage seemed the most promising with up-and-coming hopefuls Pumpjack, Taproot, Shuvel, Primer 55, the Deadlights, Pitchshifter, Reveille, Disturbed and Kittie kicking up a racket and Max Cavalera's Soulfly headlining.

Seeing former True to Form drummer Kevin Jackson behind the drumset for Primer 55 was a real treat. Kind of a ghetto rock band with hip-hop and metal influences, Primer 55 bears some similarities to San Jose's Insolence, particularly in the vocal department. Signed to Island Records, Primer 55's album Introduction to Mayhem is currently available and the band is about to release its first single "Loose." With OzzFest wrapping up this weekend in L.A., the band has a busy road ahead. According to Jackson, they'll be headlining clubs on their way back to their Louisville, Kentucky home base, and then they'll head out on a tour supporting Soulfly. They're scheduled to stop at Maritime Hall on Sept. 25 with Downset and Slaves on Dope rounding out the lineup.

Surrounded by family and friends, Jackson's attention was pulled in five directions at once after Primer 55's set. But, talking with him briefly, it sounds like the whirlwind tour has been a blast. In addition to performing at every OzzFest stop, Primer 55 played several off-dates with Static-X, Kittie and Soulfly. During some OzzFest shows, Jackson could also be found onstage performing with Soulfly during a tribal drumming interlude.

With Apartment 26, Slaves on Dope, Black Label Society, P.O.D., Methods of Mayhem, Incubus, Static-X, Godsmack, Pantera and Ozzy Osbourne lined up for the main stage, it wasn't until Static-X came on that I found my way to my seat. The razor sharp band was one of the highlights of the day and gave an electrifying performance. Still, there was no doubt that every band was gearing the audience up for one thing: Ozzy Osbourne.

Ozzy makes for an unlikely hero. Rising to stardom as the frontman for Black Sabbath, the controversial figure still embraces the darkness that made him a legend. Like hell in a low-budget horror flick, his stage was set with giant skulls and enough fire to burn the whole house down. Stepping out in a black shirt that read "EVIL" and black pants with silvery lightning bolts shooting up the side, Ozzy kicked things off with "I Don't Know."

The most striking thing about this aging rock star, who's threatened to retire for years now, is his youthful spirit. Just over 50, Ozzy acts like an adorable little kid with a devious side. The giant OzzFest sign overhead was rigged to shoot bursts of water over the audience. Ozzy himself was armed with industrial strength super-soakers with which he delighted in attacking the audience, and he climbed into a mechanized chair contraption that lifted him to the top of the stage so he could douse the crowd from there. At one point, he literally grabbed pails of water and dumped them on the people in the front row. He was on a mission to drench as many people as possible.

With no attempt to look particularly cool or together, during his performance, Ozzy shuffled and stumbled around the stage, pausing occasionally to do odd little hops and jumps that looked more like aerobics than anything. Rumor has it, Ozzy has a teleprompter disguised as a monitor, and he frequently returned to one spot, his baleful eyes fixed on some invisible text as he sang. Between each song, he turned to a virtual apothecary's chest spread out behind him to refuel on various teas and tinctures.

And still, the enigmatic performer was riveting in a bizarre way. The show moved quickly, ending promptly at 10:45pm with no encore. But in that brief window, Ozzy performed choice cuts from his 30-year career including "War Pigs," "Mr. Crowley," "Flying High Again," "Suicide Solution" and "Crazy Train." In a strange moment, as he closed the song "Mama, I'm Coming Home," Ozzy stated "God bless you all." The night ended with the Sabbath classic "Paranoid," a confetti shower and a wild pyrotechnic show full of sparks, flames and explosions. As the crowd exited the amphitheatre, Ozzy's "Changes" filtered into the night over the loudspeakers.

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Web extra to the August 31-September 6, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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