Bang Thy Head Carefully

A survival guide for the summer's more vigorous music festivals

Highlights: High on Fire, Clutch, Poison the Well, Lamb of God, From Autumn to Ashes, GWAR.

Survival Tips:

Pits can be the pits: These pits promise to be the most violent of any this summer. Be sure to check the lengths of your chain wallet and wristband spikes so you don't strangle or impale anyone while you're crowd-surfing.

What? Whaaaat?: Sure, earplugs look lame. So does wearing a hearing aid at 22 because you planted your naked ears next to speakers louder than an air raid siren for seven hours straight. Concerts rarely get louder than this one, so be sure to invest in a pair of those $5 foam plugs. Or maybe shove some of your buddy's well-chewed gum in there.

Support your rawk troops: If you see a new band you really dig, make sure you buy an album or a T-shirt directly from the merch table instead of getting them from the mall the next day. The bands might charge you a couple bucks less, they might throw in some free stickers and stuff, and this way the artist gets a bigger cut. Remember, "underground" = "broke."

OZZFEST

Saturday, August 13, at the Shoreline Amphitheatre

No one dreamed Ozzy Osbourne would actually make it past 40 (he's just a couple years shy of 60 at this point). And when Ozzfest -- devised by Sharon Osbourne, who was angry that her hubby'd been denied a Lollapalooza slot -- launched modestly in 1996, few thought it had the staying power to make it to this year's 10th anniversary edition. But millions of rabid metalheads have made Ozzfest the biggest, best attended, most leather- and tattoo-laden summer festival in the U.S.

Highlights: The 87th and possibly final reunion of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Rob Zombie, Mastodon, Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society, Wicked Wisdom (fronted, we shit you negative, by Jada Pinkett-Smith, actress and wife of actor/candy rapper Will Smith).

Survival Tips:

Pick your battles wisely: Unlike, say, audiences for the Warped Tour, Ozzfest crowds are comprised of more than just weenie high schoolers easily stomped should you get into a shoving match. Here, you'll find some serious bad-ass metal lifers (not to mention some dudes who came this close to getting 20-to-life). They won't take too kindly to your lip; they've wasted guys at the Sturgis motorcycle rally for less. So think twice before mouthing off to the guy who elbows you during the Maiden set or cuts in front of you at the Jaeger tent.

Keep your hands to yourself: OK, let's be honest here -- it's no secret that metal draws its share of male misfits and miscreants. It's also no secret that between the chicks flashing their goods at the stage, getting their T-shirts watered down by "concerned" security guards, and lining up at the breast-painting booth, there's probably more boobage on display at Ozzfest than at the AVN Awards in Vegas. So for all you skeezy dudes out there, remember: Look, but don't touch. Not only is touching sexual assault, but it often means you'll get your ass kicked by a big, jealous boyfriend or, more likely, a really pissed-off chick.

Bang thy head ... carefully: Many thousands of people arrive in emergency rooms each year suffering from whiplash, a soft tissue injury that commonly occurs during automobile crashes or heavy metal concerts. In addition to severe neck pain, symptoms may include memory loss ("Dude, I swear, I was never into hair metal"); irritability ("Sixty bucks for a Mudvayne T-shirt, what the fuck?!"); and depression ("Aww man, now that Ozzfest's over the rest of the year is all downhill ..."). If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

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