Possibly the best Ozzfest lineup ever? Ozzfest live at the Tweeter Center August 26th 2004

So just over a year since my last concert I was invited by my then-bandmates, Chad and Idrees, to go with them to see Ozzfest at the Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ on August 26th, 2004.  And if you looked at the main stage line up for this tour alone it’s easy to see why.  Dimmu Borgir (fake, pretentious, symphonic black metal), Superjoint Ritual (Phil Anselmo acting even dumber than the last time I saw him), Black Label Society, Slayer, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath.  Yeah, Judas Priest was THE big deal at the time, with the band announcing the return of Rob Halford on vocals just ten months earlier and following the release of the band’s box set.  The three of us definitely had our musical differences – making me wonder how I didn’t quit them earlier – with me liking a little bit of everything yet leaning towards heavier stuff more and more, Idrees listening to Thrash and ONLY Thrash, and Chad being the Power Metal guy who was practically jerking off every night to all things Iron Maiden and Steve Vai; but who the fuck doesn’t even remotely like Judas Preist??  I’m waiting….

The morning of the show they were supposed to come to my house with Idrees’s dad driving to pick me up.  They were very late and whenever I called either of their cellphones no one picked up and it really irritated me.  When they finally did show up I do remember letting them both have it, although I don’t remember their lame excuse.  Idrees’s dad reminds me of a cross between Nile Rodgers and Isaac Hayes, Niles in the voice department and Isaac in looks, it was pretty funny just hearing him talk.  We arrived in Camden around 1pm due to shitty traffic once we got off the NJ Turnpike; ever been to Camden before?  No?  Ok, ever hear Chris Rock talk about why you should never anywhere that has a Martin Luther King Blvd?  Well, we were on it and we saw why.  Here’s an example of what we drove through to get to this place:

  Image result for camden poverty 

Isn’t this just sexy?  I’d totally live here!

After maybe twenty minutes of my suddenly wishing we took Chris Rock’s advice and ran we finally got to the Tweeter Center, the huge outdoor arena placed in the location of the Armageddon we all apparently missed and right across the water from Philadelphia.  Idress’s really cool dad was going to spend his day at the New Jersey State Aquarium not to far down the road from us and right by the ferry that was bringing in drunken Philly trash for Ozzfest.  But I’ll get back to that later!

The three of us walked in to the horrible sounds of Otep on the second stage, having just missed God Forbid, who I really wanted to see.  They sadly broke up in 2013 but if you’ve never heard of them check out their 2004 album Gone Forever.  So we walked around for a bit, bought beads to throw at girls to have them show us their titties, etc.  We went back to the second stage because I wanted to see Lamb Of God.  They were literally five days away from release of their major label debut on Epic Records, Ashes Of The Wake, following the success of their last album, As The Palaces Burn, and it looked like they totally did a major gear upgrade with there being to big walls of speaker cabinets like only Slayer would do.

Chad and Idrees left me there because they weren’t fans of the band.  I think it was literally just too modern for either of them.  Lesson #1: if you’re only 19 years old – like these two knuckleheads were (I was a year older) – nothing is too modern for you.  Life’s too short to be THAT pretentious over music.  I may have just turned 32 but I still have an open mind!  Lamb Of God were absolutely awesome, playing a good chunk of their material from the last record as well as the first single off the new album, called “Laid To Rest”.  What I didn’t understand was Randy Blythe’s need to curse literally every other word – that’s not an exaggeration – as well as constantly saying he was in “Killadelphia” when we were actually across the water.  Dumbass.

My two dopey friends came back just in time to rescue me from Shitknot (I was a fan of them for a few years but 2004 was the year they broke my heart Godfather Part 2 style) and Hatebreed.  In fact, after LOG there were no others bands I wanted to see on the second stage at all!  So we had lots of time to kill.  While there I bought a BLS shirt that I still have today and the classic Slayer eagle shirt, which mysteriously disappeared on me a few years back.  I’m still pissed about that one, by the way.  While walking we came across a lot of that drunken Philly trash I mentioned before.  I’m talking a bunch of ridiculously sunburnt dudes in Eagles jerseys (the football season had just started) yelling out in unison “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!”….over….and over….and over again.  We also found a good spot at the guard rail on the lawn, where we could throw beads at bitches AND have a pretty good few of all the bands.

