Metallica fans flocked to the drive-in concert like a “Moth Into Flame”

Metallica and Three Days Grace try their best to adapt a live performance during a pandemic

There are only so many days in a year that have the anticipation of last Saturday. One of your favorite bands is performing in your city. Your excitement is palpable. As the night approaches, you only continue to get giddier. It’s time to leave the house. You grab the keys. The only worry in the world is finding a parking space.

Only one catch: it’s 2020. Due to the raging global COVID-19 pandemic, concerts as we knew them are no more.

That’s where nostalgia steps in with a solution. Metallica and Three Days Grace put on a drive-in concert from coast to coast. And like a moth into flame, metalheads came for a uniquely 2020 concert. The only catch is that there’s no in-house sound system since the venues are mostly pop-up locations. The venue suggested using an alternate sound system than your car stereo—two hours on the car battery is not a great idea if you plan on leaving the parking lot.

For my experience, I used an iPod Nano and a Beats Pill to connect to the show’s FM broadcast. The company running the show was beta testing their app which I could not connect to from my parking spot, with no explanation as to why. Some brought boomboxes to layout in truck beds, others took whatever they had to get the closest approximation of live music possible. As such, I will not be commenting on the audio quality beyond the limits of FM radio.

First up was Three Days Grace, playing an opening set of all their hits, recorded live from an unknown studio. From the get-go, the oddity of playing a live show in 2020 was apparent, as they made their best effort to rile up the crowd as an opening act should, despite playing behind a screen. Despite the awkwardness of the scenario, Three Days Grace played like they were in their element, and their set was filmed just like a normal concert movie.

Metallica started their set after a one-minute countdown between the shows. The band began with their trademark curtain-raising instrumental song “The Ecstasy of Gold” (originally composed by Ennio Morricone) and opening on a sunset stage in a secret Northern California location. No stranger to filming their concerts, they made an excellent showing with all the lights and theatrics that one should expect. Metallica even made the effort of playing clips of their crew changing out guitars, banter amongst the band and with the audience between songs. Their crowd work was more natural than that of Three Days Grace, mostly just joking between themselves, including a shout out, with lead singer / guitarist James Hetfield even saying, “Quebec, they’re going nuts right now, if I know Quebec.”

At the end of the night, when all the riffs were done cutting through the FM radio static, concert-goers left their drive-ins as satisfied as possible. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that the drive-in experience was clunky at best, and a meager substitute for a real live show. That being said, given the circumstances, I wouldn’t trade it away. It was refreshing to have somewhere to go, to be outside of the house. Even with the subpar sound compared to what I could have had back home, the togetherness and excitement of a live show still beat a typical web concert any day.

This show is a look into the future of concerts and live events going forward in 2020. As we step into Zoom classes, we’re all painfully aware of the problems and awkwardness of trying to have an event worth going to digitally. The drive-in format provides a middle ground between a computer monitor and concert hall that was a welcome change of pace from my normal day behind countless screens. Judging by how full the show I attended was, I’m not alone in wanting to go to a performance, not just log into one.

The Metallica / Three Days Grace show offered a moment’s reprieve; the only major concert to grace the summer of 2020, a reminder of a world so cold.


Photo by Grayson Acri


Beginner’s guide to thrash metal

Fast guitar riffs, speedy drumming and loud, in-your-face vocals—those are the characteristics that define thrash metal. When metal music came onto the scene in the 1970s with bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, it was a sign that rock music was evolving past the age of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. While Black Sabbath played slower, their sound was dark and mysterious, thanks to down-tuned and distorted guitars. In the early 80s, American bands who were inspired by Black Sabbath continued to push the genre forward by playing faster and increasing the volume. One of the genres that spawned from this technique was thrash metal. Thrash metal has since evolved with some of the best albums in heavy metal history. If you’re interested in the genre, the albums below are a great starting point to get yourself acquainted with it.

