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Ozzfest pulls in a heavy mix

If you could have had a dime for every square inch of non-tattooed flesh at Saturday's Ozzfest concert at Tropicana Field, you would have gone home with maybe about four bucks and some change.

That's not even enough for one of those big pretzels and a Pepsi the vendors were peddling in the stadium's food courts.

But don't let all that decorated skin scare you. This generation of hard rockers, who turned out in droves for Ozzfest, the all-day traveling mecca of metal, are an accepting bunch. They have to be. They are the most diverse metal audience in the genre's 30-year history, since it was kick-started by headliner and Ozzfest organizer Ozzy Osbourne and his chums in Black Sabbath.

The pioneering Sabbath, reunited with all four original members, is certainly Ozzfest 2001's most anticipated act. But this wasn't a scene from your father's hard rock concert. Gone are the days of long-haired white guys thrusting devil-horned fingers in the air. In this era of hybrid rock and rap-metal _ consider Papa Roach, Crazy Town and Linkin Park _ the crowds at Ozzfest are an anything-goes bunch.

Saturday's crowd included black-clad Goth rockers _ surely fans of co-headliner Marilyn Manson. Fans wore ghoulish masks like Slipknot's, and plenty of kids had Mohawks, spiked hair and other punky 'dos.

More than a dozen acts are touring with this year's Ozzfest, now in its sixth successful year. Several acts are not only musically diverse, they're multicultural.

Crazy Town, from California, and South Florida's Nonpoint are examples.

Nonpoint performed on a second stage outdoors. The act features two Puerto Rican musicians. Those moshing in front of the stage may have detected some Latin-inflected beats courtesy of drummer Robb Rivera.

This was the first Tampa Bay area stop in the history of Ozzfest, which continues to draw about 19,000 fans in each city and has outlasted other multiact festivals such as Lollapalooza and Lilith Fair. Tropicana Field officials would not release an attendance figure Saturday night.

Originally destined for Zephyrhills Festival Park, the tour got rerouted. Pasco officials decided they had enough hard rock after this year's Livestock concert, where one fan died and nearly 20 more were sent to hospitals.

Local metalheads greeted Ozzfest with open arms, even if some were put off by the tight security at Tropicana Field. Police officers patroled the halls and stood at points around the stadium floor's general admission area.

Some were put off by some concertgoers' behavior. A forty-something rocker, decked out in biker gear and a bandanna, admonished younger fans around him for not complying with the stadium's no smoking policy.

Others were more flexible. Lorna Weatherford, 44, a substitute school teacher from Cocoa, said she isn't a heavy metal fan. But that didn't stop her from driving two hours to St. Petersburg so her son Wayne, 13, could use the $60 ticket his sister bought him for his birthday.

By 2 p.m., just as rain was pouring down on fans watching the outdoor acts, Mom said she was holding up just fine.

As the evening hours crept on, the Ozzfest crowd grew rowdier.

During Disturbed's set, a bit of mayhem broke out as fans in the stands and fans on the floor began "exchanging" their beverage bottles with each other. Police escorted out several people.

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