After while it was finally time for the main stage acts to go on.  First? Black Label Society.  This was to be my first of seven times seeing them, in fact I can’t make fun of Chad’s fixation on Maiden without stressing that between 2002 and 2008 I wanted to play like Zakk Wylde so bad.  I had other influences, of course, but at that time Zakk was the ONLY one who was that popular while playing that kind of music.  Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul had already risen from the ashes of Pantera, but their current band, Damageplan, was not getting over on the old fans easily.

Right out the gate he was ripping it up on a custom made Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar.  He’s shredded for maybe two minutes before breaking into “Funeral Bell”.  Idrees and I loved it.  Chad?  “Zakk Wylde’s not that great”, he said with this arrogant smirk on his face.  Chances are he was already jaded from listening to technical shred nerds who never left their mother’s basement.  Lesson #2:  It really doesn’t matter how much better one guitar player is than the next.  Zakk himself will even acknowledge that there are players that will bury him.  But what’s more important than having all the technique there is to have is being able to have your playing reach out to more than one niche crowd.  That’s why Zakk passed the audition to play with Ozzy in the first place.  Even Ozzy knew Zakk had already developed a sound that would one day make him recognizable!

Superjoint Ritual were next.  Where Phil Anselmo pretty much told us last year in Brooklyn where he stood in music (as in not with Pantera) he pretty much took that and acted like a dumbass this time around.  First off, their latest album, A Lethal Does Of American Hatred, sucked balls in plain English.  Also, it’s one thing to command your audience to mosh; but when you tell them that they’re pussies if they don’t you’re just a jackass.  The band were still great…so long as the played the music off the first album…but it was weird when Phil ended the band’s set by saying “keep sucking dick!” on the mic before doing his classic shitty rendition of the last words to “Stairway To Heaven” that he’d been doing since the Pantera days.  Drugs are bad, m’kay?

Dimmu Borgir were TRASH.  Bad enough I already don’t like Symphonic Black Metal but Dimmu were and are just awful.  Next? Slayer.  How funny that, as Idrees left us to mosh in the makeshift pit area right behind us, Chad and I both realized that the guardrail was pretty wobbly – yeah, we were fucked and we knew it.  Because as soon as Slayer got on stage all Hell broke loose and we were almost instantly pinned to the guardrail.  That shit hurts!  Of course, once they kicked into “Raining Blood”, the pit had become it’s most violent.  But who really fucking cares?  This is Slayer – and with the classic lineup back together!  Whenever I was able to get a glimpse of the band without getting pummeled I look straight at Jeff Hanneman.  He tore that guitar up better than Kerry King that night….and all the time.

After surviving the moshpit from hell we made sure Idrees came to us so we wouldn’t lose our spots before Priest came on.  At this point on it was more like an arena style concert, because who moshes to Priest or Sabbath anyway?  This was the one band to have a really elaborate stage setup.  Here, look for yourself:

 

I was able to notice on my own that Halford was relying HEAVILY on a teleprompter because he’d go to one place on stage and just stay there for two of three songs before going somewhere else.  Didn’t matter though because he was on fire, proving why he’s the Metal God.  When they played “Breaking The Law” I called up my college radio station’s programming director to bust his balls and left him a voicemail of the band playing the chorus line.  Why was I busting chops?  Well…let’s just say he did just that over a month earlier.

Up last?  Sabbath.  But of course there was a catch.  Before the band were to go on stage Bill Ward came out to announce to everyone that Ozzy was sick and could not play.  BUT, apparently Rob Fucking Halford volunteered to sing so the band wouldn’t have to cancel their performance.  There’s a bootleg floating around of Halford doing the favor for them back in 1992 but I was actually going to hear it??  Needless to say I wasn’t bummed out much longer after hearing that!

