Saturday at Lollapalooza

January 27, 2009. That was the last day I saw Metallica in concert. When I heard they’d be headlining Lolla in Chicago this year, I knew I had to get tickets. Luckily Court was able to fight through the online wait system got lucky enough to get two. Even though Metallica wasn’t set to go on until 8:00, we decided to get to the fest by 12:45 as there were a number of other band we were interested in seeing.

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12:45-1:30- Catfish and the Bottlemen

Court was VERY excited for Catfish to start despite the fact that they are a band neither of us had heard of before. We discovered them once we knew we got tickets and were looking for something to hear first thing in the day. They’re incredibly British and had a good back and forth with the crowd. Someone had brought a giant cardboard cutout of Nick Cage’s head and when the lead singer spotted it he dedicated his next song to Con Air. Like all British comedy, the joke is better when you’re there and you hear the accent. I also spotted GMYH in the crowd, which is a bit of a minor miracle considering how many people were there. GMYH runs his own blog and, fun fact, was my babysitter once or twice back in the day. I remember being very impressed that he could carry 3 Cokes at once. He used the under the chin method which blew my seven year old mind.

Catfish played to a pretty large audience that for the most part seemed pretty into the show. They have a number of great songs you should check out on Spotify including “Cocoon” and “Pacifier.” The crowd was the most jazzed to hear “Kathleen,” which as of posting has to close to 13,000,000 plays.

After their show we didn’t have to move far. In fact every band we came to see was either at the Samsung Galaxy stage or the Sprint stage, two stages in the same big field on the Southeast side of the park.

1:30-2:15- Ryn Weaver

I didn’t know any of her songs but Court wanted to see her. It wasn’t my style of music, but I did listen to “OctaHate” on Spotify earlier and enjoyed that song. Fittingly, she introduced the song as the “one you might have played for your friends who asked who is the bitch?” Her style overall was fitting for a festival as she encouraged the fans to introduce themselves to the people next to them and you could tell she just wanted everyone to have a good time.

After her show, we decided to take a break and find some shade. Court only kind of wanted to see Charlie XCX and in the end a shady break won out. (It was incredibly hot and humid Saturday). The food selection was pretty top notch as the main drag through the fest operated not unlike a mini taste of Chicago. As much as I wanted a slice of Connie’s pizza, I was terrified of what it might do to my digestive system and I went with something a little safer from Robinson’s Ribs. We also were avoiding beer (for the most part) and doing our best to stay hydrated. At $2 a bottle the prices weren’t outrageous but as Court pointed it, she doesn’t understand why a fest like this doesn’t hand out water for free to everyone. The reports after the show were that there were a number of people treated for dehydration and on a hot and humid Chicago summer day free water would go a long way towards creating some goodwill. We saw one girl who passed out pretty hard in the grass near us who was probably more embarrassed than hurt when they loaded her into the wheelchair/gurney combination they carted her away in. I can only imagine how much Molly and X were being consumed over at the EDM tent. That stuff plus lack of water plus a hot and humid Chicago afternoon is a bad combo.

Speaking of the kids at the EDM tent, nothing can make you feel old more than seeing what the latest fashion for 16-20 year olds is. I think I knew high waisted jean shorts were back but I missed that the newest trent is to let your entire ass hang out of the bottom of them. Also, apparently fanny packs are back in style? I hesitate to say back in style because I remember them always being a huge joke so maybe they’re just now in style? It seemed like every other girl had one on. I don’t know if this some ironic hipster thing I missed or what, but it’s pretty awful. Lose the fanny packs and put some clothes on young ladies!

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4:00-5:00- Death from Above 1979

After the break for lunch and shade, we headed back over to the Galaxy stage to see Death from Above 1979. I didn’t really research them all that much, but I’d heard I might like them. We got a decent spot up on a hill and in the shade so regardless of their sound we weren’t going anywhere. And I must say, if it wasn’t for the shade, we would have lasted all of 3 minutes. These guys were not my style at all. Their lead singer (who is also the drummer) said that they sounded like Metallica which I found almost insulting. These guys sounded just like noise for noise’s sake. Hard pass.

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5:00-6:00- Walk the Moon

Around 4:45 we took the short walk back to the Sprint stage to see Walk the Moon. Everyone’s heard “Shut Up and Dance” but they’ve got quite a few songs that can get the crowd in the mood to move around. Their show was CROWDED and everyone was very excited to hear them. Unfortunately they had the one sound snafu we heard during the day. The Sprint stage isn’t as big or as nice as the Galaxy stage where Catfish and the Bottlemen played (and where Metallica was set to play), however, we had no issues earlier with Ryn Weaver. For whatever reason though, Walk the Moon sounded muffled and I compared it to them playing underwater, which was disappointing. Other than the sound issue, though, they were still fun because of how into the songs everyone was. They made mention to how they have made it as a band, saying that five years ago they played on the other stage as the first act of the day to about one hundred of Eminem’s biggest fans. Catfish and the Bottlemen and the hardcore Metallica fans know the feeling Walk the Moon.