Master of Puppets – Metallica

Metallica’s 1986 third studio album, Master of Puppets, is a classic in the world of thrash metal. Not only is it one of their best albums, it’s one of their heaviest. If there was one album that could perfectly sum up the 1980s thrash metal sound, it would be Master of Puppets. From the very start, listeners are greeted by the song “Battery.” It’s a song that begins with a quiet, melodic guitar intro that eventually explodes into an earth-shattering riff, setting the tone for the whole album. The album features multiple nine-minute anthems, like “Master of Puppets,” “Disposable Heroes” and “Orion.” Each song has intricate, heavy riffs that are complemented with drummer Lars Ulrich’s signature double-bass playing. While the songs are heavy, the arrangements are still beautiful. The song “Orion” is an eight-minute instrumental that sounds orchestral while at the same time exhibiting relentless aggression. Overall, Master of Puppets is a must-listen if you’re new to metal. It’s heavy, but still accessible for a first-time listener.

Reign In Blood – Slayer

If you thought Metallica’s Master of Puppets was heavy, just wait until to you hear Slayer’s Reign In Blood. Just like Master of Puppets, the album was Slayer’s third and it was also released in 1986. Reign in Blood begins with the song “Angel of Death” which welcomes the listener with a speedy riff and a blood-curdling scream from lead singer Tom Araya. When compared to Metallica, the music and the imagery is much more violent, but that isn’t necessarily a negative. The lyrical themes on the album include war, injustice and the Holocaust. The music itself reveals the darkness of these themes. For example, the riffs and drumming are faster and Araya’s vocals are manic, with the cadence of a man spiralling into madness. Don’t expect any orchestra-type sounds on this album. Reign in Blood is a relentlessly heavy album that will have your blood pumping in no time.

Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? – Megadeth

In 1986, Megadeth released their second full-length album, Peace Sells…but Who’s buying? After having been kicked out of Metallica because of his alcoholism, lead singer and guitarist Dave Mustaine brought a unique sound to the world of thrash metal with this album. For starters, Peace Sells, while still fast, is not as speedy as the previous two albums on this list. Instead, the instrumentals on this album are more technical. In the opening track, “Wake Up Dead,” the riff is simple, yet delivered with a precision that bands like Slayer lacked. Megadeth also sets themselves apart on this album by incorporating more bass into the mix. In the intro of the title track, “Peace Sells,” there is a groovy bassline that is quite unique when compared to bands like Metallica and Slayer. Apart from the bass and the riffs, Mustaine’s guitar work on the album is impressive, as his solos hit so hard they’ll practically melt your face off. If you’re looking for a politically charged metal album, Peace Sells is an incredible listen.


Among the Living – Anthrax

Anthrax’s 1987 album, Among the Living, is one of their best and was regarded by the BBC as “arguably their big breakthrough.” Among the Living is probably one of the most progressive albums on this list, as all of the instrumentals contain various beat shifts and melodies. Anthrax demonstrates not just aggression and speed on this record, but shows their humorous side as well. In songs like “I am the Law,” a song based on the comic book Judge Dredd, the lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and kind of make you laugh, all while encouraging you to head bang. Unlike the seriousness of the last three albums, songs like “Caught in a Mosh” can be played at any party and people could get into it. Among the Living is a thrash metal album that doesn’t take itself too seriously which is why it’s a great place to start.

Music Quickspins

Metallica – Hardwired…to Self-Destruct

Metallica – Hardwired…to Self-Destruct (Blackened Recordings, 2016)

Metallica’s 10th studio album, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, has turned an unsatisfied metal-head like myself into a believer again. If Metallica were to combine the sound of their last album, Death Magnetic, their breakout album, Metallica and their Load/Reload albums, you would get Hardwired…to Self-Destruct.The album features incredible vocals from lead singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield who, at 53, is still able to belt out his lyrics in a way that gives you chills. The guitar riffs on the album are fast and catchy and demonstrate a strong comeback. Songs like “Spit out the Bone” and “Hardwired” are some of their fastest and heaviest songs to date. The one problem with the album is that the songs are a little repetitive, as the riffs tend to be repeated more than they need be. Despite that one issue, Metallica’s latest record is one of their best releases since the 1990s.

Trial Track: “Atlas, Rise!”


Exit mobile version