all words: Riley Croghan
all photos: Stephanie Breijo
Full disclosure: I don’t listen to Metallica. Despite my friend’s best efforts to replicate one of their more popular songs, guitar solos and all, with her mouth, I don’t think I could identify a single song of theirs. What drew me to see Beatallica last night was half my love of The Beatles, and half a surprisingly forceful need to hear what I couldn’t imagine in my head: Beatles songs mashed with or played in the style of Metallica.
Yet this left me in the minority of the moderately sized but intensely pumped up crowd. The fan that exists in the Venn diagram area between Beatles fan and metalhead is rare to be sure (outside of Germany, at least), but they were in full force last night at the Black Cat’s Backstage.
Beatallica’s members take their names, of course, from a blend of Beatles and Metallica members: Jaymz Lennfield, Grg Hemmetson, Kliff McBurtney and Ringo Larz. Their outfits were perfect imitations of the Beatles, from Sgt Peppers’ (or Sgt Hetfield’s, in this case) uniforms to their psychedelic-era collarless Indian shirts; their guitars and hair were pure metal. And, refreshingly, their between- and sometimes mid-song banter was all Beatallica’s own. Yes, believe it or not, a band with song titles like “Cthulhu’s So Heavy” and “Please Please Me Or I’ll Beat You” (not available on any album)(!) has a pretty good sense of humor onstage.
Another disclosure: as much as I love the Beatles, I admit they do not have a great history in DC. Look up the clip of the Beatles arriving to play their first-ever venue in America, the Washington Coliseum right here in DC. Watch as Ringo says how great it feels to be in New York. Yes, the man who brought you Octopus’s Garden and, later and far better, A Elaphant Foot (don’t laugh, it’s for charity) was easily out-staged by Beatallica drummer Ringo Larz. Isn’t that reason enough to see them?
Last night offered yet another rare sight and opportunity— hipsters taking off vanity glasses so they wouldn’t fly off from all the headbanging. That alone should have been worth the price of admission. So the question is: why weren’t you there? Even if you don’t fill that small niche obsessed with metal and the British invasion, you may want to check out their music— all of their tracks have been released for free download at one time or another to avoid legal issues— or far better yet, check them out the next time they’re in town. The music demands a live listen, and the opportunity to do so shouldn’t be passed up.