CBS’ The Night Before Concert Rocks The Bay With Metallica & Cage The Elephant San Francisco, CA 2-6-16

night before slide - CBS' The Night Before Concert Rocks The Bay With Metallica & Cage The Elephant San Francisco, CA  2-6-16

CBS’ The Night Before Concert Rocks The Bay With Metallica & Cage The Elephant San Francisco, CA 2-6-16

The Super Bowl is the USA’s most celebrated sporting event year after year. While baseball is widely considered the nation’s pastime, football and the NFL have become, by far, the most popular sport. Beginning the Super Bowl event back on January 15, 1967, in 2016, the NFL and fans celebrated Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, February 7, when the NFC powerhouse Carolina Panthers collided with the historic defense of the Denver Broncos. To help kick off the celebration of what was a week long event in hosting city San Francisco, CA, CBS Radio held their third annual The Night Before Concert Saturday, February 6th, at the home of the San Francisco Giants, AT & T Park. Originating back in New York in 2014, when Red Hot Chili Peppers performed, and continuing in 2015, when Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, and Dierks Bentley teamed up in Arizona, this year’s incarnation saw an unlikely, but interesting pairing of Cage The Elephant and Metallica. Two vastly different bands, but both widely popular and adored, it was a night to remember for Rock lovers of all ages who came to celebrate before the big game.

Alternative Indie Rock band Cage the Elephant is much newer to the game than the band they were opening for. Forming in 2006 down in Kentucky, the band rose from the electric Country Rock scene that really took off with Kings of Leon, and today, they are a media favorite, being in commercials and even video games. Since that time, they have built a massive name for themselves over the course of four studio records, including their 2015 effort, Tell Me I’m Pretty. Consisting of Vocalist Matthew Shultz, Guitarist Brad Shultz, Drummer Jared Champion, and Bassist Daniel Tichenor, they had the amazing opportunity to share the stage with Metallica in front of a massive baseball stadium crowd.

Kicking off with their first big single, “In One Ear,” Cage the Elephant came out ready to rock. Originally releasing the song in 2008, it reached #1 on the US Alternative Rock charts and #3 on the regular US Rock charts, remaining a fan-favorite to this day. The next song was “Cry Baby,” the first track off of their newest album, and it was a quirky piece full of taunting and teasing as it captures a unique personality, something that Matthew claims he was really trying to get across with each song on Tell Me I’m Pretty. With the next track, “Cold Cold Cold,” Matthew took advantage of the large stage they were offered. It would be difficult for any band to fill such a large and impressive stage, Matthew did an impressive job of doing so while working the crowd. Speaking of big, the next song in line was hit single “Aberdeen,” from 2011’s chart-topping album Thank You, Happy Birthday. Continuing to unleash every ounce of energy he had, Matthew was so spectacular that the spotlight followed him everywhere. Keeping the fire burning was “Back Against the Wall,” a spunky anthem that is made for radio perfection, but, beyond Cage the Elephant’s fault, sadly, the acoustics seemed to get lost in the wide space of the venue.

At this point in the show, Brad had probably changed guitars at least four times over the course of six songs. Slowing things down a bit,  “Shake Me Down” came next as Matthew made his way around the “U” of the stage before he actually made a visit in the audience. Following later was the second single off Tell Me I’m Pretty, “Trouble.” Really provoking a strong reaction from the audience, many were singing along the “Woos” in the chorus. Capitalizing on the momentum of the prior song, they went into single “Mess Around,” a more aggressive track that had everyone’s attention.

Making their biggest splash of the night, big hit “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” was greeted by a mass of positivity from the crowd before finale “Come a Little Closer.” For this, both Matthew and Brad were both interacting with the fans in the front of the stage, and it was a great ending to their performance. Cage the Elephant continue to tour through the UK in February before returning to the USA for the epic Spring Fling Rock AF 2016 Tour in March with Foals and Silversun Pickups, so do not miss out.

Having been warmed up by Cage the Elephant, the adrenaline was flowing through AT&T Park as they waited for the special appearance from Metallica. For those unfamiliar with Metallica, the band formed some thirty-five years ago in Los Angeles, only to become one of Heavy Metal’s iconic bands. Transcending the Metal genre and breaking into mainstream audiences through the years, Metallica is not just a name Metalheads adore, but Rock fans of all ages universally appreciate. Now eight time Grammy award winners, Metallica continues to be one of modern music’s powerhouses, despite having not released a studio album since 2008’s Death Magnetic. Consisting of James Hetfield (lead vocals, guitar), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar), Lars Ulrich (drums), and Robert Trujillo (bass), over the years, they have toured the world extensively and, to fan’s delight, have reportedly been working on new material. With all that in mind, apprehension, along with excitement, had built to a frenzy leading up to the band coming on stage, and nothing could prepare the crowd for what was to come.

Building the anticipation, Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold,” from Clint Eastwood 1986 film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, played through the stadium. A song that Metallica has covered twice, once for their 1999 Orchestral album, S&M, and again for the 2009 tribute album, We All Love Ennio Morricone, it was a nice way to whet the appetite of listenersAs the music fades out, so did the film and Ulrich dashes into the first song of the set, “Creeping Death.” Following the standoff between Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes, in which one of them will meet their end, the song comes off of the 1984 album, Ride the Lightning. Then, blood splattered on the screen, ala a James Bond intro, and the video transitions into an image of a bell tolling. Here, Trujillo gained the spotlight for the intro into “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and he took full advantage. After the song ended, Hetfield brought up an interesting development leading up to this show, that was that Metallica was told they were “too heavy” for the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Gaining the crowd’s support, many disapproved of that idea, and even some legendary musicians have been vocal in supporting Metallica should have been chosen for the Halftime show on Super Bowl Sunday.

Feeding off the energy, “Fuel” came next with visuals of flames burning on the giant monitors and was immediately followed by real fire spouting from up top. Having moved on to 1997’s Reload, they then immediately went back in time to 1996’s Load as the track “King Nothing” obtained a roar of intense fan reaction. The next song ended up being “Ride the Lightning,” and upon its ending, Hammett started playing what some are saying is a new cut off of the yet to be named, upcoming album. Just a teaser, but the crowd ate it up, big time. The interlude led the show into “The Unforgiven,” off of 1991’s self-titled album, popularly referred to as The Black Album. Appropriately, the video was a somber looking piece in black and white. Hammett, at this point, had switched to his ESP White Zombie and Hetfield had an acoustic guitar rigged up on stage so that he could go over and play it during the acoustic parts. It was a really nice touch, as opposed to having a backing track do it.

Moving along, they went into “The Memory Remains,” and, during the song, Hetfield took a moment to compliment  the audience. When the bridge of the song came in, the audience sang the “woahs” and Hetfield seemed caught off guard, taken back, and loved it. Joining in himself, the “woahs” became so powerful that the most magical moment of the night came at the end of the song when the band was fading out and the chants were still going strong. Hetfield seemed floored and Ulrich did his best to encourage the crowd to continue by riding on, but even after he stopped, the crowd was still going. Mixed in with cheers and whoops, it was the absolutely incredible lighter-bearing moment of the night. Only given seconds to catch their breath, the audience was brought into 1986’s Master of Puppets favorite “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” After the song, Hetfield briefly brought up the new record before asking the audience about where they are from, getting a response that made known this audience was from all over the country and beyond. Traveling from distances far and wide, the diverse crowd was treated to the killer cut “Sad But True.” Stabbing his guitar down to the ground like Excalibur upon the final note, Hetfield got some sweet feedback. Trujillo then proceeded to go off with the chill bass vibes, tuning his low string lower and lower until it wobbled to and fro.

Continuing to make use of the massive screens, the next video display featured a bunch of different roads, a giveaway that “Wherever I May Roam” was coming.  Here, Hammett had an absolute blast with his guitar solo, and Hetfield came across thoroughly comfortable with his voice as the entire band sounded tight. This marked a segue into the second half of the show, which was kicked off with gunfire and laser lights that accentuated each shot. Of course, every Metallica fan knows what comes after the gunfire, and that is one of the band’s most popular songs from 1988’s …And Justice For All,  “One.”  It could be argued that the song is their “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Seeming as if the band peaked, more was yet to come and the biggest knock out came next with “Master of Puppets.” Many Metal lovers would agree that is the one-two combo of the ’80s. After that, they jumped into “Battery” with its classic and instantly recognizable acoustic intro. The selection gave the audience a chance to catch their breath once more before things got heavy again.

When the heavy guitars came in, the giant screens were splayed with a visually staggering 50 ft. Hetfield monster. After Hammett concluded free-styling, the intro to “Hero of the Day” began. It was just a musical interlude and it seemed to be all Hammett’s idea. That itself spawned off even more creative bursts until, finally, “Fade to Black” came in. After a blistering finish, Hetfield talked about Metallica’s humble beginnings and how they grew from being “little girls” to “big ugly men.” Gaining cheers and some laughs, they quickly kept the Metal coming with “Seek and Destroy” as the crowd energy swelled with continued crowd-chanting, along with the guitars and the “oys” that Hetfield commanded. Then, seemingly as quickly as it began, it was done. They said goodbye and walked off the stage. Of course, the cheers could have continued indefinitely, but Metallica had mercy and came back onto the stage before people started passing out.

Hetfield, walking back out, played a few notes from “Whiskey in the Jar” before talking about his nightmares of coming back out on stage only to find the crowd gone – or the guitar cord being too short to reach the microphone, or the guitar neck being made of rubber. Then, in a moment of real tenderness, Hetfield dedicated the next song to their late Bassist Cliff Burton. Thin Lizzy was his favorite band and so “Whiskey in the Jar” was for him. It was a great tribute and it jolted fans into a more reflective note going into “Nothing Else Matters.” It became quite obvious what the final song of the night would be thereafter, and that is, of course, the mega anthem “Enter Sandman.” Here, Metallica took their time with the intro, and when it was really time to get into it, fireworks marked the spot. At the same time, giant inflatable footballs were tossed into the audience to match the theme, and it was incredible. As the song ended, Hetfield did one final maniacal laugh – like only he could. With a, “Metallica loves you,” to the crowd, they threw out picks and sticks, took some selfies, and then said their individual farewells.

There was a great mix of theatrics, sincerity, musicianship, and humanity to The Night Before Concert in San Francisco. Cage the Elephant was energetic and did an excellent job in the opening slot. As for Metallica, it is evident they are a band that is truly grateful to be where they are today. From flames to fireworks, the show was a production worthy of the Super Bowl, even if the game the next day was more of a defensive display then an offensive explosion as the Carolina Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos 24 to 10. To those that made it, The Night Before Concert was one to be remembered for ages. Hopefully sometime in the future, the NFL will realize Metallica is deserving of a node at a Super Bowl halftime show.

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Chris Auzenne
Chris Auzenne
[email protected]

Ken's love for music started in the early 80's and has not stopped since. Fast forward to the 2000's and now he has found another love, Concert Photography! He is currently shooting for the online site CrypticRock. 

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