I’m always in the mood to catch a good, heavy show — especially if said show has something to do with my favorite heavy metal band Metallica. Last Sunday, I was not alone as many Minnesota Metallica die-hards packed an intimate Cabooze ready to get their faces melted off by ONE- Metallica Tribute Band. Still reminiscing about Metallica’s last Twin Cities visit this past September, it was apparent that fans were in need of another ‘Tallica fixx. Luckily ONE- Metallica Tribute Band delivered a heavy dose of just that and then some.
Located right here in Minneapolis, MN, ONE – Metallica Tribute Band has been bringing the spirit and music of Metallica all across the Midwest for ten full years. Their Sunday night show at the Cabooze was part of a “Play Em Rare” New Years Eve weekend bash where the band exclusively played deep cuts in Metallica’s discography, ranging anywhere from Kill Em All to Hardwired to Self Destruct.
When I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. But I immediately knew I was in for a good time when I walked in and saw Doris statue and a “Metal Up Yer Ass” toilet sitting proudly on the stage. I also quickly learned that Chris Westfall (the evening’s James Hetfield) is a powerful and electric frontman. He took the stage armed with a Metallica longsleeve shirt and a left-handed guitar welcoming the crowd by shredding through a cover of, “That Was Just Your Life”, playing with heavy riffs and delivering growling vocals. Westfall’s mannerisms, stature and stage jargon was exactly that of Hetfield himself — he even had similar tattoos.
The band then proceeded to tear through a packed set, with an …And Justice For All medley (featuring “Blackened and “…And Justice For All” blended together) appearing early in the set. ONE then went on to play other rarities including “Free Speech For the Dumb”, “The Struggle Within”, “Leper Messiah”, “My Friend of Misery”, and “The Wait”. When Westfall (James Hetfield) came out and said the band were playing nothing but deep cuts, he was not kidding. One of the most notable songs of the night was a cover of “My World” from everyone’s most beloved St. Anger album. This song featured a member of the audience and friend of the band, Gage, on guitar while Westfall stood and sang vocals. Westfall admitted that it was Gage’s first time playing in front of a live audience, and poked the crowd to start a “Don’t Fuck Up Gage” chant before they went into the song. I was impressed not only by Gage’s guitar playing, but the band’s ability to flawlessly deliver such a heavy, aggressive song. It was arguably one of my favorites of the evening.
Mike Presley, who was standing in as “Robert Trujillo” exemplified an amazing skill set on bass, as he played both (Anesthesia)-Pulling Teeth and Orion — two of early bassist Cliff Burton’s most impressive, intricate and respected contributions to Metallica. Shortly after “Orion”, ONE decided to pull a much contested Ride the Lightning song into the set. Westfall joked and said, “Let’s play the song that the singer of Metallica hates and despises but nonetheless recorded and put on an album.” Sure enough, it was Escape.
Just nearly after two straight hours of head banging, shredding and dancing, the band ended the main set with Kill Em All ‘thrashterpiece‘, “Hit the Lights”, and a cover of Budgie’s “Breadfan”. These are two of my favorite Metallica songs, and I quickly found myself in the front row ready to sing. Before the night was over, ONE played a cover of “Creeping Death” which featured heavy audience participation with chants of “DIE, DIE, DIE!” However, the cherry on top for me was ending the entire set/encore with “Fade to Black” — another one of my personal favorites.
Overall, it was a really fun evening. I loved hearing some deeper cuts that hardly ever get featured on Metallica’s live setlists. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and ONE – Metallica Tribute Band may be the masters of it. Starting out in humble beginnings, the band has grown into a national act and have even had the chance to play with the Metallica guys themselves. Sure enough, last night’s performance proved why they’re at that level and why they continue to generate a buzz wherever they roam.
I think the most interesting and appealing thing about ONE-Metallica Tribute Band is their dedication to authenticity. During their performances, the band tries to be as authentic as possible, from stage appearance, to instruments, to sound. The band uses the same gear that the guys in Metallica do, and try their best to look and dress the part. Shane Obershaw (Lars Ulrich) nailed the facial expressions behind the drums — grimacing and gawking and standing up behind the kit to pump up the crowd. Jeff Winslow (Kirk Hammett) hammered out some soul crushing solos which would have made the real ‘Ripper proud. I was incredibly impressed with his collection of Kirk Hammett’s horror movie guitars, including the infamous Mummy and White Zombie.