Ozzfest Meets Knotfest
Glen Helen Amphitheater
Even though the weather forecasts predicted rain, it was never more than overcast the entire weekend for this year’s special installment of the Ozzfest meets Knotfest in San Bernardino at the San Manuel Amphitheater.
By 11:30 am the three side stages were cracking, with thousands already catching the live bands on three stages on a field just next to the main stage. This year’s festival proved more than ever that while tailgating is cool, it might be worth it to get up early get inside the venue, and watch some killer bands play short but sweet sets, one after another.
On the Nuclear Blast extreme stage, maniacs head banged to extreme metal bands like Bay Area death metal pioneers Possessed, as well as Fallujah and Rings of Saturn. Stealing this stage was old school NY death metal legends Suffocation who were joined by their longtime vocalist Frank Mullen. The crowd went intense and the band drew one of the biggest and most violent circle pits of the entire festival.
German thrash band Kreator gave them a run for their money as several thousand fans soaked up their apocalyptic speed metal. Fans also enjoyed Bay area stoner thrash titans High on Fire, Norway’s black metal supergroup 1349, and the experimental metal band Baroness, among many others on sides stages A and B.
By 4:20 in the afternoon, you could smell the pot smoke, and on the main stage, UK stoner rock band Orange Goblin took the stage as the crowds flocked over from the side stages to get ready for the main event. This band rocked and was provided perfect doom metal tunes to get situated for the rest of the bands. Finland’s Children of Bodom got things pumped with a mix of melodic, sped up power metal with intense hints of prog, death metal and more.
Just before 6:30 p.m., the orchestra, lodge, and lawns were filling up as it was getting dark. The Deftones took the stage and immediately the crowd felt the burst of energy, nostalgia and raw emotion streaming from the band’s powerful set. With some old school and more recent fan favorites the band’s set list included hits like “My Own Summer(Shove It),” “Minerva,” “Digital Bath,” “Be Quiet and Drive(Far Away),” “Diamond Eyes,” “Change(In the House of Flies),” and many others. For over an hours, the Deftones music was very emotional, atmospheric, aggressive, and yet romantic, giving fans a melding of the sounds of heavy metal and the music of The Cure.
Rock/Rap supergroup Prophets of Rage stormed the stage next and got the road bumping from the start. Though this was the only political band, the message of unity was clear, and the music was loud and bumping from the first song to last. Featuring the instrumental musicians of Rage Against the Machine as well as vocalists Chuck D and B-Real, the rap-rock group pummeled through an amalgam of rap and funk metal that was hit hectare and explosive, for the entire set. Performing five Rage Against the Machine tracks, including “Bullet in the Head,” “Sleep Now in the Fire,” “Bulls on Parade” and more, this was about the best thing next to a full-on Rage reunion with original singer Zack, for now. The band also paid a very heartfelt tribute to the late Chris Cornell with a tribute with the Audioslave song, “Like a Stone,” and ended with the urgent and insane classic Rage tune, “Killing in the Name Of.”
By 9:30 p.m. the floor, seat sections and both lawns were full and everyone in the house was waiting for Ozzy. Despite having a cold, the singer gave it his best shot and gave the crowd the best show he could. People throughout the venue were loving it and the party was one. Bikers and Raiders fans were passing joints to metalheads and pretty women were drinking beers in the front rows as diehards in the floor headband and danced the night away.
The musicianship of Ozzy’s band was top notch. Guitarist Zakk Wylde proved that he is worthy of the great Randy Rhodes, on hits like “Crazy Train,” “I Don’t Know,” “No More Tears,” “Bark At the Moon,” “Shot in the Dark,” “Suicide Solution,” and others, the band stayed in stride with each other as the guitarist even walked among the crowd playing guitar entirely behind his head like Hendrix for the Black Sabbath song “War Pigs.” With a mix of Sabbath classics and Ozzy’s solo material, it was still a show worth the evening, and though Ozzy has of course aged, he still looks okay, having lived his lifestyle. His voice might not be all there, but he still gives it his all, and that counts for something. These songs and his music will never die. for now, Ozzy gave fans at the festival he named and started 21 years ago a good damn heavy metal concert.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.