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Concert Reviews:
OZZFest Rocks, Even Without Ozzy

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2006

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OZZFest still rules — even without Ozzy.

The annual traveling heavy metal festival played to a sold-out crowd Wednesday at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, offering more than 12 hours of pummeling hard rock played at bone-rattling volume by 19 bands.

Songs ranged from established chart-toppers like System of a Down and Disturbed to up-andcomers such as Dragonforce, Unearth, Atreyu, Bleeding Through and the locally based Walls of Jericho, who delivered a particularly emotional hometown second-stage performance.

But for the first time in the festival’s 11-year history, namesake Ozzy Osbourne wasn’t on the bill — either with his own band or with his original group, Black Sabbath. It was an absence that was felt even by those who still showed up for the metallic mayhem.

“They’re all great bands, but it’s better when (Osbourne) is around,” said Mark Rousseau, 37, who drove 2 1 /2 hours from Stanton to attend Tuesday’s show. “He’s the almighty granddad of (metal).”

Osbourne is playing several shows on the tour, but Detroit was not one of the dates selected.

“I think (Osbourne) makes it, but it’s still OZZFest,” said Calvin Gunderson, 31, who also came from Stanton, for his third consecutive OZZFest visit. “There’s a lot of bands that are upand-coming here this year.”

But they had less appeal to Ron Gawlik, 38, of Redford, an OZZFest regular who said he was “big time” disappointed that Osbourne is phasing himself out of the festival.

“This is catered to more of a younger crowd this year,” he said. “System of a Down — I just don’t get those guys.”

But Allison Draves, who was with a group from Whittemore, said that as far as she was concerned: “(Osbourne) is getting too old, but that’s OK. They can wheel him out.”

There was still a sense of plenty for everyone at Tuesday’s show, whether headbanging — beers in hand — to Between the Buried and Me’s show-opening at 10 a.m., checking out new products in the Sony PlayStation tent or watching the sword swallower and burlesque stripper in the Brothers Grim Side Shows tent near the second stage or doing pull-ups and arm hangs at the U.S. Marine recruiting booth.

There were also the mosh pits — including the particularly fi erce Wall of Death during Bad Acid Trip’s set.

“I’m here for the atmosphere. It’s one big freak show,” said Steve Rabow of Whittemore, watching a parade of OZZFesters that included one toddler sporting a blue Mohawk riding atop his father’s shoulders and a topless woman whose torso was painted with tiger stripes.

It was a fi rst-time concert for Holly Birano of Traverse City. “We thought we might as well take her to the mother of all shows,” said her friend, Toby Leonard.

For others, OZZFest was a family affair — if not one necessarily spent together. Kim Lotkrey, 44, of Burton, chose to spend most of the day in a gazebo in DTE’s grove area while 17-year-old son Brandon joined the moshing masses.

“He wanted to do this forever,” she said. With her son going into his senior year of high school, she added, “it’s the last big summer we can do something like this.”

But John and Laney Weigand of Monroe County were there every minute of the day for 7-year-old son Sabyn. “He gets to listen to music,” his mother said, “and gets well-cultured, I think.”

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