Crazy, But That's How It Goes

Or: how I learned to stop worrying and love Ozzfest

7 p.m. Serj Tankian provides the strangest set of the night. Not a conventional metal dude, his hysterical vocal style and overtly political lyrics don't sit well with everyone. Before covering "Holiday in Cambodia," he gave a shout-out to The Dead Kennedys that got no response from an unrecognizing crowd.

Serj: "For thousands of years, government and religion have conspired..."

Random dude: "Shut the fuck up!"

Would you believe this man turns 60 in December?
Roger Caldwell
Would you believe this man turns 60 in December?

Later in his set, he remarked that humor and fun can have their place in a metal concert. The crowd pondered this observation in silence.

8 p.m. Walking toward the concession stand entails kicking piles of litter out of the way with every step. "Somewhere, an Indian is crying," says someone behind me.

8:30 p.m. Before Ozzy's set, the projection screens show a video with Ozzy spoofing various celebrities and reality shows, frequently in drag. Ozzy-as-Hillary-Clinton taking a bong hit got big cheers. He looks surprisingly youthful and energetic during his set of reliable classics and the requisite one new song ("I Don't Wanna Stop"). His vocals go flat on occasion but are overall quite strong—and there's not a teleprompter to be seen.

10:30 p.m. Metallica owned this crowd—including me, I have to admit. They played only one post-Metallica song, "Cyanide" from the forthcoming failure Death Magnetic. Starting out with "Creeping Death" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls," both from 1984's Ride the Lightning, made it clear that Metallica knows its place in this world is as a nostalgia act. It occurs to me that it's been 25 years since their debut album, putting them at roughly the same career stage the Stones were at when they released Steel Wheels. But regardless of the band's inability to match the quality of earlier albums, James Hetfield and Co. remain a force of nature live.

After the band thanks the crowd and Ozzy and Sharon, I realize that every single performer said, "Thank you, Dallas," or some variation on the phrase. Not once did I hear Frisco mentioned.

4 a.m. The Official Ozzfest After Party at The Clubhouse seems to consist of nothing more than strippers dancing to Metallica and Pantera songs—a normal night at the Abbott brothers' contribution to Dallas nightlife, from what I can see. Still, I feel it is my duty to stay until closing time to make up for missing the early sets.

Overall, it turned out to be a really fun day, despite my initial misgivings, and I enjoyed much more of the music than I expected to.

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