White Trash Convention
CoC covers the :Omnipotent: Ozzfest
at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey on June 8 & 10, 1999

by: Jody Webb
Today is a scorcher in Jersey, ninety degrees and not a cloud in sight. After a brief pat down by security I saunter into the amphitheatre grounds and evaluate my surroundings. At a capacity of thirteen thousand people, PNC Bank Arts Center is a smallish place considering the tour, which usually plays venues in the twenty five thousand range. On the other hand, the promoter booked two back-to-back shows at the Arts Center. Why just make a lot of money when you can make a SHITLOAD of a lot of money, right? Around 11:30am the music began.

Pushmonkey opened the day on the side stage. Badly out of place but trying hard to impress, they churned through a half hour set of wimp rock. In between episodes of whining about the lack of crowd activity, the singer queried us as to whether or not we had "fucked" yet today. A heckler shot back with the classic "I fucked your mom!". Now that was entertaining.

Fifteen minutes later Flashpoint took the side stage. Apparently this band has not even released a debut album yet, but whoa, that did not stop them from boring hell out of me with their badly written metalcore. It boggles my mind, with all the amazing metal bands in our country, that some promoter persuaded the Ozzfest organisers to book this act. Not even a cameo appearance by Evan Seinfeld from Biohazard was able to save this set. Next.

Another fifteen minutes pass and the sounds of (hed)pe are pumping through the side stage PA. In the eyes of the crowd, (hed)pe was the first real band to play. These boys have been tooling around the New York area for about three years now, playing small clubs and gaining a fan base. Although they ride on the Korn bandwagon, (hed) incorporates more funk as well as a DJ to create diversity in their bag of songs, something that Korn lacks. Not bad, but something you can safely skip if you already own a Limp Bizkit CD.

Immediately following (hed)pe, the main stage kicked off with the slightly industrial intro music for Drain STH. Then the band strides out, revealing themselves to be four Swedish beauties with a thing for black fashions. Drain is playing in support of their newly released second album called _Enter My Mind_, but even as a seasoned metal listener I cannot distinguish the new material from the old. It is all mid-paced, thick and boring. Drain is good for about a two minute eye hump and then I'm just relaxing in my amphitheatre seat, waiting for them to finish.

Sometime about a half hour later Drain wraps up and I jog to the side stage to catch Slipknot. There is a bit of hype surrounding this outfit and, after witnessing their set, I'd say they almost live up to it. I noticed nine freaks wearing matching jumpsuits and individual masks, dancing about the stage, wrangling a twisted sound of their instruments. Envision Insane Clown Posse meeting Gwar and you get the idea. Of course they could afford to lose about five guys, but then where would they be with only one drummer? Oh yea, Slipknot is sporting three drummers, two of which have drums made out of empty beer kegs situated on hydraulics which raise the drums up and down, making for some neat eye candy. All in all, a welcome exercise in silliness to balance all the "my favourite band is the baddest shit in the world" attitudes circulating the area.

I swiftly returned to the amphitheatre for System of a Down, a four-piece badly in need of ritalin but also owing a great deal of their excellent material to their hyperactive tendencies. The band is of Armenian descent and incorporates a touch of folk and polka music into the metal which they do so well, but the chief contribution of their ancestry comes in the form of their lyrics and political stance. Fortunately, the singer kept his ranting down to one brief episode today, imploring us only to realise that in any other country we could look to the sky and see bombs dropping from planes. Uh, right. Nevertheless, I got in the first headbanging of the day to rocking numbers such as "Suite-Pee" and "Know".

Back to the side stage for one of my recent favourites, Puya, who hail from the island of Puerto Rico. Earlier in the day I had met and chatted with friend and Puya drummer Eduardo Paniague, who anticipated a good crowd. He was not let down, and the 'Rican fans were out in force, waving the country's national flag the second the band appeared. These boys crank out a sound that is not for everyone, but I find their hybrid of metal and salsa music to be an infectious combination, and it is not even an issue that everything is sung in Spanish. They could have been tighter, but Puya still rocked.

No rush to get back to the main stage as Godsmack was lined up next. Sloppy, fourth generation Seattle grunge is how I would describe them. Due to the rock radio airplay of their song "Whatever", I could see they had a few tame fans, and granted, Godsmack is not the kind of band that incites a riot like, say, Slayer. But these chumps should have signed on to Lollapalooza. Oh wait, that tour has been dead for two or three years. In the end, Godsmack was average, and I caught some rest in the shade of the amphitheatre.

Finally Godcrap wrapped up their set of sonic sludge and a tingle of excitement shimmied through me. Static-X was primed to explode on the side stage. Singer/guitarist Wayne Static stepped to the microphone and wailed a greeting to the crowd in his indescribable voice. With that the group banged through a half hour of self-described "trance rock", with pounding 4/4 rhythms, cutting guitars reinforced with electronic sub bass and sound samples injected into the music a la Prodigy. Thanks to spins from K-Rock and WSOU, the band enjoyed a decent audience and mosh pit.

Taking my time after a solid thumping at the hands of Wayne Static and company, I walked back to the amphitheatre as Primus was starting their second song. I am not a fan and would have preferred that Primus be bumped from the tour in lieu of a metal band, but they did bring the mysterious Buckethead with them, who made their appearance worthwhile. While Primus bass slapped through hits such as "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" and "My Name Is Mud", Buckethead demonstrated his monster guitar skills and breakdancing talents, even wielding numchucks at one point in smooth display of kung-fu prowess. Don't miss Buckethead's antics!

