Concert Memories: METALLICA, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, CANDLEBOX, FIGHT @ Cal State Dominguez Hills, Dominguez Hills, CA (07/26/94)

Back in the summer of 1994, I was a pimple faced teenage metalhead whose world revolved around classic rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. And like virtually every metalhead on the planet, I viewed METALLICA as the absolute infallible, invincible gods of metal. The band had taken the world by storm with the Black Album and they were in the midst of the height of their popularity.

After missing out on the first few rounds of the Black Album tour as well as the dream tour with GUNS ‘N ROSES, my time had finally come to see my first concert via the 1994 Shit Hits the Sheds Tour. To say my friend and I were stoked is an understatement. In hindsight, I really didn’t even know to expect at a metal show. Man, was I in for a surprise.

The tour’s Los Angeles-area stop took place on a huge grass field at a university, and there was definitely a festival vibe to things. There were thousands of people on the field. The crowd was a great reflection of the Los Angeles metal scene in general at the time. There were diehard fans since the 70’s and 80’s, young fans, lots of female fans, and a diverse array of cultural backgrounds represented. To this day, I have never seen such a wide array of metal shirts in all my life.

Up until that tender age, I had never smelled weed smoke before but I knew exactly what that skunky smell was right when it hit me. There were literally hazes of smoke flowing over the field the whole day. Yeah, this was LA alright.

Despite arriving in the late afternoon, the show had already started with Rob Halford‘s FIGHT playing songs off their excellent debut, War of Words. Watching the Metal God stalk the stage with his big, black goatee and singing better than on the record was a truly awesome site to behold.

ALICE IN CHAINS were originally on the tour but had to pull out due to drug issues with singer Layne Staley. I was bummed out as Facelift and Dirt had greatly impacted my young life. Unfortunately, for some godforsaken reason, super shitty CANDLEBOX took their place on the tour. Their brand of soft rock did not go over well as the audience quickly booed them continuously and gave them the finger. The band eventually got butthurt enough that they were forced to cut their set short. The lame singer made sure to give us all the finger before he left the stage. We all had a good laugh about that.

As dusk settled in, Venice, CA’s SUICIDAL TENDENCIES took the stage to the roaring approval of the crowd. As soon as the first note was played, the crowd went apeshit. Gigantic moshpits instantaneously formed all across the field. Everyone was pushing, shoving, and just going crazy. I got sucked into a few pits and was too busy fighting for my life to be scared. By the middle of SUICIDAL‘s set, I found myself near the front of the stage and utterly smashed like canned sardines against everyone else around me. It was hard to breathe at times and that was a freaky feeling. The band was awesome so it helped to distract you from the discomfort of elbows flying, crowd surfers landing on your spine, and lots of man sweat from strangers being rubbed on you. It was easy to see just why vocalist Mike Muir was such an icon. The man is charismatic as hell.

Once SUICIDAL concluded their set, I was more than relieved because I could finally get a breather from the madness. The grass field had been transformed into a dirt field and the air was thick with dirt and dust. I was thirsty as hell but there was no way I could get to the vendors as I was stuck right near the front of the stage.

It took at least an hour for METALLICA to hit the stage. The wait was excruciating to say the least. I hadn’t seen my friend since SUICIDAL played and figured I’d have to find him after the show. Once “Ecstacy of Gold” starting playing, the crowd was instantly energized. James Hetfield ran out on stage playing the first notes to “Breadfan” and the madness went to a whole new level. Plumes of weed smoke bellowed into the night air. Everyone was furiously headbanging, pumping their fists, singing along, moshing, pushing, kicking, punching, and any other primal behavior possible. The crowds of today in the U.S. don’t even come close to the brutality of those final years of metal’s mainstream heyday.

Throughout their 2+ hour set, you couldn’t help but think that METALLICA were indeed the gods. Seemingly endless classic song after classic song put me in heaven. And to be up so close to the band was just amazing. I could clearly see every member’s faces. Watching Lars disappear through his secret trap door behind his drumkit was hilarious. I don’t think I’ve ever been to another show with so much enthusiasm. People were high fiving each other after every song and headbanging together in camaraderie while others chose to bash each other to a pulp. It was a special night where thousands gathered to enjoy the thing they enjoyed most in life, metal music.

After the show, I eventually found my friend and both of us were covered in dirt and dust. He managed to escape the moshpits by fleeing to the side of the field. My eyeglasses were bent out of shape while being in my pocket, and my shoelaces were severed. I was coughing up and sneezing dirt for days. Also, I was sore all over for days.

Since that summer night, I’ve gone to literally hundreds of shows but nothing compares to that show. It was the perfect night, time period in my life, and era of metal to have my first concert experience. Who knew that METALLICA would not only ruin my life but the lives of millions around the world two years later with their next record?

