Way back in August 1985, Metallica made a final appearance at Ruthie’s Inn, a long-gone Berkeley venue that served as one of the incubators of the Bay Area’s then-upstart thrash metal scene. That show would mark one of the last times fans could expect to see Metallica in an intimate setting (one-offs and secret shows notwithstanding). The following year, the band’s career ascended upward in a major way, with 1986’s genre-defining “Master of Puppets” achieving heights of success once thought unimaginable within the underground ethos Metallica had represented.
Of course, the growth didn’t stop there. By 1991’s “The Black Album,” Metallica had ballooned into a world-beating industry colossus — so huge, in fact, that frontman/guitarist James Hetfield felt the need to manufacture some intimacy with the audience for his own sake. That resulted in the creation that year of the Snake Pit, a standing-only area built into the center of the stage so that a select group of fans could experience the show on a more human scale. If, up to that point, you’d never seen Metallica in a sweaty, low-capacity club, this was the closest you were going to get to that experience. (Just ask Foo Fighters frontman/Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, who was notably spotted in the pit at a Pasadena show in 2017.)