I thought I was excited when I scored Garth Brooks tickets. Last Tuesday I was lucky to get into the fan presale and buy tickets for my favorite band, Metallica. I went bananas.

The last time I saw Metallica I was a 15 year-old freshman at Beresford High School. They were the biggest band in the world at the time. I still remember so much about that show. I went with my best friend, Kyle, in his 1985 Trans Am. To this day I can't believe our parents let us go. He wasn't 16 until September so he was definitely driving after hours. But it was just the two of us and Sioux Falls' finest probably had bigger fish to fry in the aftermath of a Metallica concert than a driver with a restricted permit driving after 8:00 P.M.

Two months earlier we went to our first rock concert ever when Tesla, Warrant, and Firehouse played at the Sioux City Auditorium. Kyle's mom drove us down there and dropped us off and picked us up after the show. While waiting in line outside I picked up a lighter. I thought it would be cool to hold up during "Love Song" or whatever. Shortly after that we went inside. We ran in and sat down on the floor as close to the front as we could get because everyone else was sitting down too. As dumb 15 year-olds in the early 1990's were prone to do, I bummed a cigarette off of someone, or I may have even had my own. I don't remember. I used my newly acquired lighter and discovered that someone had doctored it so that it generated a flame about a foot high and three to four inches wide. After putting it down Kyle started smacking my head and simultaneously I heard some skater-dude holler "Dude, yer hahr's on fahr!" Kyle's mom didn't notice, nor did my mom when I got home, that I had burned away a portion of the business end of my mullet.

Not long after the Sioux City concert it was announced that Metallica, the band I was most obsessed with at the time, was coming to Sioux Falls. We talked our moms into letting us go, and Kyle used his mom's credit card to call Ticketmaster and order two tickets when they went on sale, whatever Saturday morning it was. This ticket stub pictured below is one of those two tickets and it isn't mine, which probably was washed and destroyed in the pocket of my jeans. It's Kyle's. It was purchased using a cordless landline phone that had a long shiny antenna and was sent weeks later by mail to his house. He sent me a picture of it with an iPhone via iMessage in an era where paper tickets are an endangered species. He has always been a collector. Whether it was baseball cards or Star Wars toys, he always had a display. He also kept almost every ticket stub from every concert he ever went to. They are kept in a binder in plastic pages similar to a photo album.

Kyle Hellie
Kyle Hellie

Metallica at the Sioux Falls Arena on May 14, 1992 was stunning and is still one of the two best concerts I've ever seen. I was in awe of everything: the massive diamond-shaped stage, video screens showing the band making their way to the stage as "The Ecstasy of Gold" intro music played. They opened with "Enter Sandman." I start losing it. I'm jamming along, taking in the light show, watching the band do their thing, completely in the moment. I was not prepared for the very loud pyrotechnic blast that went off when the main riff kicked in. It surprised and scared the crap out of me. I loved it. During "Fade To Black" I was near the front point of the stage and when giant flames went up from maybe 30 feet away. The heat I felt was unbelievable. Somewhere during the show I actually made eye contact with guitarist Kirk Hammett. I kind of freaked out.

Since the day of that concert I have never been able to forget the date on which it happened: May 14, 1992. In fact I recall that for years after that show, when one of us saw a concert that was really good we would ask the other "Was it better than May 14, 1992?" Now I can't wait for September 11, 2018. If Kyle can get out of work to fly out for it, we'll do it again. We'll just have to find another Trans Am.

This video was from a show in San Diego four months before the Sioux Falls date. It looks pretty much how I remembered it.

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