Metallica -- Austin, TX -- March 20th, 2009
Metallica pulled out all the stops during their spectacular set at Austin's South by Southwest Festival (SXSW). Metallica was a surprise guest. On SXSW's official schedule, they were listed as Volsung, a metal band from "Somewhere, Norway".
Droves of die-hard fans, catching wind of the rumors, lined up all day outside Stubb's, where Metallica 18-wheelers parked outside.
Just before 10pm — after sets by the Silversun Pickups and a bunch of dudes who played Metallica's "Fuel" on "Guitar Hero" — the stage lights dimmed, and the speakers began to rattle the famous instrumental intro. A steady cheer began to build through the capacity crowd (and outside Stubb's, too, where hundreds of badge-less Metallica fans watched from a nearby parking garage), growing with intensity with each orchestral swell. It eventually reached a full roar, and then, lo and behold, the music stopped and there they were — Metallica, in the flesh.
Shortly after the band took the stage, frontman James Hetfield shouted "Surprise!", sarcastically referring to the not-so-well- kept secret that the band would be performing at the Guitar Hero Metallica party, celebrating the launch of their version of the popular video game next week.
"We're a young band from Norway and we want to get signed," Metallica frontman James Hetfield told the audience at the heavy metal band's SXSW performance.
"This is the best kept secret in rock and roll. We thought we'd come join you for your party." James Hetfield of Metallica told a sweaty crowd of 2,000 or so at Stubb's. "Is that all right?" The roar came back affirmative.
Members of Jane's Addiction, The Duke Spirit and Silversun Pickups looked on as the Los Angeles band delivered an incredible performance.
"We're glad to be here and be a part of the vibe," Metallica's James Hetfield said. "Ever since we were in high school we've been robots playing live music."
Mr. Hetfield and the bassist, Robert Trujillo, looked like wrestlers as they sweated their way through one blistering, muscular riff after another; Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist, played each solo effortlessly; and behind them Lars Ulrich bobbed and grimaced on the drums. Bands at South by Southwest could learn a thing or two from the way they use precise technique to throw themselves fully into the music.
To Metallica's credit, they didn't say a word about the game while on stage, but they did perform in front of an enormous sign that had the game's logo on it.
"Old stuff or new stuff?" James Hetfield asked the audience. When most of the crowd shouted "Old stuff!", the band complied and launched into 'Seek And Destroy' from their 1983 debut album. They finished the evening by taking a group bow and tossing guitar picks and drum sticks into the audience.
Metallica's surprise show at SXSW is a performance folks will be talking about for years to come as the group is one of the most famous to have performed. About only 2,000 people had to opportunity to see the exclusive show at Stubb's.
This is the full setlist:
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Harvester Of Sorrow
Broken, Beat & Scarred
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Master Of Puppets
Seek & Destory