A successful second annual Chicago Open Air Festival brings headliners KISS, Korn and Ozzy Osbourne to Bridgeview’s Toyota Park.

Blessed with sunny weather, rock and metal fans flocked from far and wide to witness the spectacular Chicago Open Air. Considering this is only the second year for this event, the lineup is certainly an impressive one, including three out of the “Big Four” over one weekend. 

Chicago Open Air is a great example of how rock is far from dead. The weekend’s lineup consists of a mixture of veteran rockers and the newer kids on the block, with something for everyone from NuMetal to Classic Rock to novelty theatrics. 

Friday hits the ground running with veteran heavy hitters Anthrax and Megadeth both taking to the Monster Energy Main Stage showing how they got to where they are today. Joey Belladonna proves he still has chops, while Scott Ian manages to catch air better than guys half his age. Whilst there may only be two original members of Megadeth in their current lineup, they show they still have the pull as the main stage area is swarmed with fans eager to catch the iconic band. 

The Dillinger Escape Plan perform on the Blackcraft Stage as part of their farewell tour, giving fans the chance to catch them one last time before they call it a day. Still giving their all, they put on a powerful and energetic 40-minute set which saw Ben Weinman effortlessly climbing on top of the amp stack before jumping off whilst still playing his guitar.

Rob Zombie was sure to return to Chicago for one last Satanic orgy before the end of their tour. Whilst there will always be a dark, gothic element to any Zombie show, there is also the light-hearted aspect including two blow up aliens being thrown out into the crowd to see which would make it to the back first. Zombie looks as full of energy as if it were day one of the tour, lapping up the electric atmosphere. John 5 never disappoints with his numerous eccentrically designed and lit up guitars which enhance his intricate and heavy guitar riffs. 

Rounding out the first night of the weekend are KISS, the ones who influenced so many others to take a similar path – Rob Zombie being one of them. This set is everything you would expect from a KISS show – the costumes, the makeup, the ongoing pyrotechnics, Gene Simmons’ (in)famous tongue as well as Paul Stanley flying out across the audience to perform a song from the soundboard. Whilst they may have checked off all the boxes of what you would see at a KISS show, you can’t help but get excited to see it firsthand. Visiting Chicago for the first time since becoming Rock N Roll Hall of Famers, they reminisce back to days when they used to perform at the Aragon Ballroom. 

By the time day two comes around, temperatures have certainly risen, but that clearly isn’t deterring the flocks of fans who have descended upon Toyota Park. The lineup is definitely a varied one, incorporating the more theatric bands like Steel Panther, Avatar and Mushroomhead, as well as adding a hint of hip-hop with Ice-T’s Body Count.

Avatar are a fun band who are currently going from strength to strength. Frontman, Johannes Eckerström ‘s animated theatrics captivate the audience, who swing their arms in time as Eckerström growls “Hail the Apocalypse”. 

Keeping with the theatrical theme, Mushroomhead take to the Blackcraft Stage with their set that included the renowned water on the drums as the masked musicians beat them, sending the water spraying everywhere. The smaller stage wasn’t enough to contain them as one of the masked crusaders jumps into the crowd and proceeds to surf across the excited and enthusiastic fans at the front.

Lightening up proceedings, Steel Panther take to the main stage with their 80s-inspired spandex and tongue in cheek lyrics. It isn’t a Steel Panther show until you see someone in the audience wince at their over the line song lyrics, sharing looks of “did they really just say that?!” Never ones to disappoint, or to be taken seriously, they included classics such as “Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)” before rounding out the set with girls from the audience on the stage with them for “Gloryhole” and “Party All Day”.

Introducing a slight hip-hop vibe to proceedings, Ice-T takes to the Blackcraft Stage with his metal band, Body Count. Having a such a big name as Ice-T on the lineup created a buzz around the festival all day long, in anticipation for this set – one that certainly did not leave anyone disappointed.

Seether bring their post-grunge alternative rock to the main stage, with the addition of Sevendust’s guitarist, Clint Lowery. Their set includes just one song from the new album, but their 40-minute set is sure to include “Fake It” and “Remedy”

Godsmack heavy things up again on the main stage, also being sure to include a heavy amount of pyro, before Korn close out day two at Toyota Park. Taking to the stage along with his iconic “The Bitch” microphone stand, Jonathan Davis proves that Korn are still a force to be reckoned with. Starting off with the explosive “Rotting In Vain”, they closed out the night with the iconic “Freak On A Leash”.

Day three, and the crowds are still flocking in for the final installment. This is certainly an impressive closing to a festival if ever there was one. Amon Amarth‘s stage set is one worthy of a headliner as their Viking longship takes center stage while Viking warriors fight front of stage throughout their set. 

Polish band, Behemoth, bring their dramatic set to the second stage, followed by Lamb Of God taking to the main stage, with Randy Blythe’s energetic performance that saw him with rarely two feet on the ground throughout the whole set.

Stone Sour‘s frontman, Corey Taylor, laps up the support from the crowd, laughing at the audience’s anti-Nickelback chant. If the fans have anything to do with it, this is one feud that is not going to fade away anytime soon.

The Blackcraft Stage’s biggest crowd of the weekend had to be for the mighty Slayer, who bring their pyro-heavy set to close out the second stage for the triumphant festival weekend. It might be a Sunday evening, but the foot is clearly still on the gas as Chicago Open Air’s lineup powers on through to the very last second. 

And what better way to round out the whole weekend than to have the Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne, reunited with Zakk Wylde. Just short of a year since Black Sabbath was put to bed, Ozzy was sure to include classics such as “War Pigs” and “Iron Man”, with Wylde adding his own guitar pyrotechnics. Being sure to take his customary walk through the crowds, Wylde used the catwalks to bring his lengthy guitar solo out to the audience before effortlessly playing his guitar behind his head while climbing back up onto the stage to rejoin his band mates. 

Looking at the packed out main stage area, rock horns in the air and hair flailing back and forth, the Prince of Darkness clearly still has pull and is an inspired choice to close down the second Chicago Open Air festival. The triumphant festival weekend is closed out with the iconic “Paranoid”.

With the two lineups this festival has managed to attract, the excitement is already growing to see who makes it on the list for Chicago Open Air 2018. For now, fans get to revel in the fun they have had at this year’s festival, and enjoy drinking out of their Das Horn momento until next year’s lineup is revealed.

Chicago Open Air
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Event Date: 14-16-JUL-2017