Here are some of the artists playing this week's Acoustic-4-A-Cure benefit concert at the Fillmore: Sammy Hagar, Metallica's James Hetfield, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, Train's Patrick Monahan, and guitar deity Joe Satriani. It's a pretty big haul for the inaugural benefit, proceeds from which will support children's cancer research at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. And with a lineup of marquee names in Bay Area rock from the last 30 years, we couldn't help but wonder how all those tremendous egos will get along backstage at the Fillmore. What would their conversation be like? How will they decide what to play? Who will get ragged on? We have no way of knowing, of course, but that didn't stop us from imagining.
Hetfield: So, uh, is it fucked up to play "One" at a cancer benefit?
Hagar: No, but it's kinda fucked up to play "One" without your starring lead guitarist.
Hetfield: What do we need Kirk Hammett for? We got the guy who taught him how to play! [Points at Joe Satriani, who is in the corner wearing sunglasses, absorbed in practicing scales on his guitar, and floating 18 inches off the ground.]
Hagar: Fine, fine, you can do "One," even though it's like six hours long. Who wants to do "I Can't Drive 55" with me?
Armstrong: Are we playing that because you're so old you can't even drive 55 now? Or are you practicing it for that AARP commercial?
Monahan [looks up from sniffing his glass of wine]: I like cars! I want to play it!
Hagar: No, we're playing it because that's my legacy, Billie, and this is my show. See how high up my name is on the poster?
Hetfield: Sammy, your legacy is the hundreds of half-remembered handjobs given in Cabo San Lucas after too much tequila.
Armstrong: That, and coining the stupidest band name of all time.
Satriani [calmly, while still playing]: Actually, guys, "Chickenfoot" was my idea.
Monahan: Is that that square peace sign thing you wear?
Hagar: Yeah, the logo with the heel and the three toes. Joe's lying, though. We came up with Chickenfoot to remind ourselves not to write songs that only take three fingers to play on guitar, like all Billie's do.
Hetfield: Heh. Hell, you don't even need three fingers to play a Green Day song. Two will do just fine.
Armstrong: My two fingers have written more hits in the last decade than your 10 ever have, James.
Hetfield: Pop hits, maybe. But do you really think people will still be listening to that little masturbation song in 100 years? I mean, "Wake Me Up When October Ends"? Our music has staying power, man. We have armies of fans who will travel to fucking Antarctica to see us. And they pay for our music, too! We don't need the radio.
Armstrong: And I bet you spent all the money on the lawyers forcing the fans to pay. But if you wanna talk staying power, American Idiot played on Broadway 422 times. And it wasn't just a bunch of sexually frustrated Danish dudes in the audience.
Hetfield: Our movie was in theaters around the world last year, dude.
Monahan: Uh, I hate to break it to you guys, but Train has done better on the charts and on the radio lately than either of you.
Satriani [peels off his sunglasses, stops playing guitar, and falls 18 inches to the ground]: Are we really talking about the pop charts now?
Hetfield: Pat means the retirement home charts, I think. The Hospice 200.
Monahan: I'm talking about Billboard top tens, actually. I think the last time Metallica had a hit single, Clinton was in office.
Hetfield: All I know is, Metallica put out a little album in 1991. It went on the album charts. It's been there ever since.
Monahan: Which proves there are always 15-year-old boys in the world. And that they still don't have girlfriends.
Hetfield: Better not knock those 15-year-olds, Monahan — they've kept Billie here rolling in it for like 20 years now. Have you seen his house?
Armstrong: Yeah. Those angsty kids have a lot of their parents' money to spend, trust me.
Monahan: Not as much of their parents' money as their parents have to spend.
Hagar [after a pause]: You guys remember how we got into this? To rock out, get laid, live with no rules? Now all our fans are either teenyboppers or grandparents. If they still get laid, it's only with the help of Viagra ... or this stuff. [Pours out four shots of Sammy's Beach Bar Rum.]
Hetfield: Yeah, man, Metallica audiences just get older and older, seems like. I'm afraid we're a dying breed in here. Geezers at the Fillmore, rocking on acoustic guitars, making money for the sick kids. No shot for me, thanks.
Armstrong: Ugh, I wish I could. [Looks on sadly as Monahan, Hagar, and Satriani all drink the rum.]
Monahan: Oh yeah, it's Sober James and Somber Billie now. Who do you think will be the next one?
Hetfield: The next one of who?
Monahan: You know, the next one of us. The next big rocker from the Bay Area? You've got Neil — but of course, he's really from Canada — there's Sammy, you Metallica boys, then Green Day, then Train, I guess. Who is coming up now that could get here?
Armstrong [after a pause]: I don't even know if the kids want to get this big anymore. I think they all just wanna be liked by Pitchfork or whatever.
Hagar [pouring another shot]: They're all making gadgets, not playing in bands. Making apps and shit.
Hetfield: Yeah, everyone wants to be just a DJ now, instead of learning to play a real instrument and starting a band and doing it how we all did it. Being a DJ is so much easier. You don't even need a signature snarl.
Monahan: And DJs keep all the money. No wonder everyone wants to do it! They get paid a ton to press buttons and turn knobs while wearing a light-up mouse head, and then they have no band members to split the take with. It sounds pretty good.
Satriani: Jesus! I'm the bald one, and you guys sound ancient. Have you heard that band Deafheaven? Super heavy, but also pretty melodic sometimes. Sound great. They're from San Francisco. They blew up a little bit last year. They could maybe get big.
Hetfield: Deafheaven, huh? Well, God help 'em if they ever get any less heavy. That's a rough road to go down. But it already sounds better than that throwback wannabe '60s psychedelic shit that's so big around here. [Pauses for a moment.] How's your kid's band, Billie? What are they called again?
Armstrong: Emily's Army. I tried to tell him to pick a less stupid name, but he was like, "Dad, your band's called 'Green Day.'"
Hagar: Yeah, what does "Green Day" even mean? I've always wondered.
Armstrong: We were 15 years old and stoned, is what it means.
Hetfield: So is Emily's Army any good? Honestly.
Armstrong: Yeah, of course they're good. They sound exactly like Green Day.
Hagar: Speaking of, which songs do you wanna play tonight, Billie?
Armstrong: If we're talking legacy tunes, we should do "Good Riddance." They'll be playing that at high school graduations for the next 500 years, guaranteed.
Hagar [slurring his words]: Good riddance, eh? More like good riddance to us. Good riddance to Bay Area rock starsss...
Armstrong [rolling his eyes]: Man, I wish Huey Lewis was here. Why isn't Huey Lewis here?
Hetfield: Uh, he's hanging out with Les Claypool tonight. They're up at like a nudist camp in Mendocino, I think.
Armstrong: Well at least we all get to hang out together without Neil for once.
Hagar: Sssseriously, man. Neil Young hogs all the snack trays.