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7:00-8:00- Brand New

After Metallica, Brand New was the band I was most excited for at Lolla. They were high on Court’s list too so we wanted to get a good spot. Surprisingly, this proved to be pretty easy. Around 6:15, there were still a couple great spots against the sound booth dead center of the stage. The crowd filled in a bit, but was no where near as crowded as it was for Walk the Moon. I’m not sure if was just that the punk bill was basically nonexistent after these guys or if people were lining up to see Metallica, regardless, we were the benefactors with our best spot of the day.

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Brand New didn’t disappoint. They were high energy as always, specializing in songs that start softly and then explode into a scream. If you haven’t heard them before, check out “Degausser” or “You Won’t Know” on Spotify.

We left around 7:45 as Metallica was of course the main attraction for me and I was curious to see what the crowd looked like.

Metallica Crowd

8:00-10:00- Metallica

We walk back across the field, still able to hear Brand New pretty well and see that the area has pretty well filled in. I’m long past the age of wanting to get as close as possible and especially for Metallica I prefer a little room to move around, head band, jump around and not feel like I’m really bothering anyone. Regardless, we found a pretty solid spot on the East side of the stage and settled in. We were looking to meet up with GMYH again, but we missed each other. Instead, we enjoyed the show with former Stew Over editor Roger who got there just in time.

Before I continue I should give you some background on Rog. He’s a huge Metallica fan but only of their old stuff. He considers “Master of Puppets” the greatest metal song of all time, but feels Metallica sold out somewhere around the Black album. He hates that they made music videos. he hates that they cut their hair. He hates that they got rid of guitar solos on Some Kind of Monster. He hates the idea of giving them a dollar of his money. Regardless, he loves their old stuff. I should also mention he’d never seen Metallica live, so this was his first time.

I on the other hand love Metallica. I love their old stuff the most, but I also love their new stuff and anything in between. As you, loyal reader, know I Celebrate Their Entire Collection. I will now give you a rundown of how each of us reacted to each song they played.

Fuel (Re-load)

Dave: Great energetic start to the show. Great driving beat, gets everyone going.

Rog: Ughhh…. Lame!

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: -2

For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ride the Lightning)

Dave: My favorite Metallica song. As it started, a huge amount of dragonflies descended on the crowd. “Take a look to the sky just before you die! It’s the last time you will!” It felt like a sign of the apocalypse. Cool and creepy at the same time

Rog: Holy shit, look at all those dragonflies… fuck yeah!

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: +6

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Wherever I May Roam (Metallica)

Dave: The first two songs are practically gimmies. Very rarely will you go to a show and not hear “Fuel” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” This is a great song, one of the best off the black album. I’m still getting warmed up.

Rog: Ehh, it’s a good song.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: +2

King Nothing (Metallica)

Dave: Awesome song off of Load, first time I’ve ever heard it in concert. I’m clearly one of the only ones who know the lyrics, however.

Rog: Ugh… garbage. C- (He did admit it’s “one of the only good ones on Load,” however).

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: -1

Disposable Heroes (Master of Puppets)

Dave: Fuck yeah. I’m in full on head banging screaming at the top of lungs levels of excitement at this point. Arguably the most underrated Metallica song, and one of the best off of Master of Puppets. The song’s lyrics are still apt to this day and probably represent the high point of Metallica’s writing.

Roger: Disposable Fucking Heroes? This is INCREDIBLE! I can’t believe they played this! This is amazing!!!

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: +10

Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (Master of Puppets)

Dave: Keep the Puppets coming! Another great song. Slower than Heroes of course but right in the classic Metallica wheelhouse. You generally hear some version of this song in concert. I’m just in the zone shouting away at this point.

Rog: I can’t fucking believe they played Disposable Heroes. God damn this is amazing.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: Holding steady at +10

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Cyanide (Death Magnetic)

Dave: Not my favorite off of Death Magnetic (plug in “All Nightmare Long” here and we have a near perfect Metallica set), regardless, this song is still great. One of Metallica’s favorite to play in concert, I’m not surprised to hear it here. Probably the most “old school” sounding of their songs, it’s fast, and has a great guitar solo too.

Rog: Ehhh… It IS the best off their new album. It’s the ONLY one that sounds like their old stuff.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: +5

The Unforgiven (Metallica)

Dave: You know you’re getting either “Unforgiven” or “Nothing Else Matters” as your power ballad. Personally, I prefer “Unforgiven” A necessary slow down to just relax and get some energy back. I’m still loving every minute of it.

Rog: And there it is… I’m taking a piss

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 0

I’ll say at this point I had started hitting the Budweiser pretty hard. Court had so kindly gone to pick me up one, Roger gave me a beer and Roger’s work buddies had bought me a beer. While Roger was off in the bathroom, he came back with 4 beers, one for himself and two for Rog, but he had to leave and take his buddy home. That guy’s misfortune was my HUGE benefit.

Sad But True (Metallica)

Dave: You want heavy? ‘Tallica gives you heavy baby!!! One of my favorite’s of the concert mainstays. You know you’re getting “Sad But True” but every time I get excited to hear it again. Just great energy with an amazing back and forth with the audience.

