Ozzy Flies High Again at Chicago Open Air

By on August 8, 2017


All Photos By and Copyrighted By Travis Failey

Sunday, July 16

 There wasn’t any rest for the weary on Sunday as some of the heaviest bands of the weekend played on day three of the second annual Chicago Open Air Festival at Toyota Park.  Headlining Sunday’s lineup was Ozzy Osbourne with Zakk Wylde, thrash metal titans Slayer, Stone Sour and Lamb of God.

 Once again the weather gods blessed the semi-packed stadium throughout the day as the scheduled rain never made an appearance, allowing the crowd to remain high and dry. High because the smell of weed was stronger on Sunday than it was on the previous two days, and because, once again, the crowd surfing was at a level that I’ve never seen before.


Sunday’s minor league schedule got started with Boston’s extreme metal group Aversed followed by a new player on Sirius/XM’s regular rotation, DED. All the members in DED wore white contacts during and after their show and got the crowd into their set with their hit “Anti-Everything.” Their sound incorporates various tones that could be described as a cross between bands like Korn, Motionless in White and Hollywood Undead.


Demon Hunter, DevilDriver and Norma Jean all brought the moshers back into the pit as most of the attendees  traveled from the Monster Energy Main Stage to the Blackcraft Whiskey Side Stage.


Sunday’s lineup really got going when HELLYEAH took the main stage around 2:30, and  drummer Vinnie Paul rose up from behind his kit and blood soaked vocalist Chad Gray screamed the lyrics to “X” and “Demons in the Dirt.” Gray followed up by telling the fans in the stands to “always be the flame and never the moth” prior to playing one of their biggest hit of their career, “Moth.”  They concluded their set with their cover of the Phil Collins classic “I Don’t Care Anymore” and “HELLYEAH!”


Sirius/XM’s Jose Mangin hit the BlackCraft SideStage once again to introduce his close friends in the L.A. based 3 piece, KYNG. KYNG differentiated themselves from the other bands of the weekend with what some may call “stoner-metal.” Their sound is reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age and the Eagles of Death Metal,  with more of a classic metal feel.

Highlights from their set included “Electric Halo” and Pristine Warning.” KYNG also gave the side stage crowd a much needed body recovery break as Behemoth and Slayer were coming up soon.


As KYNG wrapped up their set, Sweden’s Amon Amarth finished up their massive stage setup on the Monster Energy Main Stage.  The dragon headed Viking ship or Lofotr, breathed smoke and adorned the center of the stage with the drum kit set behind its neck.

As pyro pots exploded from the sides of the beast, vocalist Johan Hegg commanded his shipmates through a 9 song melodic death metal set featuring “The Pursuit of Vikings” and “Deceiver of the Gods.” During the finale “Twilight of The Thunder God,” the kids in the pit physically got on the ground and rowed like they were fighting the waves of the Black Seas.  It was one of the most memorable moments of the weekend.


Three of the next four bands on Sunday’s schedule are touring together this summer as Behemoth, Lamb of God and Slayer will be coming to a town near you. Behemoth, the extreme metal band from Poland, were formed in 1991 and have been active and very controversial  in Europe since then, as some state that the band promotes Satanism and murder.

Vocalist, guitarist and original member Nergal, commanded the crowd during “Conquer All” “Messe Noire” and “Alas, Lord is Upon Me” and rose into the crowd with help from the fans and security.  Behemoth provided a “prelude to madness” as Lamb of God was next.


The energizer bunny a/k/s Randy Blythe, with bassist John Campbell, drummer Chris Adler, and guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, affectionately known as Lamb Of God, crushed Toyota Park on Sunday.

Lamb Of God opened with “Laid to Rest” and prior to “Engage the Fear Machine,” Blythe told the crowd not to believe the media and to educate themselves. Blythe also led the crowd into a big Ric Flair, “A WOO!” and performed his epic jumps off the risers and joined the crowd on the other side of the rail.

A funny moment happened during their set as a mom tried to stop the people in the pit from moshing because her kid jumped in. She stuck her arm out like a traffic monitor yelling at the kids to stop. It was the most hilarious moment of the weekend.

