And Justice for a Few

Metallica gets intimate

This cover band thing is getting out of handLast week, something special happened at Kimo's. This is not to suggest that special things don't happen at the Polk Street club on a regular basis -- only that this event didn't involve some fat, naked guy smashing up a bunch of children's toys. Instead, Tuesday's performance was like one of those MTV specials in which some crazed fan gets to invite 100 hot chicks he wants to score with to a private show by Ozzy Osbourne. Except this time, the group was Metallica, and the show was a secret (unless you were the band's pal Sean Penn).

It all started about a month ago, when Jo Anne Arnold, co-booker for the CW Saloon's metal night "Lucifer's Hammer," got a call from Bob, a member of the band Spun. Bob needed the group to play June 4, because, he said, there would be label reps in town that day. Since Arnold had already filled that night's "Lucifer" show, she passed Bob on to her partner, Matt Shapiro, who handles the similarly minded Kimo's event "Black Church." At first Shapiro didn't even bother to call the guy back, as he'd never heard of Spun. But Bob (who was actually Bob Rock, Metallica's producer) persisted in calling both bookers. When Arnold told him they were worried his act wouldn't bring in the 60 customers they needed, Bob offered to pay the club $300 outright. Arnold immediately rang Shapiro and told him to get in touch with this guy, who was either crazy or loaded or both.

Shapiro finally relented and booked Spun, although he only asked for $75 to cover the club's costs. Then, when June 4 came, Shapiro and Arnold blew off the Kimo's show and headed over to the CW. As the evening progressed, however, the rumor began circulating that Spun was actually Metallica, and Arnold and Shapiro grew nervous. Arnold called her brother, who was working sound at Kimo's; he said he hadn't seen the band. However, when he'd thrown on a punk tribute album to Metallica, some man had pleaded with him to take it off, without telling him why.

Not wanting to miss out, the duo jumped in a cab and arrived at Kimo's just as James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, and temporary bassist Rock were taking the stage. (The group hasn't found a permanent replacement yet for Jason Newsted, who quit early last year.) Shapiro approximates that there were 150 people watching (including Penn) as Metallica ran through a 45-minute set that included four Ramones songs, a cover of the Misfits' "Die Die Darling," several classic originals, and an as-yet-untitled new number.

At one point the police stopped in to get the club to lower the volume. When Arnold's brother asked if they really wanted him to tell Metallica to reduce its racket, the cops were taken aback. "That's Metallica?" one asked.

The next day Arnold was still impressed. "It's just so cool that the band played a small club," she told me. Apparently, the band had done a similar covert show years ago and had enjoyed it.

In the end, even a jaded scenester like Shapiro was agog. "I never thought I'd be excited to see Metallica again," he said.

Elvis has left the presidentRenowned music critic and Elvis corpse-fucker Greil Marcus spoke at the Commonwealth Club last week. Reading a paper he called "Crimes Against Humanity and Other Trivialities," Marcus chastised left-wing intellectuals Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, and Rick Moody for not treating the attacks of last September as something brand-new and therefore deserving of awe and rancor. (He dismissed right-wing deep-thinkers outright as mere propagandists.) While he got off a few good zingers, it wasn't until the Q&A session that he cut through the lazy classroom-lecture atmosphere. Asked to compare George Dubya to a pop culture figure in the same way he'd matched Bill Clinton to Elvis, Marcus said, "Bush is a completely anti-pop figure. He exists in a closed world of family and people like him; the outside world doesn't exist." To paraphrase Mojo Nixon, GWB has absolutely no Elvis in him.

 
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