The Ozz-Man Cometh

After years of touring the nation, Ozzfest 2008 finds a home in Dallas' suburbs

"I saw that it would work [for this year] and that it would also work for taking it two or three days as a camping site," she says. "It's a facility that we can expand because of all the soccer pitches attached. If we do want to make it a destination festival, we've got the facility and we can grow into that and, if not, we can go back out and do the touring festival. If we were to make it a destination, we could do three shows, and we would have all the room in the world to expand and do what we want to do.

"We want to leave our options open."

But let's not kid ourselves.

Sure, Ozzy is quick to dole out praise to Texas metal bands and fans ("It's a real rough crowd down there," he says, positively), but let it be known: Were it not for the central location and the expansion possibilities Pizza Hut Park offers, this festival would not be taking place in Dallas.

The third stage of the festival would not be dubbed the Texas stage; Drowning Pool and Austin's The Sword might still perform, but Rigor Mortis and the two other DFW bands on the bill, The Destro and Within Chaos4, would almost certainly have never received an invite; there would also be no all-star tribute (with special guests Vinnie Paul Abbot of Pantera, Bob Zilla of Hellyeah, Kerry King of Slayer, Scott Ian of Anthrax and many, many more) held in memory of metal legend and local product "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott of Pantera, who was killed in an Ohio club in 2004. Other than Metallica's surprise inclusion, the tribute may be the most anticipated moment of this year's Ozzfest, even for the organizers.

"It's a little late, but nobody has forgotten Dimebag," Sharon says.

Of course not. Not in the incredibly loyal metal scene.

But if Ozzfest was taking place elsewhere, would this tribute still take place? "No," Sharon says. "It's because we're in Texas." She makes no bones about it. She is a businesswoman, aiming to find a way to cater to both the local audiences and the potential out-of-towners.

So far, she's succeeded with the latter. Late last month, AEG Live Senior Vice President Danny Eaton confirmed that tickets had been purchased by buyers in all 50 states. And, of the tickets sold, only 60 percent were to buyers in Dallas. That's the good news.

The bad? With about a week left before the festival, only a little more than 80 percent of the 29,000 tickets available for this year's Ozzfest had been purchased. And although Eaton says those numbers are right where he projected them to be at the time, with Ozzy preferring a touring schedule for Ozzfest, and Sharon keeping an eye on the bottom line, that doesn't necessarily bode too well for the Ozzfest's future as a destination event. And certainly not as one in Frisco.

————

At the very least, though, Ozzfest should make for an interesting spectacle. At his home in southern Dallas, Bruce Corbitt's Rigor Mortis band mate, drummer Harden Harrison laughs.

"The people in Frisco are in for a shock," he says. "There's gonna be some freaks in that little uptown suburb. I dunno how Frisco's gonna take it."

Actually, quite well: "We're expecting lots and lots of people, and that's always a good thing for the city," says Denise Stokes, head of public relations and communications for Frisco's Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "They'll not only be here for the concert, but they'll be spending their hard-earned money in our restaurants and stores. I just wish we could open more hotels sooner."

And while Frisco expects to face a spike in its economy, it can also expect a brief moment in the national media spotlight. Vince Richards, operations manager for Clear Channel Communications' Dallas radio entities—which include the rock-formatted The Eagle KEGL-97.1 FM and alterative-tinged The Edge—says Clear Channel stations throughout the country have been promoting Ozzfest with ticket giveaways and prize packages. And he expects there to be more coverage on the day of the show.

"Every broadcast company in the country is probably going to have someone down here broadcasting live," he says.

With so much about Ozzfest's future still up in the air, all eyes will be on Texas.

Ben Falgoust, who this year will be vocalist for both Goatwhore and Soilent, becoming only the second singer to ever pull double-duty at an Ozzfest show5, says the transition into a destination festival makes sense, especially given the competition in the touring festival circuit.

"The only reason people are hating on Dallas is because they're the only ones who got it," he says. "Destination festivals are really big in Europe, and that's where all these U.S. festivals got their idea. In Europe, they don't do touring festivals. After a while, all these touring festivals start hurting one another.

"I think it's gonna be awesome."

————

Relaxing on a pair of black leather couches at Harrison's home, Corbitt and Harrison's only concerns about the festival are the details. They'd be happier if, with a little more than two weeks to go before the show, someone had told his band the time and length of their set.

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