15 thoughts on “Concert Memories: METALLICA, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, CANDLEBOX, FIGHT @ Cal State Dominguez Hills, Dominguez Hills, CA (07/26/94)

  1. i was at this show too… my third show ever. (i saw carcass at the troubadour the night before.) quite remarkable to think that metallica at that stage of their career could get away with playing a general admission show at such a generous sized venue.

  2. dude..was just thinking about this tour and googled first too as a kid in Miami. thanks, you brought back so much I had forgotten. We too booed candlebox..they actually opened for metallica..even worse. I always wondered how I was brave enough to get into those crazy pits at a young age…because i had no choice lol! Fight was incredible..we bought their album the next day. The weed, being filty at the end of the show, sounds exactly the same hahaha.
    I can’t say this was the greatest show I’ve ever been too…2 years later Pantera/Zombie rolled into the miami arena..that was pure lunacy…and I just got to see Maiden for the first time ever just 2 years ago in Fort Lauderdale..let me tell you, not a brutal show, but definitely one of the most fun ever cuz everyone in the sold out crowd is 100% into it from begining to end. Those guys r the masters.
    Oh well, Thanks again for filling a few gaps in me bloody memory!

  3. @TheShadow – That’s so cool to hear that you were at this tour too! I never got to see Alice in Chains live until 2 years ago and I still regret never seeing the band with Layne.

    Yeah, I also went to the Pantera/Zombie tour that year in LA. Great show but man, Rob Zombie’s voice sucked! haha.

    Yeah, I also saw Maiden for the first time on that tour as well. It was one of the greatest nights of my life. I will never forget it!

  4. Landed on this article after Googling for this tour because I couldn’t remember who the shitty band was that played in between Suicidal Tendencies and Metallica. It was Candlebox! Haha.

    I actually saw the 7/20/94 show in Portland, OR, I was 15 at the time. It was my first concert ever. I still have the ticket stub actually. It was an awesome show, your description of the one you saw down in LA brought back some memories.

    I remember everything like it was yesterday: The mosh pits and all the bloodied dudes running around like crazy. All the dust and the crowd pushing, the topless chicks, condom balloons, and yes, the weed. During Harvester of Sorrow a fist fight broke out near us, one dude went out on a stretcher.

    I saw that show with a girl I was dating at the time and we got pinned near the front of the stage while ST was playing. It was pretty crazy.

    After ST we needed a break. We didn’t even watch Candlebox, we went and got some water, heh.

    I remember hearing just before the show that Alice in Chains pulled out because of drug issues with Staley. I was pissed because I was really looking forward to seeing them. As it turns out I never got to see them.

    Anyway man, thanks for the write-up. Brought back some great memories!


  5. The crowd for this show was ridiculous. I was near center close to the stage and me and my friends were basically holding on to each other like clinging to the side of a lifeboat in a stormy sea. I’m a big guy, and more than once the crowd movement just lifted me off my feet.

  6. I was at the Chicago show that year. ST and Danzig we’re the opening acts. Pretty stoked as we had 4 row seats center. Awesome set list, Kirk with dreads. Dazig even came out for an encore of London Dungeon and Last Caress and Green Hell. Then ST camerican out for So What. My friend caught a cup Kirk threw into the crowd but gave it to me since I bought his ticket. A bonus was my picture was in the newspaper the next day in the article recapping the show. What memories.

  7. I was there! Was just thinking about it an decided to google it on the off chance anyone had ever posted about it! Blackened was worth the price of admission! I still have a scar from a flaming glow stick that melted to my arm for a few seconds! Lol… Memories 🙂

  8. I was at the show at Cal State Domiguez Hills. One thing i will never forget, while making our way closer to the stage, I noticed these two young guys, I would say about 15 yo or so, making a hasty retreat from the front of the stage. One of the kids holding his hands over his mouth. As he moved his hands away from his mouth he yelled at his buddy “I just got my braces off last week, my parents are going to kill me!” As they moved closer I noticed the blood flowing from his mouth and his two front teeth were gone.” I remember thinking to myself, wow how do break news like that to your parents? I kind of felt sorry for the kid.

  9. Great TB !! I was front row right as the show began but the crowd was too much to handle. I had no control of my body and it was very hot! I jumped up and over the fence. I got to see James up close but then I went to the back and watched the show. I was there from the beginning with Fight, SS and those pussies from Clandlebox. I clearly remember the singer getting real pissed and flipping us off and walking out. I had seen Metallica for the GNR show at the Collusium and for ride the lightning tour as well as the Injustice for all tour but I really wanted to see Alice In Chains but the day before the show they announced that they were out. Still was a good show though.

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