Philly Takes On Metallica Free Show

Tens of thousands of fans expected to cram Philly parking lot for free gig.

When Philadelphia's WYSP Operations Manager Tim Sabean heard Metallica was

putting out a call for an outdoor site to play a free live gig in celebration of

their new release, he responded with a call of his own.

Only in his case, the call was somewhat more fanatical.

Some even say he went "nuts."

"When Time Sabean saw this on the web, he went nuts," said Karin Buck, WYSP's

marketing director, on Tuesday. "He was like 'We've got to get this here.' "

After jumping legal hurdles, securing permits and pursuing the matter with some

hard-nosed campaigning, the radio station helped draw the hard rock quartet to

the City of Brotherly Love. On Monday, Metallica announced that they have

decided to play the free show in the parking lot of Philadelphia's CoreStates

Complex at 3 p.m. (EST) on Veteran's Day (Nov. 11) to celebrate the release of

Re-Load (Nov. 18).

"The fans here are very excited and so are we," Buck said.

And so is the band, according to their co-manager, Cliff Burnstein. "Totally,

totally into it," he said. "Playing live is the thing they like to do. This lets

them do something for their fans and kick off the album release."

The parking lot, which can handle 61,000 vehicles -- easily enough to

accommodate 100,000 or more fans -- may not be the typical venue for rock shows,

but the CoreStates Complex is. Ike Richman, publicity manager of the CoreStates

Complex said that he had no estimates as to how many people would be able to see

the show, but that it was probably more than most stadiums. "It's a parking

lot," he said. "We'll just have to see how many people show up."

The unorthodox venue was located by rock fans whose suggestions were solicited

by Metallica after the Bay Area-based quartet claimed they had been turned down

numerous times in their quest to perform a free outdoor show as a way to promote

their new album, the follow-up to Load (1996).

Judging by sales of Metallica albums in the Philadelphia area, Burnstein is

expecting a major turnout for the free show.

The "Black" album, officially titled Metallica, sold 250,000 copies in

that city, Burnstein said, adding that the band will likely play some new

material during the "stripped down" performance. "We can accommodate everybody,"

Burnstein said. "But as to how many people show up, it's how the planets align

that day.

"We set it up so we could accommodate as many people as show up," he added. "If

it rains or is windy, less people will be there. The ones who come will be the

ones who want to come and they'll be treated to an hour and a half of music,

for nothing. Everyone is a winner..."

That was apparently the plan when the band announced on Sept. 26 that it was

having problems securing a venue and was setting up an 800 number and an email

address for fans to send in their suggestions for possible sites. More than

120,000 fans responded and radio stations from Tampa Bay, Miami, Boston, Detroit

and Chicago campaigned to secure a venue in their respective city, according to

Burnstein.

"The response was incredible," drummer Lars Ulrich said, in an official

statement released by the band Monday. "We want to thank everyone who came up

with an idea."

In order to secure the venue, WYSP contacted city officials, as well a local

promoter, Electric Factory Concerts, while continuing to take feedback from fans

on what site would work best. Radio personnel started scouting possible venues

and bugging Elektra Records (the band's label) to offer details on what they

were looking for. "In the end," she said, "we put together a good package and

sent it off to Elektra in New York and hoped for the best."

While WYSP got its wish, permit problems and other restrictions forced several

of the other stations to give up in their efforts. Among the fans who are out of

luck are listeners of WRCX in Chicago.

"We're very sad," WRCX Promotions Manager Natalie DiPietro said. "We worked

really hard with Jam Productions to get Metallica in Chicago, but the city

wasn’t having any of it. If it was a Gloria Estefan concert, I'm sure there

wouldn't have been a problem."

Frustrated with their attempts to get the city interested, station managers

began looking at venues outside the city and ended up concentrating on the US 41

Speedway, a racetrack some 70 miles outside of Chicago. "Metallica, however,

really wanted to make a splash in a downtown scene," she said. "Plus, since

there's no public transportation out there, there were a lot of concerns about

drunk driving."

The CoreStates Complex, located in downtown Philadelphia, is made up of

Veteran's Stadium and the Spectrum and has been designed to handle high volumes

of fans on a regular basis. In fact, the night before the Metallica concert, the

mostly-reunited Jane's Addiction is scheduled to play the Spectrum and there

will be a Philadelphia Eagles game across the street at Veteran's Stadium.

Because of the time constraints and the difficulties securing the site in the

first place, Metallica is not planning on elaborate stage production or light

shows. "After all, we're running it in the day.." Burnstein said. "We want to

make it accessible to kids... So they don't have to sweat it with their parents

saying, 'Be home early, you got to do your homework...' We're doing it in the

afternoon 'cause there's more opportunity to draw younger people than at any

other time."

As for what fans can expect musically, Burnstein said Metallica will almost

certainly play a few new tunes.

"I'm sure they'll play at least a couple of new songs," he said. "I don't think

they know yet [which songs]. But definitely some new material."

Color="#720418">[Tues., Nov. 4, 1997, 6:30 p.m. PST]