Battery and Flattery

Tribute band Battery gets the ultimate thumbs-up from its inspiration

Battery: A Tribute to Metallica and openers Conquest

Pop�s, 1403 Mississippi Avenue in Sauget, Illinois

8 p.m. Friday, September 20. Admission is $10. Call 314-421-4400 for tickets and visit www.disasterarea.org for more info.

It seems that when you form a tribute band, strange coincidences start happening. In 1992, Metallica singer/guitarist James Hetfield was stopped mid-power-chord by an ill-timed concert flashpot, resulting in second-degree burns and the need for a replacement guitarist. Some time later, Toronto-based Metallica tribute band Battery was giving its juice to the good metalheads of Nashua, New Hampshire, when the nemesis of all quality thrash bands, another ill-timed flashpot, blew up in the face of Dave the roadie. Bogus!

Both burnt dudes healed up nicely, but Metallica never had to face the crap Battery did. Though their pyro mishap was an obvious accident, most of Battery was thrown into jail for the night, and they were eventually banned from New Hampshire for life ("Live Free or Die," my ass).

So the sins of metal musicians are visited upon their tribute bands. In the case of Battery, though, they got some of the glory, too. In 1998, Metallica released Garage Inc., a two-disc collection of punk and hard-rock covers. On their minitour to promote the album, Metallica played only covers. Someone had the clever idea of getting Battery to do its Metallica tribute show as the opening band for Metallica itself. The members of Battery partied with their idols in five cities that November, living the fantasy. Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett even approached former Battery lead guitarist Jason Taylor for help with some of the old solos he claimed to have forgotten, according to Battery's Web site.

The New Hampshire debacle was not the only pyrotechnic indignity Battery has endured. According to an article in Guitar magazine, the band's homemade special effects once ignited one of the bass drums in the middle of the show. Let's hope the problems have been ironed out for the group's upcoming show at Pop's. As we've learned from This Is Spinal Tap, there's nothing worse than a spontaneously combusting drummer.

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