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


Quickspins: Tame Impala, A.C. Newman, Ultraísta, Three Days Grace

Tame Impala – Lonerism (2012; Modular Recordings)

In 2010, a quartet of skinny, shaggy-haired Aussies burst onto the indie-rock scene with a distinctive blend of loud, synth-driven, psychedelic rock. Melding melody with heavy distortion, Tame Impala’s music conveyed the image of a stadium arena, filled exclusively with beer-swinging, pot-smoking bros. Two years down the line not much has changed.

Although their single “Elephant” seemed to promise a change of direction for the band, their sophomore effort Lonerism continues in a similar vein as their debut Innerspeak. Digging even deeper into their signature sound, Lonerism has amped up the weirdness, burying their songs in psychedelic tangents and studio tinkering. Simultaneously, singer Kevin Parker’s eerily John Lennon-like vocals, paired with the trippy melodies, makes one wonder how Magical Mystery Tour would have sounded with today’s technological innovations. Nevertheless, Lonerism lives up to its name, leading the listener in a solo adventure down the rabbit hole.


Trial track: “Elephant”

Rating: 6/10

-Cora Ballou


A.C. Newman – Shut Down The Streets (Matador; 2012)

A.C. Newman – Shut Down The Streets (Matador; 2012)

Best known as the frontman of Canadian indie rock group The New Pornographers, Carl Newman is finally showing a more personal and intimate side to his songwriting. Newman said that Shut Down The Streets “is all about birth, death, happiness and sadness, chronicling a time in my life where all those things had to learn to coexist side by side.”

Following a year of joys and sorrows, the heartbreaking “They Should Have Shut Down The Streets” was written after the death of his mother, while the blissful “Strings” and “Hostages” are about the birth of his son.

Inspired by classic ’70s folk and pop singer/songwriters, and featuring vocal contributions by fellow bandmate Neko Case, Shut Down The Streets is a beautiful album, full of timeless string arrangements, acoustic and synthesized instrumentation, and a brutally honest sentiment that is sure to win your heart.


Trial track: “I’m Not Talking”

Rating: 8/10

– Paul Traunero


Ultraísta – Ultraísta (2012; Temporary Residence Records)

Nigel Godrich, of Radiohead producing fame, formed Ultraísta with famed session musician Joey Waronker and vocalist Laura

Ultraísta – Ultraísta (2012; Temporary Residence Records)

Bettinson. The band’s name takes its inspiration from a former Spanish literary movement.

Though Godrich’s involvement has certainly spurred the media’s hype over this obscure three-piece band, the attention is well deserved. The vocalist’s prowess keeps you listening to every second of each track. There is heavy use of vocal looping and digital cut-and-paste production, creating a unique vibe.

The result is an excellent debut, sure to please fans of Radiohead, Zero 7, and electronic enthusiasts. Some might find the music a little too abstract for their taste, as a result of overproduction.


Trial track: “Smalltalk”

Rating: 8.7 / 10

-A.J. Cordeiro


Three Days Grace – Transit of Venus (2012; RCA)

A ‘transit of Venus’ is an astronomical phenomenon by which Venus passes in front of the Sun, becoming visible to Earth. With Three

Three Days Grace – Transit of Venus (2012; RCA)

Days Grace’s new album, aptly titled Transit of Venus, the band does just that. They reach for the sun and increase their visibility without burning themselves. Instead, they shine.

Each song sounds carefully structured and ached over, and each lyric bleeds perfectly into the next through frontman Adam Gontier’s voice. The lyrics are what have improved the most since 2009’s Life Starts Now. Each song is heavy, honest and raw. From breakup anthem “Chalk Outline,” all the way to closer “Unbreakable Heart,” the band shows just how much of themselves has been poured into this album. Having been in the industry for 20 years and in the mainstream for the last decade, it is a true testament to their skill that this new release may come to be remembered as the group’s best yet.


Trial track: “The High Road”

Rating: 9/10

– Ryan Demberg

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