Being that someone else was singing, regardless of the fact that it’s a guy that’s STILL amazing at his age, they kept the setlist floating around the just the first three albums.  I’d bet that was just to make it easier on Rob, who surely didn’t have enough time to practice.  But it still was pretty awesome to hear.

 

Idrees’s dad was waiting for us right outside the arena, having stolen banana daiquiri mix from some vendor stand during what I think he said was some kind of police situation…or something.  The show was awesome as a whole.  If I only knew then that I’d NEVER see the classic Sabbath lineup.  But was this THE best Ozzfest lineup ever?  I think the following year’s beat it; but I’ll get to that in the future.

Quick Reminder

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The End: Black Sabbath live and SOLD OUT at Madison Square Garden February 25th, 2016

I tried to see Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals on two different occasions.  Now, I intended on writing about this in other blogs as I went through all the concerts I went to, but I feel that would take forever and it would make sense to write about it now since I’m about to discuss the show I just went to.  When I went to see them at Ozzfest 2004 in Camden, NJ,  drummer Bill Ward came out before the band was to play and announced that Ozzy was too sick to play and Rob Halford of Judas Priest was going to sing in his place.  You couldn’t be there and complain much after that!  The next year, before we even got in inside the PNC Bank Arts Center, the girl checking our tickets told my ex-guitarist Chad and I “No Black Sabbath tonight”.  Why this time?  “Because Ozzy’s sick.”  Sure, Iron Maiden played an extended set that night but I was convinced that night that I’d never see Sabbath with Ozzy…and that Ozzy’s voice is just toast.

So when I got wind, a few weeks ago, that Sabbath had to cancel gigs in Canada because Ozzy lost his voice, the only thing I could assume was that my friend Frank was going to have to get a refund.  Little did I know how wrong I would be…and some more.  But I’ll get to that in a bit.

I arrived last night at Madison Square Garden with high expectations for the band and incredibly low expectations for Ozzy. Fuck, I really just wanted to see Tony Iommi anyway.  But I was also looking very much forward to reuniting with my buddy Frank, who got us the tickets, as well as seeing the opening bands, Rival Sons.  Rival Sons got on stage and goddamn they sound even more like Led Zeppelin live than on record!  The most obvious sign of it on their albums is the John Bonham-like drum sound.  But live, Jay Buchanan did some loud ass wailing while barefoot – that he at least had me convinced that Robert Plant found a way to defy age and join Rival Sons.  At one point Frank and I were jokingly singing Zep song titles into two of their songs because they sounds THAT MUCH like Zep songs.  I think the last time I heard anyone sound like Zep to the T was Billy Squier when he recorded “Lonely Is The Night”.

 

To our surprise we didn’t have to wait long for Sabbath to come on.  The lights in the Garden went out at 8:45pm, definitely earlier than expected.  As the sold out crowd was ROARING in excitement  a video came up on the screen.  We saw burning buildings that represented the artwork from their most recent album, 13.  Then it got really weird, like something out of a fucking Final Fantasy game.  But you can see part of it here:

So, as you can see and hear, they opened up with the title track to their self-titled debut.  And from their the broke into the classic “Fairies Wear Boots”.  Say what you want about Ozzy’s solo drummer, Tommy Clufetos, taking Bill Ward’s place for the last few years as well as the fact that his style is not as jazzy or loose as Bill’s.  But he did a really good job emulating Bill’s parts and making him his own.  Do I wish Bill was there?  Hell fuck yeah I do!  But I have to give Tommy respect for making it clear that he was paying his respects.  His DW drum kit even looks like Bill’s Tama set to the T!

Geezer Butler, as usual, was on FIRE last night!  He bass tone, even from where I was sitting in the nosebleed section, was so strong and crystal clear.  HIs fingers were moving so fast on those strings.  His playing, both wild with abandon yet perfectly arranged.  There really is no one like him.  No one.

