OK, so I'm not what you'd consider a metal chick, but I thought it was time I checkedout this Metallica phenomenon. Arriving at the Summit in time to catch some of the loudguitar vibe of Corrosion of Conformity, I took a few minutes to check out the crowd. Ifyou were wondering, Beavis and Butthead are alive and well and living in Houston with allof their friends. The crowd was mostly male, mostly black T-shirt wearing, and ready torock. Looking for our seats, we entered the Summit to be greeted with the largestmonstrocity of a stage set up that I have ever seen. About 3/4 of the Summit floor wascovered with two cirular stages with a break in the middle that allowed you to see theactivities going on underneath, computers, equipment, roadies, etc. which sort of remindedme of a twisted version of Disney's underpark.
Anyway, the brave floor folks are gathered all around the figure 8 that is now thestage with a track running around the entire thing, keeping the onlookers out by a fenceand approx. 400 yellow-shirted security guards. After Corrosion of Conformity, which wasvery loud, but not exactly memorable, and a short intermission, the Metallica guys slowlyappear from backstage. The bass player, Jason Newsted, enters running the length of thetrack around the stage (security goon in tow), high fiving and screaming at the fans thatare returning his enthusiasm. Lead singer and guitarist, James Hetfield and lead guitaristKirk Hammett, follow in similar fashion and meet in the center floor area. The guys arejust hanging out and getting ready to play. Finally, tiny, yet mighty, drummer Lars Ulrichtakes his place on the drum set and the show begins. First the noise level: LOUD. I havenever used earplugs before but with the combination of music and crowd noise, I was forcedto after about the 5th song. Not being the huge Metallica fan, I relied on my friend tosupply song names and information throughout. The first song, "So What" reallywas indicative of the type of message in Metallica's music and show, as they proceeded toplay "Nothing Else Matters", "One", "Anywhere I Roam","Ain't My Bitch", "King Nothing", and "Until It Sleeps". Onegets the feeling that their music is about despair and hopelessness, however the crowd isenergized as they display synchronized head banging and rhythmic fist thrusting thatreminded me a lot of a Hitler youth rally. James Hetfield's demonic voice and the rapidfire guitar licks had each side of the crowd by the stage ripping into a frenzied mosh(although crowd surfing was forbidden at this venue). Hetfield taunted the crowdthroughout by asking if they could "handle more of the old shit". After aboutsix songs, the stage at the opposite side opened up and another drum kit appeared thatallowed Lars to get closer to the people on the South side of the Summit. Throughout theshow, the band ran the two stages, stopping to sing at the various microphones that wereset up and occasionally running around the track which Jason seemed to enjoy more than theothers. All this was occurring during various displays of fire and explosions, a spectaclethat would have made Beavis go into convulsions.
The first encore ended with a performance of "Enter Sandman" that concludedwith what appeared to be several accidents of people falling off scaffolds and equipmentand a man that was running on fire. Even though the show appeared to be over, the crowdstayed on its feet , while the stage was cleaned up, the band came on for one more number,but tried to make it appear that they were having difficulty with sound due to all theexplosions. They left a completely riled up crowd to descend upon the streets of Houston.
My basic impression of this performance was that even though it was loud, fairlyobnoxious, and not my usual fare, it was very entertaining in several respects. These guysare obviously professionals and talented musicians that know how to give a crowd what theywant. The band's style of heavy guitar was a nice contrast to the couple of ballads thatthey eeked out (I always say that metal bands have the best ballads). These guys were alot more clean cut than I thought, not one sporting hair longer than their earlobes. Thecrowd itself was entertaining enough and the stage show rivaled that of a Grucci Bros.Fireworks display. I don't think there's much chance of my becoming a metal chick, but Icertainly had an interesting evening and will never look at a Metallica t-shirt the sameway again.
On That Note, I'm outta here......