Metallica / Godsmack -- Sacramento, CA -- March 10th, 2004
TOUR: Metallica / Madly In Anger With The World Tour
VENUE: Arco Arena -- Sacramento, CA
DATE: Wednesday, March 10th, 2004
ATTENDED W/: Solo
GEAR WORN: Iron Maiden Dance of Death Shirt
MERCH PURCHASED: None
MOSHING REPORT: Light
EDDIES AWARDED: 9.25
REVIEWED: February 6th, 2005
My next Metallica show was more a Debbie Gibson concert than the rapturous Hell I experienced in San Francisco.
Built in 1988, Arco Arena is a modern facility on the outskirts of Sacramento in an area that development just now seems to be reaching. The 600-year-old Cow Palace wallows in , to quote the San Francisco Chronicle, “one of the most forlorn and crime-ridden corners of town.” Arco is well maintained, comfortable, and clean. The Cow Palace reminds of the multipurpose room in my elementary room, the one every kid knew was really the cafeteria and avoided at all costs because it smelled like maggot-infested meat loaf. Sacramento built Arco Arena for its NBA franchise, the Kings. The Cow Palace housed cattle expositions, and I swear the smell still lingers in some hallways.
Bolting from my office, sneaking away two hours early really, I raced up one of Northern California’s most notorious (for stop-and-go crawls) highways under the threat of looming late afternoon commute traffic. This Metallica gig was a solo mission because the Mickster’s social director (his wife) shitcanned the idea of two concerts in one week; I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact I returned him to her drunk 48 hours prior. The three hour drive from Silicon Valley to the state capitol was uneventful, and I arrived 90 minutes early. After a leisurely stroll around the arena, I slammed an overpriced and undersized dog for dinner. I grabbed a single beer for the road and made my way down to the rail. Everyone pretty much just sat on their asses because Godsmack was still an hour away.
My section of the rail was very young and clean cut. Here and there, a few kids wore either Godsmack or Metallica shirts but that was about it; I didn’t peg any of them for headbangers. The juvenile delinquents in San Francisco would have skullfucked each and every one of them.
Whether we like to admit it or not, our friends can easily influence our opinions of bands and music. In light of their constant trashing on the IMBB, I was very prepared to hate Godsmack, especially if they did not play “I Fucking Hate You”, my favorite song from Faceless. In hindsight, I’m not sure it would have mattered. My IMBB biases combined with a demeaner slightly soured from attending alone did not bode well for my disposition and Godsmack's chances.
As soon as Godsmack appeared on stage, the dopers lit up and crouched to avoid the peering eyes of the pigs on the barricade. Mosh pits broke out a few feet away behind me. Godsmack definitely fired up the youth of Arco Arena. The kids in our section thought Godsmack was just the shit; old fuckers like me just thought they were just shit. Many just sat or politely stood with their arms crossed. Godsmack must get that a lot because Sully Erna, Godsmack’s frontman, made a point of embarrassing two people in an upper section with some crap like “The only excuse for sitting is being really drunk. If you’re not too drunk, you’re too old and shouldn’t be here anyway.” I gave him the finger from the rail on behalf of old fucks everywhere.
Most support bands get a few feet to work with but Godsmack worked all of Metallica’s stage, including the use of their own pyro. Godsmack played a fairly consistent set early in the tour. While I'm not positive, it was probably:
Straight Out Of Line
I Stand Alone
What did I have against Godsmack that night, my bad attitude not withstanding? The bass player didn’t seem like he wanted to be there. The drum duel was not metal. Sully pissed me off working the crowd. The music just didn’t sit well with me live that night. They did not play "I Fucking Hate You." That about does it.
After Godsmack finished, I watched their roadies break their equipment down and Metallica’s go into action for a few minutes. Nature called, so I paid a kid $20 to hold my spot on the rail. I was a bit surprised to see the kid still there when I returned. Probably more surprising is I was even able to get back to my place at the rail at all.
The real rail crush began about fifteen minutes before Metallica hit the stage. All the old and/or drunk fucks swamped the floor. Whereas I just shoved the little bastards off me during Godsmack, old fuck metal veterans were not so easily dissuaded. One particular idget spent most of the next 90 minutes trying to barge his way up front, but we just denied him and in doing so ruined a good chunk of our concert. Eventually, a gorilla working barrier security literally told him to knock it the fuck off.
Being on the rail at a Metallica concert is like being at the bottom of the ocean with the weight of the sea crushing your body. It’s fucking dog eat dog for elbow room, air to breathe, and the occasional bottle of water from security. You pray to God that the crowd doesn’t push any harder because your rib cage might collapse against the steel barrier protecting the stage. Niceties often go out the window; for every inch you give, you lose two. There’s always at least one chick who tries to wiggle up her way up front using her gender as a weapon. Deny the bitch but hold the door open on the way out of the auditorium for the lady.
The set list followed the formula I outlined in my San Francisco review: i.e. Blackened, Fuel, 2-3 St Anger tracks, 3-4 othres, Nothing Else through Sandman, and two complete toss ups to close. Typically, Lars is responsible for set list duties, and he does his job about 30 minutes before the show. Sacramento got:
Harvester of Sorrow
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Unnamed Feeling
Sad But True
Nothing Else Matters
Master of Puppets
Hit the Lights
One was incredible live and began with an introduction from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket... and that’s when all hell broke lose. Fireworks and all kind of pyro exploded above our heads. Being on the rail, their simulated firefight was going on right on top of us... then in front of us. A series of small poppers went off on the edge of the stage at eye level, as if we were being strafed. Moments later, the mother of all Metallica bombs went off and parts of the rigging collapsed to simulate damage and debris. And then Metallica started to play the song... "I can not live.. I can not die..Trapped in myself... Body My Holding Cell..." GOD DAMN that was well done that night!
Sacramento got Last Caress by accident because Rob forget something. James excused him by saying something: “He’s only had to learn like 200 songs. Let’s save that one for next time.” Metallica closed with "Hit The Lights" and then I successfuly hit the road with a successful post-concert escape back to the highway and home.
The venue was the huge delta between San Francisco and Sacramento. Beyond the facilities and cleanliness, Arco climate control system held back the excessive heat of the Cow Palace (there goes the stench of the crowd) and filtered out stage smoke as quickly as Metallica produced it. It was all just very sterile. Metal is best played and heard in dives and cess pools.
This Metallica concert was no where near what I experienced in San Francisco and their Sacramento Eddies were adjusted accordingly: 9.25. My original rating was so lost in the IMBB crash, so 9.25 will have to do. Did Metallica really drop almost one full point in 48 hours? Yes and no. I thought Metallica was tighter in San Francisco in front of their home crowd; Sacramento felt like any other show. The difference also reveals another aspect of the Eddie system: the feeling I have walking out of the show and subsequent post concert euphoria. I was definitely high on Metallica but it wasn’t the same. I’d find out more at my third and final Metallica concert that week 72 hours in Fresno.
Jaco died for our sins so that modern bass players could be free to play more and be heard.