Several generations of heavy metal hit the beach fighting
Ozzfest this year schooled you in Metal History 101, showing how every generation of testosterone-driven outcasts tries to refine the art of “heavy” by making a better killing machine then the one before. You had headliners Black Sabbath (who once laid doom and dirge upon the hard-blues mantle of Led Zeppelin), Judas Priest (who then streamlined Sab’s sludge with two guitars and wailing banshee vocals), and Generation Speedmetal’s Slayer (who double- and triple-timed Priest’s relentless chug). And now you have those kuh-razy kids of the 2nd Stage who do a brazen face-lift to Slayer’s evilosity by infusing several species of schizoid riffage. All due respect to the elder statesmen, but their shticks—Priest’s in-synch sway and Ozzy’s attempted frog-leaps—seem prim compared to the ADHD video-game-damaged, new-school-berserker, karate-kid-moshin’ that embodies the 2nd Stage.
Few over 19 have met a Slipknot record they liked. Nine masked, screaming monster men jumping from scaffolding, though, is a frenzied hoot. They’re totally heavy too. But, those saccharine sing-alongs and cornball rap parts? Not so much. 2nd Stage favorites: Lamb of God, Otep, Unearth, Hatebreed. But the kids loves them some mutha fuggin’ Slipknot.
Usually a Slayer set induces mandatory headbanging air-guitar suicide, but in contrast to the slender, seemingly gym-going (yet much older) Judas Priest, Slayer appeared puffy and tired. Maybe the anti-McTallica needs McTherapy? All talk was on co-headliners Priest, reunited with Rob Halford. Looking like an s/m Liberace—long black leather trench coat with gaudy studded fringes—the vocally rejuvenated metal god strutted the stage leading his alloy brethren through impeccably drenched greatest hits. Rain and lightning, waterfront stage, neon eyeball backdrop, soaked fans: an epic set. Considering that after we invaded Iraq Ozzy was one of those namby “not sure how I feel about the war, but support those troops” pamby-ers, it was heartening to see anti-Bush images all over the three jumbo screens during Sabbath’s opening, “War Pigs.” But if you’ve witnessed even one recent Sabbath “reunion” show, you saw nothing new this time. They sounded great—Ozzy was in rare animated form, Tony Iommi’s fretwork was killing—but mid-tempo numbers draaagged, and Bill Ward came off as the little engine who hopes he can.
Amazing lineup, overall. But if you’re gonna help fund Sharon’s next TV show or Jack and Kelly’s next rehab, throw on a helmet and hang with the groundlings. The 2nd Stage is where the future is forged. D. Shawn Bosler
Blue Note brass command table at pianist’s Blue Note debut
Robert Glasper’s stock, too new ever to have been undervalued, has lately soared thanks to a Brooklyn club residency, some high-yield exposure with Bilal, and a shout-out from the Times. His 2003 debut, Mood, has turned a few heads too, even though it’s on the Spanish indie label Fresh Sound New Talent. No accident that Blue Note Records brass commanded a table at his first headlining gig in a marquee club.
Glasper is a percussive pianist, given to stabbing arpeggios and intricate two-handed puzzles. He began the second song of the night with a rumble of close-voiced clusters, a barrage of ricocheting single notes, and finally a rococo flourish that drew back the curtain on, of all things, Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way.” The guess-what-tune trick was classic Erroll Garner, although back then there would have been recognition applause. Glasper made do with the bobbing of heads, which ended when bassist Brandon Owens let his solo slip out of control.
Owens and drummer Damion Reid were more cohesive on “Melody for Myself,” a pulse-quickening polyrhythmic waltz, and “One for ‘Grew,” a soulful tribute to pianist Mulgrew Miller. Both songs were Glasper’s, both featured descending lines, and both found the pianist dialoguing in fervent shorthand with Reid, whose time feel had a vertiginous tilt. Reid’s single-stroke flurries grew irksome on the set’s barn-burner, a two-bar funk vamp branded “Jelly’s DaBeener.” Meant to be incantatory, it was merely repetitive, underscoring the confidence with which Glasper and crew can bend the contours of better songs. The leader’s closing “Enoch’s Medication” was one such, although its gospel rumination morphed into a mash-up of Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” and Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place.” As on Mood , this concoction came across like a ploy to establish Glasper’s Gen-X bona fides. Happily, he sounds contemporary enough without it. Nate Chinen