Masters of making you think long and hard about life, Metallica brings to awareness our predisposition to self-destruct.  Headlining 10th Anniversary Outside Lands on a Saturday night in a city that has come to embrace the place where James Hetfield historically brings bandmates to FIRE them, Tommy’s Joynt, I knew this show would be nothing short of master puppetry.

Metallica, backed by an unforgettable setlist, recognized their changed listening demographic.  I finally allowed myself to listen past the fear of the ‘devil’ music I’d heard in the past, to really listen to what is being said.  Eye-opening.

Metallica’s first guitar slash cut the stale air which formed around those of us who refused to budge from the small grass patch we occupied since the end of the last Lands End Stage set.

I’ve always been amazed at Metallica’s ability to slay guitar as they do, pounding together as hard as their endurance allows in the death mosh-rock metal-melody marathon.  Heavy.

Heavy metal classics drilled Metallica maidens and veterans alike.  Metallica was home.  The setlist created a theatrical emotional thrill – a playset meant to tug at the mental capacity core emotions.  Metallica was there to fuck with emotion, and dammit they did it so good.  The magnetic metaphysical force bonded us.

Killing ourselves carrying money and disease.
Ever evolving modern warfare continues to kill us inside.

Speed junkies, giving into the whim of desire, a trick.  Missing opportunity to shine through what was shone, never knowing what might have been.

Sad but true.
 
James Hetfield is pretty damn convincing in those tight as hell smooth-grained leather pants.  We are so fucked.  He sounds so good.  The mics pick up his clear dictation.

He wants to know if we are alive. His piercing blue eyes allude that, in order to live, we must first die.  In “Now that We’re Dead”, the guitar spectacle turned into a beating.  Enormous dole drums were brought onstage -biggest I’d ever seen, creating question to how they were even manufactured.  After, a bit of silence not really heard due to the persistent ringing in the ears, James comes on sheepishly coy “Hey y’all…We’re getting better at the drum thing”.

Strings were absolutely destroyed.  These guys rock so hard; starting in highest gear, never backing down, passing levels I never knew existed.  I wanted to be scared.  It is inconceivable what is happening on stage.  These guys pull together a non-stop masterpiece going from one heavy guitar ballad into the next.  Preposterous.  They play through pain.  No wonder Hetfield is jacked.  The grimaces on their faces are of satisfaction, no doubt.

Mosh pit breakouts occur spontaneously – rage is present.

Hetfield changes his guitars (including acoustic) at least 13 times.
Robert Trujillo owns the damned jam.
Each with their own super-style, ultimate rockGODs they are.

Kirk Hammett with that seriously ridiculous guitar solo.

Without a beat in between, James Hetfield makes the BEST asshole comment ever!
“So I have an announcement” … as he points right
“Someone’s white Prius….  Still pointing
You left your lights on…
and uh…GIVE ME FUEL GIVE ME FIRE GIVE ME THAT WHICH I DESIRE
BOOooooom!

All the flames; Lars Ulrich MAYBE just broke a sweat.
Pyros.

Using the same intensity going full throttle, they turn on the afterburners and reveal a stunned crowd; easily done given the amount of electricity in the air.

After a well deserved mini break, they pull this one:  “The Unforgiven
Overhead rock shakas drop with heads for vape fueled head-swagg.  A totally different scene than the show I saw in Milwaukee late 90’s where I watched a fella head-bang his long hair barely missing the lighter he held in one hand, sign of the horns in the other.

Afterwards, James asks “Forgive yourselves San Francisco.”

He wonders if those in the ‘fancy VIP tents’ are ‘getting this’ asking them directly: “Yeah you”

“Fame can be a killer sometimes.  This ones for you..”
Sold your soul, built the higher wall…yesterday…
            Now you’re thrown away
            Same rise and fall 
            Who cares at all?       
            Seduced by fame
            A moth into the flame 
            Addicted to fame 

And then into “Harvester of Sorrow”.  Woah.  Heavy.

At some point James switches out his sleek clean leather vest which had OUTTA LUCK arched across the back, for his broke-in, patched up, bullet studded jean jacket sans sleeves.

Something happens when Hammett and Trujillo send shards into the air.  It’s amazing what their fingers can do.  The sound so intense, piercing the air, sending daggers through the heart, changing souls in its path.  Nobody was immune.

“SF Huy hey hey hey.”
I still cannot wrap my head around how 3 different electric guitars can actually harmonize at max intensity.

James wanted a raise of hands; how many people were at their first Metallica show.  Feeling the demographic and noticing green and blue hair instead of the long greasy, he points out a pair of brothers 8 & 10 years old raised above on shoulders.  I know he hopes their blue and green hair will turn to metal.

How scared are they when he demonically growl-laughs into “Sad but True”.

An acoustic master, he wrangles strings to get the extreme ends of sounds.

A soundtrack of war, planes buzzing low and dropping bombs, bullets piercing the air and then “One”.

James called out our purpose that evening:  Celebrating life with live music.

I’m about to fall over in exhaustion just watching them.  They, on the other hand, show NO signs of stopping and proceed to take “Master” to whole other level … with 5 more full-length intensity driven songs to follow.

It’s a raging celebration for life.

They’re recreating the dreams from the garage, where it all started for them in 1981 just right over there (James pointing across the Bay to El Cerrito).

(Metallica)…Seek
(Crowd)…& Destroy

It is hard to ignore the relevance in their songs this night.  We try not to hear out of fear.
Denial and drugs are a powerful combo.
Sabotage.
It’s all laid out for us, hard-wired.

Complete with the BEST Encore ever.
Anyone who’d left the park early to avoid the cluster-crowd and catch the bus may have made the biggest mistake of their lives.
We’ve been hand-delivered to Never Neverland.

Metallica loves San Francisco, said it themselves.

Metallica Setlist:
Hardwired
Atlas, Rise!”
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Fuel
The Unforgiven
Now That We’re Dead
Moth Into Flame
Harvester of Sorrow
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Motorbreath
Sad but True
One
Master of Puppets
Fade to Black
Seek & Destroy

-Encore-
Battery
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman” (with ‘The Frayed Ends of Sanity’ outro)

Metallica (all photos) Photo Credit:  Elizabeth Lauer