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Metallica concert: a lesson in California pop culture for all ages

San Diego’s Gaslamp is known for its contemporary clubs, diners and pubs. The atmosphere attracts a motley crew of tourists and hipsters seeking a taste of the California lifestyle.

On this day the Gaslamp attracted herds of fans dressed in black. If there ever was a time for tourists to get a lesson in California pop culture, August 7, 2017 was the day. San Francisco’s Metallica headlined a concert at Petco Park with Huntington Beach’s Avenged Sevenfold and Gojira from France.

The stage was set against an outfield with a giant “M” and “A” acting has bookends. At 6 p.m. Gojira opened the concert to a lukewarm reaction. By the third song, the audience was more responsive and by the end of their set, it appeared as if Gojira had won over more than half the audience.

Throughout the set, vocalist Joe Duplantier expressed his appreciation for the crowd. Gojira were perhaps the heaviest band on the bill—mixing their modern Metal sound with melodic New Wave like undertones.

Avenged Sevenfold was second on the bill. Guitarist Synyster Gates started the first song with finger tapping made famous by Edward Van Halen. The crowd became larger singing along to hits such as “Hail to the King” and “Bat Country.” Vocalist M. Shadows commanded the stage with confidence and energy. The music of Avenged Sevenfold was intricate, heavy and melodic. Their show won a few new fans over.

By the time Metallica took the stage, the sun was down. Their spectacular stage set against downtown San Diego was something even the most imaginative would become mesmerized by. Metallica wasted no time getting the crowd wild by opening their set with “Hardwired.” 

“We don’t care what race you are, who you marry or what religion you are!” singer James Hetfield exclaimed. “We are here to focus on our similarities tonight and that similarity is music!”

Compared to other rock stars, James joked and smiled at his audience. Even from the furthest seats, you felt as if you were in a club setting. San Francisco guitarist Kirk Hammett played each solo like the virtuoso he was known to be in the early 80’s. Bassist Robert Trujillo, who hails from Venice Beach, teased and made faces at the audience performing his famous crab walk. Drummer Lars Ulrich was bombastic with his AC/DC style beats fused with his innovative Thrash style.

During the song “Master of Puppets,” Hetfield’s vocals were barely audible, being overpowered by the chanting of the crowd. Eleven mosh pits were counted during that performance. It is often mistaken that mosh pits are violent however, you’ll notice attendees picking each other up so that they won’t get hurt. Imagine people dancing in circles—which is essentially what a mosh pit is.

The MTV favorite song “One” was the highlight with fireworks, pyrotechnics and lasers. The stage screens were filled with video and live footage representative of each song. New songs such as “Halo of Fire” and “Moth into Flame” received equal treatment in regards to stage production.

While drummer Lars Ulrich got ready to play on a drum kit towards the front of the stage, James Hetfield took a moment to joke with the crowd.

“Lars has an app that makes drums appear wherever he wants!”

“Hey you over there! How old are you?” he asked an audience member.

A young girl held up nine fingers.

“Forty-five?” he joked. “Just kidding! You’re nine!”

The 9-year-old fan’s image was projected onto the big screens showing revealing her excited expression. Metallica proved that their concerts are family friendly events. One could argue that they are the Heavy Metal version of pop act U2. They are the modern day Rolling Stones. Regardless of the aggressive music, this was by far one of the most peaceful concerts with one of the best light shows that could easily rival rock legends Kiss. Metallica have proved why they are considered one of the best Heavy Metal legends of all time.

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