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Glen Helen Ampitheater and Festival Grounds, San Bernadino, CA

29th November 2017

sara harding
Words: Sara Harding and William Howell, Pictures: Kirsten Daw and William Greenberg at

ozzfest knotfest

When the Ozzy Osbourne and Slipknot camps announced the superfest of 2017, it was a Metaltalk no-brainer to jump on a plane and head over the pond to the US of America.

It was the stellar line up that enticed us to make the 10-hour flight to LA plus the two-hour drive out to San Bernadino and to the Glen Helen amphitheatre that was hosting the event. We arrived just in time to witness the only British band on the line-up, Orange Goblin.

Ben Ward and co did team GB proud encouraging a mosh pit in the afternoon – their set was stripped down and the band steamed through an impressive track list giving massive shout outs from the UK to this mammoth festival.

ozzfest knotfest

As we headed backstage for a quick 'livener' it was lovely to see so many Brits who had also made the journey – the big labels were in town as were the folk from That's Not Metal and Dimebag's widow and Metaltalk friend, Rita Haney.

Children of Bodom were up next taking care of Metal business. And as the Californian sunset in this outdoor venue, the Deftones took to the stage. Their performance as polished as ever, was simply sublime. Chino pulled his pants up and gave us one of the best vocal performances ever and the best mic drop any of us had ever witnessed.

ozzfest knotfest

The band took us through a cataclysmic catalogue of Deftones tracks past and present, the lighting and production shone through and this amphitheatre gave us the ambience that suits the band so well. The crowd sang at the top of their voices and this set simply gave us all goosebumps.

Unlike British festivals where it's all about the beer, now that it's been legalised in California, it was all about the weed and by the time Prophets of Rage took to the stage I'm sure us Brits were all high on the fumes.

It was easy to get near the front of the stage. While a lot of the American fans chose to chill and watch the best set of the weekend, us lot were pulling out our best crunks, slut drops and twerks to this supergroup. The setlist was everything we wanted to witness and more.

ozzfest knotfest

We were treated to Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Rage Against The Machine "greatest hits" with nods to other huge hip-hop crossover tunes like 'Jump Around'. But the standout out song of this stellar set was the tribute to Chris Cornell.

The band simply played Audioslave's 'Like a Stone' with a light on an empty microphone stand. Morello's guitar solo was out of this world. As the audience started singing the lyrics to the song in their very own tribute, it really was an emotional moment where we were all united in music and loss of a great frontman.

The Rage backline was intense, Morello's musicianship on that geeetar was phenomenal and the frontmen Chuck D and B-Real gave us the best show in town. As they signed off with 'Killing In The Name' the amphitheatre was literally a wall of jumping maniacs. How the hell was Ozzy Osbourne going to top that?

As the Prince of Darkness took to the stage, we were all quaking with anticipation. Backstage we had bumped into the nicest man in rock, Adam Wakeman, who had flown in from Blighty for keyboard duty and we knew Ozzy was in good hands. And boy, was he.

As his band took to the stage the musicianship was at its finest. Zakk Wylde was back with the band replacing Gus G on guitar duties, doing what he does best and that's simply belting out the killer Ozz riffs, which he did easily. Jumping into the crowd and playing whole solos behind his head, Wylde was back in business.

ozzfest knotfest

Tommy Clufetos drummed like it was his last gig and kept the whole band energised. Blasko's basslines were deep and rumbling.

"I'm so happy to be getting back on the road with Zakk, Blasko, Tommy and Adam," says Ozzy Osbourne. "This is what I do. This is where I belong, on the road."

Ozzy and Sharon have put together the best band of Merry Metalmen and this certainly gives Ozzy the energy and momentum to front this killer line up. The setlist was everything we wanted to hear – kicking off with 'Bark At The Moon' and 'Mr Crowley', into 'I Don't Know' and 'Fairies Wear Boots'.

ozzfest knotfest

Then it's onto the big hitters 'War Pigs' and 'Iron Man' where Ozzy was at his finest, the drum solo courtesy of Tommy was spotless and for once none of us went to the bar, which is the norm when there is a long solo.

Ozzy soon joins us again and it's great to see him grinning around looking and his band as they charge into 'Shot In The Dark', 'No More Tears', 'I Don't Want To Change The World' and 'Crazy Train' where Wylde really showed his crazy guitar chops. As Ozzy and co end with 'Mama, I'm Coming Home' and 'Paranoid', it leaves us excited for their Download performance in June.

After inhaling all that wacky baccy, we all had the munchies, and the lovely management from Ozz and Knot, invite us to their "Tequila and Taco" backstage party hosted by Jose Mangin of Sirius/XM Radio and capped off with a performance by KYNG who had played the second stage earlier in the day. As Ozzy and co end with 'Mama, I'm Coming Home' and 'Paranoid', it leaves us excited for their Download performance in June.

