Metallica -- San Francisco, CA -- March 8th, 2004
TOUR: Metallica / Madly In Anger With The World Tour
VENUE: The Cow Palace -- San Francisco, CA
DATE: Monday, March 8th, 2004
ATTENDED W/: The Mickster
GEAR WORN: Iron Maiden Trooper T Shirt.
MERCH PURCHASED: See Below.
MOSHING REPORT: Heavy As Fuck
EDDIES AWARDED: 9.99
REVIEWED: February 4th, 2005
The parking lot at the Cow Place was a wasteland. Flickering parking lamps partially exposed a darkened landscape of empty beer cans and broken half rack containers. Empty bags of junk food and random trash littered the asphalt as if the metal gods turned over cloud-sized dumpsters on the hills of San Francisco. Drunkards hovered near their cars, pounding a final beer or pissing one out. The traffic snarl from the highway eliminated our chance of tailgating mayhem; the Mickster and I wasted little time disembarking from my truck. We hauled ass toward the entry queues, hurtling the concrete lot partitions carefully avoiding the random puddles, streaks, and wet spots from those could simply could not wait any longer. God damn it, nothing was going to stop us from seeing Metallica.
KSJO, a massive San Jose radio station responsible for three decades of metal and hard rock broadcasts, established a remote beachhead under twin floodlights outside the main doors. Metallica’s support, Godsmack, was off the stage before security felt us up and let us into a lobby filled wall-to-wall with arguably the most metal crowd we had seen to date. San Francisco is Metallica’s home stomping ground, and all the rats rose from the sewer to hear their hallowed piper.
Rank and humid, the tunnels were packed with the ugliest sons of bitches known to metaldom. One clown parted the sea of testerone with slut magnet on each arm: two very breasty brunettes in high heels, short skirts, and baby dolls barely covering their unmentionables. The table for drinking bracelets, the merchandise stalls, the many beer stands, the pissers and crappers – all had the kind of queues that forced us into a search and consume mission around the deeper concession tunnels. The game wardens tagged us and off we went to discover the land of Plentiful Beer. The Mickster and I each purchased two beers at a remote watering hole and quickly pounded one before we received our change. The beer angels smiled upon us and let us purchase another immediately for the long trek onto the main floor.
Up one ramp and down another, we found ourselves on the enormous main floor of the Cow Palace with Metallica’s stage in the round. The heat and humidity inside reminded me of a hot summer’s Southern night in New Orleans, and there were about as many freaks on the loose as I’ve seen on nights past on Bourbon Street. A misty haze blanketed a darkened ceiling and hauntedly hung above the crowd. Everything our parents feared for us in our youth was in available and abundance around us. The Mickster and I had entered the heart of the beast.
We scoped out our position: about twenty feet one corner of the stage and squatted, waiting for Metallica’s revelation. We were both dry at this point, so I disappeared back into the tunnels to fetch some water for myself and two surprise brewski’s for the Mickster. I forced him to pound yet another by issuing forth a local fraternity secret that requires immediate and unflinching consumption. The Mickster is a married man with two kids and it’s a constant mission of mine to help him have a night out occasionally. I know his wife REALLY appreciates my efforts.
The Cow Palace went dark and Metallica’s perennial The Ecstasy of Gold called the faithful to arms; Metallica stepped onto the stage in the shadows. The recorded reverse guitars of Blackened triggered an imposive crush, even in our fifteen person deep location on just one of four expansive rails. Lars’ opened drum snaps summoned a single spotlight on James pounding out the opening riff of Blackened. Fifteen years after my first listen to the Justice album on a cheapass Walkman during an early morning family road trip to Lake Tahoe, Blackened completely ripped me a second and third asshole. Kirk spent most the song rocking our section. It was so fucking cool. A loud concussive blast and super bright flash simulated a nuclear blast at the ending.
James quickly continued, “Gimme an M...Gimme an E... Gimme a T... Gimme fuel, Gimme fire, Gimme that which I desire.” Metallica literally exploded into Fuel, a new song for me. My album collection only covered Kill 'Em All through Justice. I thought Fuel owned well before flames shot several feet into the air, erupting rhythmically to the beat of the music. We felt the blast heat against our faces every time she blew.
After some post concert research, I learned that Blackened and Fuel were standards heard at every concert. The next seven or eight songs typically consisted of two or three St Anger tracks, Creeping Death, Sad But True, and a couple of random tracks. The first “encore” usually consisted of Nothing Matters, Masters Of Puppets, One, and Enter Sandman. The second, final encore was fairly random. Notable about our set list in SF: Dyer’s Eve was played for second time live. Here’s the complete San Francisco set list:
Seek And Destroy
Fade To Black
Holier Than Thou
The Unnamed Feeling
Sad But True
Fight Fire With Fire
Nothing Else Matters
Master of Puppets
I took Seek and Destroy to heart and leaped into my first mosh pit, seeking to destroy the largest mother fucker, the king of our circle mountain. He tossed me at some little squeak who in turn bounced into the corner pocket outside the circle. The scariest moshers were not the largest bulls but the bull dikes. They’re fucking crazy, and crazy can dangerously substitute for big sometimes. I hit these wannabe harbor chicks as hard as I did anyone. My message to female moshers: “I GOT YOUR EQUAL RIGHTS RIGHT HERE <smooch>!” Fade To Black provided a partial breather, but the pits reformed soon enough and remained for the rest of the concert.
My first mosh pit also delivered my first cheap shot. I got shoved out of the circle and slammed into this girl. She immediately started threatening me over my gentlemanly apologies. Some pudwhacker took it as an opportunity to clock me in the back of the head with a closed fist. I didn’t know exactly who did and decided to withdraw from the scene. Days later, my studies in Krav Maga began; it’s Israel’s homebrewed, open self defense system. The next mother fucker who tries to clock me at a metal concert loses his balls.
Metallica played three songs off St Anger, and each one sounded great live. Unfortunately, they clearly interrupted the natural rhythm of the night, especially among older fans. The largest improvement was drums; Lars didn’t play the tins cans he used on the album.
Creeping Death makes a great fucking Passover song. Some day, I’ll convince my rabbi. The only thing better than your family chanting “DIE! DIE! DIE!” is 10,000 of your closest friends screaming it.
During Fight Fire With Fire, a bunch of people lit up their shirts and swung them in the air. The concessions were still serving alcohol, and fights were breaking out everywhere.
Under a web of green lasers shooting upwards off the stage, James and Kirk played the opening of Nothing Else Matters, another one of my favorite tracks despite the fact that I was one of three Americans who did not purchase the Black Album in the 90s.
Metallica crashed immediately into Master of Puppets: “GOOD GOD YES!” Purchased on cassette in college, Masters of Puppets was one of my earliest metal albums. I had no energy left to give and had no choice but take stand still and take it all in. We decided to hit the road right before the song ended. Sure, there was more Metallica to be had, but we already had shit grins on our faces.
On the way out, the Mickster scored me a Metallica shirt as a trophy for my night of moshing, one with a Doyle-sized devil playing the guitar. The Mickster had his fill already, but we were both shocked to see the beer taps STILL flowing. It’s no wonder that the crowd was so damn foobar.
Metallica received 9.99 Eddies for their performance and my experience at the Cow Palace. It is the highest standard rating that a band will ever receive without being Iron Maiden. I left the Cow Palace that I secured tickets for two more Metallica shows, Sacramento and Fresno, the next day.
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