This story begins in high school. When I was a junior at Bonita High School I had Advanced Chemistry class and in our class there was a senior girl (whose name escapes me right now) who for some reason was taking chemistry with all the nerdy juniors. She was a big big metal listener, and this was back in the day when all I listened to was KROQ/Modern Rock along with hip hop (Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys mainly). So metal and its fans scared me. I distinctly remember one Spring day when my classmate came into class, wearing sunglasses the entire time and asking people not to be so loud. She had been at the Metallica concert the night before and was clearly still feeling the pain. That was basically my introduction to Metallica.
Fast forward a year and the black album comes out and Metallica is suddenly everywhere and has crossed over into the mainstream. You would even hear “Unforgiven” on KROQ. So, I bought the black album and became a little bit familiar with Metallica.
If you asked me, when I moved to Shanghai what large bands would I assume would never come to Shanghai – Metallica would be on that list. I mean .. . Chinese metalheads? Nah. Don’t exist.
That’s 13,000+ fans at Shanghai’s Mercedes Benz Arena last night for Metallica’s show. They came early. Chanted. Cheered. knew every word of every song. Sang along with the guitar solos. It was pretty awesome. Metallica put on a really good show too – they interacted with the audience. My one gripe is they failed to play my favorite Metallica song (Master of Puppets)
Another take away from this is that the US is still the king when it comes to soft power. I can’t think of another cultural exporting country that could consistently bring such varied cultural acts (Beyonce! Pitbull! Metallica! Usher!) who could fill up arenas globally.
Metallica plays again tonight in Shanghai and Beijing later this week.