On this date in history, 7/16/1998, I began my 18 year streak of all day metal festivals with my very first Ozzfest, at the fun and fabulous Deer Creek. I would be at every Ozzfest for the next 10 years until that festival stopped traveling, followed by all 8 of the Mayhem tours.
Ozzfest ’98 featured Ozzy Osbourne, Tool, Megadeth, Limp Bizkit, Soulfly, Sevendust, Coal Chamber, Incubus, Motörhead, Snot, Melvins, Monster Voodoo Machine, Life Of Agony, Ultraspank, Kilgore, and System Of A Down.
I was a rookie and I made a huge rookie mistake. I neglected to watch any of the second stage bands on this day, foolishly squandering my first shot at System Of A Down, Melvins, and the legendary Motörhead! I did, however, witness all the bands on the main stage and most of those performances ranged from pretty good to absolutely earth shaking (during Tool’s set, quite literally!).
Incubus started the festivities with a solid set. Brandon Boyd’s vocals were quite excellent and I enjoyed their time on stage.
Coal Chamber were next, kind of Marilyn Manson-light, but Dez Fafara hadn’t gained the power he would later weild so effectively with DevilDriver. Still, a formidable performance by an underrated band.
Sevendust were next, and I thought they were fantastic. Lajon Witherspoon’s vocals were particularly amazing and the band’s sound and energy stood out in a lineup of very solid bands.
Soulfly, the band that Max Cavalera put together following his departure from Sepultura, were probably the heaviest band of the day, and also brought their distinctive blend of Brazilian percussion to mix with their brutal grooves.
Limp Bizkit began their show by emerging from an enormous toilet bowl. Considering that their career eventually was flushed down that proverbial toilet, this was quite poetic and prophetic. The haters can say what they want to say, but back then Fred Durst and Wes Borland had concocted a sound and a stage show that got the crowds bouncing and producing an insane amount of energy. Megadeth brought their meticulous, surgically deadly riffing and Dave Mustaine’s patented sneering vocals along with about an hour of classic Mega-Dave songs in a fierce set that brought the crowd to the brink of the sonic devastation that awaited us.
I had heard the stories about how the crowd had started a “sod war” during Pantera’s headlining set the year before, and had witnessed a similar act of lawn massacre during a Ministry performance in 1992, but nothing prepared me for what was about to happen during Tool’s show stealing set.
As soon as Maynard James Keenan took the stage clad in an evangelist’s suit, accompanied by the hypnotic maelstrom of Tool’s sound, the carnage was instantaneous.
The lawn never had a chance, and the air was literally thick with flying chunks of earth, sod, grass, drink cups and various other items of debris. It was glorious, terrifying, hilarious, and unstoppable. Tool was so intense, it was as if they were so in the zone that they were oblivious to the World War III scenario unfolding up on the lawn.
As all good things must eventually end, Tool finally concluded their portion of the show and the spell was broken.
Ozzy proceeded with a killer set played by a stellar band (Ozzy always has the cream of the crop in his band, though) featuring Joe Holmes on lead guitar. Ozzy’s set was preceded by a wickedly funny filmed segment that put the exhausted crowd in a jolly mood (by metal crowd standards) and the Prince Of Darkness delivered a powerful concert closer that guaranteed I would continue this activity for 18 years running. Still ready to begin a new streak. The time is right for a brand new accomplishment!
Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic