July 7, 2022

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‘The Metallica Family’ invades Napa on BottleRock’s first night

'The Metallica Family' invades Napa on BottleRock's first night

With its vineyard-adjacent location, a cooking stage sponsored by Williams-Sonoma, and what can only be described as tech-savvy bartenders, BottleRock Napa Valley appears to be, perhaps, the least metal from the pioneer Music festivals.

The band’s fans, complete with draped sunglasses and foot-long beards, flocked to wine country Friday on the first day of the festival to see the heavy metal stars.

Throughout the day, bands such as Scottish indie pop group CHVRCHES and Austin-based art rock band, seemed to fit better in the BottleRock mould. But there was no doubting who the main attraction was, as Metallica’s jerseys outnumbered any other band by a factor of at least ten to one.

Many of the audience I spoke to watched a file Gulf area The rockers, who are just beginning their fifties composing music together, have more than 20 times in concert.

Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs during BottleRock 2022 on May 27, 2022 in Napa, California.

Tim Mossenfelder / Getty Images

One of the women standing next to me was a relative beginner, having only been to four shows prior to this one, but getting to see the band in their heyday in the ’80s.

Despite being in their late fifties, the Metallica members can still shred and head bang with their best.

Frontman James Hetfield stepped out topless wearing only an open-top denim jacket, but was able to pull off the look despite being big enough to be a lot of his BottleRock co-star’s father (or grandfather). Meanwhile, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett’s shoulder-length hair looks fuller and healthier than most men half his age.

Metallica opened with “Hardwired” and the band was so in sync with the audience that Hetfield could walk away from the mic for minutes at a time while the audience packed up the lyrics.

Metallica's Kirk Hammett performs during BottleRock 2022 on May 27, 2022 in Napa, California.

Metallica’s Kirk Hammett performs during BottleRock 2022 on May 27, 2022 in Napa, California.

Tim Mossenfelder / Getty Images

With all the Metallica fans, the audience deviated a bit from the rest of the performers – especially compared to the crowd at Norwegian DJ Kigowho was playing at the same time on a different stage.

A middle-aged fan I spoke with said that this would be his 21st concert and that he wouldn’t have considered going to BottleRock—which includes a spa, wine tasting booth, and a silent disco on the festival grounds—if Metallica hadn’t been playing.

Another Metallica fan who has attended over 20 shows told me, “It’s kind of crazy how good musicians they are.”

Team Metallica performs during BottleRock 2022 on May 27, 2022 in Napa, California.

Team Metallica performs during BottleRock 2022 on May 27, 2022 in Napa, California.

Tim Mossenfelder / Getty Images

But it wasn’t all Metallica veterans. A young couple I spoke to said they drove over eight hours from San Diego to see the band for the first time.

“We’re only here for Metallica,” they confidently told me.

Adoration went both ways, with Hetfield telling the audience, who he referred to as the Metallica family, how he was “so grateful to be here after 41 years.” He noted that even after all this time, it still “amazes me” that fans want to hear the band play.

Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett perform during BottleRock 2022 on May 27, 2022 in Napa, California.

Metallica’s James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett perform during BottleRock 2022 on May 27, 2022 in Napa, California.

Tim Mossenfelder / Getty Images

Metallica went on to play for just under two hours through a playlist made up almost entirely of their top hits from the ’80s and ’90s. The band showed off their metallic goodwill in songs like “Seek & Destroy,” and were able to convey both the rage and charisma needed to extract tough lyrics like:

Our brains are on fire with the feeling of murder
It will not disappear until our dreams come true

But they also showed that they weren’t one tone, with Hetfield and Hammett pulling acoustic guitars for the more meditative “The Unforgiven.” They also didn’t shy away from the excessive indulgence that comes with being a standout, playing “Master of Puppets” in its entirety lasting about 10 minutes.

Metallica concluded with their two biggest hits, as subscribers hit their self-titled 1991 album (“Nothing Else Matters”, “Enter Sandman”) to which fans sang, their voices already shining after two hours of screaming.


As Metallica fans walked past stations serving sparkling Rosé oysters and Tomales Bay oysters, one felt that many might not come back during the second and third days of the festival.



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