For fans most familiar with his current gig as the lovably addled father on MTV's reality series The Osbournes, Ozzy Osbourne seems more like a cross between Homer Simpson and, well, a lamppost than a rock legend. But before he was tamed (or, as it sometimes seems, lobotomized) by marriage, kids, money, and drugs -- lots and lots of drugs -- Ozzy was the undisputed poster child for mischief, mayhem, metal, and everything parents lie awake at night worrying their children will become. After all, this is a man who was kicked out of Black Sabbath for partying too hard! America's favorite dysfunctional dad may have mellowed since then, but every summer the old Ozzy rears his bat-biting head for the celebration of all things dark, demented, and loud known as Ozzfest.
This daylong festival gives headbangers of all ages the chance to relive the glory days of heavy metal, when iconic groups like Ozzy's Sabbath roamed the world's arenas warping young minds. Accordingly, this year's show features a healthy dose of hard-rock heavy hitters, including metal-punk hybrid Slayer and Judas Priest's long-awaited reunion with vocalist Rob Halford.
But Ozzfest is more than a tribute to the past. The success of the festival is a testament to the enduring popularity of metal. Unlike some of its sister tours, such as the pop-friendlier Lollapalooza (which canceled its run this summer due to disappointing ticket sales), Ozzfest has become an industry mainstay, grossing almost $150 million and drawing close to 4 million people to its mosh pits since 1996.
Ozzfest's organizers also made their savviest move yet this year, allowing fans to choose the second-stage groups they wanted to see by going to Ozzfest.com. More than 65,000 of them voted in the first weekend alone, and the final result is a show featuring 13 hours of bone-crushing music on two stages. Highlights include Norwegian black metal band Dimmu Borgir, second-stage headliners Slipknot, and breakout groups like Hatebreed and Lamb of God making music to drive even the most staid concertgoers into a frenzy. If bruises aren't souvenir enough, descend into the infamous Village of the Damned, where you can get yourself tattooed and pierced to your heart's content.
Of course, none of the 20 bands that made it into the final roster will whip up quite the frenzy that the festival's namesake will cause when he teams up with his old alma mater for the show's earsplitting climax. Be prepared for Black Sabbath favorites like "Paranoid" and the eerily apropos "War Pigs," as well as lots of crowd-surfing and general bedlam. And if all else fails, perhaps Ozzy will be willing to provide some parenting advice. -- Jack Karp