The Ten Most Surprising Bands That Played Ozzfest

Dave Grohl Photo by Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images / Andrew W.K. Photo by Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic (via Getty Images) / Les Claypool Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Comedy Central
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It’s beyond surreal to hear that Ozzy Osbourne is no longer touring. Throughout his 50-plus-year career, Osbourne has been a part of many epic concerts and festivals; of course, one of those festivals is none other than the legendary Ozzfest.

When you look back on the history of Ozzfest, it’s surreal to see how many amazing bands took part in the festival. For the most part, the fest has primarily catered to mainstream metal; although, there have been some interesting “oddities” to appear on the lineup from time to time.

These oddities come in the form of bands/artists that one could argue don’t fit the Ozzfest vibe. In fact, as we went through the lineups associated with each year, we found several musical acts that we would never have expected to see at Ozzfest.

Here are 10 of the most random musical acts to play Ozzfest.

Neurosis (played 1996 & 1997)

The main stage for the first-ever Ozzfest featured mostly mainstream metal bands, which is why it’s jarring that Neurosis was present. They’re a hugely influential band for metal, but given that they are a more underground band than the likes of Slayer, it’s a surprise they were placed on the main stage. 

Type O Negative (played 1997)

When you have a metal festival that primarily features booming death, thrash, and heavy metal bands, the somber goth rock tones of Type O Negative may have come across as totally left field. While the band is amazing, it was surreal to have their goth metal jams share the same stage with Pantera.

Foo Fighters (played 1998)

For a metal festival, having a rock band just seems out of place. There is no denying the metal cred that band frontman Dave Grohl has earned throughout his career, but considering the Foo Fighters as a whole, it’s a tad weird to have them part of a metal festival playing alongside Soulfly and Fear Factory.

Incubus (played 1988 & 2000)

That said, what’s even stranger was Incubus on the Ozzfest lineup. There is a plethora of other rock acts that go much heavier than Incubus, and it’s odd that they got a slot alongside Melvins and Motörhead.

Primus (played 1999)

While Primus is fantastic, their sonic weirdness doesn’t come across as an “Ozzfest band.” You got Slipknot, System of a Down, and then… Primus? 

Papa Roach (played 2001)

Though Ozzfest has always leaned towards mainstream acts, few embody rap metal’s pop sheen quite like Papa Roach. There’s something off about having something so radio-friendly alongside Tool and Slipknot. 

Bad Religion (played 2002)

While Bad Religion is a great band, the fest hasn’t been home to too many straight-up punk bands. Deservedly a legendary band, but an odd choice when a metal act could have taken their slot.

Andrew W.K. (played 2002)

Andrew W.K.’s penchant for partying is infectious and maybe a nice reprieve from Ozzfest’s typical brutality. Even metal dudes party, so maybe it’s not so weird. 

HIM (played 2005)

Along the same lines as Type O Negative, finding HIM a part of Ozzfest was jarring as hell. “Love Metal” is arguably truly heavy metal, but the band’s aesthetics and gloominess make them a good pick for metalheads. 

Tommy Lee (played 2002)

Tommy Lee’s solo work was a pretty rough mix of butt-rock and lukewarm metal. It’s hard to imagine anybody paying money for Ozzfest tickets specifically going to see Tommy Lee. 

Apocalyptica (played 2008)

A very interesting band that one might not expect to see at Ozzfest. Apocalyptica is incredibly talented, and it must’ve been surreal to see them perform among bands like Metallica and Hellyeah.