We’ve had a lot of things coming in all at once after the fall of Communism in ’89, from medical aid, clothes and food to pop-cultural trends from the West. Now, there is an entire history to unpack here and it’s definitely not the place to comment on the injustices against the Romanian people and the crippled economy.
What I can talk about is the impact of the new musical genre that spilled into our territory.
Every millennial around knows that growing up in the 90’s was generally confusing, trying to navigate between the old world and the new. Those were some blunder years indeed. But what was truly certain, was that metal dudes were kings. The nightmare of every (ex-Communist) teacher was a dude with long hair in baggy clothes.
As the rock genre had been a rather underground manifestation in our country, the in-your-face rebellious attitude that was finally out in the open, attracted us like bees to honey. During the Communist years, rock was viewed as a promoter of a decadent lifestyle. Finally, after ’89, the metal dude was the definition of cool and was bound to get the attention of all the girls in class. If he was also in a rock band then the deal was that much sweeter.
The hardest and coolest metal band for us was Metallica. AC/DC was there too, but not as prominent until later in the decade. At the other end of the spectrum, the arch-nemesis of the metal-head, the Depeche Mode fan – pointy boots, gelled hair and leather jackets. This sort of binary mentality stayed with us for a long time, well into the 00’s. “How can you listen to rock? You can’t dance to that shit!”.
Metallica was hard, fast and unapologetic. Nothing else was held at such a high standard by every metal head around. And when they came to Bucharest in 1999, I can only imagine it was like the second coming of Christ. No one had ever seen something of that magnitude.
I can’t vouch for how the concert went as I, personally, was probably still playing in a sandbox somewhere. But their music found its way into my bootleg playlists over the years, alongside Guns’N’Roses, Van Halen, AC/DC and Nine Inch Nails. As kids, my cousin and I used to jam in the car, on our way to the seaside, listening to them on repeat on a shitty .mp3 player. We’d argue over songs, the hits and the lesser known ones and who knew them better. He was the bigger fan, there is no denying, gushing over Battery and The Four Horsemen.
I have a special memory of my teen cousin, sporting a hand-made grey T-shirt with a janky Metallica logo printed on it. He came to my house with his then-girlfriend, drenched from head to toe and asking for a hair-dryer. That happened in 2008, when Metallica had come for a second time to Bucharest. It seemed like each time, the stakes were higher.
My time came in 2010, at the only edition of Sonisphere ever held in Romania. Along with the rest of The Big Four, Metallica headlined the 2nd day.
My friends and I burst through the open gates at 12 am to stand in front of the stage. We didn’t get to sit down, piss, eat or drink almost the entire day just to experience the might of the thrash gods. The mosh pit crushed me several times and a random woman, a self-proclaimed healer, offered to touch my back and take my pain away. I said yes.
By the time the concert was over, my legs gave out and my head was spinning. I crawled up the stairs to my apartment, mom pulling me by one arm.
The memory of those times, the image Metallica held in our minds at a turning point for us, it seems went down into our collective memory from generation to generation. Everyone and their grandma know who Metallica are. I can’t help but look at their place in our history here, especially since the announcement that they’ll be back in Romania for their Worldwired Tour. I could tell nothing else resonates as great as their name does. The show was sold out less than half an hour since they were put up, from the cheapest to the most expensive. Some people bought them then just to sell them later at spiked up prices. It’s crazy. It’s Metallica. METALLICA.
I will be there, on the biggest stadium of our little country, to see this major piece of metal head history unfolding yet again. I can’t even imagine what’s it going to be like this time but I think I’m gonna be on my ass again at the end of it.
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