October 12, 1991… Metallica headlined a Day On The Green at Oakland Stadium. It was an epic day made all the more special because I had been away from the Metal scene for around 5 years. In that time I had listened to other music, tried college, made new friends, etc… but when this show was announced I was struck by an intense sense of nostalgia about the early Metal Days and the time spent with a pimply-faced band called Metallica before they were millionaire Rock Stars. Also, the fact that the hometown heroes were headlining one of the iconic Day On The Greens was a historic moment for the band and Bay Area Metal. The show was also the first time Metallica ever headlined at a stadium.
Big Wayne and I took BART to the stadium and arrived in time so see the relatively unknown Soundgarden play their Grunge on the home field of the Oakland A’s (For the newbies: The Raiders were still in Los Angeles and wouldn’t move back to Oaktown for another 4 years..). Faith No More were good and had a smart ass attitude about playing such a enormous hometown show. Queensryche were riding high with their craptacular MTV hit single / Pink Floyd rip off ‘Silent Lucidity’ and during their set we wandered around the concourse eating and drinking. It was during this wandering that my life came full circle with my Metal past again as I ran into numerous old friends from the original Bay Area Metal scene; it was like the high school reunion I never attended. During our wandering I also saw a guy round house kick another guy in the head, who hit the ground like a sack of potatoes. Metal.
This was still back in the days when a stadium show was simply a huge general admission mob scene; there was no “gold circle” reserved seating on the stadium floor. It was general admission the way a huge Metal show should be where mayhem could run free and not be tethered by reserved seating and security. Trivia: This was the final Day On The Green that promoter Bill Graham personally worked on because he was killed in a helicopter crash less than 2 weeks later. Spooky.
As dusk fell onto Oakland, Metallica’s standard intro tape of ‘The Ecstasy Of Gold’ started playing over the P.A. and all hell started breaking loose on the field in front of the stage. A storm of beer cups and other debris erupted in the air as the thousands of primed, stoned, and drunk Metallica fans started a mini-war amongst themselves. Cups and garbage flew up into the air as well as big chunks of the outfield grass that was torn up by the Metal mob. Then when Metallica hit the stage and opened with their new single ‘Enter Sandman’ the most massive pit I’ve ever seen opened up and for the next 2+ hours the band and The Bay Area were one. As darkness fell it was medieval watching multiple pits swirling in the shadows and darkness of the stadium floor. The stadium was packed with 50,000 people and I had a hard time comprehending this was the same unknown band who I had met less than 9 years earlier on their first visit to San Francisco… when Lars drove his AMC Pacer up from L.A.. For those who care the setlist was:
- Enter Sandman
- Creeping Death
- Harvester Of Sorrow
- Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
- Sad But True
- Wherever I May Roam (1st live performance)
- Through The Never (1st live performance)
- The Unforgiven (1st live performance)
- Master Of Puppets / Seek & Destroy
- For Whom The Bell Tolls
- Fade To Black
- No Remorse / The Four Horsemen
- Holier Than Thou (1st live performance)
- Last Caress
- Am Evil?