It's been years since Metallica have played to an audience of less than 20,000, but on Friday (20 March), they'll entertain a crowd one-tenth that size at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
The gig at Stubb's was supposed to be top secret (SXSW Roland Swenson festival organizer told the Austin Chronicle "We were told not to confirm anything and we're sticking by that"), but the cat is way out of the bag on this one.
On Friday at 8pm, a Guitar Hero: Metallica challenge is scheduled at Stubb's - kind of strange considering the typically indie nature of South by Southwest. Then, at 10:30pm, a group called Volsung, hailing from "Somewhere, Norway," is slotted to play. The Norse mythology behind the name could take several chapters, but the shorthand is this: Volsung is codespeak for Metallica.
How can one get in?
An intimate club gig with Metallica sounds like heavy metal heaven, right? Getting in, however, could pose some problems.
First, let's consider the fact that even the outdoor section of Stubb's (which is where Metallica are rumored to play) holds a capacity of 2,100. Then take into account that over 12,000 people have registered for SXSW - and festival policy is that bage and wristband-holders are given priority entry.
Add to that the all-but-certain throng of fans willing to pay whatever admission fee the club wishes to charge that night, and, well...you can see how trouble might ensue.
But let's look on the bright side: At least James Hetfield has recovered from his stomach ailment (brought on by a possible bad oyster).