Back in the 20th Century, ümlaut was a xeroxed fanzine that existed from 1992-95. Despite limited distribution, loyal readers ranged from coast to coast and included Rock Stars of various credibility, including Neurosis, Sonic Youth, Melvins, and Metallica. This 21st Century version of ümlaut has been ranting since 2004 and is also the co-author of the book Murder In The Front Row.
Life is weird, man. Thirty-one years ago I met and became friends with some band guys. We were all teenagers... and then over the years these band guys grew up to become the Led Zeppelin of their generation. Fast forward to the 21st Century and I received a nice e-mail invitation to attend the U.S. "red carpet" premiere of what is basically this band's multi-million dollar version of The Song Remains The Same. Amazing.
Click HERE to read about my adventures in Vancouver a year ago as Metallica filmed 2 shows for this movie. It was one of the most epic and special Metal weekends, like, ever.
The tone of the night was quickly set as I entered The Metreon and met up with my Old Metal friends Cable Car, Mr. & Mrs. John Marshall, Paschke, and Ian "Rampage Radio / Metal Mania" Kallen in the lobby. We were directed to the top floor of The Metreon complex where a Will Call table was set up and I collected my envelope with the fancy tickets to the screening and also the After Party.
The Golden Ticket #2
While waiting in the lobby I saw almost another double digit number of old friends and acquaintances; the vibe for me was very communal and familar... and guess what color 99.9% of the guests were wearing? Nope, it was BLACK. Plus, there was free popcorn and non-alcoholic drinks. Fancy.
I couldn't figure out why the rail overlooking the escalator was jam packed and everyone was looking down. Then a cheer broke out and the stars of the night (the band, the actor, the director) rode the escalator up from the ground floor and stepped onto the roped off red carpet area to face the obligatory gauntlet of press cameras and fan point and shoots and camera phones. Rather funny if not obligatory. Also, the only "celebrity" of note who I noticed in the lobby was... Sammy Hagar?! C'mon Metallica and The Bay Area! I would hope we could do better than that in the "celebrity guest" thing. Donde esta Robin Williams at least... Anyway, at this point ushers started moving through the lobby instructing us to proceed to the theater.
Evidently The Metreon's main IMAX theater was not big enough to accommodate all of the premiere's guests so we were split up for simultaneous screening in multiple theaters (at least 2 I think); Theaters 11 and 13 for sure. I was in Theater "this one goes to" 11 and as the audience slowly filled the seats a soundtrack of classic Metal songs blasted over the sound system. Nice.
As we walked in I notice that a pair of aisle seats were marked as reserved for Metallica's managers, which I took to be a good sign... and when they arrived and took their assigned seats it was time for the screening to begin. The houselights were dimmed and 6 guys wearing nice clothes walked to the front of the theater to introduce the U.S. premiere of their $30 million DIY film project. No one in the audience yelled "SLAAAYEER!" which I thought was polite and respectful.
[Photo courtesy of Cable Car]
Once the mic was passed down this row of gentlemen, the house lights went all the way down, we put on our 3D glasses, and for the next 94 minutes we were immersed in a cinematic juggernaut of volume. I'm not going to review the movie... but I will say that part of me thinks it could be the greatest concert film ever made. By that I mean I don't think any band has ever gone *all in* on a project with their own money and time to create something so over the top before... and that impresses me.
Metallica never does anything half ass and this is the ultimate example of them doing whatever the fuck they want and they really don't give a shit what you think. Seriously. Yes, I liked the movie, but I also don't think I would like it as much if I had not been in Vancouver for the 2 shows they filmed there. It was cool to recognize parts of the arena (such as the backstage hallways) but I don't think you can see me in any of the crowd shots. Eye of the Beholder, I guess. I also want to see it again properly on a ginormous IMAX screen.
After the credits ended we emptied out into the crowded lobby... and then those of us with the Golden Ticket #2 snuck away to a club a couple of blocks away for the After Party. We arrived at the same moment as the film's actor Dane DeHaan got out of a black (natch..) SUV... which was funny since the club was only a couple blocks away from the theater.. but I suppose that is what you're supposed to do at your own film premiere. Anyway, we probably broke some kind of film premiere etiquette by not waiting and walking into the club ahead of him.
Inside was 3 floors of open bar and delicious food. As I said, Metallica does not do anything half ass. For the next couple of hours I was able to mingle and socialize with some old friends and attempt to people watch. To be honest, it was a pretty mellow affair... crowded... fun... but mellow... which was fine. After 2 beers... food.. and some congratulatory conversation with some of the Metallica guys and chatting with at least one member of Death Angel.. it was back out into the San Francisco night since I had to work the next day.
Number of different types of sliders served at the party = 4. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. It was yet another trippy experience during this lifetime that Metallica have included me in... Two days after this night was the 31st Anniversary of the first time Metallica ever played in San Francisco across town at The Stone (R.I.P.) and the day when I first met them. Who would have thought that 31 years later those pimply-faced band guys would be members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and also have their own version of The Song Remains The Same... and I would be able to witness it all firsthand. Amazing!