The second annual Chicago Open Air Festival took place this past July 14th-16th at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. Metal Insider was on site to take in all the music, food, and experiences.
Arriving Friday afternoon, the sounds of Failure/Anthem rang out as they opened the second stage to a crowd who was still trying to get their bearings. The BlackCraft stage was setup on the outside perimeter of Toyota Park in an area regularly used for parking the masses for soccer matches. Tucked amongst the Artist Experience, the gourmet food row, and the FYE tent, fans had a lot to grab their attention.
As Hell or Highwater hit Main Stage, the crowd started to pick up, in both sheer size, as well as excitement. Mixing heavier groups, like Whitechapel, Suicide Silence, and Meshuggah with lighter groups Falling in Reverse, and Crobot, the day offered a bit to everyone on both stages, all leading up to headliner KISS.
Megadeth, and Rob Zombie both headliners in their own right, played through a greatest hits collection of songs, as the crowd strengthened for Gene Simmons and the boys in KISS.
KISS played for what seemed like forever, belting out over 15 songs from the bands impressive catalogue, with an amazing stage production. Fans not only heard their favorites, but they also played witness to some insane pyrotechnics, and flying bands members in the process.
A great start to the weekend, an honorable mention on Friday is Dillinger Escape Plan, who always gives it their all! They left nothing in its place, grabbing monitors, and flipping them over, tossing parts of the drum set offstage, and even climbing up the risers and hanging upside down.
Saturday started a bit later, which gave me time to go through the Artist Experience, a place that allows fans to try out guitars, amps, and drums. A rolling music store where you can purchase everything from picks and strings, all the way up to an autographed guitar.
The FYE tent offered the chance for fans to purchase both CDs and Records and get a pass to have it autographed by the band themselves.
Black Map, and Cane Hill came out swinging on their stages respectively setting the tone for Saturday. Metal Church ran into some microphone trouble early on, but fixed it up, and put on an amazing set on the Monster Energy Main Stage.
Swedish rockers Avatar brought the freakshow to Chicago with their circus based production, that had every member of the crowd singing and headbanging along. Followed directly by another theatrical group, Mushroomhead. With water infused drums, to hand crafted, painted masks, Mushroomhead packs a lot into their time slot.
Scaling it all back to old fashioned rock and roll, Steel Panther laid into a short 9 song set, that sounded like a jukebox record. The crowd singing along to every word, girls on stage dancing, and just pure showmanship from Michael Starr and the boys all lead to an impressive 45 minutes.
Shaun Morgan of Seether came out and played with a boot on one foot, stopping him from moving much of anywhere on stage. Ice T brought what he called the “Toughest Group” on the bill to Chicago with Body Count. Closing the BlackCraft Stage was none other than Clutch. Neil’s over the top facial expressions, and gestures while singing make watching their set one of the most fun all weekend.
Not to be out “pyro’d” by KISS the night before Godsmack lit the entire stage up with flames for most of their set, only backing it down during their drum off, and cover song montage. Sully was fully of energy and moving about the stage engaging everyone in the audience. At one point, he commented on the sheer size of the crowd in disbelief.
Festival regulars Korn closed out Saturday with a 15-song set that covered most of their discography, including Shoot and Ladders, which had Jonathan Davis playing the bagpipes.
Honorable mention for today was not only Pig Destroyer, but the following of fans that they have. People running around in Pig costumes covered in blood. On a hot Chicago day, with temperatures reaching 90 degrees, it takes dedication!
When the initial lineup was announced, Ozzy, fresh off the Black Sabbath farewell tour, had a select number of dates lined up. Rammstein headlining in 2016 would have been tough to top without the Prince of Darkness stepping up.
Leading into Sunday, I was excited to see newcomer DED. This group of guys from Tempe, Arizona are some of the most dedicated guys I’ve ever had the chance of meeting. Opening the Monster Main Stage, they played as though they were the headliner, and had the crowd going from the very first note.
Wh*res and Devildriver both put on amazing sets on the BlackCraft Stage, while Amon Amarth brought the Viking ship to the main stage.
Today saw the current Slayer tour all on the bill, with Behemoth taking to the side stage, immediately before Lamb of God tried to destroy the building on the Monster Energy Main Stage. Lead singer Randy Blythe explained to the crowd, “We only came here for one thing… to f*** shit up!” Immediately hitting the crowd with everything they had, they left it all on the stage.
Corey Taylor and Stone Sour took to main stage, and put on an impressive show, that at one point even had the crowd chanting F*** Nickelback! (As previously covered on Metal Insider). Corey, loving every minute of it, continued on through their set that at one point had Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Tube men everywhere.
Slayer closed out the side stage, a headliner in their own right, only to be direct support to the “Godfather of Heavy Metal” himself… Ozzy Osbourne. Reuniting with guitarist Zakk Wylde, Ozzy took a few songs to get warmed up, and at times used a teleprompter. For someone who has been around for as long as him, with as many hits, one comes to expect an amazing show. And an amazing show is what was delivered. Ozzy Osbourne, with his band, showed everyone exactly why he was chosen to headline this year’s Chicago Open Air Festival. Playing through 14 songs, that mixed in Black Sabbath greatest hits as well as his solo hits, there wasn’t a single person not singing by the time Paranoid started to end the show.
Having been to the only two Chicago Open Air Festivals in as many years, and seeing two monster headliners, it only begs the question, where do the organizers go from here? Only time will tell. Here’s to counting down until next year.