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
"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
"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
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
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]