One (…And Justice for All)

Dave: Here it is, let’s start blowing shit up! Wait… where are the pyro technics? This is the only Metallica show I’ve ever been to without any pyro. I assume it’s because of Lolla but it’s still odd. They did have a pretty awesome laser display that these pictures may not do a very good job of illustrating.

Anyway, of course “One” is incredible. Metallica is a bunch of old guys now (James, Kirk, and Lars are all over 50) but they can still play as fast as ever. The song sounds just as good today as it did 25 years ago. I took a quick video of the opening I’ve shared below.

Rog: That piss break may go down in history as the greatest piss break of human history. I don’t have to hear “Unforgiven,” “Sad But True” sucks, and I show back up for the solo in “One?” I am a Golden God.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 8

Master of Puppets (Master of Puppets)

Dave: Yes! YES! YEEEESSS!! Master of Puppets!!! I’m in my glory at this point. Screaming as loud as possible, air guitar, head banging, loving life. My only complaint, the night is going too fast.

Rog: This is the greatest metal song of all time.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 10

Creeping Death (Ride the Lightning)

Dave: What a 1-2 punch. Puppets and Creeping Death. One of their very best live songs, the “DIE! DIE! DIE!” chants from our section are undoubtedly coming from Rog and myself.

Rog: “DIE! DIE! DIE!”

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 10

Fade to Black (Ride the Lightning)

Dave: One more from my favorite Metallica album. “Fade to Black” is easily their best slow song. This song is well known as the song James burned up his arm playing in Montreal the night the fans tore the stadium apart because Axl Rose is a bitch. I took another quick minute long video here you can see below:

Rog: Ehh… I don’t like their slow songs

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 4

Seek & Destroy (Kill ‘Em All)

Dave: Search and…. SEEK AND DESTROY!! Well, it’s 10:00 and I know how strict Chicago curfew laws are. Are we really not going to hear “Enter Sandman”? That seems next to impossible. The last two shows I saw Metallica they ended with “Seek & Destroy,” I’m a little surprised it took them this long to get around the playing something off of Kill ‘Em All.

Rog: Kill ‘Em All. FINALLY! Play Whiplash. PLAY WHIPLASH!

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 9

Encore

Metallica Lazers

Whiskey in the Jar (Garage, Inc.)

Dave: My favorite drinking song. I’ve always been a big fan of this song, as James says, it makes people bounce. A super easy one to sing along with.

Rog: This song sucks. We could be listening to so much other great stuff right now.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 0

Am I Evil? (Garage, Inc.)

Dave: Whoa! I did NOT see this coming. What an amazing surprise. Metallica generally gives you one deep cut per show but I didn’t see this at all, especially not as the clock hit 10:00. I figured “Enter Sandman” and see you later.

Rog: I can’t adequately describe in words how excited Rog was at this moment in time. His eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas and he was in absolute metal heaven. The only thing that would have made it better is if they played the solo.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: We broke the scale. The scale is broken.

Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)

Dave: How have we not heard “Enter Sandman” yet? It’s 10:10! There are about 50 other songs I’d rather hear but this is pretty much a staple. Still Metallica. Still great.

Rog: Ugh, god damn it. From Am I Evil to this shit?

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 2

Enter Sandman (Metallica)

Dave: There it is! They got it in. Plus, Court finally had a song she could sing along with. Metallica played past the curfew until 10:17 when the city shut the mics off so we couldn’t hear their “Thank you’s” to the crowd. What a way to end it though. I knew this might be the last time I see them for awhile so whatever I had left in the tank was left out there.

Rog: Even I can’t hate this song.

Roger’s Metal-Gasm Level: 9

Overall when asked how he liked the show Roger said in a word: “Incredible.” He was happy he got in for free though so as to not compromise his morals and give those bastards a dime.

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From my perspective, Metallica is by far the best performers I’ve ever seen. This was a short show by their standards (usually they play for at least two and a half, sometimes three hours), but it was incredible energy from beginning to end. Metallica’s show are a complete release for me. Hetfield came on the mic and said that they’re here “to make things better.” That’s exactly what they’ve done for me my entire life. When I’ve had disappointments in my life- when I haven’t gotten a job I wanted, or when I’ve failed at something or even when a friend of mine has died, I’ve turned to them. They make it okay to be pissed off and angry. Other well meaning people in my life have told me that things will be okay and I should keep my head up, but sometimes it’s nice to know it’s okay to be upset and mad at the world and they have provided that outlet for me.

On the other hand, they’ve been part of some of the happiest moments in my life too. When I was a scared kid, a freshman in college without friends and feeling incredibly lonely it was a night of listening to Metallica that made my life better. Screaming “Enter Sandman” out a dorm floor window with a group of guys I just met that bonded me to them. Those kids ended up being my best friends from college. I remember nights staying up late with Rog and Tyler, playing Metallica songs and singing along, happy and content in that moment. No matter what it’s been, they’ve been there to make my life better. And they did it again at Lolla. At the moment my life is pretty awesome, there they were again, to make everything even better.

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