Apartment 26 took the side stage and failed to pique my interest after an already interest-free Primus set, but what should I expect from a band that does not even have an album yet? Like Flashpoint, this rookie band had no business at Ozzfest, but unlike Flashpoint, they did not need some promoter to sweet talk them onto the bill -- their singer is the son of none other than Geezer Butler, bass player for Black Sabbath. In college they lectured me about ethics in the workplace, but I guess nepotism is rampant in the music business, eh? Skip this band.

After four cuts I had enough Apartment 26 and resumed my seat under the amphitheatre, prepared for the first major act of the day. Most of the tailgaters had moved on from the parking lot and were inside the grounds by now, and the place was close to capacity. The noise from the side stage died, a quiet lull of about a minute occurred, then a banner was raised as cheers resounded through the cavernous acoustics in the amphitheatre. Slayer was about to play. The crowd rose from their seats as Tom Araya screamed the rally call. "Angel of Death!". Chaos descended on the area. People rushed security in a mad dash and I joined in the first wave of attackers, advancing my position all the way to the fourth row centre aisle! Though not a big Slayer fan, it was quite a thrill to rush security and catch the legendary band up close as five thousand people went nuts. Still, I can honestly say I have had my fill of sweaty fat guys who mosh in the aisle against seats bolted to ground. Squish! The set included "Angel of Death", "Bitter Peace", "Death's Head", "Post Mortem", "Dead Skin Mask", "War Ensemble" and "Seasons in the Abyss".

Following the last blasting note from Slayer there was an exodus to the side stage as thousands hurried to catch Fear Factory. Though normally they would have taken a spot on the main stage, the group was headlining the second stage because they were asked to fill in for Judas Priest, who were originally slated to headline the side stage but cancelled a month earlier. Torrents of people flowed into the packed area, and Fear Factory hesitated as the crowd swelled to several thousand before knocking out the instant classic "Shock", followed by more skull crushers such as "Self Bias Resistor" and "Edgecrusher", which caused the biggest pit of the day. Fists were pumping and bodies were surfing. I was in heaven. Fear Factory was on top of their game and I thought they were the most dynamite group of the day, until much to my disdain and to the evident disdain of some fans in the crowd, Fear Factory turned into Queer Factory and played that goddamned fucking "Cars" song. Fortunately, they saved themselves with a spectacular performance of "Replica" to finish their set, but for Christ's sake... The set was "Shock", "Self Bias Resistor", "Edgecrusher", "Demanufacture", "Scapegoat", "Martyr", "Cars" (Gary Numan), "Replica".

Many spectators were fairly spent by this time due to the heat and the last two bands. Deftones had begun on the main stage but the crowd seemed a bit indifferent in comparison to the madness that had just occurred. I was puzzled by their appearing later than Slayer, and they did appear weak in comparison. Stephen Carpenter pushed his gang through their most powerful songs and put together a decent showing, but I've seen Deftones do better. Perhaps they do not play well in a big venue, but something was flat about the band this day. At least they played a new song from the forthcoming album _White Pony_.

The side stage was done, so after Deftones finished there was a welcome twenty minute break in the noise while roadies set up for Rob Zombie. I had seen the Zombie spectacle in October and knew a visual extravaganza was in store. I decided I did not want to rush security for this set because I was tired after Fear Factory, so I sat content in my seat, looking around at all the wonderful freaks assembled tonight. At long last the sun began to fade behind the horizon.

And the Zombie spectacle was upon us! Lights, flames, dancing girls and a giant flashing marquee with the signature 6-6-6 blazed before the capacity crowd as people jumped up from their seats. Rob Zombie's minions took the stage all zombified in grey leather and make up, creating a fabulous vision of hell. Red and green flames rose from the stage floor while the band charged through monsterpieces like "Superbeast" and "Living Dead Girl". Zombie segued through the songs with his charismatic wit. "Welcome to Lilith Fair, we've got quite a line-up of lesbian folk music for you tonight. We will not disappoint!". The crowd laughs. "Do any of you remember a band called White Zombie?" The crowd met him with thunderous cheers. "Where the hell were you when I needed you?", he chuckled before breaking into "Thunderkiss '65". The Rob Zombie quartet ended with the foot stomping "Dragula" before a tremendous applause. This is one show to check out. The set was "Superbeast", "Supercharger Heaven" (White Zombie), "Meet the Creeper", "More Human Than Human" (White Zombie), "Demonoid Phenomenon", "What Lurks on Channel X?", "Living Dead Girl", "Thunderkiss '65" (White Zombie) and finally "Dragula" as encore.

Damn, I am getting tired of writing this review! Are you tired of reading yet? Tour headliners Black Sabbath pummelled as usual with a bone crunching heaviness, but I am getting pissed at them for only playing from their first three albums. Why don't they tap into the genius on "Volume 4", "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" or "Sabotage"? Ah well. "After Forever" was a welcome surprise as was my bumping into Evan Seinfeld during the song, where we exchanged some small talk. At least I sneaked past security again and got within range of Ozzy's throwing arm. I was a prime target for buckets of water. Row four is a great place to be. The usual: "War Pigs", bass solo, "N.I.B.", "Hand of Doom", "After Forever", "Fairies Wear Boots", "Sweatleaf", "Into the Void", "Orchid", "Lord of This World", "Black Sabbath", "Dirty Women", "Iron Man" and "Children of the Grave"; encore: "Supernaut" / "Paranoid" medley.

(article submitted 12/8/1999)

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