Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Metallica Delhi disaster-The true story from the front row


I’m a Metallica fan. And I have had enough.

4 days after leaving from home for what would have been the best day of my life I’m back and typing this frantically because I have had enough. I have had enough of asking the good lord why I was one of the 30,000 unfortunate and mistreated people present at the Leisure Valley on that fateful day. I have had enough of pondering over what the Metallica experience would have been like. And most importantly, I am writing this because I have had enough of the “Oh! Delhi crowd! You deserve it!” and being one of the 30,000 people getting abused by the rest of this great self-righteous country on Facebook and Twitter for the past 3 days that reacted naturally to the ill-treatment and constant lying.

So before I describe exactly what happened I would like to make it very clear that I’m not from Delhi. I’m not from Gurgaon or any other NCR either. I’m not even a Jat(my apologies for disappointing all you smart Bangalore folks, you can still continue the stereotyped blaming though).I am just a Metallica worshipper who travelled all the way from Himachal with a carry bag, an mp3 full of Metallica discography and a dream in my heart. Not that any of this would have mattered. The people that had come from Delhi and Gurgaon weren’t there to grope women and set fire to the venue either. Also I’m not from the DNA Networks.

Having made it clear that I don’t hold any bias while writing this whatsoever here I begin-
The venue was a dusty shithole on the outskirts of Gurgaon.Some people had reached the previous night and had been camping since then. I was lucky enough to be on a chartered bus specifically for the Metallica fans from North India(and that was the only fun I had that day, thanks for all the Buds Ricky!).We reached the venue about an hour before the gates opened and on way to the front row entrance you could smell alcohol, hash and marijuana in the air. People were going to have fun.

Actually, they weren’t.

Half an hour past the schedule the front row gates don’t open and the crowd gets restless. Some security moron sits on top of the gate and starts making the crowd even angrier. People hurl bottles at him along with chants of, “Gate khol behen***d! ” Everyone is abusing at full blast and all of a sudden the gates are opened, in a way that hardly 2 people can pass at the same time. Everyone is pushing. Yours truly finally fights his way through it and finds that there’s no proper checking going on. Meanwhile I can only hope that the 2 girls that were standing beside me and crying because of the stampede are okay. But once inside I don’t look back, I’m too ecstatic right now. I hardly stop for the metal detector test which is a formality anyway. I dash straight towards the stage. There’re hardly 30-40 people in right now and I find that the place has been divided into left and right sides.

I run all the way back to the divider so I could make it to the almost empty right side and guess what, I’m right at the fucking front! Right underneath where Kirk was going to rape his wah pedal later in the evening.I rest my hands on the front barrack and imagine myself headbanging to Master Of Puppets already.The area gets filed quickly and next to me at the front are a bunch of Russian and Iranian guys that are visiting this country just for the concert. It finally starts sinking in that I’m at the front. I can’t wait to rock out!

Meanwhile on the left side, the front barracks have been broken. They make all of us on the right side sit down while the left barracks are being repaired via the macho security guards that are speaking a lingo that nobody can comprehend. The Iranian guy is asking me worriedly if people in India attend metal concerts sitting down. I’m reminded of all the jagrans and satsangs my mom always dragged me to. We ask the security guards for water and they oblige the American females standing next to the divider.

Some announcements are being made. While we at the front on the right side aren’t being allowed to stand up the left side is told to “turn around and take two giant steps back”. This is ridiculous since there’s no way that could have happened with all the people trying to get as close to the stage as possible. It is beginning to get dark and the Metallica road crew which looks more like a bunch of psychotic WWE wrestlers arrive on stage.2 hours over the schedule and people are getting restless. Meanwhile, we’re sick of sitting for so long that all of us on the right side get up and refuse to sit again. The crowd’s anticipation can be judged from the fact that a couple of old-looking women of the American crew sitting on the stage show everyone the metal horns and everyone replies back.

But soon it was going to be strike one.

Announcements are being made in Hindi and English and someone from the American crew comes up to the mic and says something like, “Alright listen up you fuckin buttheads, move back! Metallica is at the hotel giving a press conference, there will be no music if this goes on!” This is the first catalyst. Boos and bottles are being hurled already. But why is the band giving a press conference right now, I wonder.

It is getting very dark now and something odd starts happening. A couple of giant bright lights are turned on which I’m now sure was done so that the crowd at the back could not see what was going on up on the stage. Meanwhile at the front we notice that the drum kits and amplifiers along with the cameras are quickly and quietly being packed and sneaked out the backstage. We smell a rat. Something isn’t right. Soon no American crew member is to be seen. We ask the F1 Rocks crew in front of us standing under the stage what is going on and they start lying about the obvious. Almost everyone at the front knows by now, especially since the beefed up bouncers are sneaking out too. And then an Indian organizer grabs the mic and everyone almost hopes he wouldn’t announce what is obvious to everyone by now. Only he minced his words.

“Due to a technical glitch Metallica will now play tomorrow at 4.”

People know that Metallica are supposed to be at The Taj Mahal and then Bangalore by then and some are reminded of the cancelled Bryan Adams concert too. The announcement is made and what happens next is something that will forever be etched on in my memory.

Infinite number of bottles and sticks are thrown at the stage. By now every organizer and security personnel has sneaked out of the backstage. Everyone is chanting, “Fuck you!” and “You suck!” and there’re middle fingers everywhere in the air.Right now I just want James or Lars to turn up and talk to us. Cmon guys, you’re Metallica! This is what you guys lived for all your early years. When did you start chickening out so easily?

Just then the lights are turned off and people rush on to the stage. The barracks are almost down(bamboo sticks wasn’t a good idea DNA guys).I can feel all the pushing coming from behind, to save myself from the stampede I run towards the stage where I find a safe haven at a slightly elevated level. I’m in tears, after I don’t know how many years. I look over to the crowd and people are venting, crying, abusing. I’m too shattered by now to even try attempting to make someone stop from breaking stuff. A mic stand and monitor is thrown down nearly missing me and another guy trying to find his way out the front towards the exit. Not that the exit gates are open. So there’s a stampede both near the stage and the exit.

Someone is trying to burn the huge F1 Rocks poster with a cigarette lighter. A girl is sitting on one side holding her leg and crying. The police finally arrives on stage and doesn’t do shit.The exit gates are opened and things go totally out of control, the metal detectors have been broken, stalls destroyed. I follow the crowd out towards the dusty roads without my bag, my ATM card. My phone battery is dead and I don’t know where I’m going to be spending the night. I’m thinking of the Indian, Iranian and Russian guys at the front that I took pictures with and how we had promised to share them with each other. People are trying to console each other talking about refunds but knowing in their hearts that 2,750 bucks is not a price good enough for what they did to be at Gurgaon that day.

The feeling of pumping one's fists and chanting, “Die! By my hand!” with James Hetfield and thousands of people from all over the country and the world would have been priceless.

Yours sincerely,

-A dejected fan emptying his mp3 player

P.S.~ By now I don't even care if you blame the crowd for the cancel.All of us fans present there that day will forever remember the real reason in our hearts.I hope so do the organizers.


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