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Arctic Arena

A cold wind kept one critic from warming up completely to the Summer Sanitarium Tour stop at 3Com Park

By Sarah Quelland

A bitter wind whipped through 3Com Park last Friday (July 14) during the testosterone-fueled Summer Sanitarium Tour featuring Metallica, Korn, Kid Rock, Powerman 5000 and System of a Down.

While thousands of fans pushed and crunched forward on the covered stadium floor, others packed into the seats in the lower and upper reaches of 3Com Park angling for a better view. Despite the Arctic temperatures, that's where I sat through Korn and Metallica's long sets, which capped off this seven-hour concert.

Only a few years ago, I thought a concert wasn't a success unless I walked away sporting a few new bruises and reeking of other people's sweat. Not anymore. Being lifted off the ground and unable to find a foothold in a crowd that's swaying dangerously like dominoes ready to topple at any moment just isn't fun for me now. Call me crazy.

The poor Kiss fan who fell to his death at the Kiss Farewell Tour at the Oakland Arena last March was still fresh in my mind, and this Summer Sanitarium Tour had already suffered a similar tragedy only 10 days earlier when a 21-year-old fan plunged to his death at the Baltimore show. With the recent disaster at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, where nine people were killed as a result of injuries sustained during a crowd surge, I just wasn't feeling terribly adventurous.

For me, the main attraction was Kid Rock. But due to poor planning and wicked traffic I only caught a glimpse of Kid Rock before he left the stage. Thus it was with twinges of regret and resentment that I watched the remainder of the show from my icy perch.

Taking in the whole spectacle, I finally realized that these huge arena-rock shows aren't about the music at all. They're about tailgate parties, people-watching, $6 beer, messy food and garish T-shirts--and wanting to be part of a real event. The sound at these productions is generally appalling, and such was the case at 3Com. Maybe it was decent on the floor, but in the stands, every gust of wind mangled and distorted the music almost beyond recognition.

Korn

As I watched thousands of excited fans push forward when Korn came out (with drummer Mike Bordin filling in for David Silveria), I thought back to the first time I saw the boys from Bakersfield perform. They opened a show at the Warfield years ago for Marilyn Manson and Danzig. While I was awed by frontman Jonathan Davis' juxtaposition of fragility and intensity, the rest of the crowd hated the band. Now, many of those same people will pay $65 for the privilege of seeing them live.

I think I can safely say that although the band members display the kind of cockiness that comes with fame and have a larger repertoire to pull from, Korn's live show hasn't changed that much.

In a straightforward performance that included "Falling Away From Me," "It's On," "Got the Life," "Ball Tongue," "Twist," "A.D.I.D.A.S.," "Freak on a Leash" and "Blind," Korn proved that, if anything, it's become less powerful as it's become more refined.

Watching Papa Roach follow a strategy similar to Korn's (i.e. touring relentlessly and promoting like crazy), I'd wager that a year from now, people will have similar reports on the Vacaville-based four-piece (P-Roach jumped on tour with Korn and Powerman 5000 just this week).

Kirk Hammett, Jason Newsted

Metal Men

While the massive floor area was about two-thirds filled during Korn's performance (with about 10 pits circling at any given time), it was nearing capacity when Metallica took over.

The Bay Area-rooted four-piece is the definitive hometown band made good. In Metallica's nearly 20-year career, vocalist James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Jason Newsted and drummer Lars Ulrich have become the unrivaled masters of metal.

Sticking with the band through the underground days to its initial leap into the mainstream with 1988's ... And Justice for All to the commercial success of the self-titled black album to more self-indulgent works that culminated with a collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony, Metallica fans have proven that they're an extremely loyal brood.

Even those who jumped off the Metallica bandwagon years ago and now side with Napster in its ongoing court dispute with the band had to approve of this sturdy performance.

Metallica's show was solid in its simplicity. The band pounded through two decades worth of songs including "Creeping Death," "Seek and Destroy," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "Nothing Else Matters," "King Nothing" and the real high point: a segue from "Master of Puppets" into the tour's namesake "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)."

The encores and explosions never seemed to end as the band took the stage again and again to a demanding crowd--that is, until right around 11pm when the band concluded the evening, appropriately enough, with "Enter Sandman."

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Web extra to the July 20-26, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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