Which brings me to Lita Ford’s favorite Superhero…as well as the main reason I even wanted to go: Tony Iommi.  This is it for him.  He’s sick, tired, stressed.  No matter what the other guys want to do after this all ends I wouldn’t expect to see him out on the road again.  The lymphoma treatments are clearly taking their toll on him.  But he still put on probably the most amazing show I’ve ever seen from him and this was the fourth time I’ve seen Tony live overall.  His playing was so fluid, so smooth yet so BRUTAL.  His riffs – so horrifying, so scary, so BRUTAL.  This motherfucker CREATED the style of music I love so much as is the primary reason I play guitar.  There will NEVER be anyone like Tony Iommi ever again.  Ever.

Then there was that big shocker of the night that I eluded to earlier.  Ozzy Osbourne, not known to have had a great singing voice since the mid 9o’s…actually sounded good!  I shit you not!  I’m pretty sure the key was that the band played songs that Ozzy could handle, which meant not straying far from their first three albums much if at all.  If you knew anything about how the guy destroyed his voice over the years you knew there was no way he was pulling out “Sabbath Blood Sabbath” or even “Megalomania” for that matter.  Although I was surprised to hear them play “Snowblind” and even more surprised to hear Ozzy hit the high notes without struggle!  He was shockingly on point last night…I guess the third time was the charm after all, eh?

THE SETLIST:

Intro video/Black Sabbath

Jack The Stripper/Fairies Wear Boots

After Forever

Into The Void (\m/\m/\m/\m/!!!!!!)

Snowblind

Wars Pigs

Behind The Wall Of Sleep/Bass Solo/NIB

Hand Of Doom

Rat Salad/Drum Solo

Iron Man

Dirty Women

Children Of The Grave

Encore: Paranoid (well, duh!)

Like I said, the band pretty much hovered around the first three albums which the exceptions of “Snowblind” and especially “Dirty Women”.  Not that Ozzy sang high in that song; but I doubt anyone expected them to pull out something off Technical Ecstacy, which was not their best album during the Ozzy years.  Either way, it was incredibly effective.  My head hurt so much from headbanging yet I refused to stop.  After the show ended we witnessed some guy who was so drunk he nearly fell down the stairs and that would have been a fucking long way down.  He instead fell on his ass and as he when to get his cigarette, which was already lit up, he mistakenly put the lit side in his mouth!

The show was in-fucking-credible, what a fitting way to say goodbye to the band that started it all.  In fact, they are playing another show at the Garden tomorrow night and will be touring through September.  Without them, and especially without Tony Iommi, there would be no heavy metal as we know it now.  For that I’ll always be thankful.

Random Thoughts

jim-wendler

See this guy?  This guy is the man.  Fuck that – he’s my hero.  If you don’t know who he is Jim Wendler is the COO of Elite FTS, making him CEO Dave Tate’s right hand man.  But what makes in more important than even that is his awesome training program he developed for all kinds of lifters from bodybuilders to athletes to powerlifters, 5/3/1.

On paper it seems as annoying to decode as any other powerlifting program with calculating percentages, etc.  But what makes this program so unique, at least to me, is that Jim takes the guess work right out of everything.  It’s real simple; in one 4-week cycle you will perform three sets of your main lift for 3 working sets of  5 reps during the first week, 3 sets of 3 reps the next week, and then for the last week you will perform 3 working sets of 5 reps, then 3 reps and then 1 rep or more if you can.  After your main lift, you will perform two or three assistance lifts, followed by light or  hard conditioning (he likes to push prowlers and run up hills a lot)  depending on the day.  After all that you will enjoy a deload week as your fourth week as a way to recover while still staying active before going back into the heavy stuff.

I like this a lot because in short the name of the game of long term gains.  This isn’t some eight week program you read about in mainstream bodybuilding magazines.  This is about making new gains and breaking new PR’s every cycle, regardless of what that PR is.  If during a cycle you bench 155lbs for 5 reps during the third week and then in the next cycle your benching those same numbers for 8 reps, it’s still a PR.  You’re still getting stronger.