A great way to finish up part one of the Metal weekend with all the bands, labels, fans and managers all hanging out together with some live music and great Mexican nom-ness.

Day 2 and we're on site early to buy our official merch and check out the second stage. There are loads of great stalls and we love the two-stage set up of the second arena.

We catch up with Life of Agony who weren't at their best. Death Angel, GoatWhore were all crowd pleasers as well as Testament, who not only gave out lots of merch to their fans but delivered a blistering set that wrapped up the second stage in true Metal style.

ozzfest knotfest

We head over to the mainstage for the hard-hitters and bump into Clown from Slipknot, clearly proud of what number 6 and the Knot team have created, it was great to catch up and chat about the huge success of the 'Day Of The Gusano' film which he directed for Eagle Rock – which, maggot or not, if you want to experience Knotfest for yourself you must check out.

On with the Knotfest and we arrive just in time to witness Slipknot's Number 8, Mr Corey Taylor and his band Stone Sour. Vocals at their best and the band clearly enjoying the Knotfest experience, they put on a great show. Kicking off with the new song 'Taipei Person', it's then into some classic Stone Sour that we all sing along to.

Some idiot throws a beer at Corey and his comeback is classic "ahhh did your mummy teach you to do that, are you 15 and at your first concert?" The whole audience laugh and give the offending fan the middle finger.

The band power through their set and end with 'Fabuless'. My favourite word for one of my favourite bands.

Disappointed that Slipknot weren't headlining Knotfest, we were offered a replacement double headliner of Manson and Zombie. A very clever choice of bands as it turns out. Marilyn Manson had previously been injured in a horrific onstage accident where a prop fell on him, breaking his ankle and forcing him to cancel his tour so this was his first post-injury performance.

As the Antichrist warm-up ensued, we sneak a peek from the side of the stage and see that they are setting up a pimped up mobility scooter complete with Papal props. As the curtain drops the excitement is electric, even the potheads are standing to attention.

ozzfest knotfest

As Marilyn Manson traverses the stage like a demented Doctor Evil, he is the centre of attention in his electric wheelchair scooter (normally it's a sight we see at the local Wetherspoons, not a huge Metal gig). The dark lord is clearly frustrated that he can't walk and constantly mentions his broken leg.

On stage with him are two "medics" fully garbed and there to help the Meister to get around the stage. Mazza kicks off with 'Revelation 12' and then mentions his broken ankle. He is then transferred to a weird strap on podium where he delivers 'Disposable Teens' and 'MOBscene' and mentions his broken ankle.

The medics then transfer Manson to a wheelchair which involves another "break" story(!). Then its time for Kill4Me, The Dope Show and Deep Six. Another interval as this he is dumped onto a hospital stretcher, and he sings into a lit up microphone and gives us a great, eerie 'Sweet Dreams', 'We Know Where You Fucking Live', 'Say 10' and then in true Manson style we are finished off with 'The Beautiful People'.
ozzfest knotfest

It was a short set, shortened more so by Manson changing his mode of transport around the stage, he should have just stuck to his pimped up scooter and be done with it. Did I mention he had a broken ankle? Having said that, it was a dark, dreamy, demure and dead brilliant performance from a master at work.

Then it's time for the grand finale, Mr Rob Zombie and his band of Walking Dead dudes. As a giant radio prop is revealed, the band steam on stage and get busy leading us straight into 'Dead City Radio' and 'The New Gods of Supertown' followed swiftly by 'Superbeast'.

Zombie is atop this huge radio and his outfit is certainly eye-catching – his tight silver trousers with a huge flared bell bottom remind me of a bizarre Abba-esque style of loons. He's changed his dance moves too, we are used to Zombie's manspread side to side shuffle, to which he has now added into a slut drop followed by a karate style high kick.

ozzfest knotfest

It was like watching a dreadlocked disco diva Hong Kong Phooey but for something so wrong, it was so right. His band are as tight as his pants and they high kick on with 'In The Age of the Consecrated Vampire We all Get High', followed by 'Living Dead Girl', 'Scum of the Earth', 'Well Everybody's Fucking In A UFO' and the obvious crowd pleaser 'More Human than Human'.

The energy coming from the band is insane and I'm so glad we made the long journey here. Zombie blisters through a few more favourites and ends with a killer cover of Alice Cooper's 'School's Out' and his final encore is 'Dragula'. This is shock rock at its finest.

ozzfest knotfest

A great and fitting way to end Ozzfest meets Knotfest. There are rumours that this carnival of Metal mayhem may well make its way to the UK and if it does, we will be there with silver pants, mobility scooters and bells on.

A mahoosive MetalTalk thank you to Michael Guarracino, Cory Brennan, Helen Buffet, Andrew Daw, Josh Phillips, Caroline Gibbons and Teresa Beeton

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ozzfest knotfest

ozzfest knotfest

ozzfest knotfest

ozzfest knotfest

ozzfest knotfest


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