Monsters of Metal

Ozzfest, 8/21/04, Tweeter Center, Tinley Park, Ill.

I leave my house around 3:00pm after calling anyone and everyone I know who even remotely likes metal. No luck. I leave solo. I get to the Tweeter Center around 4:00pm and NO ONE is partying in the lot or selling any extras. I decide to go in and soak up some of the newer metal bands. I get to the ticket sales booth and notice they’ve jacked up the price of lawn seats from the advertised price of $36 to $48. No biggie since I’m going to see three of my all-time favorite bands. I ask for a lawn ticket. I’m handed a ticket. I sign a receipt for said ticket since I’ve paid by credit card and I walk in. Once I get in, I notice the sales lady has inadvertently given me a ticket for a freakin’ awesome pavilion seat. I freak out and immediately call my wife Keri to tell her of my good luck. She says, “Ummm... did you look at your credit card receipt?” D’OH!!! The dumbass has charged my card for $88!!! I go back to the ticket sales booth and talk to the manager about this fiasco. After waiting for 10 minutes, she tells me that there’s nothing she can do: I did, in fact, sign off on the $88 charge. I tell her “FUCK YOU VERY MUCH!!!” and go in to enjoy the show in my killer, yet expensive, seat.

I get to my seat right as Black Label Society is launching into their second song. I stay there until the middle of the third song when I realize they’re boring and unoriginal and I’d rather soak in the freak scene. I go to the body painting booth and am disappointed that NONE of the chicks are getting their bodacious ta-tas painted.

I check out some other vendors and head back to my seat, psyched to finally see Super Joint Ritual. I am thrilled to see their backdrop is a huge weed leaf engulfed in a pentagram. But that is the extent of my excitement. THEY SUCK. They are nothing but noise. Then Phil Anselmo launches into his “Support the president! Fuck Iraq!” speech. I give him the finger and yell, “You suck! Go back to Pantera!”, and receive a mini round of applause from the people around me. I can’t stand the band and promptly leave for Round 2 of people-watching.

During the sucky Satanic metal set of Dimmu Borgia, I decide to walk the lawn and settle next to a cute 20-something girl and her boyfriend. We get to talking about how the band sucks. I mention, “I’m here only for Slayer, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath. This isn’t really my scene. I’m into the Grateful Dead scene.” This chick freaks and says, “So am I. Look at my shirt.” It’s a God-blessed Grateful Dead shirt.

I befriend these two young hippies. We puff one down. Slayer begins their assault with “Disciple”. I say goodbye to my two new Deadhead friends and head back to my seat. I’m not gonna let this $88 go to waste. My favorite metal band has just hit the stage and they are kicking some serious ass.

What can I say about the almighty Slayer? They don’t fuck around. They have 50 minutes to launch an audio assault and they don’t waste a minute. From old classics to new material, they kick ass and don’t slow down or take a breath for one second. THEY BLOW ME AWAY! It helps that I have a ton of long-haired freaking metal brethren thrashing away with me. We’re high-fiving and headbanging like nuts. MOTHER FUCKING SLAYER!!! After their set, I call Keri absolutely elated. After enduring shit band after shit band and paying for a ticket I didn’t ask for, Slayer makes everything all right. I’ve got my $88 worth. I can’t remember everything they play but highlights are “South of Heaven”, “Raining Blood”, “Dead Skin Mask”!!!!!

Can it get any better after Slayer??? NO!!! Regardless of the fact that Priest now has their original singer back, I would have been scared to take the stage after Slayer. It’s getting dark. The lights go down, an audio tape of “The Hellion” begins, and the audience can freakin’ feel Halford’s presence in the house. BAM!!!!! “ELECTRIC EYE”!!!!! The crowd goes nuts. I go nuts. My new drunk, hair-past-their-ass friends go nuts and spark up a joint. These dudes are relentless with the joints they share with me during Priest’s set. They get me baked beyond the realms of reality. But hell, THIS WAS THE ORIGINAL PRIEST. And folks, they show the youngsters in Slayer what old-school metalheads can do. They kick ass!!! “Beyond the Realms of Death”, “Victim of Changes”, “Painkiller”!!!!! DAMN, do they smoke!!! Halford’s voice is the best I’ve ever heard it. The man nails every tune. JUDAS PRIEST IS BACK!!!

After their 75-minute set, I call Keri and tell her the impossible, the unbelievable, the unreal has occurred: Judas Priest has schooled my beloved Slayer. Absolutely taken them to school. Fuck the $88 bucks. I am having the time of my life.

I’m now thinking, “Holy shit. No matter who you are, you don’t upstage the Godfathers of Heavy Metal. And that’s exactly what Judas Priest just did. They stole Black Sabbath’s thunder.” You know where this is going… FUCKING WAR PIGS OPENER!!!!! Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, and OZZY!!! Good Lord, does Ozzy know how to work a crowd. He’s smiling ear to ear the entire show. Running around, dousing the crowd with buckets of water, pouring them over his own head. “Go fucking crazy Chicago... We love you fucking Chicago... God bless you all!!!” I’ve never seen Sabbath, but I’ll be damned if these old men can’t fucking rock the very foundation of our existence.

NIB”, “Lord of This World”, “Faeries Wear Boots”, “Snowblind”, “Iron Man”, “Children of the Grave”, “Black Sabbath”, “Paranoid”!!!!! Good gravy, is there any tune they’ve written that even kinda sucks? HELL NO!!! They are the masters of metal and they prove it.

Despite the shitty beginning to my adventure, the $88 fiasco pays off in spades. Though solo, I have the time of my life. And the show proves to me that the “strangers stopping strangers” concept transcends the Dead scene. I am alone but I’m not. I befriend a bunch of totally cool metalheads. We are brothers and sisters in metal. And God bless it… I have the time of my life.

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