Bark at the Moon
“Screams break the silence. Waking from the dead of night. ” No, this isn’t a scene from my upcoming murder-mystery novel that doesn’t exist. It’s the opening lyrics to “Bark at the Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne. That’s the song he played at Moonstock, the hard-rock and heavy-metal festival in Carterville, Illinois during the total solar eclipse. It was a four-day event, starting Friday, August 18, and ending Monday, August 21. Featured bands included Black Stone Cherry, Halestorm, All That Remains, and Five Finger Death Punch.
In case you actually don’t who Ozzy is, he’s that guy that sings “Crazy Train” and “Iron Man”. But since our generation doesn’t covet music, maybe you know more about his drunken and/or drug-induced antics like mistakenly biting the head off a live bat in concert, accidentally urinating on the Alamo, snorting a line of ants on a dare, etc. Or maybe you know him as the cranky and fumbling dad on the show that accidentally invented reality TV, “The Osbournes”. If you don’t know those, then I’m just sorry.
So, how was Moonstock? The weather was okay, except on the 21st; it was very hot. I can usually take the heat, but Eclipse Day was some tough stuff. That made me appreciate a giant rock covering the sun even more.
If you like rock or metal, it was a blast. If you don’t, then Hong Kong phooey on you. I didn’t see Black Stone Cherry or Halestorm in person, but they’re both solid bands, and we’ll always have the internet. All That Remains and Five Finger Death Punch were as solid as ever. ATR has a cool variety of styles in their music, and you have to give props to any neo-thrash-metal/quasi-death-metal band that has the gusto to cover Garth Brooks.
5FDP has great energy and groove, but they need to do more songs that aren’t in the key of B minor. Still, it was cool to see singer Ivan Moody come back after that stint in rehab, and it was super cool of him to let a bunch of people into the VIP seating so that no one spent $750 on a seat for that night. Plus, that cameo from ATR vocalist Phil Labonte. I was also pleasantly surprised by Otherwise; the songs were better than average and the mix wasn’t terrible.
As a strapping young audio engineer, I wasn’t super impressed with the sound. The thing about metal concerts is that they almost never sound that good. It’s funny how muddy they are, without you actually hearing any real bass playing. Though it was super hilarious when everything except the bass and kick drums got cut for approximately four minutes during 5FDP’s mosh/hype song, “Burn MF”. Also, it was super cool of them to bring all the kids on stage for that song, because moshes can get intense.
And on the fourth day, The Ozzman cameth. There was also that eclipse thing, too. Ozzy sounds kind of rough, even when the band has to detune three half steps so that he can sing in key. But that’s basically what a life filled with drugs, alcohol, bats, and ants does to you when you turn 68. His solo band has always been solid, and it’s nice to see Mr. Berserker Zakk Wylde come back (I actually like Gus G). The Sabbath songs sound killer in C# tuning, though. He had a good time, too. At least, I would say a performer doing three encores for a tired crowd is a pretty apt description of having a good time.
Moonstock was a bunch of fun. It was more than just two and a half minutes of the sky getting dark and then getting back to normal. For Southern Illinoisans that forget there’s a nice big planet we can travel around, it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. I bet that most people just sat there waiting on it without actually doing anything fun. Of course, the eclipse was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen, but music makes everything better. Some of us were just lucky enough to see the Prince of Darkness play a fun song about a zombie werewolf during it.