Saturday Night: Metallica at Outside Lands

The following is a dispatch from San Francisco's Outside Lands Festival from our VVM Bay Area sister paper, SF Weekly. -- ed.

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Photos by Christopher Victorio
Metallica at San Francisco's Outside Lands festival.
Metallica
Outside Lands Festival
Golden Gate Park, San Fransico
August 11, 2012

Metallica, headlining Saturday night of the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, proved just about as huge and satisfying and powerful as Metallica can be in 2012. With a greatest-hits set list, a small war's worth of explosives and pyrotechnics, and a huge meadow of fans shouting along, the biggest heavy-metal band in the world showed that not only can it win over casual listeners and non-fans, but that it's at its best when trying to do so.

Compared to Metallica's four intimate and indulgent 30th-anniversary shows at the Fillmore last year, the more than two hours of outright rampage last night felt like a well-edited tour de force.

It wasn't perfect: Hetfield played sloppily on "Master of Puppets," which may have been due to the cold; the lyrics to new song "Hell and Back" made us wish that Metallica was an instrumental band; "Ride the Lightning" sounded rickety and awkward, especially compared with contemporaneous songs like, "For Whom the Bell Tolls"; more than two hours of any artist is kind of lot; and Lars and James basked in the crowd's adoration maybe a bit too much at the end, and could have just said thank you three times and bowed and called it a night.

But those complaints are miniscule compared with the fiery spectacle Metallica put on in San Francisco Saturday night. Here are our top five favorite parts of the show.

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5. The classics-heavy set list

Opening with "Hit the Lights" -- Metallica's very first original song -- the band took us through the highlights of its older albums: "Master of Puppets" started rough, but "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" was magnificent -- at least until the band started playing "Orion," which defined the word "magnificent." We also got: "Sad But True," "Fade to Black," an absolutely brutal "Blackened" and a glassy, gorgeous "Nothing Else Matters."

There were only three post-Black Album songs in the whole set (which, yesss). These guys were aiming to please, and please they did. (See full set list below.)


4. The Sprawling Stage

Every vertical surface on the back of the stage was also an LCD screen, with a huge display behind the band and on either side. The stage also included a long platform out into the crowd, which was pretty much the perfect place for Kirk Hammett to wind up into a blistering solo.



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