Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Ecstasy Of Gold

The exciting sequel to Damage Inc..

Salesforce 2015 Kickoff Party
Pier 48, San Francisco, California
February 9, 2015

Sometimes the Rock Godz work in mysterious ways... The week before tonight I found myself at a small social gathering with these things as the guests of honor:

Three in 5 years... Duck The Fodgers!  Yes... Metallica have their own clubhouse where they hang out with each other and put shit their fans throw at them onstage on the walls.  Oddly, there are no bras on display.  Lock 'N Loll?

Anyway,  I was minding my own business on the following Friday afternoon when I answered a phone call from Metallica's office asking if I would be "around" on Monday.  I thought about it and answered "Why.. Yes I will be "around" on Monday.." and was informed that the band were playing a "secret show" in San Francisco and that I was invited to attend.  Well, isn't that nice?  Lock 'N Loll.

Fast forward to the following Monday and it wasn't until around 5:00pm that I got the details about where and when to go for this "secret show".  Ironically, it ended up being at Pier 48 which is directly across McCovey Cove from my beloved AT&T Park.   When I arrived at the "secret" location it could not have been easier to gain entry.

Free parking?  Check.
My name on the guest list?  Check.
Only person wearing a Motörhead hoodie?  Check.

Once inside it was like entering the cover of the Load album except it was filled with table after table after table after table of free food and alcohol that seemed to go on forever. 

Umlaut goes into The Void

I won't dwell too much on the fact that tonight was a corporate gig with the band playing a private party for the employees of Salesforce to celebrate the end of their fiscal year.  If you can make it, take it.  We should all be so lucky to work for a company whose CEO is a Metallica fan who has enough disposable wealth to hire them to play his parties instead of Kanye West or Katy Perry. Anyway...

I had been told that the band would go on at 9:15pm but even after walking to the very end of the massive space I had no idea where they would be playing.  Very bizarre..  Then I stopped to chat with someone I know from the band's camp who also didn't know where the stage was..  Randomly, a passing food server overheard us talking and informed us that the hall was curtained off at the far end and it would be opened soon and that's where the stage was... She explained that it was set up that way so the "Metallica fans" would mingle instead of going straight to the stage to wait for the band. Ooookaay... I didn't see any obvious Metallica fans amongst the hundreds of suits and business casual folks around me... but whatever.  Armed with this new information, I headed back towards the far curtained off area and.. lo and behold.. it had indeed opened to reveal a modest stage at the far end.  Lock 'N Loll.

[Photo courtesy of]

I hadn't seen Metallica live in over 2 years and I will admit my jaded self got excited when I saw how intimate the show would be up close.  Despite the modest surroundings the stage allowed for "fans" to stand around it on 3 sides and then there were sections on either side with mics setup so it looked like a miniature stadium stage.  As I sipped my complimentary beer the band were late getting the party started... So I took out my iPhone and was posting something to my personal social media when a Salesforce employee next to me said something about not to hashtag "Salesforce" because this was a "secret" event.  My reply was "I don't work for Salesforce..." which caught Mr. Nosey off guard for a second until he then asked "How did you get in??" (I could see the wheels turning in his head about calling security...) but all I said was "I'm with the band..."   Was that a dick move on my part?  Maybe... because I wasn't really "with" the band.. but it shut him up.

Anyway, the house lights didn't go down until after 9:30pm when the CEO of Salesforce came out to address his minions and introduce the entertainment for the evening.  There was no 'Ecstasy Of Gold' intro tape and the hometown band casually launched straight into 'Hit The Lights' followed by 'Master Of Puppets'..


I quickly forgot about where I was and just focused on watching the band play because it was the closest I'd been to them onstage in a very long time.  I noticed that they all wore off-the-shelf shoes; Robert had on his signature pair of Vans.  It's the little things. During 'Sanitarium' this dude knelt down in front of me and we both had a flashback to The Stone, San Francisco - 1983:



The more things change, the more they stay the same... As the song ended that dude started to walk back towards the drum riser but turned and tossed this to me.. which I caught in midair (natch!):

Battle scarred by stage use...

It would be easy to dismiss this performance but, in the spirit of simply having fun and not being a negative creep, I realized it was just like watching the band rehearse.  There was no real pressure on them since they weren't playing for *their* crowd.  It was a casual audience at best.  There was free food and open bars everywhere.  It was probably the best free concert I've ever seen.  Also, it had been many, many years since the last time I was against a stage during a Metallica set and felt it vibrate from the volume.  It was cool.

A solid 14 song setlist... All killer and no filler.  There was no production and no intro tapes; it was a performance basically stripped down to the very bare essentials and that made it unique despite the corporate nature of the event.  Like I just said, it was like watching the band rehearse but they did break a sweat.  However, it was awkward when the Salesforce crowd chanted "Yeah!" instead of "Die!" during 'Creeping Death'.   I literally laughed out loud.. Yeah.. awkward.  For those who care the setlist was:
  • Hit the Lights
  • Master of Puppets
  • Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  • Sad But True
  • The Unforgiven
  • Fuel
  • Wherever I May Roam
  • One
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls
  • Battery
  • Nothing Else Matters
  • Enter Sandman
  • Creeping Death
  • Seek & Destroy
Not bad for a free show on a Monday night, man.

Before the band came out I chatted with another Salesforce employee next to me who works at their office in Australia.  He was a legit Metallica fan and out of his mind with excitement and couldn't believe they were playing his company party.  A nice guy who also had a proper camera with him:

  [Photos courtesy of Nish Veer]

"We're scanning the scene at Salesforce tonight.. We're looking for YOU to start up a fight!" 

The party closed with the standard 'Seek And Destroy' and it was nice to see the song done without the beach ball drop that happens at "real" Metallica shows these days.  It's bizarre to me how 'Seek' has become the "party" song of a Metallica set when back in The Day it was a song that made me want to fuck shit up.  Weird...  Hope I die before I get old.

Anyway, as the song ended and The Four Horsemen took their bows, The Master Of Puppets turned around, caught my eye, and tossed one of his sweat-soaked wristbands to me... Uhhh...  I picked it up, looked to see if it even had the band's name on it (which it did not) and then I said out loud "This is fucking gross.." and tossed it onto the drum riser.  In hindsight I should have probably kept it to sell on Ebay, right?  Oh well.. Honesty is my only excuse. I mean, how would he feel if I tossed my dirty laundry at him in public?

Tonight's corporate gig was much better than the Salesforce gig 3 years ago, but that was because I had made the effort to be right up front against the stage and not 50 yards back standing with indifferent hors d'oeuvre swilling guests who would have been much happier if their CEO had hired Kanye West or Katy Perry to perform instead.  I had fun.  I ate and drank for free.  I was home in 20 minutes.

There was no Metallica merch for sale.  On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag.   After I got home this text exchange happened between Umlaut and the Master Of Puppets:

Awww.. Battery is found in me.