and Ashley Gebb
The black masses rocked in unison as Ozzy Osbourne instructed his fans to “let the madness begin.”
In his heavy eye makeup and black nail polish, Ozzy gripped the mic and howled out “Bark at the Moon” for his first song at Tuesday’s Ozzfest 2007. He gave animated performances of both his classic and newer songs as a strobe light flashed over the waving, jumping crowd.
Fourteen bands entertained the throngs at Sleep Train Amphitheatre before headliner Ozzy took the stage around 9:30 p.m. No attendance figures were available, but the Yuba County venue has a capacity of 18,500 people. The free tickets were “sold out” days in advance.
The “madness” started around 9 a.m., with 20 people already waiting in line even though the gates didn’t open until noon. Joseph Blackstar, 38, came from Pacifica to see the former frontman for Black Sabbath. He saw Ozzy in 1974 when his mom took him to his first concert.
“He’s good for 45 minutes, maybe an hour,” Blackstar said of Osbourne. “Ninety minutes is rare. He’s too old; his bones won’t hold up.”
One man from the Sacramento suburb of Antelope, wearing a black leather jacket over a pink tank top, had enough piercings to blow up a metal detector. “I’ve got 20 years of metal in my face,” Porkchop said.
Porkchop refused to give his real name, but he said he’s been inspired by Ozzy since the days of Black Sabbath.
“Black Sabbath are like the Beatles to me,” Porkchop said. “Them, the Ramones – they started a revolution.”
Once inside, fans flocked to the second stage to see metal bands including 3 Inches of Blood, Hatebreed and Chthonic.
Gabrielle Peters, 17, of Yuba City said she came to see Hatebreed, Lamb of God and Ozzy. She said she also likes to watch “all the weirdos.”
“You see girls in leather get-up and people who shouldn’t be walking around with their shirts off,” she said. “Please just cover yourself, that’s all I ask of you.”
Her friend, 16-year-old Caty Maple of Yuba City, said nothing seems weird after attending last year’s Ozzfest.
“I’m trying to take it easy this year,” Maple said. “Last year I got my jaw dislocated moshing to Hatebreed.”
Despite a short break in the summer heat, with Mid-Valley high temperatures in the low 90s, some fans became sunburned and dehydrated. The “Rock Med” first aid booth provided sunblock, water and Gatorade.
The sunshine didn’t bother Kris Williams, 19, of Klamath Falls, Ore., who said he enjoyed getting up close and personal with the crowd.
“The harshest band of all was Behemoth. You turn one way, you get punched in the face, you turn the other way, you get punched in the face. It was crazy!”
He added, “All the bands got me so pumped up, my neck’s sore from head-banging.”