Metallica fans of all ages have marked Halloween by blasting distortion through the air of Northcote’s Town Hall, with a mass jam on the thrashers’ Black Album classic, Enter Sandman.
“It was INCREDIBLE!!” event mastermind Joseph ‘Jof’ O’Farrell tells Music Feeds. “We all dreamed that it would be epic, and it was more epic than we could have ever imagined.”
Taking place as part of the 20th annual Darebin Music Feast, the mass metal event was very literally on for young and old, with seasoned veterans — including Sydney’s Metallica tribute act Damage Inc. — strapping on their guitars to chug the most radio-friendly tune in the thrashlords’ songbook with mini-metalheads as young as 10 and 12.
Photo: Darebin Music Feast / Nicole Cleary
Members of local bands, the Melbourne chapter of the Metallica Militia, women’s music organisations and Indigenous music groups all rocked up to rock out and bond over their mutual love of heavy-ass riffs.
“We kind of had a contingent from the punk/hardcore scene, the metal scene, and then a whole bunch of kind of team players and guitar heroes from all over the shop who came from far and wide to be a part of it, which was really nice,” Jof says.
“It was a real melting pot of different groups coming together, and that’s what I really hoped for the project, because Enter Sandman speaks to so many people in so many different ways.”
35 guitarists, six bassists and two drummers were joined by four backing dancers from a BBQ-themed punk band, amazingly named The Burnt Sausages (whose guitarist also appeared in the guitar chorus with his plastic fork-shaped axe) and one bandana-sporting pet dog for the five minutes of mayhem, which — as you’d expect — sounded HUGE.
Photo: Darebin Music Feast / Vikki Woods
“It was extremely loud,” Jof says. “But I think a lot of people chose not to wear earplugs, because we only played the one song, I guess people were just up for it. In the rehearsal process though, I pretty much almost went deaf!”
And you’d think that 40+ musicians playing through a mind-boggling array of rigs — from small 30 watt practice amps to full Orange and Marshall stacks — would sound like a bit of a mess, but Jof reckons it was surprisingly tight.
“I thought it would be really hard to get definition — I’d never done it before, so I had no idea what it would sound like — but it just sounded incredible,” he says. “It was a wall of noise, but because the song has such a great structure, we were able to make it sound really clean and full.”
It probably would have been a bit of a different story if they’d picked Master Of Puppets instead of Sandman. And the metal gods must have been smiling down upon them all, because despite the threat of rain, the group managed to punch out the performance without getting washed out.
The whole thing was such a success that Jof and the other organisers are thinking of going even bigger next year, putting on a full concert of metal classics in the same mass-jam style.
“We were thinking of putting together a couple of songs, not all just Metallica, but some Black Sabbath, Acca Dacca, maybe like a whole group kind of metal gig, maybe this time next year,” Jof says.
“Because the crowd wanted more, and the players definitely wanted more, so I feel like there’s lots of songs out there that still connect to people that we could get an all-ages group of players and just keep on building this army that we’ve already started building.
“Keep the backup dances, keep some fun theatrics in it, I think we’ll have ourselves a pretty good show.”
Meanwhile, Metallica themselves have just let rip a brand new song off their new album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, called Atlas, Rise!, and Jof says he’s digging the direction of the new disc so far.
“It’s a real callback to kind of just making cool skater thrash punky metal,” he reckons. “It feels like it’s a nice return to some of the roots of where they were coming from at the start.”
Catch some footage of the mass Enter Sandman jam at this year’s Darebin Music Feast, below.
Watch: Mass ‘Enter Sandman’ Jam – Darebin Music Feast 2016