Ozzfest '99 hit Nissan Pavilion Friday and the good news is heavy metal's not dead, it just has a bad sunburn. Under sunny skies a healthy throng of metalheads, seemingly all shirtless males between the ages of 13 and 21, spent the day roasting flesh, arms thrust skyward.
The buzz was positive on Puya's early performance, and Swedish female quartet Drain STH proved that crunching riffs are not gender-specific. Primus warmed the crowd with virtuosic spazz-outs. Second-stage activities were highlighted by Pushmonkey, who stirred a furious mosh pit cloud of dust, and Fear Factory, whose pummeling samples and modulated vocals nearly created something original.
Though the main stage robbed Slayer of some ear-shattering volume, guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King still proved the heaviest and fastest on the bill, and for purists (insulted that Slayer was scheduled before the Deftones) they were the day's best. Indeed, the Deftones followed with a competent but far less powerful set.
Rob Zombie and his cohorts sprinted out like drug-addled hobbits down from the hills to prey on the townsfolk. His eye-catching props--giant red dice, female dancers with "666" tank tops--bolstered pounding material like "Living Dead Girl" and "Meet the Creeper." Zombie noted defiantly that "Not everyone is buying Backstreet Boys CDs this year!" while delivering the event's most appealing performance.
An overjoyed Ozzy Osbourne finally appeared, scuttling happily about like an arthritic rat. The original Black Sabbath lineup was together for supposedly the final tour, and bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and guitarist Tony Iommi opened the set with a massive sing-along of "War Pigs." Sabbath may be the only band for whom getting older and slower is a positive development, so soporific heavy classics like "Behind the Wall of Sleep," "Sweet Leaf," "Black Sabbath" and, of course, "Ironman," with an encore of "Paranoid," sounded as good as ever. It was easy to hear Iommi's influence on nearly every guitarist who performed during the day, so his fat, distorted chords made perfect capstones. Then Ozzy, after an evening of satanic lyrics, closed his fest by shouting without irony, "God bless!"