Metallica is an incredible band. Before I saw them at Bonnaroo, I had never really listened to Metallica. I didn’t understand why they were so incredibly successful (one of the top selling groups ever, still consistently in the top of weekly listening charts on Last.fm, etc.). Seeing them live made me realize why they do so well: they are amazing at what they do.

Everyone in Metallica can play their instruments really well. They have coordinated stage moves, and they seamlessly transition from song to song. Their pacing and song ordering is perfect for putting people into a frenzy, calming them down, and working them up over and over again. And they have explosions and fire. Seriously, it was sweet.

Beyond that, like any successful band, Metallica is a strong cultural force. Metallica is a band with a very strong personality that would never pretend to be anything its not or change into anything other than what it has always been. They have a very well-defined cultural niche.

Because of that, liking Metallica automatically gives you an identity to assimilate—clothes to wear, political views to hold, a worldview to consider. You also become part of a group, and you get like-minded friends. People like music that can do all of that for them. See: every other incredibly successful pop group.

I’m not going to start listening to Metallica or anything, but it was still cool to see them. They’re really talented and they deserve all the success in the world. It’s still funny how mad Lars Ulrich got about Napster, though.

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