My legs are really sore. That's the first thing I could think of when putting together this post.
I spent the weekend in a large field Atlantic City, NJ with thousands of other metalheads making the journey to go watch Metallica crush two of their biggest albums, The Black Album and Ride The Lightning, as well as check out some of Metallica's favorite bands.
Overall, the weekend was a resounding success.
Before I go any further, I'd like to add that my experience was probably not the same as many of the concert goers. For one thing, the main reason I went down was to cover the event for Metal Injection (and sneak on air with my SiriusXM Liquid Metal buddies for a few on-air recaps). I would spend the majority of the afternoon in the media area.
This was absolutely the sweetest press area I've ever been a part of, and I've covered a fair share of festivals. For one, there were copious amounts of free water, sunblock, bug repellent, snacks… pretty much everything that I always forget to bring to an outdoor show. Metallica had me covered! There was even free WiFi, something to be thankful for when most venues barely get any service.
Oh, and booze? What about the booze? There was an artist lounge set up by all the bands' trailer dressing rooms (!!!) with complimentary drinks all night for the bands. The tales of Metallica taking care of their openers rang true as the band were nothing but gracious hosts to everybody involved.
Usually, we would wrap up shooting around 4 or 5pm which finally allowed me to go out and check out the scene at the venue. Bader Field is huge. There were four stages constructed that were far enough away from each other that there was something for everybody.
I didn't really have a chance to check out any of the indie acts on the bill, other than Modest Mouse for the sheer curiosity of seeing how Metallica fans would react to them.
The first band I caught was on the "Damage Inc." stage and it was Suicidal Tendencies, and I'm glad they broke my Orion cherry. Cyco Miko is still bringin' it strong, 30 years in the game. A cool moment was when Robert Trijullo reunited with his former bandmates, and not just for one jam, but for something like 20 minutes of jamming. It was truly a special moment.
The band of day two for me was the Black Dahlia Murder. They're a perennial Metal Injection band, we've been covering them since their and our beginning and it was so great to see them play to such a huge crowd of people, most of whom are probably seeing them for the first time.
In fact, this is one thing that should be noted about Metallica. They were incredibly generous, not just with their backstage accommodations, but by creating this festival to begin with and inviting bands who usually play to 10% of the crowds they see at Orion. Metallica offered the best gift of all… their fanbase to be exposed to new metal music, and for that, I tip my hat to these guys.
They weren't just staying backstage the whole time either… all the members of the band were out and about introducing their band picks to the stage, like James declaring that Sunday at 2pm is the perfect time to get "eeevil" before bringing out Ghost.
I really liked all the added attractions like the car show, Kirk's Crypt of horror, the movie tent, the comedy tent and the Metallica museum. It gave fans who came specifically for Metallica something to keep themselves occupied until the main event.
Speaking of the main event, let's talk about Metallica!
There is something to be said for a band that's been going at it for 30 years to come out, put together a huge two day event, and to top it off, perform for almost two and a half hours each night of the event when the band members are pushing 50.
Before the band went on, they blasted the AC/DC classic "It's A Long Way To Top" which features the hook "It's a long way to the top, if you wanna rock 'n' roll." Not only did the song pump the crowd up big time, but it was very poignant, all things considered.
Hearing some of the songs on Ride the Lightning live for the first time instantly brought me back to my first sessions listening to the album. I just saw myself as a kid, with my walkman, headbanging being amazed at the sounds coming out of my headhpones. Then, I flash forward to where I am now, a bit older, standing watching Metallica play fucking "Escape" for the first time live!
And let's talk about the actual concert experience. Metallica is used to playing to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people so intimacy is not something that comes easy at a Metallica live show. However, the band have giant screens set up all across their stage with a very top notch video crew shooting the event to broadcast to the people in the nosebleeds. This adds such an important layer to the show, because while I could see James, Lars, Kirk and Rob from where I was standing, I couldn't exactly see their facial expressions or nuances, which is why the screens were so important. It let you feel like you were close to the action, even if you were watching from a mile away.
Metallica love fire! Metallica love lasers. I love fire, and I love lasers, so we get along really well in that regard. Metallica saved all their best tricks and pyro for their last few songs, and it definitely ended the show with a bang.
I also have to say that when hearing the Black Album being played in full, you realize just how big of an album it was for the band. Hit after hit after hit after hit. Beyond just "Enter Sandman", "Sad But True", "Wherever I May Roam," "Nothing Else Matters," "The Unforgiven," "Holier Than Thou" holy shit, this album is a monster.
Metallica proved this weekend that they are not just the biggest metal band in the world, but one of the biggest acts in music overall. If you're a Metallica fan and on the fence about going, definitely make the trek if they do this again next year.