In the 20 years of X Games there has never been a bigger artist like the legendary and iconic band, Metallica. These four metal heads have been playing shredding guitar solos and pumping out albums for almost 35 years now with no signs of stopping any time soon. Their performance at the Circuit of The Americas proves that. X Games “Super Stage” was built for the biggest and best act in the world and it got just that. Metallica is actively touring outside of the United States and before the X Games their previous U.S. performance was at Rock In Rio in Las Vegas, Nevada. X Games Austin 2015 became not only the summer’s biggest extreme sports event but the must see Texas music fest.
Walking around you notice that Metallica t-shirts in every direction you turned. It had been a number of years since Metallica last played in Texas and fans from all over traveled to see them at the X Games. The Super Stage with over 200 lights and massive LED panels made up part of the spectacle that evening. “The Ecstasy of Gold” resonated from the speakers as a clip from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly played on the LED panels. Signature Metallica Intro for sure. The crowd cheered louder than any other crowd in my years of concert photography. I felt the same chills may in the crowed were feeling. We were about to witness the most epic rock performance in our lives and it would become part of history. James Hetfield walks up to the mic and announces that they would be streaming the night’s performance and copies of it. They would be sold with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross Texas Chapter to help reliefs with the recent disasters from the severe weather. After that he called out to Tony Hawk stating that he left the lights on his golf cart before singing “Gimme fuel, Gimme fire, Gimme that which I desire. Ooh!” starting off the night with the fast paced and energetic “Fuel”.
The light production on stage was phenomenal. Photos were coming out crisp and clean with ease. I found myself singing long in the midst of the rest of the photographers as we took our shots. I couldn’t believe I was watching and taking photos of one of my favorite bands. The first band I became of fan of since the third grade when my father bought me their album “Load”. My very first music CD and I’ve been a fan ever since then. It’s amazing to see the interaction between the band members, Hetfield and Urlich rocking out in front of the drum set. Hammett and Trujillo circling each other during the solo. Die hard Metallica fans lined up on stage behind the band had the best seats in the house. Rocking out just a few feet away from their heavy metal heroes. Through out the concert you would see each band member going up to them for photos and rocking out together.
Lars drum set echoed like thunder during “For Whom the Bell Tolls” with Robert playing that memorable bass melody that is easily recognizable. Hetfield mic was giving him feedback issues during Fuel which lead him to using the side microphones and throwing the main mic to the ground shouting at the crew in dissatisfaction.Every person there shouting “Hey, Hey, Hey” to the intro of the song was phenomenal. Despite the size of the stage the band members made sure to go to each side and interact with their fans. Making sure that every fan would get an up close & personal performance and those on hill could see the stage through the large LED panels on each side of the stage.
At the end of the song both guitars wailed to a low fade into Hetfield strumming with lighting speed to “Metal Militia” and Hammett raising his signature ESP Boris Karloff Mummy KH-2 guitar. Through the lens I could read “It comes to life!” on the body of the instrument near the pick-ups. It’s great to hear them play their older material and it sound so damn good as if you were listening to the CD. Age is just a number and after 35 years of playing together their stage presence & stamina is like that of their early years. Metallica are true rock stars, never slowing down the entire night and keeping the fire of metal blazing all night. I don’t know who the X Games have in mind for next year’s musical acts but I assure you Metallica will not be easy to top.
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Photographs taken at Circuit of The Americas on June 6th of 2015
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