 A reprieve to the crowd was next as Corey Taylor and Stone Sour donned the Monster Energy Stage. Yes, Stone Sour is heavy at times but also softer and more melodic than most bands at this year’s Chicago Open Air. One thing for certain is that Corey Taylor is a front man for the ages and some would say a voice for a generation whether he is fronting Stone Sour or Slipknot.

During “30/30-150” and before the ballad “Bother,” the fans started chanting “Fuck Nickleback” prompting Taylor to break into a huge smile. “You guys are fucking insane,” he laughed “Come on! Get it out of your fucking system. Make some fucking noise out there. Beautiful, crazy bitches.” Their set consisted of hits in “Song #3” “Tired” and “Through Glass” and they finished up with their first single of their new album Hydrograd in “Fabuless.”


I learned 2 things at this year’s Open Air: The first one is Chicago is a Slayer kind of town. Out of all the bands at the fest, Slayer received the most pre-set buzz. If the people weren’t already at the side stage for Slayer, a lot of them left for it during Stone Sour.

Kids and their parents were sporting Slayer shirts all weekend. Not just a couple either. It was amazing and Slayer did not disappoint. The thrash legends opted to play on the smaller side stage so that they could setup their whole pyro show. The turnaround time between Stone Sour and Slayer would of restricted their time for the larger setup.


Slayer bludgeoned the crowd with an exhausting 13 song, pit moshing, crowd surfing set consisting of their most recognizable songs. These included “War Ensemble,” South of Heaven” and of course  “Angel of Death.” Guitarist Gary Holt fits in perfectly with Kerry King and Tom Araya, and it’s evident that Slayer fans are rabid in their support, no matter who completes the lineup.


The other thing that I learned at the Monster Energy Chicago Open AIr Festival is that the security guards on the rail are the real rock stars. These guys risk life and limb trying to keep the fans safe from themselves and each other. Their sole priority throughout the weekend was the fans, and most of the time, the photographers.

Every 15 seconds someone was being pulled over the rail due to physical and health issues due to drinking and/or crowd surfing. I also witnessed the EMT’s helping out hundreds of fans after they were wheeled out after being lifted over. This is not an exaggeration, it was an extremely high number and the weather wasn’t a factor. Big props to Danny Wimmer Presents for aligning themselves with the right security people.


Back over at the Monster Energy Stage, chants of “Ozzy, “Ozzy!” roared from the impatient crowd gathered around Toyota Park. Questions were abundant and were centered around Ozzy’s health and his voice and if this is the last time that the fans in Chicago would have the chance to see him live. Well the questions were answered early as Ozzy opened up with a howling rendition of “Bark at the Moon.” Ozzy looked and sounded great throughout the show and Zakk and his band mates were always there to provide Ozzy a break and audio and visual support.

At one point Zakk went into the center catwalk directly next to the fans and did a three minute solo on Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” Ozzy played a total of 4 Sabbath songs, including “Iron Man” and the encore show closer, “Paranoid.”

The rest of the set was a hit show from Ozzy’s solo material including, ” Shot in the Dark” “No More Tears” and of course, ” Crazy Train”.  Other than the obvious use of the teleprompter, Ozzy put on a great show and it seems like he definitely doesn’t wanna stop.


Clay Busch, Danny Wimmer Presents’ Vice President of Marketing, stated, “After the incredible debut of the Chicago Open Air festival in 2016, we knew we had to come back even bigger and better in 2017. We have our great heavy metal family in the Chicago area to thank for welcoming us back so strongly and showing us there is a community of fans here that enjoys coming together in the spirit of music. We look forward to building on that relationship in the years to come and solidifying Chicago Open Air as America’s greatest heavy metal experience.”


Finally, I want to thank the organizers: Danny Wimmer Presents, LiveNation, Chicago’s Finest for doing a great job under tough conditions, and Chicago Open Air’s sponsors: Monster, FYE, F*ck Cancer, Razor & Tie, and Jack Daniel’s, just to name a few.


I would especially like to thank the 70,000 fans for coming out to the festival throughout the weekend. They have been supporting the music they love for years without any kind of support from the local terrestrial Chicago radio stations. With festivals like Chicago Open Air, hopefully your voices and your demand for hard rock radio will be met sooner than later.

One thing is for sure, your voices were heard loud and clear and will be heard once again in 2018 at the 3rd Annual Chicago Open Air Festival at Toyota Park.

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