Acts of kindness gave way to chaos

by Sydney Olmstead , Staff Writer

The lines were filled with metal heads dressed in black, the stench of alcohol and smoke thick in the air. My friend and I were ready to watch some epic bands grace the Ozzfest stage, but first we had to get into the venue.

When it was finally my turn to get patted down by security, I set my phone, driver’s license and debit card on the table beside me. After my frisking I grabbed my belongings and excitedly ran to my friend by the front entrance to San Manuel Amphitheater. It didn’t take long for my joy to turn to panic as I realized I was missing my debit card.

I frantically turned back and searched around the security area, on the table and in the dirt.

The guard asked me what I was looking for and I told her in a nervous flurry of words, “my debit card, it’s a Disney one, name on it is Sydney, help?”

She smiled as she pulled the card from her pocket and I thanked her profusely before she said, “It wasn’t me, someone found it and handed it in.”

This level of kindness at a metal festival of all places was shocking to me. It restored my faith in humanity, if only for a brief moment.

Once inside the venue, acts of kindness lent their way to acts of chaos.

Metal festivals and most festivals in general, have a reputation for being a bit on the crazy side. And this festival lived up to those expectations.

Despite having general admission lawn tickets, we found ourselves in the midst of chaos throughout our more than six-hour Ozzfest experience. The crowd remained relatively calm during Swedish band Opeth’s set. However, once headliner Megadeth took the stage the fans went into a music-induced frenzy.

It wasn’t long before people had created their own bonfires with shirts and trash, dancing and moshing around the orange glow. Some thrashed around and rocked out on air guitars, while others sat on the scratchy lawn with a beer in hand. Food vendors and carnival rides encircled the venue.

Fire jets around the venue would blast fire into the sky at certain points throughout the show. Every time the one behind us shot off, I’d jump in surprised reaction to the heat because I thought someone was starting a fire right behind me. The fascination with fire was a recurring theme throughout the night. My favorite fiery occurrence was when a man set a trashcan ablaze and walked into the audience with it raised above his head and everyone around him cheered madly.

After Megadeth’s set, Disturbed put on a stellar performance. I saw them once before in 2011, but was completely blown away this time by their sound and showmanship. Front man David Draiman strutted back and forth across the stage in flowing black garb and kept the crowd pumped throughout the set.

When they were done, Draiman talked about how grateful Disturbed is for Black Sabbath and the Osbourne family. Without them and Ozzfest, many heavy metal and hard rock bands wouldn’t be where they are today.

The suspense before Black Sabbath took the stage nearly killed me. It seemed that the setup was taking longer than it should have. To the left of the stage, fireworks lit up the sky and all around us people chanted excitedly for the godfathers of metal to come out.

Finally, the video screens on and around the stage lit up and played an intro as Black Sabbath came out and began its set.

They had a different video sequence for every song they played and it was so awesome to see how they came together with the music.

Images of skulls or eyes or squirming maggots danced across the screens as Ozzy Osbourne led the band through their songs.

After the first song, Ozzy apologized for “singing like an assh-le” and said he was very sick, but was doing the best he could.

Someone behind us yelled, “It’s okay man! Just you being here is enough for us!”

This comment made me truly realize the massive impact this man has had on metal and hard rock throughout the years. Black Sabbath put on an incredible show, but some hard-hitting news was confirmed about midway through its set.

Ozzy addressed the rumors that this was the band’s last tour.

“As much as I want to say this isn’t the end, it is,” he said.

And what an amazing farewell it was.

Of all the shows I’ve been to, I am so grateful to be able to see this legendary band’s last show ever.

The charming chaos of the crowd made this experience one to remember.