Here’s something I took home from AmsterJam: no matter how much you pay to get into a big outdoor concert, the promoters aren’t going to feel any obligation toward you whatsoever. They’ll make you wait on line for an hour to get through five different security checkpoints, they’ll charge you $8 for a plastic cup of beer, they’ll keep you penned up in a crowded field with no shade or places to sit for an entire day, and you’ll pay for the privilege. And apparently, given the right circumstances they’ll sabotage the set of one of their main draws.
This story is getting old, but I’ll tell it anyway: at an stop in Deore, California last Saturday, as Iron Maiden was playing its last set of the tour, the band was forced to deal with a weird gauntlet of humiliations. A few people in the crowd threw eggs at the band, some guy tried to run onstage with an American flag and a shirt that said “Don’t fuck with Ozzy,” and the sound was cut during the climactic moments of jams like “Run to the Hills” and “Number of the Beast.” The apparent mastermind behind all this bullshit was Ozzfest matriarch Sharon Osbourne, who took the stage after the band finished its set to call Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson a “prick” and to denounce him for “disrespecting Ozzfest.” Last night, Osborne admitted to cutting the band’s sound, explaining that Dickinson had talked shit on the festival sound system and making fun of headliner Ozzy Osbourne for needing a teleprompter and having a reality show.
Beef happens. I could make the case that rapper-to-rapper shit-talking has become one of the music industry’s main cash cows (see: Cent, 50 / Game, The). There’s a science to letting the public in on these beefs; vampires like us always want to know who has a problem with who. But Osbourne wasn’t just fucking with another band when she cut Maiden’s sound and intentionally fucked with their show. She was making the tens of thousands of people who had paid good money to get into the show victims of a petty personal grudge. That shit ain’t cool.
There’s a happy ending to the story. Metal karma is cruel, and the internet massive has spent the past week hilariously excoriating everyone involved in the Great Maiden Sabotage. (Google this stuff! Trust me!) The band Bury Your Dead, who rumors say joined Sharon and Kelly Osbourne in throwing shit, has received enough death threats that it had to put out a press release denying any involvement. The crowd mercilessly booed Sharon as soon as she set foot onstage after Maiden. Internet dudes are throwing around the word boycott like this was a civil rights case, and everyone at Ozzfest Central appears to be in full damage-control mode.
Iron Maiden came out of this whole thing looking pretty good; they kept playing through all the attacks. But the real winners here are, of course, the fans. Anyone sick of the endless rap beef now has an alternative that doesn’t involve boring self-righteous “conscious” rappers like Talib Kweli. That alternative: metal beef! This stuff is fun! Like here’s former Osborne guitarist Zakk Wylde defending Sharon: “The bottom line is Bruce was being a wad!” As long as these crazy kids keep it on wax, this will just get more and more entertaining.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 26, 2005