I’m pretty sure this program has been real good to me since I began using it back in October because as of today I finally Deadlifted 305lbs for the first time.  I’d like to thank Motorhead’s badass track “The Hammer” for giving me the energy to do this!  I probably should’ve gotten there two cycles ago but instead of increasing the weights every cycle by ten pounds I increased them by five.  Oops.  I’m beyond grateful that my gym in Clifton, New York Sports Club, actually has a deadlift platform with bumper plates because I refuse to deadlift with those shitty octagonal plates EVER again.  In fact, I hope who ever created those plates gets shot in the fucking throat repeatedly because they make TRUE strength training such a hindrance.

Week 3: Day 2 – Deadlift Day!

Deadlift

125lbs – 1 x 5

155lbs – 1 x 5

185lbs – 1 x 5

245lbs – 1 x 5

275lbs – 1 x 3

305lbs – 1 x3

Hyperextensions

35lbs – 3 x 12, 12 10

Ab Core machine

20lbs – 3 x 20, 20, 20

I wanted to use the ab crunch machine and do three sets with 105lbs but some middle aged bitch was occupying it, taking her sweet ass time.  You know the ones, they sit on the machine for 10 minutes, while socializing, and they even stop DURING THEIR SETS to yap some more.  Why are they even in the gym?  Shouldn’t they be in the beauty parlor with their other middle aged friends gossiping about some worthless piece of shit reality show they probably rush home for every day because they have NOTHING ELSE to live for??

Oh!  Speaking of Motorhead…

Lemmy

My girlfriend told me two days ago that Dingbatz was going to host the streaming of Lemmy’s memorial service in L.A. using Motorhead’s YouTube page, so of course we went.  It’s awesome knowing I’m literally a driving distance of ten minutes from the place.  There weren’t as many people there to watch it as we figured there would be, which was fine by me because we actually got seats at the bar giving us a great view of the brand new flat screens that the management just had installed, with the much older “tubes” now sitting outside of the bar.

It was held at a chapel, there was no way in fuck that this would be held at a church.  Nope nope!  Next to a podium was a table with a few souvenirs, if you will; Lemmy’s pirate hat which covered his urn – I had no idea he was cremated! – something from the WWE with their logo on it, always tacky guys, you never learn, do you?  His cowboy boots were on it along with some speed…a parting gift from Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell, who surprised all of us by NOT being there.  I repeat: PHIL CAMPBELL was NOT at his own bandmate’s FUNERAL.  Surrounding both sides of the chapel?  Lemmy’s Marshall “MURDER ONE” Full Stacks.  FUCK.  YES.

Not many people there in suits, maybe one or two people.  But the difference between those two people was all too clear:  one guy probably wore a suit out of respect, like I would, and Triple H wore a suit because he has a corporate image to uphold.  Yeah, I said it.  There were a lot of people there to speak about Lemmy as well as one or two people I know I sure didn’t expect.  Did any of you truly expect GENE SIMMONS to be there?  Since when the fuck does GENE FUCKING SIMMONS care about anyone BUT himself??  Geezer Butler was also there, which was cool of him.  Of course Ozzy and $haron were there, I mean $haron only screwed him out of potentially MILLIONS in royalties for writing classic songs on both No More Tears and Ozzmosis by giving him flat rates.  Cunt.

Among the speakers were various people, from random friends from Germany, to Lemmy’s somn Paul, to the band’s management and road crew (You know what song came to my mind every time!), to celebrities we all know.  Just like that the theme of this service was all too clear: friendship.  As much of a modern day pirate as he was, Lemmy was everybody’s friend and those people who were invited to speak were obviously those he made the most impact on from a personal level.  A surprisingly emotional Mike Inez of Alice In Chains spoke, as well as Slash, who spoke about the time he spent with Lemmy in the hospital after he was fitted with a pacemaker, being by his side everyday until he was released.  I had no idea.  I’ll never be a fan of Slash’s guitar playing and I LOATHE Guns N Roses but he always comes of like that guy you can hang out with for hours.

Triple H (most boring wrestler EVER) told some funny stories about Lemmy.  Remember, before he became a corporate sellout he was a metalhead who would often do interview segments in a battle jacket with either one of his own shirts or the Motorhead England shirt.  In that regard he was for real.  He had the honor of having Motorhead play him to the ring for two Wrestlemanias.  Luckily for me he lost both times.  He mentioned that when that happened Lemmy said to him: “You can’t win a match to save your life, can you?  That’s why you’re good for us!”  But after talking of Lemmy the ballbuster he spoke of Lemmy the gentleman.

He and his wife went to see Motorhead backstage at a festival show.  He went backstage and he found Lemmy with two towels on, topless girls and coke on the table.  He was about to come in until Lemmy noticed Stephanie.  “Whoop!  Close the door!”, he yelled as Trips waited outside.  When Lemmy reopened the door he was now dressed, the girls were dressed and the coke was gone, which Trips could only assume Lemmy snorted all of – and all because Stephanie was there.  Sure sounds like a gentleman to me, even though not too long ago Steph actually had double implants.

All of us in the bar were VERY surprised when Rob Halford came up to speak.  I had no idea he’d be there but it shouldn’t be too much of a shocker.  Like Lemmy, this world is Rob’s life and even after all the decades he’s been doing this he’s still a fan.  He told everyone: “When I was in the presence of Lord Lemmy, I was a bit overwhelmed …”  Yeah?  Well, so were the rest of us bud.  Points for calling him “Lord Lemmy”, by the way.  After Rob left Lemmy’s girlfriend came up.  She was clearly drunk, slurring her words the entire time.  No denying she’s in a major panic right now, trying to figure out what to do next.

Lars Ulrich and Robert Trujillo of Metallica came up and that’s when I got interested.  Upon walking up to the podium, Lars looked…different.  I don’t mean the homeless guy beard he had but his vibe was different.  He was clearly shaken up there…even vulnerable.  Metallica are dead to me after …And Justice For All, but there would be no Metallica without Motorhead and Lars made it painfully obvious in every interview he’s ever done. You knew it when he spoke of opening for Motorhead in 1982, the year before Metallica were even signed to Megaforce Records, and Lemmy recognized him from their meeting in Denmark not too long before that.  The theme of his speech was that Lemmy always treated him as an equal.  I’m sure Lars could’ve said much more…if he wasn’t still shaken.  It must’ve finally hit him that his idol is gone.  That has to really suck for Lars, knowing that the reason he is the drummer for biggest band in the world is no longer here.

Dave Grohl was the last person to speak, which is what everyone was waiting for.  You know his general history: drummer for extremely overrated grunge band turned frontman/guitarist for middle of the road rock band.  But those who REALLY know ANYTHING about the guy know too well that he’s nearly as big a Motorhead fan as even Lars!  He occupation as guitarist for his middle of the road rock band basically finances his love of all things hardcore, crust and metal.  If you know ANYTHING about Dave Grohl you heard his metal side project Probot, which featured several different metal vocalist, including Lemmy, with whom he recorded the only good track on that CD, “Shake Your Blood:, in which Lemmy also played bass.

Over the years Dave and Lemmy truly developed a bond with a each other.  The two of them got together many times and were clearly the best of friends for years.  Watching him up there you can tell he was truly humbled to be friend with the guy.  What sucked was when the mic got cut off and we couldn’t hear shit for about ten minutes, and went right back on before he finished.  He mentioned their love of Little Richard, which plays and important part here.  Right before Lemmy died Dave got Little Richard to autograph a bible pamphlet for him to give to Lemmy, but Lemmy died right before he could give it to him.  So right before he let the podium Dave recited a few lines from Little Richard’s song “Precious Lord Take My Hand”, before raising a toast to Lemmy.

After it was done Lemmy’s tech plugged in his Rickenbacker signature “Rickenbastard” bass, leaned it against his full stack and let that shit feed back forever.  THAT is how you hold a memorial service.  Let’s celebrate the guys life – I think he’d make fun of all of us for mourning him, I know he wouldn’t want us to, although the woman sitting across from us was in tears the entire time.  The world is still a shittier place without you though pal.